Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Passing Pre-Cana

This weekend Mr. Boa and I went to Pre-Cana, the required marriage prep course for all couples getting married in a Catholic Church. Our church requires that we attend their local course which consists of an Opening Weekend Retreat, 3 months of weekly meetings with a host couple and a Closing weekend retreat in May, all of which are virtually impossible for us to attend. Since we are both stuck in our college town during the week, Mami Boa met with the priest to discuss other alternatives. She somehow got us permission to do one INTENSE (Friday 8-11pm, Saturday 8am-11pm and Sunday 8am-3pm) weekend retreat in a different diocese instead of the usual requirements.

Last Friday right after class, we drove 3 hours along a twisting winding road to the lovely mountain town where our retreat would take place.
View from my room at the Retreat
We were really looking forward to gaining some valuable knowledge during the weekend, which consisted mostly of lectures. After which, we would be assigned some questions to discuss with our partner for 10-20 minutes before sitting down for the next lecture. To me, the weekend was like the graph for cosine: started out on top, went way down into the negatives before rising up again.
*Image via The Biology Project - BioMath
The topics covered were  God’s plan for marriage, marriage as a Sacrament,self-esteem, raising a family, financial matters and legal matters. I appreciate that they brought experts to talk about their respective fields: a financial advisor, a lawyer, a priest, a doctor and a psychologist were all in attendance. They really knew about their topic in depth and were able to answer the gazillion questions we had for them. Unfortunately for us, the topics of sexuality, STDs, Natural Family Planning and Assisted Reproductive Technology were discussed by married couples who only talked about their personal experiences. This was the negative part, where I think the information was seriously lacking especially after treating an audience where half the people had children, as a couple of middle school virgins. Although I'm grateful they opened up their personal lives to us, I would have a appreciated a unbiased account of these topics as given by a psychologist or sexologist. 

They had all of the couples take a picture with this cute banner as they arrived
I must admit I’m a bit disappointed about my Pre-Cana experience. I was really looking forward to spending a weekend with Mr. Boa learning how to strengthen our relationship. As the weakened progressed I found I was learning very little, only a handful of topics were even relevant to our relationship. In the past 4 years together we had covered most (if not all) of the topics discussed during the Retreat and living together for the last eight months has smoothed out any household-related problems that might have been an issue.

All 30 couples at our Pre-Cana Weekend Retreat
In all,  it was a good experience and I’m grateful we took the time out of our schedule to just focus on us and our impending nuptials. Sometimes in the midst of planning we forget that the most important part of it all is our marriage, not the wedding. It’s the exchange of vows and the commitment of the rest of your life to your partner, promising to make them happy till eternity. Our weekend was a nice remainder of the reasons why we wanted to get married in the first place and how much this commitment means to both of us. After another 3 hour drive through crazy roads, we decided to take Miss Turkey’s suggestion to celebrate by having a pancake dinner at IHOP and gorging ourselves on some frozen yogurt afterwards.

How was your pre-marital counseling experience? Was it what you expected?

* Note - Though some of the topics covered might be similar/identical in other places, please take notice that this was our personal experience after doing Pre-Cana in a little mountain town in the very conservative island of  Puerto Rico and it may not apply elsewhere.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Choosing a Church

Seeing as we will be attending our Pre-Cana retreat this weekend, it might be time to talk about our ceremony, particularly where it's going to take place. Me and Mr. Boa are both Roman Catholics, as are all our family members and 85% of the Puerto Rican population. Thankfully, living in a Latin American country means we have a gazillion Catholic churches to choose from.

In my wedding planning frenzy back in July, we drove around in circles in the search of a church that was close to our already booked reception venue. We found a cute little chapel only 8 minutes away from the venue, it's proximity to the reception space being incredibly convenient. We met with the priest, looked over some literature and reserved a time slot for our wedding that same day. Flash forwarding to January, I began to doubt my decision. I got wrapped up in all the wedding planning hype, treating the house of worship where I will exchange my vows as just another vendor. We put convenience and practicality over having our ceremony somewhere that was meaningful to us.

With these thoughts swirling in my brain, I revisited my dream ceremony location, my hometown chapel, Parroquia San Antonio de la Padua in Isabela. The place where my parents (married 24 yrs), grandparents (married 52 yrs) (and great grandparents and great great grand parent and aunts and uncles) got married in.

My maternal grandparents wedding pictures circa 1960
The floor tiles are one of the surviving pieces of the 1824 construction
My parents wedding pictures circa 1987

It's a historical church built in 1824, which my family has been attending ever since they arrived from Spain hundreds of years ago. (I'm kind of a family history nut). It's the church where I (and all 20ish of my cousins) was baptized and where I have attended Mass for most of my life. Even though it's almost 30 minutes away from the reception venue, it holds special significance for me, threading my marriage to Mr. Boa into the intricate weave of my families history in a beautiful way. Following my heart, I took the plunge and switched churches just 3 months out (Yet another perk of having a morning wedding... more chances of finding open slots last minute). Exchanging vows right on the spot where so many of the happy couples of my family have said theirs for decades, gives the emotional significance my day of little extra oomph. It also made my family very happy, to hear I would be continuing the family tradition of marrying in the hometown church (I think Abuela Boa might have even shed a tear or two when she heard).

