Guest Posts

elsewhere: visiting artists on better in real life

by lizzie & isaiah on September 20, 2011 · 0 comments

We’re over with Lauren of Better in Real Life today for her Visiting Artists series. So…there’s nothing to see here. [crickets]

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a very lazy girl’s guide to wedding planning

by lizzie & isaiah on May 23, 2011 · 22 comments

Sometimes I forget Isaiah and I are planning our wedding. Things are comfortable and we’re moving forward and always thinking of things for the day, but there’s nothing set in stone and all we’re sure of to date is that we don’t want to spend a day apart for our lives. You might even have forgotten that this is, technically, a wedding blog. Or one at least where the couple is planning their wedding while they go about life. Thanks to Nikki of Ridiculously Ever After for reminding us. She’s fantastic, if you didn’t already know. She wrote a post for Marriage Demons at the beginning of this month. I can’t tell you so much why I think she’s awesome, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

I started planning our wedding at least two years before Brian actually proposed.  By the time I graduated college, I had a binder detailing everything about our future wedding: colors, flowers, my dress, my hair, the venue, the menu, the music.  I knew Brian wanted to be the one to propose, and I knew he was saving up enough money to buy me a big sparkly ring, so I patiently hid my binder in the closet.

Brian knew about the binder (and the colors, venue, menu and music), but the day after we got engaged, he took me to the wedding venue he wanted - which was not the beachfront state park near our house, but a bonafide, all-inclusive WEDDING VENUE.  And by WEDDING VENUE, I mean a place that hosts hundreds of weddings a year (sometimes five in a single weekend) and charges you an arm and a leg for your chance at one of these mass-produced weddings. I tried to talk him out of it, showing him pictures of barns dressed in twinkling lights and homemade lemonade in mason jars, but all he firmly insisted “we are not getting married in a barn.”

So, as soon as I had an actual wedding to plan, my binder became moot, and I discovered the benefits to having an all-inclusive venue.

1.    WE DIDN’T HAVE TO DECORATE. I adore crafty details like bunting flags and ribbon-lined chairs, but when I realized that having these things at my wedding meant I had to actually MAKE  them, I decided I don’t care for them very much.  Since we got married in late summer, the place was exploding with flowers, and the inside of the lodge is all shiny hard wood and skylights.  It was absolutely beautiful without any help (or effort!) from us.

2.    WE DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK. Our original menu (as dictated by the binder) was going to be burgers and hot dogs – something easy and cheap. I still think a self-catered or potluck wedding is a great idea, but in retrospect I am so glad that no one had to worry about manning a barbecue at our wedding, and I cannot imagine giving up those lazy evening hours Brian and I shared in the days leading up to it in order to make side dishes. Also, the food we paid $40/head for? I’m still hearing about it from family and friends. It was freaking DELICIOUS.

3.    WE HAD A WEDDING COORDINATOR. Never in a million years would I have assumed that I needed one of these – “that’s for rich people, right? We can do this ourselves!” Except it became very clear that neither of us has been a bride or groom before. Because it was part of what we paid for, we had a Wedding Coordinator to direct our rehearsal and our wedding, and that was incredibly helpful. She helped us keep pace down the aisle, made sure the centerpieces were on the table and kept the bouquets in water. She even went through the buffet while Brian and I were out with our photographer and made sure we got a plate with one of everything on it (from what I’ve heard, we are the only people in the world who were able to actually eat on our wedding day – and we ATE).

4.    WE ONLY HAD 2 VENDORS. It never even occurred to me that people have to rent things like chairs, tables, tablecloths, napkins, and god-knows-how-many-other-things we completely took for granted.  I paid our venue ten days before the wedding, when our head-count was due, and now that I realize all the other little things we didn’t have to bother with (like rentals and caterers) I definitely feel like we got a deal killing all those wedding birds with one stone. The only check I had to remember on our actual wedding day was the one for our photographer.

