I'll Cover You

Next Tuesday is a BIG day! It's not only Election Day (woohoo!), it's also the day we're taking our engagement photos. Sadly, according to Weather.com, it's also likely to be a rain day in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Oh well.  Mr. HC and I wanted photos that captured our beloved New England, and I guess we're getting exactly what we wished for, capricious weather and all!  No way are we going to let a little precipitation spoil our fun.  And maybe if we're lucky, we'll even catch a rainbow.

Plus I love rain gear.  Look at how adorable this couple looks smooching under their umbrella:

And how fly are these rainboots?

[Vintage Jessica Claire]

So being a long-time Boston resident, I am already well equipped with a pair of black Hunter boots (classic and chic) and a pair of polka-dotted Tamara Henriques wellingtons.

[Image source.]

Now, what I need is a sassy umbrella, like this one:

Except it's $96 (!!!) and out of my price range.  How about this darling Marimekko umbrella, which is a splurge at $40:

But I'm also digging the simple chic of this $65 umbrella, which is so little black dress:

Alright, who am I kidding?  I'm not spending $65 on an umbrella that I'm promptly going to lose (because you know umbrellas run away -- from me anyway).  I think I'm going with this $27.95 number, which is simple navy on the outside and blue skies and white clouds on the inside:

Did it rain on your engagement photo or wedding day?  Any tips on how to stay dry and happy when it's wet and coooold?


No, I'm not going to San Francisco.

But I can still wear flowers in my hair, right?

I love the look of a large bloom affixed to a loose chignon or some relaxed curls, so I went to my dealer -- ahem, I mean Etsy -- for my fix -- uh, I mean for some ideas. If you help me choose one, I'll show you a little somethin' somethin', if you know what I mean.

Simple, a touch of glam.

Myra is a superstar in the Etsy world, and deservedly so.

But how luscious is this aubergine, vintagey number, which goes with my wedding colors?

She did the hairpieces for Ashley Paige's show.
Yeah, I watched "Bikini or Bust," and I'm proud of it.

Chelsea's pieces are so refined and pretty!

Quirky, fun, and colorful!

Biggest. Flower. Evah.

What do you guys and gals think? Which says to you: "Sexy, but demure." "A ballerina by day, but disco queen by night." "Cashmere sweater on the outside, silk lingerie on the inside -- Rawwww." Ok, forget those. Which goes with this:

Hive, meet my little somethin' somethin': her name is Monique, and she's been hiding in my closet for a little while.


Aw, snap!

Wedding planning, let's face it, is 40% fun and 60% a big pain in the buttocks.  If I could, I'd offer you a xanax and a Mindy-Weiss-bot.  I can't, so I offer you the next best thing: puppies and Polaroids.

Well, it's actually one puppy -- Jellyby, the queen bitch of our household -- and Poladroids.  iDIY, one of the newer additions to my ever-expanding blog roll, introduced me to a fun little application called Poladroid that lets you turn any digital photograph into a Polaroid-like picture.
All you have to do is:

1) Download the FREE Poladroid application and launch it.
2) Drag & drop your photos
3) Wait . . . wait . . . wait again . . . or shake the picture.
4) Then look at or print your Poladroid picture!
* Sorry PC-users, it seems that Poladroid is only Mac-friendly (until November).
I can't decide which is more fun: Jellyby or Poladroid.  On the one  hand, Jellyby has a tres chic ponytail, makes NC-17 sounds chasing after her Wiggly-Giggly ball (I don't know what seals sound like copulating, but I'm pretty sure that my dog makes the same noise), and reacts indignantly if she's mistaken for a dog . . . particularly by other dogs.
On the other hand, Poladroid gives you ten prints per session, just like the content of a real Polaroid cartridge and it lets you speed up the "development" of the image by shake, shake, shaking it like a Polaroid picture.
I don't know, we might have to call it a tie.  I'm thinking of using the Poladroid images to give a vintage look to the photos on our wedding webpage or in our rehearsal dinner slideshow.  But I really could use more creative ideas, so please share what you'd use Poladroid for.


