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Acireta's Planning Journal - April 3, 2012 Cruise Wedding

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I canâ€t believe Iâ€m actually posting my planning thread! This is going to be long…


First of all, thank you to Tammy and the moderators who keep BDW a positive, wonderful community for those of us who are planning destination weddings of every kind. I would not have had such an easy or fun time planning this wedding if it werenâ€t for BDW. I know I will definitely still be checking BDW after the wedding to see all the new things the members come up with!


If I have used any of your pictures as inspiration and not given you credit, I am very sorry. I will do my best to give credit where credit is due, and please let me know if I didnâ€t cite you!!



Engagement & Rings

Al asked me to marry him on our second anniversary, Halloween 2010, while we were spending our annual anniversary weekend at an indoor waterpark, a dorky thing we do every year. The ring is from Bella Cosa Jewelers in Willowbrook, IL, a great little shop. I knew it was coming, and it was more a matter of WHEN he asked, than IF he asked, since weâ€d been talking about it since three months into our relationship.





This was us right after we got engaged, about to head down to the water park:





These are our wedding rings from Michael Hill. Both are white gold with channel set diamonds. Al wanted a little bit of bling too!





We also got ring finger tattoos a few weeks before the wedding. He has the key to my heart J


ring tattoo.JPG



To be continued...

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Beginning Planning

We knew we wanted to do a destination wedding from a few months into our relationship, and we always used to joke about running off to St. Thomas to get married. When the time came to make a decision, Al was the one who really wanted a cruise wedding. I love cruising, so there was no objection from me. We chose our itinerary because it stopped at St. Thomas.


We also knew we wanted to do a Spring Break cruise on Carnival. One of my BMs is a teacher, so I wanted to do an itinerary that wouldnâ€t make her miss any school. My first cruise was with my two BMs on the Carnival Liberty also, so everything just clicked and we booked.







We had a nightmare of an experience with our first TA. Then I got smart and started working with Patty from Wright Travel Agency. I wish I had worked with her from the beginning. My family would have trusted her a lot more if they hadnâ€t had a bad experience with the first TA. Patty is fantastic, and she has put up with a lot of craziness from me and my family. I cannot say enough good things about her! Thank you, Patty!!


Cruise lines†wedding planning departments have notoriously bad reputations and high prices, so I decided to use an on-island coordinator. There are pros and cons to both ways of doing this, but we ended up going with Island Bliss Weddings, and Janelle has been great since the first email.


I adapted a budget and to-do list from BDW member Lady Di. I have been super strict about sticking to our budget and adapting it regularly to keep us on budget. I also created a purchase list (a running sheet of crap I needed to order/buy) and a DIY organization chart, which helped me figure out craft supplies I needed, amounts of paper to order, etc.


















I asked my BMs to travel with us by sending them dress cards and starfish necklaces. We live in Chicago, two of my BMs live in DC, and the third is in Indianapolis, so there were a lot of phone calls and shipping to get everything set up with them.


The “Will you be my bridesmaid†cards were from Etsy seller SDezigns, and the necklaces were from Overstock. I put the legend of the starfish on white paper and backed it with glittery teal cardstock.








I was supposed to have three BMs, but one of them found out she was pregnant last summer, and she is due the week of our wedding with her first baby, a little boy! I canâ€t wait to meet him! Another BM is also pregnant, but will only be 16 weeks during the cruise so she can still travel with us.


Blue is my and FIs favorite color, so I wanted to do a beachy kind of blue, with black and white as the accents, very minimal, with starfish and palm trees throughout. My FI had a lot to say about the SHADE of blue, so we settled on the Malibu color from Davidâ€s Bridal, since I figured thatâ€s where weâ€d be getting the BM dresses. I didnâ€t make an inspiration board, but I did carry around a piece of Malibu cardstock in my wallet to make sure I was getting the right shade of shirts, ribbon, etc. throughout the planning.


malibu blue.jpg



I made our monograms after playing around for weeks with fonts and styles. Here are some of our monograms that went on various wedding items:















To be continued...

