Sunday, December 27, 2009

rings and dresses

Kenny and I are in New York for Christmas, and yesterday we ordered our wedding bands from a family friend of his who is also a jeweler. We picked out exactly what we wanted, and the jeweler (who is the same person Kenny bought my engagement ring from) is going to order it in our sizes.

I picked out an 18k white gold band with .56 carats of diamonds going across the top. It's gorgeous, and it compliments my engagement ring beautifully. My ring can be re-sized, but he said he'd prefer to order a new one that's already the correct size so that he doesn't risk loosening any of the stones like he would if he re-sized the other one. Kenny picked out a two-tone 18k yellow gold and 18k white gold band, and that style cannot be re-sized, so it must be ordered anyway.

We got a fantastic deal on the rings, almost half off retail price (yay for knowing people in the business!).

I haven't updated about the catering, but we went down to CT for a meeting with Cloud Nine Caterers last week. We talked about menus a bit and had a tasting (the food was delicious). Now we are just trying to work out a menu that is in our budget. I really like Cloud Nine because they handle the food, the cake, the alcohol, AND all the rentals, so my life is really easy.

After the rings and the caterer are all set, we just have to pick a DJ, decide on flowers and centerpieces, rent chairs for the reception venue, and set up hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests.

For my bridesmaids dresses, I have decided to give each of the five girls a swatch of fabric that I have already picked out at a local fabric store, and then they can go and find a dress that is as close as possible to that colour. Some people think I am crazy for doing this, but honestly, the bridesmaids dresses were what I stressed out over the most for some reason. I wanted to find something pretty but that wasn't too expensive and that the girls would want to wear again, and to do that for five people is really difficult. This way, they can hopefully find something at a department store and pay a lot less for it than if they ordered it through a bridal shop. Best of all, my Maid of Honour, Jenny, is going to be in her brother's wedding earlier in the summer, and they have the same colour dresses. I told Jenny I would be totally fine with her wearing the same dress in my wedding. It looks really lovely (she showed me a photo online), it's the right colour, and that way at least she'll get her money's worth!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We have a photographer!!

I am SO thrilled! I was starting to wonder if my dream photographer existed when I came across the website for James Hazelwood Photography. James' images had my attention and admiration immediately and I could not be more excited that he has agreed to shoot our wedding next September.

His style is a mix of the classic wedding photography (portraits, posed family photos) and journalistic photography ("following" the bride and groom for the day and "documenting" their wedding). It is exactly what I have been searching for. Kenny is really happy with our decision, also. My mum is happy because James is a member of several professional photography organizations just like she is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Proper Introductions

I never really considered that there might be some people whom we don't personally know reading this blog, and now that I know there are, I thought I'd introduce us a bit more thoroughly.

About Kenny:

Kenny in Newport this past summer.

Kenny is originally from Long Island. He is extremely athletic and grew up playing soccer and wrestling competitively. He has three sisters. He came to Rhode Island to attend the University of RI in Fall 2005, and graduated in Spring of 2009 with a BS in Kinesiology. He is considering Grad School but in the mean time is buffing his resume with his work as a Cardiac level EMT and also as a Cardiac Rehab Specialist at our local hospital.

Other than working, he spends his time surfing, practicing at the shooting range (he's an excellent marksman), spearfishing, and hanging out with his friends. He loves football and is slowly turning me into a Jets fan (we went to a sports bar last night all dressed up in our Jets stuff and got some really nasty looks. New England fans don't easily forget a good whopping like the one they got from the Jets a few weeks ago). He will sometimes ride the horses with me but lately he has been so busy that we haven't gone riding together in ages.

About Kate:
Me (left) with my Maid of Honour, Jenny

I moved around a lot as a kid so I'm not sure where I'm "originally" from, but I was born in Hong Kong, grew up for the most part in the Cotswolds region of England, lived for three years in the beautiful Annapolis area in Maryland, and then moved to Massachusetts. I have one younger brother. I started riding horses when I was three years old in the UK and much to my parents' disappointment it turned out not to be a passing phase. I am still horse crazy and showed Hunter/Jumpers competitively all throughout grade school. I was also always infatuated with art, so it was only natural that I go to college for art and design.

I came to Rhode Island for school in 2004 and graduated in 2008 with a BA in Fine Art and concentrations in Photography and Digital Design. While in school, I rode for a semester on the Equestrian Team and also volunteered all four years on the campus ambulance, reaching Lieutenant status the beginning of my senior year.

I now work for URI on a Federal grant where we are developing a curriculum of courses for University and EMA officials from around the country to take to help them create disaster plans for their individual institutions. Many Universities and Colleges don't have disaster plans and if they do, they are often not very comprehensive.

