Our Wedding Part I

So the masses want to know how far I’ve gotten in my wedding planning. So let me introduce our special day… so far. I’m doing this in a brief list summary of our steps in chronological order with some insight inserted.

So Austin asked me to marry him on July 2nd, 2009 (you can read about it here) and we set about wedding planning…

  1. We let everyone know!  And picked our wedding party.
  2. The date: 10.10.10. Why?
  3. Location: This was our primary concern since this is a popular date, and securing a location would secure the date. I’ll be honest we kinda went into it blind and probably could have saved money if we a) did it in our family’s hometown (Port St. Lucie) or b) done some research. We ended up just driving over to St. Petersburg two hours away, a location we have sentimental attachment to, going to a few places my mom found and choosing! We couldn’t make a decision between our two favorites so we chose both! Still they are affordable and fun, so no regrets here. Really Austin and I aren’t super outdoorsy but we wanted to design a wedding that would be very “Florida” since many of our guests will be out of towners taking their vacation. Austin and I would elope in a second our real goal is to have an intimate, fun and awesome excuse for everyone to get together and party.
    • Rehearsal dinner at Ceviche – The small restaurant chain which is our absolute favorite and where we celebrated our engagement.  This will be photo themed and we already are picking out some oldies but goodies from our albums.  As per tradition we are keeping this to family and bridal party.
    • Ceremony at Sunken Gardens -A hidden gem in St. Petersburg we will be exchanging vows under a 200 year old oak canopy.  Below is my mama & Austin in the pavilion.Sunken Gardens
    • Bus them all over to Honey Moon Island – The beach is ours after sunset as we party in an open air pavilion!  Pavilion at Honey Moon Island

      We are keeping decorations to a minimum, because why do we need it when we have the beach/jungle as our decoration? Also less stress and stuff to throw away afterwards… Luckily the reception location has a set tasty caterer which includes everything.. makes it simple.  Also, shortly after our location trip we secured a block of rooms at a nearby hotel, VERY important for a destination wedding.

  4. Budget: We kind of started this before location shopping (and really should have finalized it before) but we definitely finalized it before signing the contracts! Just wanted to insert this to show how important it is although it may be awkward to sit down with your family discuss it.  See what they can contribute and ensure no matter what you can cover it!
  5. Guest List: This was very very hard, in fact the hardest part for me so far in the process. I know a lot of people and want them there, but with us trying not blow our whole nest egg we decided to limit the event to close family and bridal party. Besides it will be more intimate and HOPEFULLY I can spend time with each guest. A few others slipped in, but I had to be as assertive as possible with ourselves and our family. LUCKILY Sunken Gardens’ Oak Pavilion can only accommodate 75, so that helps keep us on track.  Before the wedding we are hoping to have a sendoff dance/party with the rest of our buds.
  6. Color Scheme: I first started with a pink and brown scheme but then switched over to a tropical peacock theme shortly after selecting our location.  Brown in a jungle would be bad… I used Kuler by Adobe to create the color palette.  I am a BIG proponent of getting this decided a.s.a.p. and just sticking with it (not that I’m great about staying on theme…), so that you can move forward with designing your wedding.  Kuler makes it easy and it’s free!
    Bridal Pallette

    Austin and I are peacock colors. Although I’ve never met a peacock I liked… but it’s pretty and tropical! Tee hee!

    Brides' Maids Dresses

    Bridal Party Color Scheme: Each of the ladies will be a different Florida Flower!