Wedding Budget.xlsx

Cruise Wedding To Do List.xlsx

DIY organization.xlsx

Purchase List.xlsx

monograms for bdw.pptx

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Save the Date

We decided to do our STDs at the last minute; we did them as a replacement for Christmas cards in December 2010, mostly at my momâ€s request. We got magnets, shimmery backing cards and envelopes from www.AGiftfulHeart.com. We got the return address labels for free from Vistaprint.










Boarding Pass Invitations

I fell in love with boarding pass invitations the moment I joined this site, and I had to DIY for financial reasons. I loved the results! Hereâ€s my write-up and templates: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/t/76612/my-diy-boarding-pass-invitations-cruise-wedding.












A few weeks before we left, I made and sent a gentle RSVP reminder postcard for the AHR, since I had included the AHR invite with the wedding invitations, and I wasnâ€t getting many responses for the AHR.





I sent the reminder postcards at the same time I sent the invitations for the AHR to those folks we hadnâ€t invited to the cruise part of the wedding.


ahr invite.JPG




Pre-Trip Packet

Two months before the trip, we sent a packet to all booked guests to get them excited for the trip! They loved it! Here is the link to my write-up and templates:



We included a passport with info about the trip, packing list, wedding day timeline, weekly events and luggage tags.


pretrip packet outside.JPG 


luggage tags.JPG 


pretrip packet inside.JPG 



To be continued...


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Bride Attire & Accessories

Iâ€m a plus size girl, and dress shopping scared the hell out of me from the beginning. My mom and I took a road-trip from Chicago to DC last year to do a whirlwind dress shopping weekend with my bridesmaids. Thanks to someone on here, I made an appointment at a place called Curvaceous Couture in Columbia, MD, a couture plus-size bridal shop. For the first time in my life, everything I tried on was too big! I ordered my dress through them, Fabi by Enzoani.


A lot of drama came along with getting my dress. Itâ€s a long story, but in the end, six weeks before my wedding, the salon sent me an unused sample they had set aside for me two months earlier just in case… good thing they did because my dress never showed up. They were incredibly generous and customer service oriented, and I would have been completely screwed if not for the wonderful owner of this shop.


I couldnâ€t go back to Maryland for dress fittings, so they shipped me my dress, and I found a good tailor from a recommendation from a shop that sells Enzoani here in Chicago. She removed the hoop skirt, changed the neckline and reduced the train. This is the dress I originally tried on:


MD Weekend September 2011.jpg



I also found a short dress on Craigslist from the sweetest girl in NC, for dinner on the night before the wedding and for our AHR. I did try it on at Davidâ€s before buying it from her.


short dress.JPG



I bought flip-flops for the ceremony from a BDW bride and heels for my short dress from Davidâ€s Bridal.




reception shoes.JPG



One of the first things I bought when I started planning was my Happy clutch from Davidâ€s Bridal, and I still love it so much! Itâ€s nice and roomy for sunglasses, make-up and other items.


happy clutch.jpg



I got my jewelry from Etsy seller ElegantChicJewel. Great seller who changed the bracelet and necklace lengths for me with no problems.


orchid pearl necklace.jpg





I knew I didnâ€t want to do a veil, so I bought a hair flower from Etsy seller EnchantedlyYours, and I added some Russian netting to it.


hair flower before.jpg





I made my own garter using some tutorials I found online. Al doesnâ€t know about this – tee hee! Go White Sox!


photo 2(1).JPG


photo 3.JPG



My stepdad cuts hair and had one of his coworkers help me set up some extensions and work out a style that I liked. The ship has agreed to open the salon early for me, my mom and my bridesmaids on the morning of the wedding, since we have to be ready by 9:30 AM. Iâ€m taking them a ton of pictures of the trial to work from.


hair inspiration mosaic.jpg



Iâ€ll have to do my own make-up on the ship so I got a ton of make-up advice from a girl who does my nails at Ulta and bought a bunch of products that were recommended by her and online. I did some practicing at home, and it was super fun J


I also bought a bunch of bride shirts and accessories from other BDW brides over the past year. I added a name to the back of one using iron-on lettering. For my shower, my two bridesmaids bought me a little bedazzled Bride zip-up hoodie and yoga pants from Davidâ€s Bridal. It is the cutest thing ever, and I canâ€t wait to wear it!




getting ready outfit.JPG



To be continued...

