Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Venue That Was...

The search for a reception venue was frustrating, to say the least. Looking back on it, I spent a week or so, sending out emails and looking through magazines. I narrowed it down to a few sites around locations we were interested in, but nothing that suited us seemed to fit in our budget. And then one Sunday morning, I picked up a magazine and thought to myself "I've got some time to kill, might as well look through this thing before I toss it." And that's how I stumbled across our venue.

Meet Saltwater Farm Vineyard--

View of the exterior

View of the vines in Winter

Wine display in the entryway

Fermenting tanks in the main room

View of the second floor balcony - you can the exposed wood that was left in tact from the airplane hangar

I had to visit this place. One weekend, when Mr. Marmalade was home for a visit, we got up early and drove two hours from home to take a look for ourselves. We were floored by the beautiful site; it was peaceful, the views were just stunning, the building was a gorgeous balance of vintage and modern.

In their words:

"Saltwater Farm Vineyard is set on more than 100 panoramic acres - 15 of which are planted with six varieties of grapes, and bordered by tidal marshes, a cove and vistas of Long Island Sound, near the historic New England coastal village of Stonington, Connecticut. The centerpiece of the bucolic property, which has a small private airport dating to the late 1930s, is a World War II - vintage hangar, designed by the late architect John W. Lincoln, a colleague of Walter Gropius. The hangar, opening onto terraces and the vineyard, has been preserved and converted into a winery. The seamlessly renovated building showcases a vaulting roof, silvery milled aluminum exterior, the original interior wood sheathing and, dominating the airy room and gathering places, handsome and massive timber trusses." - From the Saltwater Farm Vineyard site.

Perfection.  As a wine geek that grew up in coastal Connecticut, a seaside vineyard is a dream!  Add the history of the airplane hanger and we were both sold.  

We were so happy to meet with the owners of Saltwater Farm. They were so kind, and warm. They are wonderful, friendly, down to earth people. We were so excited to work with them! (I believe the first thing I said to Mr. M when I saw them was, "oh my gosh, they're so cool!") Working with them was by far the easiest decision I have made about anything related to our wedding, at that point.

We put down a deposit and started planning an intimate, semi-destination wedding on a seaside vineyard.  But it wasn't meant to be (it still hurts to look at these images).  

Did you find a dream venue? Was it just a dream, or did it become a reality?

**All photos of Saltwater Farm Vineyard are my personal photos.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weighing the Options - Military Wedding? Pt. 3

Or, "What are You Talking a Bout?"

All corny (and sad) jokes aside, boutonnieres are cool. No, not cool. Beautiful. And masculine. Right?  I'm trying to sell this to the mister here.  What I'm trying to say is that I see boutonnieres as an opportunity to get creative with flowers. And, I love flowers. 

Just look at these gorgeous, cool, beautiful, yet masculine bouts:

Image via OnceWed / Photo by Martha Manning for Missy Mclamb PhotographersAshely Blencoe of Studio Blencoe

That's something a guy would wear without too much protest, right?

This one is more for me. The classic and simple boutonniere, a single bloom. That pop of color! And how could I resist dahlias?

Image via / Photo by Erin Hearts Court

Now how cool is that? It's not a "girly" floral bout, now is it? And it's still beautiful. For the record, whoever picked up a succulent and thought "you know, I bet this would be amazing as a boutonniere..." was right.

Image via Brides.Com / Photo by JK Photography

Fiddleheads add a modern and whimsical touch to florals. Just look at that bout right there! They are also never going to be that close to Mr. Marmalade, EVER. Like, EVER EVER. Because he hates them with a passion. It has something to do with being forced to eat them raw for days on end while doing some outdoors-y stuff.  So strike that idea!

Sadly my relationship with flowers is one sided.  I love flowers, but flowers don't love me back. Because if they did, I bet they wouldn't be as expensive as they are. Boutonnieres may be small (compared to bouquets) but the cost can add up, big time. Especially with up to ten groomsmen!

But I recently learned an interesting fact: boutonnieres are not worn with military dress.  They aren't permitted.

Hmm...that sounds like a cut in the budget that I can deal with!
I think we have a tie here! (That's one point for pretty flowers, and a point for cost-savings.)

Military Wedding 2

Non Military Wedding 2

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Want What? Where?!?

