Our October Wedding in Big Bear Lake, California

Wedding

Venue. Wolf Creek Resort / Coordinator. Everyday Love Events / Flowers. Little Green House Florist / Second Photographer. Mike Thezier

Our wedding was beautiful and perfect and we love our photos! Check out this curated post by our amazing photographer, Christian Kaysen.

>>>> Rebecca & Drew. Big Bear Wedding

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DIY Chalkboard Pallet

Wedding

Hi! Hi! Hello there! It’s been almost six months since my wedding and let me tell ya, I’ve been real busy. Much too busy to post anything here, but Offbeat Bride re-blogged me back in February so maybe that counts? In any case, my plan is to share some of the DIY aspects of my wedding preparations since they were the best and worst all at the same time. DIY seems fun at first, but ends up taking a lot more time than you expect and you want to strangle everyone in the room at the drop of a hat. However, when the dust settles, the paint dries and you’ve stopped inhaling toxic fumes, seeing your vision come to life makes it all worth it. So for my first installment, the chalkboard pallet.

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I’d pinned a chalkboard pallet while stealing company time at work by obsessively browsing Pinterest for all hours of the day. What a lovely, casual way to showcase a menu that avoids printing 100+ pieces of paper. And, since our menu was a fancy spin on bbq, it seemed entirely fitting. But how and where would I find a wooden pallet? They ran from $15 – $60 at places like Walmart and Home Depot, but that didn’t seem right to me. I wanted to find it behind a grocery store next to a dumpster like a real forager, big dreams, you know? For whatever reason my vision included turning trash into treasure, so I hoped it’d happen organically. And that it did.

A few months before our wedding, my fiance went to work in Ohio for six weeks. One day during that six weeks I spotted one on my way home from work. Right in front of me, leaning against a “No Parking Anytime” sign. It basically had my name written all over it if my name were a bunch of weird black stuff. So I immediately performed an illegal u-turn and parked right in front of that no-parking sign, facing the wrong way. It didn’t matter, I had to have that pallet. It was mine! Feeling excited and accomplished, I popped open my trunk and collapsed the seats so the pallet would fit. Then, I gripped it on either side, as if I was hugging it, welcoming it into my wedding party, but immediately learned that solid wood is extremely heavy. My naiveness told me it wouldn’t be more than 20 or 30 pounds, but it was more like 100. No matter! I squatted down so I could power up with my legs, and after a few tries, I lifted it a few inches off the ground and successfully (eventually?) got it into the back of my car. My dog was really proud of me .

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I’m strong, but not take-a-100-pound-piece-of-wood-up-to-my-third-floor-apartment strong. My husband, however, has got quite the pair of Gaston arms, except he was clear across the continent  at the time. That said, I drove around town with that thing in my trunk for several weeks until my man of honor and his boyfriend came to the rescue and brought the dirty thing up to my apartment. Taking a closer look at it, it was disgusting. What was its purpose before it became a chalkboard? Did it transport exhumed caskets? Old timey cannons? Monster truck tires? We’ll never know.

A few weeks later I held a DIY day for my bridesmaids. I invited them like this:

You’re all invited to spend the day working for free! I’ll feed you! This is not mandatory. Only come if you want to. I won’t hate you if you don’t. I love you very much. 

Get the most out of your bridal party by respecting their personal time. Their most important task is to stand next to you as you marry the person of your dreams then be the drunkest, rowdiest people at the reception. Everything else should be optional. We all have lives, people. Luckily, all 12 (yes, a monstrosity of a party) of my bridesmaids were down AF and participated in pretty much everything. And I hope it’s because they wanted to and not because they feared my wrath.