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Groom Attire & Accessories

My FI is NOT a dress-up/suit kind of guy. He would be miserable in a suit, even a comfy linen one. So we went the casual route. We got his pants from Old Navy and shirt from Kohlâ€s. We actually got him two shirts, one for the island ceremony and one for the shipboard dinner, so he can change back on the boat and feel fresh and clean for dinner! He also will wear some brown leather flip-flops he bought a few years ago that he loves.


al wedding day shirt.JPG



groom pants.jpg



Bridesmaids Attire & Accessories

During our dress shopping weekend road trip to Maryland, we found my dress, my momâ€s dress (Macyâ€s) and dresses for my BMs. We ordered the BMs dresses from Davidâ€s Bridal in the color Malibu. Iâ€m not sure what color dresses they tried on.


BM dresses.JPG


MD Weekend September 2011 025.jpg



We also bought these cute belts with flowers on them to jazz up the dresses a little bit. The girls will wear silver flip-flops, the starfish necklaces I bought them when I asked them to be my BMs, other silver jewelry that they own, blue hair flowers and white sunglasses. I got the hair flowers from Torrid at some ridiculous sale and they were $1/pair. I got the Chanel knockoff sunglasses from Focal Price. I didnâ€t even know they were Chanel knockoffs until they arrived, it wasnâ€t advertised on their site.





Groomsmen Attire & Accessories

We wanted Alâ€s brother, Buster, to be his best man, but he is a Marine and found out a few months ago that he would be deployed a month before the trip. Then his deployment was cancelled. Then it was reinstated. So heâ€s currently serving in Afghanistan, and weâ€ll be filming the ceremony so we can send him the video.


Every time Buster is deployed, this cardboard cutout takes his place at family functions – Cardboard Buster/Daddy. Heâ€s a little beat up after six tours LOL His wife gave us Cardboard Buster to take on the trip, and our groomsman will hold him during the ceremony and weâ€ll take pictures with him at the wedding and throughout the trip.





For our other groomsman and my stepdad, we got shirts from Kohlâ€s and pants from Macyâ€s. We got our GM black sunglasses for the wedding day and asked him to wear brown flip-flops.


groomsmen shirts.jpg

groomsmen pants.JPG





Parents Attire

My mom found her dress during our dress shopping road trip at Macyâ€s during an end-of-summer sale.




My stepdad will wear the same thing as the groomsmen (teal shirt and linen pants), and heâ€ll be the one to walk me down the aisle. I have no idea what Alâ€s mom is going to wear. She does her

own thing, and that is just fine with me!


To be continued...

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I loved brooch bouquets from day one, so I made my own to save a few hundred bucks. Hereâ€s my write-up: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/t/73419/diy-brooch-bouquet





After that write-up, I ended up adding some fabric from my momâ€s wedding dress that she wore when she married my dad, onto the handle of the bouquet.


My dad passed away a few years ago, so I also got a memorial charm made by Etsy seller YourCharmedWedding. I sent the seller two pictures of him at family weddings, and she did a beautiful job.





I made the BM bouquets out of real-touch callas (Hobby Lobby) and cymbidium orchids (www.afloral.com). I also bought initial jewelry for their bouquets from the Oops section on www.bouquetjewels.com. Here is the link to my bridesmaids†bouquet DIY post: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/t/73420/diy-calla-orchid-bridesmaids-bouquets











I loved these boutonnieres I found online but they were way out of my budget, and I knew I could make them on my own. I made the guitar one for Al, and the smaller pick bouts for the groomsmen, my stepdad and one in memory of my dad.