I also have a small design and photography business, Polar Square Designs. I photograph weddings throughout the summer through a company I work for that is based out of Boston, MA.

About Us:

Us during one of our crazier moments, right before jumping out of an airplane at the Newport Skydiving Center this summer.

Kenny and I met at EMS when he was a freshman and I was a sophomore. Neither of us expected to fall in love but we turned out to be perfect for each other! He proposed after three years together in Narragansett, RI on a beautiful rocky outcropping with the waves crashing around us. It was so perfect and romantic.

The night he proposed to me, we came back to the house to find that all of our friends were waiting there to congratulate us!

We did not actually start planning the wedding until he had graduated but at this point we are well on our way in the planning process!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I am so excited about the group of girls I am privileged to have as my Bridesmaids.

Jenny is my Maid of Honour. We have been close friends since my freshman year at URI and she has always been there when I needed her. We took the EMT class together and sang Mandy Moore's Candy more times than I can count while driving back and forth to Lincoln RI three days a week. We enjoyed many late night get togethers and Kenny and her boyfriend John are also good friends. They are the quintessential double date couple and the four of us always have an awesome time together.

Sarah is my best friend from high school and while we haven't remained as close during college, I still value her friendship more than anything. I love her sense of humour and whenever we chat on the phone it's like we never even lost a day. She lives in Boston and is a huge Red Sox fan and I am so happy she's going to be able to be a part of our wedding.

Samera is another close girlfriend from college whom I met Freshman year through URI EMS. She is so much fun to be around and always amazes me with her perseverance and passion. She is super organized, which will come in handy when I am going crazy during the final week!

Kaitlyn is another really good friend from URI who is now all the way in Colorado going to med school. Our whole group of friends is SO proud of her for following her dreams, even if she had to go all the way to CO do to so. We miss her dearly and I am SO happy she can be a Bridesmaid!

Kristen is one of Kenny's sisters. She currently lives in the DC area and Kenny and I went to visit her last summer. She is one year older than me and we have a lot in common. I really wanted to include her in the wedding party and I am thrilled that she can do it.

I sent each girl a card with one of these paper fold-out people chains. Each little "person" represents one of the bridesmaids. From L to R we have Kaitlyn (she loves surfing), Samera (she loves soccer), Jenny (she is always wearing adorable dresses and is a RN), Sarah (she is showing her team spirit by wearing a little Red Sox hat), and Kristen (she is an athletic trainer at GWU).

I couldn't ask for a better group of girls. We are going to have the best time and make some fantastic memories.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ceremony Venue...check!

Wow, we are on a roll. This week not only did we secure our reception venue, but we also found the perfect spot for the ceremony!! We decided on the Old Lighthouse Museum in Stonington, CT. I came across it by chance on the internet and immediately loved it, so yesterday Kenny and I drove down there to check it out, and then today I sent out the deposit!! I can't believe it. I feel so accomplished!

Here are some shots I got of the Lighthouse building and grounds:

The Lighthouse!

This is the view from the back yard.

We will set up the ceremony right on the waterfront overlooking the Little Narragansett Bay. Let's hope for good weather because the only downside to this location is that there is no rain plan!

The Lighthouse is about 15 minutes from the Mystic Yachting Center (where we are holding the reception) so here is our tentative time line:

4:00 pm: Ceremony
4:30: Ceremony ends, wedding party leaves to take photos
5:15: Cocktail hour begins at the Mystic Yachting Center
5:30: Wedding party returns, visits with guests
6:00ish: Reception begins (paaaar-ty!)
10:30: Last dance

On top of that, we have more or less decided on a caterer. Cloud Nine Catering in Old Saybrook, CT can do everything we need, and under the budget!! Woohoo!

Kenny has taken on the task of finding a DJ and coordinating the cake.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

decision time!

On Sunday we went to Mystic again to visit the Mystic Aquarium after I had fallen in love with it through photos I had seen on a brochure and their wedding website.

It was a very nice place and luckily we were able to see it all decked out for a wedding that was happening that evening, but in the end we decided not to go with it. I highly recommend anyone in the area check it out if you are looking for a venue, though. Kathy Lloyd, the Mystic Aquarium Director of Sales, was so helpful and positive, and I really enjoyed meeting her. I appreciated the time she took to show us around even though she was trying to put the finishing touches on the space for a wedding at the very same time.

Here are some photos of the Aquarium:

The ceremony is held right in front of the Beluga tank!

The aisle.

One of the resident Beluga whales.

Ceremony area.