Budget,'s all the same to me. After a few weeks of riding the wave of euphoria that followed our engagement, I was brought back down to reality by the BUDGET (insert shreiks of horror here)!!

So when Boo asked me how much weddings cost around here, I choked. The thought of setting a budget is pretty scary, especially since I have absolutely no idea how much these things cost. It's not like people run around telling you how much they paid for their lovely wedding, and it's not like I can go up to them and ask. "Hey Julie! Your wedding last June was AWESOME! We really had a great time--the food was great, the band was amazing, and the cake, well YUM. And speaking of cake, how much did you pay for that, because man! It was goood!" Ok, the thought of talking like that to a friend of mine, or anyone for that matter, is officially scarier than coming up with a budget...

I turned to the next best thing. Google. And I found This tool right here is a dream. It's not to be used as the be-all and end-all factor in planning a wedding, but for two people going into this with zero experience, it's a great starting point. SoI quickly started punching the zip codes of the locations we tossed around.

Our hometown (CT): $29,985 - $49,975

Garrison, NY: $36,410 - $60,684

New Haven, CT: $13,922 - $23,203

New Rochelle, NY: $32,739 - $54,565

Yes, the picture was becoming clearer. And it looked something like this:

To be continued...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

And rainbows, and kittens, and bunnies, and tulle, and satin. That's what this place has (in spades):

So they might not actually have kittens and bunnies and all. I'm sure they're probably a little skiddish about having kitties around the dresses, but you know what I mean. Today is my first visit to Kleinfeld! Scratch that--it's actually my Cuz's first visit to Kleinfeld, and I'm tagging along as part of my co-MOH duties. And by duty I mean that I am really really excited to see her trying beautiful dresses on! I have a feeling that she will try on no more than 3 and find the one. I also predict that I will cry because I'm a sap, and co-MOH S will well up and start a chain reaction. Guaranteed.

Weighing the Options - Military Wedding? Pt. 2

Cool, modern suits?

Image via JCrew.Com
Or the classic dress uniform?

Image via MarlowWhite.Com

 Image via
Raow.  I know some women love a man in uniform.  And I love my man, who happens to wear a uniform when the occasion calls for it (looks good doing it too).  But, did you see those J.Crew models sophisticated suits?  They are much more my speed and they are more like what I had in mind when I envisioned our wedding. 

Eh hem--

Military Wedding 1

Non Military Wedding 1

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Re: "Have You Set a Date?"

Right after Mr. M proposed, the questions started coming.  It was a little overwhelming.  And by a little, I mean--whoa.  The thrill of the proposal was nearly overshadowed by the reality the next year would bring.  So, let's join the past Lady M...

I know nothing.

Image via AllPosters.Com / Photo by Albert Eisenstaedt

I have a ring. It's a gorgeous ring: sparkly, classic, more than I could have imagined. But what's next? For most people the next steps might involve creating a budget, finding a venue, and picking a date. Except we're waiting for another date. You see, we can't plan much of anything until we know the date of his next deployment.


I know, I've been reminded more times than I would like just how hard it is to be married to someone in the military. Eh hem, for example

WELL-MEANING FRIEND #1:  "What do you mean you might be deploying in April? You said it was going to be August! What happened?" 
WELL-MEANING FRIEND #2: "HA--welcome to the military!

That joke is...funny, isn't it?  Separation is a hoot!  

Deployment isn't the only hurdle. Maintaining contact isn't always easy when he's stateside either.  Hoping that he will return from field training on a date that he was supposed to have returned, only to return a week later? Yeah, I guess the standard thing to say there is "at least he's in training, where you know he's safe." And that's absolutely right. Training is vitally important, it's what keeps him safe and sound.  I agree wholeheartedly. 100%.

But it's hard thinking about the good things to come, like planning a wedding to your best friend or a marriage for that matter, when you aren't actually in control of anything. But it's not impossible. So far, I've learned that the key is flexibility.

Once we know the date of his deployment and return, everything else will start coming together. This may mean that we get married sooner than we thought, or it could mean getting married a heck of a lot later than we want [Present Day Miss M here: 19 month engagement wins!]. Dates, and dresses, and rings, and vows are secondary to the big picture at this point. Will I get upset sometimes? Hell yes. Thankfully I have a great group of people to listen to me gripe about things that no one can change, and then, POOF--back to reality. Get over it, move on. Focus on what's important.