Rules of Engagement*

* Title courtesy of Leigh Miller; I love a lady who puns.

As I mentioned in my previous post, prior to Weddingbee, I had no clue what engagement photos were.  And I'm fairly certain that Mr. HC still has no idea what an engagement shoot involves.  But now that we are scheduled to have an engagement shoot, I thought I'd better do some research on how to get ready for this event.  I asked our photographer, Leigh Miller, for some tips on how to prepare for an engagement shoot.  She had such good advice that I thought I'd share it with the hive.  (Bonus: This gives me an excuse to show more of my favorite e-pics.)

Tip 1: Wear something comfortable and that reflects your style.  Leigh says: "My goal, no matter who I'm shooting, is to capture who that person is.  So if your attire is far from who you are and you aren't comfortable, well that just stinks."  Speaking of comfort, how adorable is the couple above on the couch?  They're like Mr. HC and me, only cute.  (Because let's face it, if it were Mr. HC and me on the couch, we'd probably be in our jammies, watching "Harold and Kumar" for the thousandth time, and guffawing at jokes intended for 16-year-old stoners.  It's not an attractive vignette.)

And in case you failed to learn from Britney and Justin's denim debacle of 2001, Leigh advises, "please don't match but do coordinate" -- like the darling couple above, who rocked a chic black and white look.

[Leigh Miller Photography]

Leigh also says that "heels are great with jeans, pants, or skirts, if you're comfortable in them. They make the legs look longer."  You'd better believe I'm busting out my 3-inch stilettos.  At 5'3 on a good day, I need all the length illusion I can get!

Tip #2: Think of your photographer as an observer.  Leigh suggests taking photos in a place that has meaning to you both or taking your photographer along to do something you would normally do.   She says: "I love shooting like an observer. Thats so fun!  I'm actually doing a session later this year that is more like a day in the life of and I'm totally excited!!!" We're asking Leigh to start our shoot at the university where Mr. HC went to college and did his post-bac before med school and where I went to law school and now am finishing up my Ph.D.  Combined, we've spent nearly fifteen years at this place, so it's very much a part of our relationship!

Tip #3: "Listen to your photographer's suggestions regarding location and time of day."  If you don't believe in the power of good lighting, Leigh recommends revisiting the good light/bad light "Seinfeld" episode:

Okay, hopefully we're not as two-faced as Jerry's date, but when you can control the lighting situation, Leigh says, you should!  "If you tell your photographer the only time you can meet to do the engagement session is noon on the beach, you should expect much different results than the hour before sunset with softer more flattering light. The photographer is the pro, and you're paying them. Take advantage of their expertise!" 

When I taught a film class last year, I talked to my students about the "magic hour" -- those precious moments when the sun is going up or down, and the light is angled just so, such that you get Hobie colors and lens flare.  Hopefully, Leigh will be able to catch us at the magic hour on the cobblestone walks of Beacon Hill or on the Weeks Footbridge over the Charles River. 

Speaking of magic, isn't the photo below stunning?  Soft, flattering light indeed.

Tip #4: Travel light.  Leigh says: "Don't bring a bag full of junk with you that someone has to carry around or attend to while we're out."  You want to be carefree and mobile, not stuck babysitting your hefty Marc Jacobs tote while the best light is disappearing.

Finally, Leigh says, "Don't over think it. Don't stress! Have fun. Some couples even have a glass of wine before we tee off. Be yourselves."

I hope this was helpful for those of you who have yet to take your engagement photos.  Anyone have additional tips or a favorite e-pic to share?