Looking down from the second floor balcony to the reception area:

(this is an awful photo; there are much better ones on their website, liked above)

So, after careful deliberation, we have booked the Mystic Yachting Center for September the 18th, 2010!!!!!! We are both thrilled.

I spent most of my evening yesterday contacting bands, caterers, and hotels. I also need to find a photographer and florist. We want to do the ceremony on a local beach so I have to figure that out. I think Kenny's job will be the cake. He is notoriously colour blind but thankfully that does not affect his tastebuds so he should be fine picking out a cake flavour, and then I will help out with the cake colours!

So now that we get to move on to planning the real details of the wedding, how much do you lot want to know about this? I'm afraid if I sit here happily rapping away at the keyboard, there will be no surprises for our guests when they come to the actual event.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

more venue searches!

It's been a while since I have updated this but that's because it's been a while since we have accomplished anything wedding-related. This summer was very busy between both of us working and then we moved on August 1 to our very own adorable apartment. Now that we are nearing September, we realized it's time to get cracking on this stuff because realistically we are nearing the one year countdown. This means we are no longer ahead of the game!!

Today we went to see another venue, this time in Mystic CT. Mystic is a charming sea-side town just over the Rhode Island border. It's famous for being the location of the real life Mystic Pizza from the movie by the same name (in fact, we drove past that pizza place today!).

The venue in question was the Mystic River Yachting Center and I have got to say, it was one of the best for the price that we have seen so far. I really liked the layout of the place, and it is right on the water at the Mystic Shipyard.

-on the water
-very well-priced ($2500 to rent the entire space for the entire day)
-price includes tables and chairs, and there is no extra charge for the ceremony to be there
-beautiful views
-lots of space
-I really liked the event manager who showed us around, and so did Kenny

-no bridal or grooms suites to get ready
-would have to hire outside caterer
-not really a great set-up for the ceremony, so we'd most likely have to get married off-site then come to the MYC for the reception
-second floor is not handicapped accessible

I snapped a few photos:

The building from the outside

The entrance hallway. I love the staircase!

They had a wedding the night before so it hadn't quite been fully cleaned up from that, but I used my imagination!

The outdoor deck/porch area. It was very overcast today.

The event manager gave us a packet full of info about other vendors in the area, mostly to help us choose a caterer. We looked through it and found a brochure about getting married at the Mystic Aquarium. I was like, WHAT!? coolest idea EVER! so now I want to go talk to the Aquarium people about weddings there. It's the same price to rent the aquarium as it is to rent the Yachting Center, AND you can get married right in front of the Beluga tank! How incredible would that be??

(from their website)

So that is where we stand at the moment! In typical Kate fashion I created more pieces of the puzzle instead of solving it with the pieces we already had but I am really excited about finding out more about the Aquarium, and if that doesn't work out, I really liked the Yachting Center and I can definitely see us getting married there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

playing dress-up

Again this is only semi-related to our wedding, but it is certainly relevant to weddings in general!

My mum emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if Kenny and I would be interested in being "models" for a wedding photography seminar to be held in Natick, MA. I asked (aka begged and pleaded) Kenny to do it with me and he agreed, even if a bit reluctantly.

This past weekend on Sunday we headed out to Massachusetts to stay overnight with my parents. The seminar was on Monday but my mum wanted to get some shots of us all dressed up, so we went out for a test run on Sunday. We stopped at a few locations and at one point we had parked the car on the side of a rather main road in Groton and people were honking their horns at us and yelling out "Good Luck!" It was so funny, and the best part was that it was a Sunday so for all they knew we had actually gotten married that day!

My mum got some really nice shots even though the weather wasn't all that cooperative and it was fun to traipse around in all our finery.

Speaking of the finery, the dress belongs to my friend's cousin, who generously donated the use of it for the day. The veil is also hers. Kenny's suit was bought at Men's Warehouse a couple of years ago.

On Monday we had to be at the seminar at 1:30. The photographer running the seminar was teaching the people attending it how to pose a couple, and there were all sorts of lessons built in like masculine vs. feminine posing, how to make any couple seem size proportionate in photos even if they're not in real life, and how to set up lighting properly.

We posed for about three hours and it went really well.

I had my camera with me and I handed it to one of the participants so that he could get some shots of us. The camera was kind of handed around the room and a variety of photographers took photos with it. I didn't get any of their names but thank you to everyone who got a shot of us!

Being posed by the instructor.

Kenny looking like a GQ cover model and me looking like a contorted Barbie.

One of the best shots.

A wider angle to show you how the room was set up.

Not much has changed on the planning front. We have been trying to get in touch with the Chester House in Westerly, RI, but the wedding person has been away. She was supposed to be back this week, so I am hoping we can get an appointment to see it either this week or next. It would be really nice to book a venue so I can move along with my planning!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

on a semi-related note...

