I know this week I was supposed to be talking about where to start when it comes to wedding planning, but I attended such an awesome wedding over the weekend, and I just had to share it! That’s ok. We’ll catch up next week.
One of my dearest friends got married on Saturday at the Hidden Valley Retreat and Spa in Escondido, California. It was one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in a long time. I love living in a big city, but the traffic, constant horn honking, noise, lack of nature, long lines, and busy lifestyle is wearing at times. It was so nice to spend the weekend unplugged from technology, catching up with old friends.
My outdoor yoga studio for the weekend. Namaste.
If you are looking for a unique venue in southern California where you can throw a multi-day affair, Hidden Valley is definitely a spot you should consider. The property is so beautiful, you will not need to spend a dime on ceremony decorations. They have an indoor event center, but I have also seen pictures around the web of people who held their dinner and reception outside.
The property is nestled among oak groves and has a raw beauty that is second to none. There are pick-your-own apple, pear, fig, persimmon, and grapefruit trees on the grounds. Hidden Valley also has on-site accommodations that can sleep up to 40 guests, which makes things really easy if you have folks coming in from out of town.
I became Mrs. Cucina Kristina on April 21 of this year. I had planned on blogging throughout the entire process, but between wedding planning, work, and being a full-time grad student, I never managed to find the time. Now that the wedding has passed, and I have had some time to reflect on all the work I did, I thought I would start a series on here to showcase all of the DIY projects I tackled during my wedding. DIY projects are the best way to keep your budget at bay so if you are trying to pinch your pennies I have a ton of ideas to help you out! I’ll also offer up some advice and tips for managing your wedding that I learned throughout my engagement. If you are newly engaged, congratulations! If you are in the midst of wedding planning, hang in there! It will all be worth it in the end.
I am not one of those girls that has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a little girl, so I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to plan the entire wedding on my own. The internet can be so helpful but so overwhelming at the same time. There are millions of websites to sift through and hundreds of options to choose from for everything. You want blue table cloths? Be prepared to thumb through an entire binder of various shades, patterns, and fabrics.
My first piece of advice would be to enjoy your engagement. This might sound silly, but my husband and I no sooner announced our engagement when people started asking us where we were getting married, what date we chose, what our colors were going to be, what kind of dress I wanted to wear, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice that people were excited, but the wedding planning process is such a whirlwind you should take some time to enjoy being engaged. Go to a romantic dinner (or two) and let the fact that you are going to be married really sink in! Plus, your partner-to-be probably put a lot of thought into how he or she (it’s 2012, people!) was going to pop the question, and you should give them some time to enjoy the spotlight without rushing straight into wedding planning.
Speaking of popping the question, if you can (I am speaking to the proposer here), hire a photographer or ask a friend to take photos while you propose. My husband’s photographer friend donated his time to do this for us, and I am so happy to have those photos as a keepsake. If you propose in a crowded public place, chances are someone will snap a photo of you and email it to you. If you are lucky and propose in a more private forum, there may be a secret photographer waiting in the wings. However, don’t bank on that because a proposal is a special moment that you can never replicate and you definitely want to document it if you can!
Hello Internet! My, how I’ve missed you. Ugh, I apologize for my lapse in posting, my absence has been weighing heavily on my mind over the past few weeks. I planned on doing some catch up blogging while I was in southern California over the weekend, but I didn’t have the free time I thought I would have while I was away (funny how that always happens). The good news is, I have quite a few posts sitting in my drafts folder so you will not be deprived for long.
Blush Bridal Couture - Tustin, CA
I spent five wedding-centric days in California running from bridal shop to bridal shop looking for my dress and bouncing between department stores to finalize our registry. I am 98% certain I found the dress I am going to wear on my wedding day which is so exciting I can’t explain it. However, I want to wait ~3 weeks and try it on again with fresh eyes to make sure it is the dress and not just the best dress I tried on that weekend. I was home for such a limited amount of time and must have tried on about 50 dresses between the 4 bridal stores we went to. I feel slightly snobby for saying this, but after a while the dresses all start to look the same. I would definitely recommend against marathon dress shopping to a future bride-to-be. Unless you absolutely have to cram it all into one weekend, take your time and enjoy it. Wedding dress shopping is so much fun, there is no need to rush the experience. To the left is a poof-tastic dress I tried at the request of my bridesmaid, Christy. Not “the dress,” obviously, but it was fun mix things up and try on dresses that were completely not my style.
Alfred Angelo - Huntington Beach, CA
Wedding dress shopping was a blast! I was shocked. I expected shopping for a wedding gown to be like shopping for regular clothes, where you try on 100 things and only a handful flatter your figure. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each dress I tried on was more beautiful and more elegant than the one before it and it is impossible to look bad in a wedding dress (THANK YOU, Catherine de Médicis for inventing the corset!). To the right is another princess-style gown I tried on at the request of my Matron of Honor, Devon, and my mother. Can you tell how thrilled I am to have it on by the expression on my face? The princess-style gown has never been my thing. In fairness to this dress, it did not photograph that well. The skirt was speckled with sparkle so it twinkled as you moved, it was definitely better looking in person.
Matron of Honor - Devon, Bridesmaid - Christy, and Me
To the left, is a picture of half of my bridal party and me at Alfred Angelo. Can I stop for a second and brag about the gift Devon gave to me? She gave me her copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings. It’s my first wedding-related “something old.” She also gave me my first “something new.” A planner so I can keep track of important dates over the next year. I opened it to find that she had already circled our wedding date and filled out a few other dates for me. Like, December 14 – Jesse’s last non-married birthday and April 22 – You will wake up as husband and wife. How adorably sweet is that?! I can’t stand it. But, that is why I picked her to be my MOH.
If you live in the southern California area and need some bridal shop recommendations, you can read my reviews and experiences on Yelp.
Yesterday marked 1 year from the date of my upcoming wedding day. Eek! That sounds far away, but I am sure it will sneak up on us before we know it. My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding ourselves so over the next year I plan on taking on a bunch of DIY projects so that the bulk of our budget can be put towards our reception. The current projects I will be taking on are:
Save the dates
- Flower girl basket/ring bearers pillow(s)
- Table centerpieces/Head table decorations
- Place cards
- Card Box
Phew! That seems like a manageable list right now, but I am sure most of those things will prove to be very time-consuming. We’ll see how realistic that list is in about 6 months.
As a bride-to-be, I will also be losing weight and will use this blog as a vehicle for posting recipes and pictures of food. I’ve been an avid food blog reader for the past few years and have always wanted to start my own food blog. I experiment a lot in my kitchen and would love to share my recipes with you. Yes, you. My readers! I cook mostly vegetarian foods, but live with a ravenous carnivore so there will be some meat recipes in there for you animal eaters. I am not a vegetarian, and I do not want to give the impression that I am. Serious vegetarians frown upon that and I am here to share my life with you, not to upset people. I just happen to love produce, vegetables, and fruits and find myself drawn to plant and legume-based recipes.
So, welcome! Please come back and visit often.