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Entries by Becca Ruiz (202)


Festival Friday Wedding Week Edition

It's kind of a diversion for Festival Friday this week, but in the spirit of wedding week - Wedding Music.

Inspired by friends and their weddings, I wanted our wedding to be made by us as much as possible. My original inspiration for our ceremony music was that we would each write our processionals and then write our recessional together. It didn't happen that way though. That picture? That's me on the morning of the wedding trying not to freak out and write something. So we both ended up writing our own processionals but ended up using a song by Explosions in the Sky for our recessional.

If you're not musically inclined, here are some non-traditional suggestions for the ceremony:

"The Light" - Mason Jennings: Depending on your style of wedding, you might want to fade it out before the build. Mason Jennings has a couple of other songs that would be sweet for a wedding too.

"Imagine" - John Lennon: I looped the intro of this for my friend's wedding. It works because you can make it last long if needed, and it's hard to get sick of that progression.

"Falling Slowly" - Swell Season: Maybe it didn't work out for them, but as long as you don't find that ominous, I think it's still a great song. Glen Hansard is probably one of the most entrancing musicians I've seen, it's crazy. If you ever get the chance - take it. (well, if you like his music, of course)

Erik Satie - Go to the library, open up spotify, whatever you use, and listen to all the Gymnopedies.

Yann Tiersen - his music for Amelie was so enchanting.

"Snow and Lights" - Explosions in the Sky: This is what we used for our recessional. I wanted it to be a bursting forth. "Catastrophe and the Cure" and "So Long, Lonesome" also have a good walking pace to them. And they're long, so if you have to get a bunch of people down an aisle, you're good to go.

For our reception, we used an iPod preloaded with an extensive playlist for dinner and a separate list for the dance. We also had a back-up iPod with the same lists, just in case. If you decide to dj yourself, make sure that you have someone in charge to take requests, perhaps adjusting what comes next as needed, and warding off any guests wanting a change mid-song. With all of the on-demand music options now, it's even easier than ever to create an extensive and diverse playlist.

Honestly, my husband's got a knack for this sort of thing and he did a great job assembling what music we would need. It was a mix of songs he knew everyone would want to dance to, plus music that we enjoy as well. Click here for the songs we put in our playlist. There are some classics in there, songs that were heavy into our rotation at the time, and some personal favorites.

The key to picking out music is to remember your audience. Do you care what songs are played while your grandparents are still dancing? What about children? Would some of the songs offend your guests? Frontload with classics, current hits, and favorites - save some of your own favorites for the last half of the dance. That should help you keep people dancing until it's time to go.


Wedding Week: The Dress

Originally I planned on posting about how it all came together, but I have a few odds and ends to work on.  Anyway, tomorrow, the wedding but today the dress.

Ah, the dress.

The dress was inspired by a Vera Wang dress I tried on at a Macy's Vera Wang trunk show. There were two dresses that were so stunning, my mom offered to buy one of them right then. But I had a different idea. I wanted to make my dress. My mom and then-future-mother-in-law both sew as well, and I wanted the dress to be made by all of us. We went fabric shopping together, and we were supposed to make the dress together but timing didn't end up working well. My mom did help me with the mock-up though and Raulie's mom helped me finishing the dress frantically right before the wedding.

Originally I was thinking of an empire dress with flowing layers of waffled organza, but when we got to the fabric store, we found something different.

The ombre organza beneath the lace goes from pale blue to a dark green (our colors were green, blue and brown - very earthy spring), and the lace was just perfect: petals attached that saturated towards the bottom with a leaf pattern. Our wedding was on Arbor Day and it felt so fitting.

My friend whose feet are shown in the picture above described my look as Victorian-20s-Modern. The bodice and underlying silk layer were from another friend's wedding dress. Graciously given to me, I took the off-white organza and silk from the bottom half, and saved her bodice and lace for her. 

The last thing I wanted for my dress was to be able to wear it later. I still haven't touched it, but if I got rid of the train, I think it would work well. Or removing the lace and just leave the ombre organza.

But the best part of my dress? I could still play in it.





Wedding Week: The Planning


Oh the planning - so many people dread this part but I love it. These are some things  that helped me through, or I learned the hard way. Our goal was to have a nice wedding for 200 guests as cost effective as possible. I delegated out a lot of tasks to the most wonderful helpful friends and family, and we did a lot of work ourselves as well. I still owe a lot of thanks to everyone who helped us, it is so nice to have so many talented and giving people in our lives. Anyway, the stuff I learned and the stuff I did:

- Find a timeline. This will help you know if you're on track or not. There are so many ways to do this: pick up a bridal magazine, there's usually one in there; buy a wedding planner (I recommend the The Bride's Essential Wedding Planner for anyone. It has all the questions you need to know, and places to keep track of the answers while you research. Plus it's not the usual binder size, so it's more discreet to carry around or have on a table as you go over plans with your loved one), or use a website.