Proof of Engagement

Let's split up this year into two epochs: BWB and AWB ("before Weddingbee" and "after Weddingbee").  BWB, I used to get work done on my dissertation.  AWB, what dissertation?  BWB, I'd never heard of engagement photos.  I mean, what do we need engagement photos for?  Proof of engagement?!  I guess I figured that people take an engagement photo to put in, say, a wedding announcement, but the idea of taking a whole series of photos with a professional photographer before the wedding was . . . um, inconceivable? weird? a seeming waste of money?

AWB, I was a bit more conflicted.  I saw beautiful and personality-filled engagement shots from Bees like Mrs. Petunia and Mrs. Daffodil, and I really liked the idea of having some photographs of Mr. HC and me chillaxing in our natural environment (okay, more like our aspirational natural environment, since our actual natural environment is on the couch, watching yet another Degrassi marathon).  But I wasn't so sure that it was a good use of our budget.  The ramen ain't gonna buy itself, yo.

Then I started researching wedding photographers and realized that many not only encourage booking e-sessions but actually require it.  My first thought: Blech, yet another scam perpetuated by the wedding industrial complex.  I will not be suckered into yet another wedding "must have."

But then we were lucky enough to book the uber-talented Leigh Miller as our wedding photographer. She not only came up with an affordable package for us, she also made a darn good case for why an engagement photo session makes good sense.

Here, courtesy of Leigh, are some reasons why an e-session might be a worthwhile investment, if you can find a little extra room in your budget for it (yeah, I'm still not of the "must have" school of weddings): 

(1) "So I can see how couples are in front of the camera. Sometimes I find out I have a blinker, and I had one groom who was so nervous about doing the session he was woozy!  Yes I thought he was going to faint!  These are all good things to know before the wedding day. (That groom was fine by the wedding day as he was broken in during the engagement session - haha!)."
[Gorgeous e-pic of Katharine, Ryan, and Cali by Jennifer Paschal]

(2) "It's a good chance for the couple to get comfortable in front of the camera."
[Jose Villa Photography (of photographer, Tec Petaja and his wife Chelsea)]

(3) "It's a great chance to spend some time with your photographer. I love hanging out with my couples and the engagement just helps us bond even more. It builds trust, and they have the confidence now that they will photograph beautifully on the wedding day."

So, long story short, in just a few weeks, Leigh will be joining Mr. HC and me in Boston to take our engagement photos.  And I couldn't be more excited to meet her and to frolic in front of her lenses.  As for Mr. HC?  He doesn't do frolicking, but I think he'll grin and bear it.  ;-)  Leigh, we hope your photoshop skills are well-honed, because we are going to need some serious fixin'!

Grooms and brides, what do you think?  Will you be booking a professional e-session?  Rocking a rad DIY session, like Miss Blush?  Or putting your money elsewhere?  And if you're doing one, what are you hoping to capture in your e-sessions?


Inaudible language of the heart and visible signs of creativity

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
This was the beautiful quotation that my friends Lauren and Michael used on their wedding invitations, and I pretty much knew from the moment I saw this quotation that theirs was going to be an event that reflected their values, commitments, and personalities.  Let's just say that I was not disappointed.

I blogged about their extraordinary wedding vows the other day.  And if you liked those vows, you'll love the other creative, personal touches they had throughout their wedding!

First of all, isn't Piedmont Park so pretty?  The view from the dock (their ceremony site) was so beautiful that L & M needed to do very little -- just two elegant arrangements on simple white columns -- to decorate the "altar" space. 

Here are the programs, which L put together herself.  She used a rubber stamp to put the chic leaf design on ivory cardstock.  She then used adhesive and ribbon to "bind" the cardstock to a vellum overlay on which she had printed all of the relevant ceremony information.  How she has the energy to defend the indigent by day and craft by night is mystifying and humbling.  I barely managed to do my laundry this week.

L also painted this fun "Just Married" banner, which was carried by friends in their marching-band-led parade from the ceremony to the reception site.  This was the first time I've ever seen a wedding parade, which I understand is a southern tradition?  Heck, I'm totally moving to the south.  Pageantry rocks.