Step 1: Power Sanding

Pallets are rough and very splintery, and won’t hold stain or chalkboard paint. So two of my bridesmaids got to work smoothing it out with power sanders. At first they tried sanding by hand with sandpaper sheets, but that would have taken a million years. The power sanders took about two hours, and when they were done, it was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

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Step 2: Staining

You don’t have to stain the wood, but I opted for a darker tone to match the autumn theme I was going for. I’ve failed as a blogger and never wrote down the brand and color we used, but it was a reddish tone. We stained a few crates the same color for consistency.

Step 3: Dry, Chalkboard Paint, Dry, More Chalkboard Paint, Dry Again

We waited a day to let the stain dry completely before spraying the front with chalkboard paint. Before spraying, we covered any visible stained areas with aluminum foil so as not to ruin our gorgeous and professional artistry. Then, we put our masks back on and began spraying. We used two bottles, but that wasn’t enough so we let the first two coats dry over night and got to work the next day on the last coat. Three coats later, and another 24 hours to dry, we had our menu.

From discovery to the day we finally tested chalk on it probably took about a month. The work itself took three to five days, and was pretty tiring considering we all have jobs and lives. But, when my bridesmaid with beautiful handwriting did her thing on my wedding day, it came out as rustic, quirky and fun as I’d imagined. And, most importantly, it made everyone aware that there’d be mac n’ cheese.

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The Wedding: Was it Worth it?

Wedding
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This photo probably gives it away.

We did it. Exactly two weeks ago. All the planning, anticipation, excitement and doubt reached the finished line, and now, just like that, it’s over. A month or two prior to our wedding, thoughts of frustration and anger swirled through my mind like a cyclone. My life was overtaken by this day, this one event. And for what? Whether we tie the knot at this magical forest wedding I’ve been trying to create for a year, or at a courthouse with celebratory Slurpees afterward, we’ll still love each other the same. So why am I doing all this? Why am I going through the pressures of creating an experience for friends and family on top of my full-time job and soul crushing commute? This is stupid. I’m stupid. These god damn wine bottles and vintage windows I found on the sidewalk are stupid.

We left for Big Bear the Thursday before the day. I’d finally fallen asleep at 4 that morning after cutting kraft paper into the wee hours. We’d spent that evening with a couple friends creating wedding favors, and somehow ran out of supplies, which forced me to run to the supermarket when I should have been brushing my teeth. Drew and I had our first (and only) wedding-related screaming match that night. The stress I’d been under for the past six months finally occurred to him. He feared our wedding would fall completely apart, I felt completely unappreciated. It was sad and disappointing. Here I was, off work and ready to get the party started, and instead, we unleashed it all on each other in an unkind way. Voices were raised, points were raised, blood pressure was raised. I cried as I sat on the floor checking my place card piles against the seating chart, completely crushed that my wedding weekend was off to such a negative start.

After three hours of Xanax-induced sleep, I awoke to tears streaming down my face. Have you ever woken up crying? It’s the most pathetic feeling in the world. Sleep is supposed to help you feel renewed, and there I was, blubbering into my pillow. What a basket case. My fiance must think he’s marrying a psychopath. Run, don’t walk, Drew! Go far, far away from me, from this “emotional”, “out of control” woman I’ve become. And make haste! Nothing like a good self-gaslighting first thing in the morning. But instead, he turned to me, put his hand on mine and said, “I’m sorry.”

The biggest lesson I’ve learned about relationships is to always apologize when you’re wrong. Admitting your idiocy to your life partner is much more freeing and honest than trying to win. If your bond is strong, coming clean with what an ass hole you are will allow you to move forward. Frustration builds in us every single day, no need to add to it with unnecessary pride. My greatest advice for a happy relationship: Get over yourself.

“I’m sorry too,” I replied. Then we moved on. We packed every piece of rustic DIY nonsense I’d worked on over the past month into Drew’s truck, my maid of honor’s Hyundai and my man of honor’s BMW (the dress went in the Beamer, obviously) and caravanned up the mountain. As we ascended the winding roads, windows down, pug on my lap, her little black ears flapping in the wind, the excitement and joy kicked back in. Holy shit, we’re heading to the top of a mountain to commit our lives to each other then throw a big, giant party with all our favorite people! This is awesome! Three hours of sleep, be dammed! I’m ready to take on the world!