5.    WE DIDN’T HAVE TO CLEAN UP. Um, I think this one speaks for itself.

Before we knew all the bonuses of having an all-inclusive, the price was really intimidating.  We were determined to keep our wedding budget relatively low, since we were paying for it ourselves, but since Brian fell in love with the space we were also determined to make it work. There were a few things that kept the cost from getting overwhelming. Our guest list was small – we invited 75 people and had about 70 actually show up. We got married at 11am, which kept the rental cost down and allowed us to use the lunch buffet instead of the dinner menu. Because our 70 nearest and dearest happen to include some alcoholics as well as religious non-drinkers, we nixed booze and had a coffee bar instead. Our lemon-filled chocolate cupcakes came from Safeway, where my mom happened to come across a Nintendo enthusiast in the bakery department who built a ridiculously awesome mini-cake inspired by our Super Mario and Princess Peach toppers.

I tend to be a high-strung person, so I knew going into this I needed to avoid anything that would make me resent the planning process/wedding (hence the dismissal of any crafty projects). I wanted to have blackberry jam as favors, but the minute I pictured myself making 75 jars of jam I decided that was a terrible idea.  Enter my fabulous mom and Grammie, who took on the task even after I told them I changed my mind.  They also incorporated other details that I was too lazy to even think of, like disposable cameras and little vials of bubbles (oh, and a BUBBLE MACHINE!).

With that, I have some advice for lazy brides: let people help you. I never actually asked for help, and I felt terribly awkward accepting it when people offered, but I have to say that for me, the best part of planning a wedding was finding out how terrifically loved we are. Seriously mushtastic.

It was surprisingly easy for me to be a laid-back bride.  The day before the wedding, while I was getting a pedicure, someone in the salon asked me how I could be so relaxed right before my wedding. And all I could think was, “I’m sitting in a massage chair with an iced coffee while someone is rubbing my feet… This is the best weekend ever!” In the months leading up to the wedding, I felt so alarmingly calm that I kept expecting to flip out on something trivial. As it turns out, I was downright giddy. I woke up at 3am too excited to go back to sleep. We’d expected it to rain, and when it didn’t, I could not stop spontaneously hollering IT’S SUCH A PRETTY DAY! When our flower posse got fussy and irreverent, I honestly had no idea because I was completely absorbed with tunnel-vision for Brian. So here is where I insert the quintessential former-bride advice: enjoy the moment. If you’re focused on what’s awesome, you won’t even realize that some tiny things went wrong*. And if you do, for a moment, find yourself getting worked up, kiss your husband (or wife). Because (s)he is your HUSBAND (or WIFE!) now! And that is rad!

Finally, I have to give another bit of praise to the all-inclusive venue. Turns out this my sanity has a price, and it’s $6,000**.

*We had no fewer than three awkward incidents during our wedding (see here). There was only one that required serious damage-control, but Brian and I had a little pep talk and decided not to let it ruin our day, or how we remember it. Most other situations could be dealt with by laughing and saying “f*ck it.”

**This price includes the venue rental and our catered lunch. If we were to add in my dress and shoes, Brian’s suit, our rings, cake, flowers and miscellaneous wedding crap we accumulated, our total was somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000 (while this figure was astronomical to us, I realize that sounds insanely cheap by most cities’ standards).

Photos by friends and family (yes, Brian is eating a potato with his hand in that last one)

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Roar Already: International Women’s Day

by lizzie & isaiah on March 8, 2011 · 9 comments

Today is International Women’s Day. I’ve written about raising awareness and staying united in a guest post for One Cat Per Person in celebration of today. I am in intimidatingly awesome company. But check out how these ladies are stealing the show.

Christopher Walken, Planned Parenthood and lions over here.

“In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women’s Day 2011″ was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The conversation begins here, but it does not have to end here. We encourage you to comment and create dialogue as well as visit their respective blogs. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women’s Day, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.