L also put together this fab guest book and escort card display.  The guest book sat on a table with a manzanita tree that was decorated with family wedding pictures.  The escort card display is a simple but snazzy ribbon board -- genius!

Hope you enjoyed looking at the details of L & M's wedding!  I'll be back to blogging about my own nuptials after some sweeeeet (and probably pornographic) dreams involving this luscious steak and egg breakfast I had at the Flying Biscuit in Atlanta:

For you southern grooms and brides, how do you manage to keep svelte when you have ready access to all this deliciousness?  Sigh.


A coming together for better

Let me start off this post by thanking the makers of Kiss Me mascara.  Without this miracle invention, I would have spent much of Sunday afternoon looking like a reject from a Lifetime movie casting.  My dear friends Lauren and Michael got married Sunday afternoon on a dock in the middle of Piedmont Park in Atlanta.  And their vows, which they wrote together, were so beautiful and articulate that even a jaded wedding guest like me (theirs was like the twentieth wedding I've been to in the last two years) was reduced to a puddle.

Here's in part what they vowed to one another:
I vow to remain earnest in my desire to be socially conscious;
to allow my heart to be pressed by the ills of the world,
and to respond accordingly.
I promise to remain steadfast in the face of adversity,
to challenge and allow myself to be challenged,
to speak out and, in turn, be spoken to.
I promise to always support you in your dedication to do the same,
to push you when called for and comfort you when needed.

I promise to always hold you in my heart,
ever mindful that we will help to raise the next generation
and that we are dedicated to leave them a legacy of kindness and justice.
I get chills just retyping their vows.  

In a gesture completely befitting this couple, at the ceremony, L & M's friend and officiant read a passage from a concurring opinion in  Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the 2003 case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the state may not deny the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage to same-sex couples:
We share a common humanity . . . . Simple principles of decency dictate that we extend to the plaintiffs, and to their new status, full acceptance, tolerance, and respect. We should do so because it is the right thing to do. The union of two people "is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions."
The reading allowed L & M to reflect on the importance of marriage as an institution, as well as to bear witness to the fact that too many couples are unjustly denied the right to enter into this relationship.

What I loved about L & M's ceremony is that it didn't pay mere lip service to social justice; rather, it came off as a natural extension/reflection of their shared values and personalities. This is a couple who both turned down lucrative big-firm law jobs to work for organizations that provide legal representation to the indigent, a couple whose commitment to social justice is not simply strong but almost compulsive. In law school, I used to call Lauren my "social conscience." Some people imagine an angel and a devil sitting on their shoulders; I imagine a Lauren and an anti-Lauren.

But lest they come off too serious, let me also say that this is a couple who organized a parade -- complete with a bumpin' southern-style marching band from the local high school -- to lead their guests from the ceremony to the reception site. It was flippin' awesome.  [Note to self: Must watch Drumline again this weekend and look into fitting into my old flag girl uniform.]

[If you squint, you can see Whitney and Jesse from Our Labor of Love Photography risking being trampled by the band for the perfect shot of the bride and groom.]

Look out for my next post, in which I'll recap other fun, DIY details of the wedding.  In the meantime, L & M, thanks for letting me share your wedding on Weddingbee.  May your lives together be as happy and fulfilling as they are purposeful and inspiring.

Are you writing your own ceremony and vows?  How are you integrating your personal commitments and values into your wedding?


The third party in our marriage

Confession: I've missed more than one deadline in recent weeks.  So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I had a nightmare last night, in which Mr. HC and I forget to get our marriage license -- indeed, didn't even know we had to get a marriage license -- and thus couldn't be legally married on our wedding day.  [Gulp.]