And take on the world we did. Well, the world that was our wedding weekend. From Thursday to Monday, I must have given and received five million hugs, cried 10 gallons of tears and laughed for 100 hours. I poured my heart aloud to the love of my life in front of 140 of our closest humans. Then, that same group of 140 humans sat down to dinner in the forest, and danced the night away under the stars. Also, there was mac n’ cheese.

The magic of that day was an absolute once in a lifetime experience. I’m pretty certain I never stopped smiling the entire 24 hours. The ceremony was my favorite part. Walking down the aisle to Dreams by The Cranberries (yep) and meeting Drew up at our little tree-chapel was completely surreal and insanely profound. There’s a reason people do this, guys. I doubted it so hard, but man, that was some cosmic love shit right there.

Another favorite part, seeing my bouquet for the first time. I definitely let out a shrill yelp and started balling. My bridesmaids screamed NO YOU’RE MAKEUP, but I couldn’t handle that my floral dreams had come true. That thing was a beautiful monstrosity from the gardens of heaven. When I first got engaged I didn’t even think I’d have flowers. “Too expensive, they die anyway. Dumb flowers.” Sure, that’s true, except the beauty of floral design is so epic you’re literally brought to tears by the very sight of it. Many thanks to the universe and Little Greenhouse Florist for how my florals came together. I had no idea how beautiful it would all be.

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Reaction shot.

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Bold. Wild. Enormous.

There are so many more favorite parts, but this post is already way too long. If you’ve made it this far, post “flower fiend” in the comments so I know you’re a trooper. But to name a few more favorites: first look, our first dance, the father-daughter dance, the speeches, looking out over everyone as they ate dinner, THE HORAH, the Motown Philly dance circle. Epic.

So … all the money, effort, DIY fails, constant dieting and exercising and the big old fight with my now husband, was it all worth it? we could have taken three international trips with what we spent on one day. I could have lived a stress-free, DIY-less life for those last few months. I could have gotten a few more bylines into the portfolio with all the extra time. It only seems logical that we’re total morons for doing this. And the verdict is …

Yes. It was 100% worth it. And we are definitely morons. Completely, idiotically, ridiculously in love morons.

As my new husband put it, life is built on profound experiences that shape you as a person. And to him, our wedding was one of those experiences. My dear, dear husband who prefers the simpler things in life like camping and watching football at dive bars and going to a good concert, the man who wanted me to have my dream wedding, but would have preferred to elope in Vegas, admits it was the best day of his life. He feels changed from it. He’s thanked me a million times.

I’m Still Alive!

Life, Wedding

Oh dear. I haven’t posted since May, but I promise, I’m still alive! When They say planning a wedding is a full-time job, they’re right. I’d love to sit down with They and ask them about all the other things They say so I can plan my life accordingly. But if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to the last fiveish months, here are a few tidbits: Too much work at my full-time job, too much work at my freelance jobs, Mexico for 4th of July, too much working out on the 21 Day Fix and I accepted Orange is the New Black into my heart. Sometimes you just have to devote hours to watching female criminals do strange things with screwdrivers. Oh, and I’ve also been DIYing my heart out, which will be shared post-wedding because I’m VERY MYSTERIOUS.

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Bridal Inspo!

Also, my fiance headed out to Ohio for five weeks to shoot a feature film, which is fantastically amazing and I’m kvelling all over the place for him; however, not having a partner for the first time in six years was definitely challenging. I commute an hour each way to work, and have a little pug to keep happy and healthy, and that’s just not very simple when you’re doing it solo. Thankfully, I have some very wonderful friends and family who helped me out, but I will never take Drew for granted again. Definitely a great pre-marriage lesson learned. Also, major maaaaajor respect to people who take care of human children on their own. You are super heroes.