So, I don't know exactly what I am getting myself into as far as marrying a man in the military is concerned. Too bad, I'll have to learn it on the fly, I suppose. What I know is that whether it be in a courthouse or a church, this year or next, I get to marry the the love of my life.

To answer the question "so, have you set a date yet?"--no, not yet.

So military spouses to-be, did you have a tough time setting a date?  Did you find it hard to explain your reasoning?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Words & Lines - Lines & Words

Candles are gorgeous--at least when they are lit. They are not inherently gorgeous. I've never found myself looking at an unlit and unscented candle and thought to myself "this. is. ba-nanas. I must buy it."  

But I am getting off topic here. Candles, when lit ablaze, are in fact a beautiful way to add romantic ambiance to an otherwise blah setting. They are also a whole lot cheaper than flowers. So, hello new friends! And when candles become luminaries, magic happens.  Just look:

 Image via The Treasured Petal

This picture started it all. This picture is to blame! I found it via the lovely Mrs. Parfait. Forget the flowers for a moment, even when I knew practically nothing about our wedding, I could say that those luminaries would be making an appearance at our wedding.  They're just more my speed.

And I think they will be a great way to incorporate bits and pieces of information about us, without shouting them at the top of our lungs, so to speak.

Things like:
  • Once upon a time we played music together (literally, that was not a euphemism), we were orchestra nerds in high school. We could use some old sheet music that I still have stored away somewhere!
  • We grew up in coastal CT. He spent much of his childhood sailing, I spent much of mine hanging out at the beach (he wins). So I'm hoping that we'll be able to dig up some old nautical charts to use.
  • The Marmalades love to read!  And there's one story that's really dear to us, "The Little Prince." We love it so much that we're including it in our ceremony.  So why not keep the love going?
    My favorite part is that it's subtle--it's not anchors or music notes on our stationary (because I'm too indecisive to pick a motif) but it conveys the same idea. It's beautiful to see these everyday objects transformed by candlelight, until all you can see are black lines and words against the illuminated background.

    I've started compiling a bunch of documents and books that represent these little things, and I plan on transferring them to vellum. Hopefully, with a little Mod Podge and some votive candles these sophisticated luminaries will be ours!

    Now, cross your fingers because I'm not sure how it will work, exactly.

    What do you think?  Luminaries: thumbs up or thumbs down?

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Sea Glass & Lace - Board #1

    It's still pretty hard to picture what our wedding will look like. There is no 'where' as of now, and there will not be a 'when' for a few months (more on that later), but I can almost see it. I picture crisp white--linens, lace, an old New England-style church. Set against translucent sea glass touches in stationary, and centerpieces. A quasi-rustic, and simply elegant event. So here is my first inspiration board, one of many to come.

    Green-blue sea glass, white lace, dark wood, antique gold.

    (Image 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Weighing Our Options - Military Wedding? Pt. 1

    When it came to the decision of whether or not to have a military wedding I was on the fence.  Frankly, I'd never imagined the possibility of a military wedding would ever be in the cards for me--that was until I fell in love with Mr. M. Funny how things like that work out...

    Suddenly, the sensible suits and sleek ties I admired on wedding blogs became Army Blues with all their regalia. What to do, what to do?

    Image by Adam Nyholt

    Um,is that a gorgeous shot of wedding bands delicately balancing on the tip of a sabre? Oh it is?  Mmk just checking.



    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    On Top of the World--

    So here it is, our proposal story:

    Mr. Marmalade had a few weeks of leave over the holidays. He drove up to Connecticut through the blizzard that rocked the east coast right before Christmas 2009. The ten and a half hour drive stretched to 28 hours as interstates were shut down. He made it home exhausted, but in one piece. I ran to see him and hugged him as tight as I could, and then we took a nap. Yep. That pretty much sum's up our time together over the holidays that year: a whole lotta love, and rest.

    So with the end of his time off approaching, I was annoyed when he turned to me and said "hey, let's go to the city tomorrow night and celebrate our 'date-aversary.' We can go on our first date again, and then to the Empire State Building like we did on our second date." I realize that this should have sent up some red flags, but I couldn't let myself believe that it was going to happen. Not to mention, that I had suggested the exact same date only a week earlier, on the actual anniversary of our first date, but he brushed that suggestion off! I said no, but then I came to my senses. I lived in New York through college and a short time after that. I miss living there so much and any excuse to head back, especially to relive a special night over a pitcher of sangria, is a perfect excuse.