On Monday Kenny and I will participate in a wedding photography workshop in Natick, MA. We got the opportunity because my mum is going to the workshop and heard that they needed models. She immediately emailed me and I contacted the instructor and he said he'd be delighted to have Kenny and I participate! I am really excited; Kenny is very tolerant haha. I doubt this is what he really wants to do on a day off, but we are being compensated and it will be a great experience for both of us (at least that's what I keep telling him).

The workshop is for professional photographers to go to to learn lighting and posing techniques specifically geared towards wedding photography. Kenny and I will be the "bride and groom" and pose for all the photographers. I am excited because I get to dress up like a bride for the day and I might also meet a photographer whom I want to hire for my wedding, since I have not found one yet. Again I know I am jumping the gun a bit here because we haven't booked a venue (still working on that) but it doesn't hurt to do some research.

I mentioned I have to dress up like a bride for the day. Well clearly I am not going to wear my wedding dress a) because it's still off being cleaned and b) Kenny cannot see the dress! so a friend hooked me up with her cousin's wedding dress that she got married in two years ago and what do you know! it fits perfectly!!

(Please don't pay any attention to our room or me...I had just worked a 12 hour shift)

Not bad, huh?! Kenny will wear a suit that he already has that he looks so handsome in. I'll be interested to see how these photos come out.

I was feeling a bit crafty the other night (always a dangerous thing) and I decided to make my own birdcage veil. I want to wear a more traditional veil on my wedding day but I thought that the birdcage veils looked easy to make and they are pretty. They sell for about $80-100 but I thought I could make one for around $20. I went to Michael's and got all the supplies I needed for just under $20 and got to work. It took a few hours but for my first try I don't think it's bad!

So it started as a plain comb, loose beads and feathers, and bulk netting. I attached the netting first and then sewed all of the beads, pearls, and feathers onto the comb. Then I secured the feathers with a few dabs of crazy glue because they would have fallen out easily had I not.

It's difficult taking a photo of yourself in a mirror but you get the idea. It covers to the top of my lips and then goes across my face covering both eyes. Pretty snazzy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

fun, non-floral centerpieces to fit our budget and colour scheme

We estimate that we will have about twelve tables at our wedding. Floral centerpieces for all twelve tables would be between $700 and $1500 depending on what flowers we wanted. I know I'm going to have to figure out where I can start trimming the budget (oh darn) so I have been looking at non-floral centerpieces online. I've found that I actually like the centerpieces with no flowers better than those with flowers!

I love this fabulous fish centerpiece that I saw featured here. It has a bit of height, it's something nice to look at in the center of the table that will last (hopefully) longer than cut flowers will after the wedding is over, and each centerpiece could be raffled to a guest at the table so that the winner could take home a nice beta fish for a pet.

Another fun and fresh idea is using citrus fruits. If we have green as our colour, I would love to use lemons since the yellow will go well with it. I keep hearing that my wedding decor should go along with the month we are getting married in. I think this is true to a certain extent but I am not going to write off a really great idea just because it doesn't "feel" like September. A centerpiece like this would add height colour and fun to the tables, and generally in RI it's still so nice and warm even in September that I'm sure it would go well.

Photo Credit

I also love curling vines like these curly willow clippings. These have orchid blooms attached to them and they almost look like dogwood. Beautiful!

Depending on the kind of venue we end up booking, I also really love lanterns, but that may be too rustic for some of the places we are considering.

I am thinking about using the colours above as our colour scheme but can't decide if I might replace the yellow with a cream colour. I would love a sage green for bridesmaid's dresses and then purple and yellow (or cream) flowers in the bouquets. Deep purple table cloths (or a more traditional off-white) would tie everything together.

I think I might like this palette better.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cultural Center in Fall River, MA

Last night we ventured out to Fall River, MA to see the Cultural Center. The photos online looked beautiful and very elegant, but when we got there we were disappointed. Maybe it was that we saw it in the day light instead of all lit up at night, or maybe it was that it was set up for a wedding that's tonight and the wedding colours were cream and hot, hot pink. Either way we walked in and kind of wanted to walk back out. It just wasn't us. Also, we are really hoping to have the ceremony at the reception site and the only two options at the CC for ceremonies are either to have it in the ball room (up on a stage?? it felt way too high school gymnasium) or out in the foyer (also very strange). In the end we decided to stay and talk to the people there and at least get an idea of prices since we drove an hour to get there.