Now, my wedding is exactly a week and a half away. I’m sitting on my floor in front of a box fan with my hair done all bride-like because I had my trial run today, and will have my final dress fitting in about an hour. The top part of my jaw keeps aching like, “stop clenching, you stressed out lunatic.” Don’t get me wrong, this really is a fantastic time in life and I can’t wait for it all to come together, it’s just that on top of all the adulting I already have to do in life, there’s even more. The DIY list seems never ending. And it’s all my fault. I could have gotten married at a courthouse, then had a backyard bbq with paper plates and a bucket of beer, which sounds friggin’ amazing. But no. I didn’t take that road, and there’s no going back (unless I want to waste thousands of dollars.) Will it be worth it? I’ll be sure to report back after October 3rd.

In the meantime, please enjoy some shots from the test shoot we did with our awesome wedding photographer, Christian Kaysen. When I first got engaged I swore I’d never take “cheesy engagement photos.” Well, a lot changes in the year it takes to plan a wedding. And you know what? I freakin’ love these sappy images, and I’ll love them even more when I’m 85.

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Credit: Christian Kaysen

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Credit: Christian Kaysen

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My dad grew up in a little house right below the hill that the Korean Friendship Bell stands on. I’ve been flying kites here since I can remember. Photo Credit: Christian Kaysen

Bear Mail: Save the Date Tips

Wedding

It’s commonly known that engaged couples are expected to send out save-the-date cards at least six months before their wedding. Makes sense since the invitees have lives and what not. Plus, I love informing people of things really early. I’m not going to pretend I’m of those chill people who’s like, “whatever, we’ll see.” If I could send out a bullet-point email about every endeavor, no matter how big or small, I’d be much more fulfilled in life.

That said, save the dates seemed like a no brainer, a piece of cake. Nope. Instead they’re kind of an emotional roller coaster, but not a Goliath type coaster. More like Ninja or Colossus. Just treacherous enough to make you grit your teeth, but fun enough to make you throw your hands up and laugh about it. Sometimes you want to vomit, but you don’t. The truth is, I failed to properly prepare. I procrastinated. I Rebecca’d real hard. So I share with you my learnings so that maybe someone out there can have a smoother ride with this seemingly simple task.

The first step was to decide on a design that was 1) original and 2) cheap. People are going to throw them away at some point, so we thought it better not to waste our budget on anything fancy. My husband-to-be immediately completed this step by designing the best save the date I’ve ever seen. “Let me take a stab at it,” he said in passing. Then when I returned home from work one day, he pulled it up on our laptop. “Will you marry me?” I asked. It’s completely representative of our personalities and a perfect foreshadowing of our event. You bet your ass this is going in a frame.

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I mean. Everyone stop it.

Yes, it’s printed on actual wood. Yes, wood substrate is very expensive. But, as luck/industry connections would have it, I got these babies printed for $free.99. This whole time I expected to print them on some sort of thick, white stock and put my brideslaves to work cutting them as I lay fanned by man servants. But instead, this kind person who is apparently my fairy godfather insisted on printing them on wood for absolutely no charge. I’ve never even met the guy in person. Thank you, mystery fairy godfather! Definitely paying this forward.

Tip 1: When searching for a good printer, leave no stone unturned. You never know what you’ll find.

Then, I saw this on Etsy via Pinterest (because I love those things now) and time stopped. I purchased it immediately. Possibly the most joyous $10 I’ve ever spent.

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Seriously, stop it.

Tip 2: Incorporating ridiculously adorable things really adds to the process. Every time I stamped one of the 5×7 recycled paper bag envelopes (yeah, it’s like that), I felt giddy and Zooey Deschanel-y.