Groom's bout inspiration from www.rosenowfloral.com:




My DIY version:




GMs bout inspiration from etsy seller SurroundingsOnline:

groomsmen boutonneire.jpg



My DIY version:

groomsman bout.JPG





I even made a tiny bout for Cardboard Buster to wear during the wedding.






OOT Bags

I posted a ridiculously pic-heavy thread about my OOT bags here: http://www.bestdestinationwedding.com/t/78482/aciretas-oot-bags-tons-of-pictures-templates. Bags were from Cheap Totes. Most of the paper products I got from Vistaprint. I found all of the contents at various online shops (see OOT thread for sources).













For my BMs, I included some extra goodies in their bags: monogrammed jewelry rolls (Davidâ€s bridal), bridesmaids cosmetics bags (Michaels), shirts for getting ready on the wedding day, some extra Vistaprint items (notebooks, monogrammed sticky notepads), and I paid for their dresses, shoes and hair for the wedding.


bridesmaids packages.JPG



For the shirts for getting ready on the day of the wedding, I bought black tank-tops (Target), rhinestone decals and some iron-on lettering (Michaels).





We also put some extra goodies in our parents OOT bags, mostly team bride/groom stuff (hats, shirts, tote bags).





To be continued...

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Gift for my mom: Card, hair flower (Etsy seller itsashorething), live flower wrist corsage (provided with wedding package instead of a bouquet for me), handkerchief (Etsy seller gosiadesigns) & jewelry (some hotel gift shop in Orlando on a business trip) in clam shell box (Hanson Ellis), packaged in muslin bag (Etsy seller flirtdeux).









Gift for my stepdad: boutonniere & engraved cigar holder (www.mygroomsmengifts.com)





Gift for Alâ€s mom: Card from Al, live flower wrist corsage (provided with wedding package instead of a bouquet for me), handkerchief (Etsy seller gosiadesigns) & jewelry (Etsy seller dazzledesigns) in clam shell box (Hanson Ellis), packaged in muslin bag (Etsy seller flirtdeux).





Gift for BMs: white sunglasses for a photo op at the beach (Focal Price), flowered belts for their dresses (Davidâ€s Bridal) and hair flowers (Torrid).





Gift for GM: engraved pocket watch (www.mygroomsmengifts.com), black sunglasses (Focal Price) and boutonniere. We also gave his girlfriend, my good friend, some jewelry (Etsy seller GetNoticed) and a flower for her hair, and Iâ€m paying to have her hair done with the BMs and me.









My gift to Al on our wedding day will be a BD book. He knew I had done the shoot and that this was coming, but he didnâ€t really know the format. I had these done by Serenity Boudoir in Greyslake, IL. Itâ€s a husband-wife owned studio, I preferred to just work with the wife, and she was wonderful. Harper is the sweetest woman in the world! I wish I could do this again, now that I know how to act and what to expect… maybe someday. I made the tag for the book and a card in a petal fold enclosure to go along with it, inspired by Brandy.




photo 4.JPG


photo 1.JPG










To be continued...

tag for BD book.pptx

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Janelle from Island Bliss Weddings has been a life-saver in organizing a day that could potentially be very hectic. We have to go to the courthouse before the ceremony to get the license. The ceremony will be on the grass at Limetree Beach (aka Bluebeardâ€s) at 11 AM, followed by lunch at Iggieâ€s Beach Bar at noonish. Not including us, we have 19 guests attending, 13 cruising and 6 meeting us on the island.


Weâ€ve been able to customize everything with Janelle, from the arch fabric color, to the palm/conch aisle, chairs, ceremony refreshments, etc. Weâ€ll have a steel drum player for the hour that weâ€re at the ceremony, along with rum punch, ice water and champagne for everyone. This is the general idea of our ceremony set-up:





Instead of a pillow or bowl, weâ€ll be using an engraved shell (Hanson Ellis) to hold our rings.