The Center had several packages starting from $65/pp going to $115/pp, or couples were able to create a personalized menu. The food looked good and the higher priced packages included bar, photographer, and other amenities that other venues we've looked at or talked to charge extra for or don't even provide. I thought the packages were very reasonable, and the people there were nice and helpful. The owner was the one who actually showed us around.

If anything, the trip there was good because it helped us decide that we want a country setting for our reception, not an urban one.

Here are some photos of the Cultural Center:

The entrance way. The white curtains are not included with the rental of the hall but are available through a local Fall River florist.

The ballroom area

The bar area, which is located out in the foyer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The dress

It took three trips and hundreds of miles of driving but I finally picked out my wedding gown on Wednesday at Vows Bridal in Newton, MA.

When Kenny and I first got engaged last year, my mum and I were so excited that we immediately arranged to go dress shopping at Vows. I tried on lots of dresses but didn't quite know what I wanted and it was so early that I didn't pick any of them. It was a great trip and the sales people were so helpful, and I always appreciated their patience with me. They probably knew as soon as I walked in the door with a brand new diamond ring that I wasn't going to buy anything that day but they still treated me well and were willing to talk to me and spend time helping me pick out dresses. The best part about Vows is that the dresses are all designer and couture sample dresses. They are SOO beautiful. You get the brand names that people rave about but since the dresses are samples, you do not pay the same hefty price. You can't argue with that!!

After the first shopping experience, I waited quite a while before going out a second time. My mum and I were out in Nashua, NH and we decided to stop in at David's Bridal to see what they had. I tried a few on and really liked one but I didn't purchase it because I just didn't get the "this is the one!" feeling from it. It was lovely, though.

Then about a month and a half later I arranged a girls day out to a store in Southern MA. I won't specify what store it is because it was terrible. The sales associate was awful and overly opinionated. I loved one of the dresses I tried on but it was beaded very heavily and when I put my arms down, the beading scratched my arms a lot and it was pretty uncomfortable.

Finally, on Wednesday I had an appointment at Vows again to see one particular dress I had found online. The one I was interested in was a Melissa Sweet and was very soft and beautiful, but when I tried it on I didn't like it as much. Unfortunately that meant I had to try on a bunch more (I was really hoping to just love it and be done with it!) but in the end it paid off. I am glad I waited and went back to Vows because I found the absolute perfect dress for me! The dress I'm wearing in the photo is the runner-up, since I don't want Kenny to accidently see the winner :)

It was such a great feeling to say "This is the one!" All of my girlfriends were so excited. My mum loves the dress, and in fact she had pulled it off a shelf for me to try on.

We put a down payment on the dress and I have a week to decide if I actually want it. After a week they send it out to be cleaned and any minor repairs needed are made, and then in 3-4 weeks it's mine to take home! I will get it altered closer to home since Newton is kind of a trek.

The great venue search

Kenny and I are planning for a September 2010 wedding and already we are realising that we are under a time crunch, even with over a year left before the big day!

The biggest thing for me is picking a venue. Earlier in the week we finally went and actually looked at a venue in Newport after weeks of emailing around and getting astronomical numbers back for quotes. If I could offer anyone advise who is looking to plan a wedding, I'd say actually go to the places and talk to them in person before you write a venue off as too expensive. Within the first twenty minutes, the woman at this particular venue in Newport had dropped the price almost $4,000. Unfortunately it was still at the very top of our budget for a venue and if we had an unexpectedly large number of people RSVP yes, it would be too expensive.

To the left is a photo of the venue we went to in Newport, called The Ocean Cliff. I have to say it was so stunningly beautiful and the woman who met with us was very helpful and spent almost two hours talking us through the whole process. The ballroom in the photo overlooks the Narragansett Bay with the Newport Bridge in the background. If I could get married anywhere, this would be it, but that seems not to be in the cards.

So it is back to the drawing board for us. Yesterday we visited the Ledgemont Country Club in Seekonk, MA, right over the RI border. It was a very nice facility with a huge golf course, a pool, a large patio, and a nice ball room. It just couldn't imagine myself getting married there. First, the golf course was beautiful but they didn't have any little picturesque spots for photos...just the greens. Kenny of course was in Heaven and he was pretty disappointed that I didn't love it. I haven't completely ruled it out but I can't say it ranks high with the other venues we are scheduled to look at.

The sitting room area at Ledgemont

Tonight after I get out of work we have an appointment to go see the Cultural Center in Fall River, MA. I wanted to look at an urban venue since most of the others we have talked about are either in the country or on the beach. I have heard a lot of good things about the Cultural Center, and the photos online of it all done up for a reception are really striking. I love the tall ceilings and large open area. We'll see how they size up next to some of the other places we've seen or plan to see.