Of course, as soon as I got up, I researched what we would need to do to get said marriage license, and for you California brides and grooms, here's what I found out, courtesy of the California Department of Public Health:
  • You do not need to be a California resident to marry in California.
  • To marry in California, the two parties may not be already married to each other or other individuals. 
  • Marriage by proxy is NOT allowed in California. Family Code, Section 420(a) requires the two parties, marriage officiant and witness if applicable, be physically present together in the same location for the marriage to be performed.
  • Blood tests are NOT required to obtain a marriage license in California.
  • Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in California. 
  • If you have been married before, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity). 
  • Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.
  • California Family Code, Section 400 states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows: A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination; a judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state; a judge or magistrate who has resigned from office; any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States: a justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court, a judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior, a judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court; a United States magistrate or retired magistrate; a legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office. 
  • All fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county. 
  • The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable within 10 days of the date of the ceremony. 
For those of you getting married in Los Angeles, the LA County Registrar allows you to apply for your license online.  Both spouses-to-be, however, must show up in person to pick up the license, which costs $70.

Doing this research reminded me of how deeply involved the government is in the institution of marriage.  The state decides, amongst other things, who you may marry, who may solemnize the marriage, and who must be present when the marriage takes place.  And, of course, the state and federal governments also determine the rights, privileges, and immunities of marriage. All of this is to say that marriage, despite seeming incredibly private and intimate, is deeply political.  

Here's the way I'm thinking about it: getting married is tantamount to an invitation to the government to regulate just a little bit more of our day-to-day lives.  And considering how much time I've put into perfecting the guest list for our wedding, it's only right to commit just as much energy to deciding what those regulations will look like -- or, at the very least, to choosing who ought to be making those regulations.  

So no matter what your political leanings are, if you haven't yet registered to vote, please do so today. Some states' registration deadlines may have already passed.  Go here for state-by-state info.

My name is Hot Cocoa, and I endorse this message.


Wedding Style Auf the Runway

Did you catch Project Runway last night?!! The designers' final challenge was to design a wedding dress and a bridesmaid dress. Holy Heidi hauteness! Don't worry, Tivoers; I won't reveal who got auf'd. But how could I resist reviewing the designs?

Let's go in the order of fug to fabulous:

1. Jerell's designs.  Say you got caught in the wedding aisle at Michaels in the middle of an earthquake.  And the glue gun you were going to buy with your 25% off coupon exploded, covering you with adhesive from head to toe.  And you had to climb through the rubble in order to reach the safety of the Martha Stewart aisle.  This is probably what you'd look like.

[Photos, unless otherwise marked, courtesy of Bravotv.com]

Oh, and your maid of honor was there too.  Only she got caught in that special clearance aisle where they sell Grey Gardens-inspired table cloths for fortune tellers.

Love it?  Get your faux florals at Save on Crafts.

2. Korto's designs.  This dress screams: "Look, buddy, the salmon for the reception is not going to catch itself."

Love it?  Get  yours at Orvis.

Korto's bridesmaid dress is kind of cute, if not exactly couture.

Love it?  Get your flirtier BCBG version on Ebay:

3. Kenley's designs.  Okay, the girl's got the personality of nails on chalkboard, but she does flippin' adorable like nobody else.

Love it?  Get a real vintage fifties wedding dress at Tastyvintage:

Her bridesmaid dress is tres chic, but the Degas-blue color made me swoon!

Love it?  Pair this Danskin leotard from Discount Dance Supply with a flared skirt or the Bonzie bolero below:

4. Leanne's designs.  If Monique Lhuillier and Frank Gehry had a love child who happened to be a talented wedding gown designer, s/he would design something like this:

Love it?  Get Monique's more romantic version at Kleinfeld:

And the bridesmaid dress is, in a word, heavenly.

Love it?  Here's my rehearsal dinner dress, which is a Badgley Mischka with similar pleating in the skirt:

Love it in theory but not feeling the extra pleating around the buttocks?  Get these stunning shoulder wraps from Etsy seller Bonzie, which have a similar ethereal-meets-architectural vibe.

Which dress was your favorite? 


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