That brings me to envelopes. “Oh yeah! Envelopes.com! I’ll have the return address printed on the back and everything. The Internet is my friend!” Except Envelopes.com was all like “sure, but you won’t get them for 10 business days and also it’s $5million.” So I cursed a few times, then took my phalanges to Amazon.com where I ordered blank envelopes cheaper and in two working days.

Tip 3: Amazon is great for envelopes. These are the ones I got. They are terrific and smell like elementary school.

Tip 4: Give yourself more time and budget if you want your return address printed on the back.

Then addresses happened. A few months earlier I sent an email asking for our guests’ home addresses because I LOVE SENDING INFORMATIONAL EMAILS FOR OPTIMAL COMMUNICATION. Then I planned to plug them into an excel grid as they poured in, which I realize is not cool either. This is what real adulting is, everyone. Except for the part where I just let the replies come in and ignored every single one of them, then spent two hours copying and pasting them all on a Saturday. This helped me confirm whose addresses I still needed … on the day I had planned to send my save the dates. Needless to say, that set me back a few days.

Tip 5: Don’t be a procrastinator, be a … not procrastinator.

Since my penmanship is that of a 7-year-old’s and Drew wasn’t into painful hand cramps, we decided to take the clear label route. It worked for my bat mitzvah, it’ll work for my wedding. So I downloaded the Avery 5160 template and copied and pasted the addresses into it. Because I didn’t realize I needed a lot more time for this process, I rushed through them and got at least one of the addresses wrong (that I know of).

Once the labels were completely populated, we took them to Kinkos on a flash drive and bought the physical labels there. Then, a nice be-dreadlocked young man helped me print them out. I felt so relieved! So excited to start stamping and sticking! Then I got home and realized that a handful of addresses were misaligned and cut off. Tired of doing anything other than sitting on the couch and staring at the wall for the rest of the day, I just hand-wrote those screwed up addresses. Luckily the post office was able to read them.

Tip 6: Triple check your labels for alignment before and after printing. You went all the way to Kinkos, possibly one of the worst places in America aside from CVS and Walmart, so that shit better be right.

Finally came the time to sit, stuff, stamp and stick. Since Drew’s design didn’t include the wedding website, I created little inserts on Zazzle, which came out ok enough. I printed the website on the front and the wedding hashtag/online RSVP password on the back, then added mountain and tree silhouettes for adorableness.

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Team work is good work.

We actually had a great time with our little assembly line. We felt like more of a team than usual and couldn’t stop smiling because we were literally sealing the deal.

Finally the post office. Being a millennial, it’s very rare that I set foot inside a post office. Snail mail is almost like a foreign language to me, unless it’s the kind where you can stick it in your outbox and it magically appears on your friend’s doorstep. But I did it. I took my reusable Trader Joe’s bag full of sealed envelopes and bought 100 domestic forever stamps and two international forever stamps. Then I took them over to one of those communal tables with all the weird scratches and pen marks and peeled and stuck that postage like it was my job … because it was! Once I completed that challenging and heroic task, I threw them all into a big, giant shoot and prayed they’d magically find their way. Apparently they did because the RSVPs are coming in, including two from Sweden. International forever stamps aren’t just worthless stickers they trick you into buying! Success on all accounts.

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I wrote about this because if you’re anything like me, you assume sending out 100 pieces of physical correspondence will be an easy, breezy task. But listen, it’s not.

Tip 7: For my final tip, give yourself more than a weekend to send out 100+ save the dates or invitations. It’ll save you a lot of nail biting and cursing.

 

One Day I’ll be an Old Lady with Jelly Beans in her Purse

Life, Travel, Wedding

These will be in my purse when I'm 86.

These will be in my purse when I’m 86.

I’m sitting in a tiny airport in Oregon waiting on my flight. My anxiety won’t rise above a manageable level since I swallowed a .25 mg Xanax about an hour ago. Anxiety and feelings of what I think are depression have been coming to visit a lot lately completely unannounced. Those fuckers just make themselves right at home, especially when I’m traveling alone and have time to stare back at the reflection of my weird and hardened psyche. 

