Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Becoming The Breen's #3 -- The Date, The Venue, The Dress!

Here's Part 3 in our Becoming The Breen's Series leading up to our first wedding anniversary on Sunday, October 20th! Today you get to read all about our wedding planning process! Here's the details on picking a  date, a reception venue & the dress!  

Selecting a Date: 

We didn't wait long to begin throwing around potential dates for our wedding date! I happen to be a pretty huge fan of even numbers (as weird as that sounds...) so I had some preferences when it came to month & year. We knew we'd need some time to plan the wedding & knew at least a year was needed to get everything in place. We also planned on moving in together during our engagement & didn't want to feel rushed to find a place to live & a place to have our wedding all at once. Obviously money played into that as well. We wanted to have enough money to have the wedding of our dreams. So we gave ourselves time to save. Eventually, we decided to put dates in a hat & just pick. We had 5 different dates in mind for 2012, all in even months, all with even dates -- April 14th, June 30th, August 18th, October 20th & December 8th. We shook them all up & selected October 20th. It just so happened that October 20th was Sweetest Day in 2012 & the weekend we'd been engaged 2 years earlier. It was not planned, it just worked out that way. Kind of sweet though, I'd say.

Selecting a Reception Venue: 

Once we'd selected a date, we waited a few months to begin any definite planning. It was TORTURE. But nobody will really take you seriously when your date is 2 years away. That's not to say I didn't buy a ton & 1/2 of wedding magazines & dream of my wedding! Pinterest wasn't around back then so I saved a TON of inspiration to my computer. I also utilized the Inspiration Boards on & was able to wedding chatter non-stop with the girls I met through the forums on the site. I also set up our wedding website through weddingwire which was so fun to work on. We ended up including that on the invitations & our guests were able to view information about us & see the details of our wedding right on the website (including driving directions, etc.)

The internet & those magazines got me through until June 2011 when we finally decided a year & 1/2 in advance was a good time to start booking things. Initially I'd wanted a small, backyard wedding but it just kind of escalated with the guest list. Plus, the date we'd selected (& were rather attached to at this point) was in the fall when the Western New York weather is kind of unpredictable. We decided not to look into tent rentals or anything like that & instead checked out Becker Farms/Vizcarra Wineries which had an incredible back room patio & lovely grounds in which to host a wedding. Our only concerns were the weather & the fact that Becker Farms hosts a haunted hay ride during the month of October which would conflict with our wedding. As fun as the hayride is, it would have been loud & packed full of people. After further considering it we also took into consideration that Barker, New York is a lengthy drive for those guests coming in from Niagara Falls & the surrounding areas. We decided against Becker Farms.

The second venue we considered was Classics 5 in Niagara Falls. This was my first choice & I was SO attached to this idea that I even drew up preliminary invitations bearing Classics as our reception venue. We reviewed their menu selections & I began to fantasize about how I would dress the place up once it was booked. Unfortunately, that never happened. In our excitement we scheduled a time to walk through the banquet facility with the owner when our family was available to come with us. I wanted my dad & Andrew's parents to see if because I was SO sure this was IT. We scheduled our appointment almost a month in advance & were assured that there was nothing going on that day, we were all set for our time block & had someone from the facility who would be present to meet with us, show us around & discuss the options for our big day... Not so much. We showed up on our scheduled day & time with 3 cars full of family. The facility was locked. We waited for nearly an hour before we saw someone walking in. After flagging down this employee we were told that there was no record of us having an appointment. After I insisted, threw around a few names of people I'd spoke with & began to feel angry & embarrassed she checked her appointment book & said "Oh. Ha. You're René? Yeah. Your appointment was at 4:30. But, actually there's an event tonight that I have to begin set up for so you can glance around & I'll unlock the room for you, but you can only walk around until 6." This was at almost 5:45. I was furious & decided instead that I didn't need to deal with this kind of disorganization & malarkey.

