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Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree...

Due to an unpleasant tree experience last year (see me for details), Al and I were quite glad to have a stress-free tree outing this year!

We decided not to cut the tree down ourselves (good decision #1) for the first time in our relationship, and went to a lot in Champaign instead. We found a beautiful tree with short needles, which are easily vacuumed (good decision #2). Finally, we made tree decorating into a fabulously Christmas-y event which took place the FOLLOWING night, seeing as we were both feeling exhausted (good decision #3)!

On that glorious Monday night of tree decorating, Al and I started with some fancy seasonal eggnog.

Al and I then turned on Scrooged (an uplifting Christmas classic), and began our lovely decorating adventure!

The tree turned out so pretty...and the perfect dog-admiring-Christmas-tree pose is not too shabby either!

We finally did it!

For the past two years, Al and I have gone pumpkin-pickin' and never actually carved them. This year was a first!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kim's Engagement ParTAY

Tonight was the night we celebrated Kim and Ryan's engagement! I am so excited for these two. They have such a special bond, and I feel very lucky to be involved in their life together!

The evening started out with some tasty food and drinks. We all sat around and chatted, but were anxiously awaiting what we had all come there to find out...Kim and Ryan's wedding date! However, we patiently enjoyed our dinners and continued visiting with one another. It was really nice to get to spend some time with Kim and Ryan's family members and closest friends. Both of them are very lucky to have supportive families who love them and are so excited for the wedding!

Such was evidenced by Kim's dad, Tim's sweet announcement of congratulations after dinner. He recalled a family bowling night during which the Ludwigs first met Ryan, and his beautiful daughter, Sam, and it was so clear how much of a bond this family has already formed.

Directly afterwards, Kim and Ryan made the big announcement! They are getting married on June 18, 2011 in Urbana! YAY! This, of course, is the weekend before the Al and I get married, so this will be a very busy and fun-filled couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to it!

We all relaxed and visited with one another before Kim and Ryan made their second big announcement: who the bridal party and groomsmen would be. Kim asked her bridesmaids to be involved with very sweet, personalized photo cards and Ryan asked his groomsmen by awarding them a medal! What a fun way to tell everyone!

I know Kim and I are now both counting down to our wedding days, and are running around super busy trying to get everything done, but I feel so lucky to have one of my best friends going through this with me at the same time. It's nice to be able to share our joy with each other over this huge event, and admittedly, many of our frustrations as well. I'm so glad to have such wonderful friends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kimmy d. finds THE dress!

Tonight, I accompanied one of my very best friends, and bridesmaids, Kim Ludwig to her champagne appointment at Michelle's Bridal to look for her wedding dress. Kim had already tried on a few dresses elsewhere, but was really excited to see what Michelle's had in store for her.

Kim told her giant group of fans ahead of time what she thought she would be interested in, and we all searched for dresses that fit the bill, while sipping champagne/grape juice and snacking on hors d'ouvres. I can't share pics of any of the dresses, for obvious reasons, but everything looked amazing on her! We all had fun playing dress-up with our little Kimmy doll!

Afterwards, the ladies of the bridal party searched for our bridesmaid dresses in Kim's chosen color, pool. It's a very pretty light blue that I think will be gorgeous on everyone on the big day.

After taking care of all of the important stuff, Colleen, Kim, and I snuck off to M2, the section of the store devoted to outfitting girls for special occasions like dances. They were having a big sale and Coco found the perfect gown!

This was a wonderful night filled with lots of wedding excitement. Thank you to Kim for including me in all of the important decisions leading up to your big day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alberto's Birthday

This year, Al's birthday was so incredibly relaxing. Most of it was spent being lazy on the couch, which, apparently was just what he wanted!

However, the day before Al's birthday, his wonderful friend, Greg planned a special birthday tailgate. Despite the freezing weather, it was awesome to get to celebrate Al's 32nd birthday with some of his best friends at the Illini game and tailgate. 

I cooked breakfast for us in the morning, and we watched movies for most of the afternoon. Of course, there was a strong focus on delicious food all day, which is why I cooked Alberto red velvet birthday whoopie pies.

I'm so lucky to have such an amazing man as my fiance! I can't wait to plan his next birthday as his wife!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wedding Dress Shopping

Today was by far the most fun day I've had so far throughout wedding planning. I met up with my mom, sister, and my Grandma Michelle at Starbucks in the morning to sip gingerbread lattes and look over several pictures of dresses I was thinking about.

A bit later, we headed over to Michelle's in Urbana for my first appointment. A few minutes in, I was joined by Kim and Abbie, two of my bridesmaids, my good friend, Emily, and Al's mom, Mary, and sister, Sarah. I sat down briefly with my consultant, Keely, and went over my budget and expectations.

We began browsing and, to my dismay, most of the dresses were well beyond my budget. My family and friends suggested I look through the selection of bridesmaid dresses, as they would all be available in different variations of white, and many were quite beachy. :)

Right before heading to the dressing room, my grandma called me to the back of the store and pulled out a dress that had caught her eye. I could tell it was worth much more than I was willing to spend, but she insisted I try it, and I  (not so reluctantly) agreed. As I began getting into the dresses, Keely suggested I switch off between the bridesmaid dresses and the formal gowns, so that's what I did!

It was kind of hard to see the final product in the bridesmaid dresses, as they were all different colors, but some of them ended up fitting very nicely, and really did look beach-friendly.

However, once I started trying on the formal wedding gowns, I definitely saw the difference! It was so much fun getting to try on these beautiful dresses, and I actually loved just about everything I tried on. In the end, it came down to three dresses that I was in love with. I ruled one of them out somewhat quickly because the shape did less for me than the others. In the end though, I had to choose between the one that my grandma had picked out and another of the same price right next to it that had caught my eye while we were browsing.

Of course, I'm not going to post a picture of the dress I chose, but it is absolutely beautiful. I've been sneaking peeks at my pictures ever since coming home from shopping. I can't wait to show Al on the day of our wedding! It's going to feel like a long wait, now that I have something I'm absolutely dying to wear...

Also, I have to publicly declare how incredibly thankful I am to my grandma, not only for helping to pay for (a lot of) my dress, but for driving all the way down here to share in this special day with me. It was so nice to have so many people I loved there!

Of course, since I was trying on wedding dresses today, I didn't eat anything all morning to feel super skinny! ;) All of us starving ladies, headed out to The Olive Garden for soup, salad, and breadsticks. Yum! Unfortunately, we ended up waiting over 30 minutes just to get seated, which was totally understandable, but then waited another 15ish minutes for anyone to come to our table. When someone finally did stop by to get our drink orders, it was because Al's sister, Holly got up to find our server. Lunch ended up going on for about 2 hours, due to even more very slow service, but I was secretly thankful for that time to spend with all of my favorite girls! Al's mom, Mary ended up treating me to lunch as well...I felt like such a spoiled girl today!

Because I had already found the dress of my dreams, there was no need to attend my David's Bridal appointment. However, I was hoping to look through bridesmaid dresses there instead to see if I could find anything more fitting, considering the dress I chose. I had Katy and Kim be my models and we chose the dress below in the color 'watermelon', which Kim is wearing in the first picture and Katy is wearing in the second.

Finally, after choosing the perfect wedding dress and bridesmaid dress, my mom, sister, grandma, and I headed back to my apartment to relax a little, visit with Al, and taste-test the delicious cookies my grandpa Don made for me this morning! YUM! We wound up the fun-filled day with dinner at El Toro. So much food and love today!

I had an absolute blast today, and am so thankful to my best friends and family for being there and helping me to choose the perfect dress! It was a wonderful day!