I couldn't find any pictures of the interior of the chapel but here's a video showing the inside as it now stands.

 Did you choose a ceremony venue that held special meaning?

* All pictures personal

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wedding Website Woes

First on this week’s wedding planning to do list is working on a wedding website. I decided early on a wedding I wanted to have a website to share all the extra wedding information that won’t fit on the invitations. Being almost completely computer illiterate, I knew I should definitely use a template site. I narrowed my search of template sites using only a couple of requirements: FREE, easy to use and a theme that somehow matched our wedding vide/colors.

I visited around 4 or 5 different free wedding website, but the themes they offered left much to be desired. WeddingWire’s theme selection was the most diverse so I decided to go with them. I toyed around with half a dozen of their themes before finally narrowing it down to two.

Dotted Hears inspired by Invitation Consultant


Heart of My Heart inspired Invitations by Dawn

I kept the website layout simple, adding only pages with information about us, our history, general wedding facts, our honeymoon and a Guest Book. We have added the wedding website link and password to the bottom of our wedding invitation’s info card for easy reference. Wedding websites are unheard of in my circle (Lil Boa’s reaction was “OMG your wedding has a MySpace”) but hopefully it will be to their liking and convenience. It still needs a little tweaking (Mr. Boa still owes me his message to the guests) but I’m really happy that it turned out better than I expected. 

Which of these two themes do you like better?
If you had a wedding website, did   make it “from scratch” or did you use a template site?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Down to the Home Stretch

An awful week (3 exams, 2 lab reports and half a dozen meetings) messed up my life schedule pushing wedding planning, valentine's day and blogging on a back burner. I've been a little frazzled trying to balance school, the wedding, the honeymoon and some really good news (Mr.Boa got a great job offer). We were both lucky to be recruited for full-time jobs(in the same city!) for after graduation. So now dealing with the whole hiring process and planning a cross country move to Ohio for just after the wedding has been added to my HUGE to do list. Overwhelmed does not even begin to cover it!

Noticing it's less than 100 days to the wedding(and a little over 3 months) till the wedding put my little Bee butt into wedding planning panic. I'm finally realizing planning a wedding with all these other things going on is freaking HARD! There is so much left to do and time just keeps ticking away with no regards to my schedule. I have a pretty light school load for this week and have an important event going on next weekend so hopefully I'll be able to get some things done. I'll try to start work on my DIY projects which I have regretfully neglected.

Though I'm cramming everything into my crazy life, I've also come to realize that it's okay if the details aren't all finished. The big ticket items like the venue, church, food, flowers and dress are all taking care of (a wedding can definitely take place) and the most important thing is getting to marry my best friend. Having Mr. Boa supporting me through all this is a constant reminder of the incredible prize I get to keep forever once all this planning craziness is over. All the stress is worth it when I remind myself that these are all moments that will mark the beginning of our new life together. Once in a while I'll try to sit back and soak it all in, knowing that it's a couple of once in a lifetime events that will soon be over, the memories of which I will treasure for a lifetime. How many times do you graduate college, get married (only once I would hope), visit Europe for the first time, move cross country, get your first "real" apartment" (college apartments don't count) and start your first post-grad job?

 Did you have problems balancing the wedding planning with the rest of you life?How did you deal with the wedding planning stress?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going On Our Honeymoon & Bringing Along Friends

We finally made our final decision regarding our honeymoon, after contemplating some different options for a while. Almost 3 months shy of our wedding, we finally booked our honeymoon cruise. We will be sailing the waters of the Mediterranean visiting the wonderful countries of Italy, Greece and Turkey. We'll  fly straight out of our wedding reception (old school style) and will be staying in Italy 4 days post cruise before flying home, just in time for our college graduation. I hope you can tell I’m pumped about our honeymoon, it’s as important as the wedding (marriage is a bit above on the awesomeness scale)! Going to Europe has always been my dream and it’s even more incredible that I get to share with my husband (husband!).
Mariner of the Seas
Our cruise ship via Royal Caribbean
I’m also going to share it with 2 other very important people. BFF L and her boyfriend C, where planning on going on trip to Europe with us before we got engaged. When we decided the trip would be our honeymoon, BFF L asked if they could still join us (which I found extremely sweet and considerate of her, since a cruise is open to whoever books it). I wasn't upset at all by her suggestion, on contrary I was psyched! On a cruise you interact with other people all the time, at your assigned dinner table, at shows and during tours. I would definitely prefer to share those times with close friends rather than strangers. Even though we will be traveling together, we will be focused on our significant other, meeting up only for tours, some dinners and the occasional drink. We are all comfortable enough with each other to have a conversation about our boundaries and expectations, so I don’t see that becoming a problem.