Banner: Joshua Gomby

Photo: The amazing 17-year-old, yes, 17-year-old photographer Jacqueline Rivera found on Karin and Raoul

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christmahanakwanzica: a wedding runs through it

by lizzie & isaiah on December 23, 2010 · 13 comments

ChristmaHanaKwanzica - a guest post series on love your way

This is the tenth post in the holiday guest series ChristmaHanaKwanzica. Kathleen writes A Wedding Runs Through It and is an absolute delight. She was married in May and her wedding recaps are absolutely stunning! She let me know she’s got some great posts up her sleeves for the near future, and knowing Kathleen and her sweet creativity, I’m sure they won’t be near disappointing.


When Lizzie invited me to contribute a ChristmaHanaKwanzika post, so many holiday traditions came to mind I didn’t know how to pick one or where to begin. At this point in the series, music and cookies (two very important parts of my holiday season) have already been well covered, which helpfully narrowed down my options. As much as I’d love to write about my annual late-night Christmas Eve pilgrimage to Waffle House with my sister, if I did, I’d be overlooking an essential component of Christmas in the Poe family, known simply in our circles as “The Christmas Party.”

For some people, things like snow, mall Santas or Starbucks gingerbread lattes are harbingers of the holiday season; in my family, champagne and cheesecake are the telltale signs that Christmas is right around the corner. For as long as I can remember, my parents have hosted a holiday party that deals exclusively in champagne and homemade desserts. That may not sound terribly unique, but over the years the Poe Family Christmas Party has evolved into a hallmark of the season around which our friends and family plan their holiday calendars.

Like many venerable holiday traditions, this one comes from humble origins. My parents have slides (which I regrettably couldn’t scan) of modest holiday gatherings in their Athens, Ga. apartment from the mid-’70s that generally involved a platter of cookies, a cheese tray and whatever booze was in their liquor cabinet. After they moved to Atlanta and attended a champagne-and-dessert soiree thrown by one of Dad’s law firm colleagues, they decided to adopt that format for their own party. Having three kids (two born in the last months of the year) got in the way of my parents’ making it a regular event for a while, but once we moved into a new house in 1988 — one with room for entertaining — an annual tradition was firmly established, and it’s been growing ever since.

a wedding runs through it guest post for christmahanakwanzika

Here I am as a 6-year-old, decorating Christmas cookies for the party. Note the awesome Teddy Ruxpin bowl!

The gist of it is this: Mom and Dad buy champagne by the case, Mom bakes up a storm for about a month or two in advance (cheesecakes freeze like a dream!), and they invite all of their friends over for holiday merriment the weekend before Christmas. It sounds sort of swanky, but it’s actually a surprisingly affordable way to entertain a crowd.

I trawled through the family archive and came up with a shot of the party spread on the dining room table back in 1989:

a wedding runs through it guest post for christmahanakwanzika holiday series on love your way

Which looks a little puny in comparison to the same spot in 2010:

a wedding runs through it guest post for christmahanakwanzika holiday series on love your way

The array of sweets extends back into the kitchen these days; I think the tally of different desserts topped 35 this year. While Mom historically has made all the desserts with only a cookie-decorating assist from the kids, in recent years my sister Emily and I have become important contributors. Mom has taken us on as cheesecake apprentices, fielding late-night calls about baking times or photo text messages with pictures of cracked cakes and assuring us it’s nothing a little whipped cream or other garnish can’t cover up. This year I contributed my first original recipe, a MoonPie cheesecake, which was ridiculously delicious if I do say so myself. Check it out:

chocolate cake for christmas

When we were younger, each of us kids was assigned a task: my sister Emily and I took guests’ coats at the door, and our brother Matt was on luminary detail outside (which involved some renegade bottle rockets on more than one occasion). When Emily hit eighth grade or so, Mom recruited her and her friends to be the kitchen crew, washing discarded plates and glasses and refilling trays of cookies. My buddies and I took over those duties when Emily went off to college, but put our own spin on the job: we dressed in our most formal finery. (What can I say? We love to dress up.)

a wedding runs through it guest post for christmahanakwanzika on love your way

Ahh, junior year. That’s me rocking the full-length velvet dress at bottom right.