    (Our second date - my first trip to the ESB)

    But that night was frigid, with temps approaching sub zero. I tried to convince Mr. M to change our plans and stay in with me. "Can we just stay in and order Chinese food or something? I'm so ti-i-red. I just need a nap, and then we'll decide, ok?"  Whoops, I didn't make it easy for him. But I really didn't want to go out there in the cold!
    It's COLD! Freezing! High heels aren't warm! And I have a tendency to hibernate in the Winter. I woke up from my nap, and called BM Cuz who said that she was going to an engagement party and urged me to go to New York. That conversation was all that I needed.  I sat straight up and announced to Mr. M that we had 15 minutes to get ready and hit the road.

    Were there some clues?
    es, there were a couple but NO ONE, not even my mom was acting different around me. And that was the only clue I would count on because as much as I love her, she is the WORST with surprises! If she knew, the whole family would know within a day! 

    We rushed out the door and hit the road, but Mr. M seemed upset. Of course in turn, that upset me because I was sure that he was mad about how difficult I had been earlier. We stopped to get gas, and I ran inside to get us some coffee--while he called my mom and told her he was going to propose! That man is smart, I tell ya! He knew he couldn't spill the beans until the last second. He's also very lucky, because he caught my mom while she was on a short break from work.

    Fast forward to dinner at our first date spot,
    Boqueria. It was great to be back there with him, going over the memory of our first unofficial date. We rushed through the meal to make it to the Empire State Building before they closed at midnight. I grabbed him by the hand as we ran through the entrance just after 11:00 PM to be greeted by a mob of tourists in town for New Year's Eve. It took us nearly an hour an half to get to the observatory deck--we shuffled through a relentlessly long line, a security checkpoint similar to that of an airport, a requisite photo in front of a green screen, and six flights of stairs. That Mr. M: smart, lucky and chock full o' perseverance!

    (I snapped some pics while we waited in line)
    It was past midnight by the time we reached the observatory deck.  I should have been exhausted but there's nothing like the view from the Empire State Building! Nothing. It's breathtaking and exciting. The cold air energized me, and I started to look for the spot that we stood upon on our second date. A stranger snapped a picture of us then, and I was determined to get another one. So determined, that I laughed off his request to "find a quiet spot up here." I wiggled (or lightly nudged) my way to the spot, and hugged him. 

    We were squished together, and squished up against the people next to us. He hugged me as I pointed out the landmarks below. He started talking and I remember feeling a really awkward moment between us, then he said something I wish I could recall. I know he was talking about the last two years of our lives--it was incredibly sweet. But all his words melted away, when I saw a beautiful wooden ring box appear. My eyes scanned the city below us, while everything became a little blurry. I just remember my eyes filling with tears. I remember the lights turning into streaks across the sky. I remember the feeling of the cold air on my cheeks, and the feeling that I'd lost my voice. All I could do was hug him tight and cry. 

    I was jolted back to reality by a loud voice that said "DUDE! I think that guy just proposed!" RECORD SCRATCH. I looked up and he put the ring on my finger, while I nodded, yes. 

    (personal photo - hooray!)
    I was elated. I was nervous. I was a little sad that he couldn't get on bended knee because there were so many people up there, and I was a little relieved that he didn't. It was hard to take in the moment, but I'm glad I tried. On top of the building that captivated me as a little girl in Queens, the same building that I never had time to visit as a college student in Manhattan.  To think, I practically grew up in the shadow of that landmark, but I never made it up there. Until Mr. Marmalade came into the picture!

    And that's it!  That was the start of our amazing roller coaster of an engagement!  Hope you're still with me!


    Miss M

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    And Then There Were Two...

    Well, I thought I was excited to bring you the story of my best friend's wedding and I was/am. But I am also happy to say that I will be writing about another wedding, one a little closer to my heart--my wedding! I'M ENGAGED!!

    Woohoo! I feel so blessed to be marrying that man right there. And I am doubly blessed to plan my wedding right along side my best friend. Much, much, more to come!