What I wish I had done: Make every deadline one week ahead of what the planner said on my own calendar. I'm a procrastinator, and if I had given myself a little leeway, things might have been a bit better at the end.

Post a To-Do where you both can see it: Ours were taped to the dining room wall. This way, you have to see it every day and you also get to cross off items as they get done with a large marker. It's so satisifying, like popping bubble wrap.

Have a place to brainstorm: I used a binder, but if a file folder works better for you, or a Pinterest page, maybe a file on Google Drive - then go for it. But keep it in one spot. Also, both of us had a notebook for the wedding counseling and to keep notes in to help us decide different things. Which brings me to...

Brainstorm separately, compare, compromise: This is probably one of the things we do the most in our relationship, and it works. It helps you figure out what each person wants, and then be able to find what it is you want as a couple as well. Sometimes it's easy because the other person does not care at all whether the flowers are real or paper...

- Walk through the day in your head. Where do people get ready? Where do they meet? When? Where are photos? What kind of photos? How many? When do we need to set up the space? What is the schedule for the evening? I went through the whole day piece by piece, and then figured out the timing.

What I wish I had done: After the ceremony, things get really crazy. Have an alarm set on someone's phone or watch 15 minutes before each thing is supposed to happen. For example: everyone should be seated for dinner at 7:00 - have the maid/man of honor's alarm go off at 6:45 to make sure the receiving line is done and you are on the way to the table. Toasts at 8:00? Best Person's alarm is set to 7:45 and they make sure that all of the wedding party is seated and ready to go.

- Visualize the space and ask how it happened: what are the decorations? How is it set up? I sketched it out and then worked backwards: how did they get there? Where did they come from? Where do they go? Who takes them away?

What I wish I had done: Test out some of the decorations beforehand. Hanging fabric from the brick wall was terrible. We could only ducktape things up and during the ceremony, one of the pieces slowly slowly fell off the wall. It was painful for me because every part of my body just wanted to pause the ceremony, run over to the wall and resecure it. (no, I'm not obsessive or anything, not at all...)

- Assign people to tasks. I looked at who would be available when, and started assigning tasks. I tried to give people tasks that fit their strengths - musicians handled the PA system, more arty friends handled some decorating, more time-conscious people were set with time sensitive tasks, etc. My sister was our wedding go-to person the day of. I gave her a binder with the tips for the various people we hired, a master seating chart, a list of what each guest ordered for dinner, the schedules, and each person's responsibility. One other part I loved: between the ceremony and dinner, I had two people load up all the presents and deliver them back to our apartment. This way we didn't have to worry about it later in the evening when everyone was tired along with loading up the PA system.

What I wish I had done: Either given my sister one or two helpers, or had two people in charge of the wedding day. It was probably a little too much for one person.

- Type it up. I typed up a schedule and packing lists. At the rehearsal, I gave a packet of the wedding day schedule, responsibility lists and packing lists to each person. Then I went over the schedule and made sure no one had any questions or problems.

What I wish I had done: Assign someone to double check the packed items. I just left it to all of us, and things got forgotten. Also - assign a second person to triple check. Just in case.

Secondly, if the turnaround time between your ceremony and reception is only a cocktail hour - contact anyone (such as relatives like grandparents) you would like to have a formal picture with and designate a time to get together before the wedding. If they can't make it beforehand, have a clear time set with your photographer to make sure you don't forget about it later. Because making everyone wear the outfit they were wearing to the wedding at the next family event is kind of awkward.

Sure some of it seems like a lot, but being thorough and clearly delegating helps save time in the long run. The day goes by fast. Really fast. Too fast. Structure and planning will help you make sure that you don't forget to do something you'll regret later.



Four years ago this week, my husband and I got married. So for the rest of the week I'll have memories, tips and photos of what worked, what didn't work and how we made our wedding ours.


Festival Friday Playlist

Songs that make me smile and think of summer (in no particular order, sorry, I hadn't planned on the 2 hours of shovelling this morning):

"Wrote a Song for Everyone" - Mavis Staples

"Stay Positive" - The Hold Steady

"As We Enter" - Nas & Damian Marley

"Race for the Prize" - The Flaming Lips (or "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1")

"Take Your Mama Out" - Scissor Sisters

"All My Friends" - LCD Soundsystem

"Heavy Metal Drummer" - Wilco

"Circuital" - My Morning Jacket

"In the Sun" - She & Him

"Sunshine" - Atmosphere

"Too Many Rappers" Beastie Boys (or "Sabotage")

"Art Star" - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Anyone else catch the Coachella live stream last week? So amazing!)

Let's start a new week and make it a better one. Maybe starting with a random act of kindness, maybe we can get the week started on a good note. Just imagine if we all did one good thing for someone else...