I bought bamboo and paper fans from a BDW member, and I made tears of joy packets, which will all be set up in a black basket with blue ribbon trim.


fans and tissue basket.JPG





To remember my dad, weâ€ll be reserving a chair for him at the ceremony. I have a frame with “In memoriam†in it and a boutonniere for him on the chair.


memorial chair setup.JPG



I made reserved signs for chairs for our parents, which I shipped to Janelle with other ceremony items about a month before the trip.



reserved chair inspiration.jpg







Conducting our ceremony will be Janelleâ€s husband, Stuart Scott. She gave us versions of the script he uses, and we were able to adjust it to fit us. It didnâ€t really need any work, it was beautiful. I made a little cover for it.











Our photographer is Eric from Paradise Pictures. His pictures are gorgeous, vibrant, happy pictures, which is exactly what we were looking for. Weâ€ll be paying a rush fee to get the pictures in time to make a slideshow for our AHR, two weeks after we return. I canâ€t wait to get a petal toss photo at the ceremony site!!


paradise pics.jpg



I also made some signs for a photo op – “Thank You!†on one side, and “Iâ€m His/Her Mr./Mrs.†on the other.









We are having a shoreside lunch after the ceremony at a little beachside bar called Iggieâ€s Beach Bar at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. Itâ€s a very casual location, and weâ€ll just tell people to order what they want, and weâ€ll pick up the tab for everyoneâ€s food and drinks.





The wedding package from Island Bliss also comes with a cake which will be served at the lunch reception. Weâ€ll be having yellow cake, white frosting, and simple blue accent frosting, with green orchids and white roses as a cake topper.


cake inspiration 1.JPG



After the wedding, weâ€ll just hang out at Bolongo Bay with our on-island guests, since we only have a few hours to spend with them before getting back on the boat. I figure if cruising guests want to explore St. Thomas, thatâ€s cool. We just plan to spend as much time as possible with the guests who arenâ€t cruising.


We plan to have dinner in the formal dining room with all of our guests that evening, wearing our wedding clothes (havenâ€t decided if Iâ€m going to wear my short or long dress). Then we can party in the shipâ€s club after dinner!





To be continued...

reserved signs for chairs.docx

mr mrs thank you signs.docx

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Other Wedding Events

My aunts threw me a bridal shower in January. My cousin designed the invitations.







The most amazing thing about my shower was that my two best friends surprised me by flying in from DC and showing up the morning of my shower. They just walked into my room like it was no big deal while I was getting ready, and I just about lost my mind. They had been planning it for four months, and my FI and pretty much every single person in my life knew about it and didnâ€t let on. They also planned a bachelorette evening for me to Blue Man Group and a party at the house afterward. It was the greatest present they could have ever given me.







My stepdadâ€s sister made the centerpieces for the shower – towel animals like they leave in your stateroom on cruise ships every night.





My mom got the cake made using the same ribbon and monogram from our invitations, with little fondant towel swans as the cake topper! It was the cutest thing Iâ€ve ever seen!





I made sugar scrubs as a thank you for the shower guests. From what Iâ€ve heard, some people need refills! I used a bunch of different scents from the soap making section at Michaels, including coconut, mango, pink grapefruit, lavender, melon…





The star of my shower – my cousinâ€s baby girl, Ella, with my mom.





During the cruise, weâ€ve planned a few things that folks are welcome to join us for if they want. Sail away cocktail party on the first evening of the cruise – weâ€ll pick up the tab for drinks for our guests before dinner.





We rented a cabana on Half Moon Cay for everyone to use while weâ€re on the island on the second day of our trip.





Last Fling before the Ring: weâ€re asking the guys to meet Al in the casino, and the girls to meet me in the dance club for a little partying on the night before the wedding, just something very informal.





Back to Reality Cocktail Party (last night of the cruise) – just a little chance for everyone to get together and prepare to get back to reality J


Almost done...

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