Picture of Positano via Ever After Honeymoons
Some people might be appalled by the idea of bringing friends along on their honeymoon. I would definitely agree, if your honeymoon will be spent sitting on a beach, sipping margaritas somewhere in the Caribbean. I wouldn’t want anybody to intrude on some relaxing beach time with my honey. Seeing as we live incredibly close to some world class beaches all year long and have spent considerable time in them, we knew lounging around and relaxing was not want we wanted for our honeymoon (more than 2 days of that and we'd be bored out of our minds). I’m aware my trip to Europe will consist of waking up at 7 am to walk away around a foreign city, not understanding a word of anything spoken to me, not the laid back post-wedding trip most people dream of but that hectic fast paced exploring suits us just fine.

Picture of Rome via Ever After Honeymoons

Will you be having a relaxing vacation or a fast paced adventure?
Would you consider bringing friends along on your honeymoon?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Barney-hued Shoes

I’m obsessed with all things purple. My wallet, ipod, laptop, cellphone, bathrobe and bedspread are all some shade of the vibrant hue (No wonder it’s my main wedding color!). When it came to choosing what to wear on my wedding day, there was no doubt in my mind purple would be featured somehow. Since Mami Boa almost had a heart attack at the mention of a grape colored gown, my feet is where I will be highlighting my favorite color. No ivory shoes for this gal!

Using recommendations from the Weddingbee boards for the best online shoe shopping sites, I stalked Zappos, DSW and endless hoping for the perfect shoe to pop up. I found a couple of incredible shoes all of which I wish I could buy, especially these:
Luichiny Moo Lah Platform Pump via Endless

rsvp Michelle via Zappos

Charles by Charles David Glacee Pump via Endless

This last shoe was exactly what I was looking for: purple stain with a little embellishment. Unfortunately, 5 inches is pretty tall even for a seasoned heel wearer. 8 hours in 5 inch heels would kill my little feet! I finally found the perfect shoe on endless a couple of days before Christmas: the Poetic License Spectacle. It has textured purple satin with the cutest little sparkly bow and only a 3.25 inch heel.
Poetic License Spectacle via Endless

I traveled around the internet looking for a coupon because at $98, while not expensive (especially for something I get to wear over and over) it was more than I wanted to spend. It just so happened they were also being sold at Amazon, which I added to my weekly shoe stalking list, crossing my fingers for a sale. Last week the price dropped from $98 to $45 on Amazon and I instantly ordered them. After 3 days of viciously tracking my package online, my beauties arrived. They look even more beautiful in person and are surprisingly comfy. 

Wedding Shoes: CHECK! One more thing off the wedding to do list!

Fresh out of the box
Images via Miss Boa's crappy cellphone camera
My pretties on my feet!
(Lil Boa wanted pictures immediately, so yes that is me standing on the end of a bathtub)

Will you be sporting colored shoes down the aisle? Heels or flats?
Did you also score a great deal when buying your wedding shoes?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vintage It's Not

On the little island where I grew up and live, vintage weddings and it's elements are a complete unknown. There isn't even a Spanish translation for the word vintage! It's is another example of something fashionable in wedding world but unheard of in real life. As much as I love the look of mason jars, milk glass vases and mismatched china, I can't even think of any place I could actually buy them.

On the other hand, me and Mr. Boa aren't vintage type people, though I might swoon over pictures like these: 
Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Paper Clip Collective

Image via Inspired by This / Photo by John Thigpen Design

Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Kim Skinner Photography

While researching wedding inspiration I was also attracted to the complete opposite of vintage, weddings that had minimal decoration and lots of white with bright pops of color. 

Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Our Labor of Love
Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by KasalNY

My attraction for contemporary wedding styling combined with my venue, definite implies that my wedding, vintage it's not. I will be combining a venue featuring glass and white walls with pops of purple and gray. In a wedding world full of vintage and rustic wedding inspiration, I sometimes feel like the odd man out. I'm the non-fashionable bride who is planning a modern wedding when it's out of style and I like it! 

Do you have any other suggestions as to how to name the style I'm going for?
How would you describe the style of your wedding? Are you planning a modern affair?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


You may recall my previous dilemma with choosing a photographer, having to pick between the budget busting professional or the extremely promising photography student. Taking suggestions made in the comments to heart, we scheduled a meeting at a local coffee shop with Keli Art Photography.

Keli arrived with her fiancee, Che, graphic designer and the second shooter at Keli Art Photography.  They make a super cute couple, were both extremely nice and patiently answered my million questions and concerns in a friendly manner.We had lots of things in common seeing as we are all around the same age and they are getting married in a couple of months too. After spending almost two hours chatting about the wedding, traveling and food, I think it's safe it's safe to say we had great chemistry with them. When I mentioned wanting to take our engagement pictures on our college campus(a nod to where we met and fell in love) Che light up with a huge smile, saying he'd been itching to take pictures in a library, an idea that was definitely on my wish list. It appears it was meant to be!

Their happy energy, receptiveness to new ideas and the great chemistry we shared made me certain we made the perfect choice by signing the contract on the spot. We didn't book them just because they were affordable (though it certainly played a part) but because they take gorgeous pictures and we just clicked with them as a couple, I have a really good gut feeling about working with them. I'm glad to cross off one more thing on my check list, but I'm especially relieved to finally have someone to capture memories of our special day in pictures I love like these:

* All pictures by Keli Art Photgraphy

Do you think I made the best choice? How did you choose your photographer?