My mother in law suggested we check out Antonio's Banquet & Conference Center on Niagara Falls Boulevard. I was so against it initially because it seemed so far away for the folks coming in from Newfane/Lockport but once I found out there was a hotel attached, I figured it solved the problem of driving distance. Our first meeting with Frank, the owner of the facility, was super informative & he showed us around & gave us a detailed tour. My family was super impressed & the fact that I could go right upstairs to bed after the reception was SO appealing to me. The hall was lovely & the staff seemed really sweet. I realized that this was the perfect place for our reception & within a week I'd booked the place. Suddenly it was so official! Originally we'd planned to pay extra for uplighting & an actual company to come in & decorate... But, eventually we decided that this was just not worth the money to us. We were grateful to have the reception hall & wanted to invest more money into other aspects of the wedding. Besides, the hall on its own was so nice & I didn't feel it was necessary for us.

The Dress: 

I was so, so RIDICULOUSLY nervous about wedding dress shopping. I just had this feeling that I would never find a dress I was 100% happy with. I figured I should probably start shopping early since I anticipated it being a long, drawn-out process. In October 2011, I made an appointment at David's Bridal & Alfred Angelo in Amherst, NY. On a cool, rainy Saturday my Aunt Pam & I drove up to David's for my first dress shopping experience. There were supposed to be a few other spectators but last minute something came up that prevented most of them from going.I was so ridiculously nervous & I felt like this was a sign that everything was going to be wrong & I was doomed to never find a dress. I have no idea why I was so terrified of dress shopping... But, seriously. I was petrified.

The back of Dress #1
Dress #1
Dress #2
The back of Dress #2
Once in the shop, my aunt & I began pulling a ton of dresses just so I could get a feel for what I liked. I went into the shop that day thinking I wanted something without any beading, without a train & I KNEW I most definitely did NOT want a veil. But, when we were pulling dresses, I pulled a few that had beading & lace & trains just because I wanted to be open to a variety of dresses. I had a clear favorite in mind though & decided to try that one on first. It was everything I'd originally thought I wanted -- simple, no lace or beading, strapless, not much of a train. Just a simple ribbon detail around the middle. I tried it on & I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted & I was excited & completely convinced that this was the one. I didn't want to leave without trying on other dresses though, so I tried on another. This dress was simple on top with some very pretty rouching throughout the bodice & a pretty, sheer, beaded overlay on the bottom. It was gorgeous & I realized that I liked this one even better than the first! Surprising since I'd convinced myself I wanted simple & plain! I was excited about this dress but knew I should really try on more just to get the most out of my dress shopping experience. The third dress I tried on changed all of that.

From the moment I slipped the gorgeous silk, beaded dress over my body I knew just from the way it felt on that this was the dress. It was heavy with a full train & the most gorgeous beading I'd ever seen on the bodice, down the sides throughout the rouching & down the train. I felt tears pricking my eyes the first time I saw myself in the mirror. The back wasn't even completely fastened as it was a corset back & the shop attendant didn't want to do it up if I didn't like the dress, but it was somehow just perfect, even unfinished. I knew this was the dress I wanted to marry the love of my life in. I felt like a bride. I felt beautiful. One glance at my aunt & I knew she could tell this was the dress too. She had tears rolling down her cheeks & she was just nodding. This was it. I tried on the each of the other dresses just to make sure which only reinforced my decision. I put back on Dress #3, my dress & I felt these butterflies in my stomach. I couldn't wait to get this baby home! But first, I knew I needed 1 more thing. This dress wasn't complete without a veil. Although I'd been reluctant to get a veil, after all the surprises that afternoon I felt like it was worth a try. I tried on 2 veils before deciding on the one i eventually purchased. From the moment it was on my head I knew my wedding look was complete. I could NOT wait to get shoes & get down the aisle! It was such an exciting day. For the first time ever I really, truly felt like a bride!

That's all for today! Tomorrow you'll get the details on selecting our bridal party & my bridal shower!

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