After I went off to college, the Christmas party became the first mass-gathering of all my friends returning from far-flung universities over the holidays. It also became a venue for my friends from home to meet the friends from college I had enticed to come, which has forged many new connections. These days, my brother, sister and I canvass our friends in Atlanta and across the country via evite; as a result, the average age of partygoers has dropped considerably from the all-grownup days (and the amount of champagne consumed has spiked). We’ve had friends join us from Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Michigan, California and even Brazil! (OK, so that last one was not exclusively a party trip… But still! We’ve reached a new continent!) Over the course of a typical Christmas party, we average at least 300 people coming through the front door.

Probably the most remarkable thing about the party is that we have not missed hosting all of our friends at Christmastime in 22 years; not even after Grandma Dot, my dad’s mom, passed away the week before the ‘95 party, or after my mom had an unforeseen series of surgeries from June to November of 2009 that had her pretty well out of commission for months. (In the case of the latter, my sister and I split most of Mom’s baking between us, which made us wonder how on earth she ever got all those cheesecakes made back in the day with three kids and a full-time job.) The holiday party tradition is part of the fabric of my family, and it’s even created new traditions within itself over the years — but that’s another essay altogether. Our friends and family have come to depend on the party to bring everyone together for this particular form of holiday merriment, and it’s become such an integral part of my family’s holiday season that we can’t imagine ever not doing it. There’s no stopping the Poe Christmas Party!

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christmahanakwanzica: ms. bunny

December 22, 2010

This is the ninth post in the holiday guest series ChristmaHanaKwanzika. Ms. Bunny is one of the sweetest, most genuine folks I’ve met in this blog community. Her blog, Bunnies ‘n’ Beagles, is a great read on Ms. Bunny and her fiance Mr. Beagle’s planning journey for their Chicago wedding. Take it away, Bunny. Christmas [...]

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christmahanakwanzika: solsticlipse by mouse

December 21, 2010

This is the eighth post in the guest series ChristmaHanaKwanzika. Mouse writes on Souris Mariage and Good Mouse, Bad Mouse and is freaking delightful, obviously. She’s recapping her absolutely beautiful Arizona wedding now on the blog and we’re delighted to have her. Not that I play favorites at all, but Chicago folks tend to warm [...]

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christmahanakwanzika: lyn of another damn

December 20, 2010

This is the seventh post in the ChristmaHanaKwanzika guest series. I hope you already know Lyn. She started with Another Damn Wedding and has since moved on to Another Damn Life. She is hysterical, delightfully sarcastic and witty and takes a damn good photo. Also, it’s clear that she was a pretty adorable kid…that’s clear, [...]

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christmahanakwanzica: robin of hitchdied

December 13, 2010

This is the sixth post in the ChristmaHanaKwanzika series.  Robin of HitchDied is a hilariously awesome chica of the super-sweet variety. One of my favorites on her blogs is when she digs through bridal magazines and posts how many pages of ridiculocrity filled its pages. Yeah, she rocks. Take it away, Robin. [Collin, me, and [...]

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christmahanakwanzika: sarah of my san fransisco budget wedding

December 10, 2010

*I haven’t had any time to throw together a graphic for the series yet…so Isaiah rocked one for me.. This is the fifth post in the holiday series ChristmaHanaKwanzika. Sarah of My San Fransisco Budget Wedding has been a completely supportive, empathetic, hilarious friend to me. She helped me edit a freaking article for heaven’s [...]

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christmahanakwanzika: lena of la petit coquin

December 8, 2010

This is the fourth post in the holiday series ChristmaHanaKwanzika, which takes a look into how some of my favorite bloggers celebrate the holidays. Lena posts and writes absolutely stunning content on her blog, La Petite Coquin, which is often the only way I get a taste of some Breakfast at Tiffany’s style inspiration. She [...]

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