I just spent the weekend with my super pregnant best friend and her family in a town called Crescent City. It has a population of 8,000 humans and about 10 billion trees, 6 billion of which are redwoods. It’s basically Endor up there. Visiting them is terrific because it slows life down. There’s absolutely no traffic and people recognize each other in the streets. It’s sweatshirt weather every day and everyone lives five minutes from roaring, rocky beaches where a couple of old-fashioned light houses stand out in the distance. In Crescent City the distractions of LA disperse and make room in your body for all those thoughts and feelings you so expertly pushed down to the bottom. There’s no choice but to accept your complexity and fragility as a human being, which is very uncomfortable and refreshing at the same time. 

This whole engagement year has been full of so much joy and laughable stress. It’s a wonderful time to be alive, to be a woman. To feel loved and special and beautiful and worthy of a big, elaborate celebration. But it’s also a time when I’ve found myself backpedaling and quietly cutting myself with the dull blades of self destructive tendencies. I suddenly just stopped taking care of myself. Stopped my exercise and healthy eating regimen, failed to get my nails done on time, which caused me to chew them down to dreadful little nubs that make me feel like I belong in the dumpster. I ran out of deodorant and didn’t restock for 2 weeks. I stopped giving a shit about myself. 

I’m thankful that I can recognize these behaviors as abnormal, probably due to the 15+ years of therapy I have under my belt. It’s fortunate that I have enough clarity to see when there’s turmoil inside and take the steps to fix it. I’m a genuinely happy person 90% of the time, so when I fall into these lows I fall from a very, very high place. 

Dame MAGGIE SMITH British Actress Seen in Edward Albee's play "A Delicate...

Old lady goals: Dame Maggie Smith. I bet there are millions of jellybeans in her pocket book. Legend.

The above was written two weekends ago. Today I feel much happier. Instead of sitting alone in an airport contemplating the fragility of life that I’ll soon be placing inside a giant metal tube that flies through the sky, I’m sitting at the table in my apartment listening to my pug breathe laboriously/adorably. I’m waiting for my broccoli and sweet potatoes to finish roasting so I can have dinner. Drew is on set doing what he loves. I’m not wearing any pants. Life is great.

However, I’m posting about this because I’ve learned that feeling down when there’s “no real reason” is not something to punish yourself for. “Your life is so great! Think about people in the world without roofs over their heads and nothing to eat.” Yes, that is 100% true. But, at the same time, it’s harmful to your entire NESS as a human to call yourself an ass hole, chew all your nails off and decide you don’t need to wash your hair for a week just because you think it’s wrong to feel sad sometimes.

I recently asked a newlywed friend if she ever went through bouts of despair during her engagement year. “Yes! Yes! No one ever talks about it but yes!” she said. The pressures that don’t quite seem like legitimate pressures at the time – booking a venue, finding a florist, making a guest list, getting fit for the big day – do eventually add up. Then throw in those thoughts that loom in the back of your mind like “I might watch him die one day” and “what if this doesn’t work out” and “for better or for worse … oh god, what is worse going to be like?!”  In my case, I dealt with it by subconsciously saying “fuck all of this!” and turning myself into a troll cuticle by cuticle. It’s different for everyone.

So among all the happiness and fairytale-ness that comes with planning a wedding are some very real and valid feelings. While it’s still important to remind yourself to be grateful for what you have, it’s also important to acknowledge when you feel awful enough to go take a nap in a landfill. Because if you don’t, you yourself will become a landfill of terrible, awful feelings and turn into a total nut bag later in life. Wouldn’t you rather be the sweet old lady who always has jelly beans in her purse versus the scary, curmudgeonly woman who chain smokes and chases you away with a broom?

This post was supposed to be about save the dates, but in an effort to become an old jelly bean lady, I wrote about my feelings instead. FEELINGS. What a bitch.