  7. Now we had a theme I designed us a logo. Branding is important to me… its the one piece of glue keeping this A.D.H.D. wedding together!
  8. Austin and Sheila's Logo

  9. Website – http://wedding.austinandsheila.com created!  Very important for getting the information out quickly to all those needing to know information, especially if they are traveling far.  We asked people to early r.s.v.p. and that’s been SEMI successful… not really. Hopefully they’ll be better when they get the invitation.
  10. Brides Maid’s Dresses – Coordinating via email we picked these out and ordered them.  I’ll leave them as a surprise.  I’m glad we did it so quickly because if you are going with traditional bridesmaids dresses IT TAKES SOOOO LONG for them to come in.  We ordered them in January and they won’t be in until May… All my bridesmaids are out of state, in fact two are over seas!  Thank god for gmail/googledocs and the internet.
  11. Save-the-Dates – We had soooo many different ideas on how to announce our date.  We ended up throwing in another facet to our tropical wedding, a tourist/destination feel.  So I came up with these magnets (ordered from vistaprint.com) that we attached postcard backs to:

    save the date

    I sent this to my maid of honor with no envelope to test if sending a big magnet in the mail as a postcard would work (sorry hard drives it came into contact with).  But it showed up a little torn.  So we ended up keeping the postcard back but mailing it in an envelope.  Bummer but let me sleep at night.

  12. Engagement Photos – An engagement photo shoot is super fun and if your photographer offers it, go for it!  Awesome to document this wonderful time of your life, as well as, great content to use in your invitations or website if you design them. Austin luckily is a big ham so we had a lot of fun, despite the cold, as our good friend and photographer Hilary Mercer took us on an all day shoot.  Check out the results. Austin and I really only planned the first location (Lake Claire) and the two sets of outfits.  From there we just roamed the city!
  13. Bride’s Attire: I did not want to spend a lot on a dress that I would never wear again and knowing my eccentric tastes neither would any daughter, that I may spawn, want to wear it either.  I anticipate a “trash the dress” shoot… I found my best option was prom dresses!  MANY of the dresses could be ordered in white, still very princessy, LIGHT & cheaper. When I tried on traditional gowns I felt heavy and hot. Plus, what else is a wedding but your dream prom that you spend a lot of money on? One where you most certainly are prom queen and king?  I’m going to keep my dress a secret but it is most awesome.  I saw it online, hunted it down, tried it on & fell in love.  As for the veil that is being pieced together because I’m crafty, with the help of some accents I bought from etsy.com.
  14. Honey Moon/Registry:  With little else to turn my attention to as most is planned or must wait until closer to the date, I started attacking our honey moon.  Austin and I have it mostly set and at least purchased our initial tickets to Madrid.  We have decided instead of asking for traditional home goods, we would like our guests to purchase us portions of our rockin’ honeymoon.  We have been living together for four years so home goods… we got.  But a rockin’ honeymoon?  That’s new.  Here’s a sneak peak at our registry set up through honeyfund.com. Our itinerary is  ALMOST set, we might simplify it, but otherwise we are super excited.    I’m sure I will in the future post a long diatribe about the dos and don’ts of planning this kind of trip.
  15. Cake Topper: Put down our deposit on one by Sophia’s Workshop on Etsy.com. She did one for a friend of mine and I can’t WAIT to start the design process.  Check her out but keep in mind she has a waiting list.
  16. Rings: This we just finished yesterday!  Austin bought me a very unique engagement ring that requires a customized interlocking band to not look all goofy.  Horrible resolution picture of initial ring:Enagement Ring

    Sketch of new ring! Notice how they wrap together? That’s the original diamond in the center.
    Sketch of my band.

    We decided to follow a Victorian tradition I read about in some book (really authoritative huh?) of using the stones to spell out a message/word.   Mine will have either aquamarine tear drop stones standing for Austin, or if I can figure out a good blue “F” stone, an aquamarine, the diamond from my engagement ring and then the “F” stone making Austin David Flores.  Suggestions?  Austin’s ring will have two sapphires laid out mimicking my ring, standing for Sheila Suarez.  I don’t have a picture of his ring (oops) but its a thinner lighter (good for dancing) matte white gold band with polished cut edge.

So… that’s basically it!  Many are surprised at either the geekiness/nonswing orientatedness of our wedding (including myself on the latter) but it’s all about family and joy and I like it damn it.  Plus very few of our guests swing dance. :/ Though they will in fact cut a rug. Any way we shall not be pigeonholed, we are a many faceted duo!

We are in the process now of finalizing Austin and his groom’s outfits, creating the overall structure of our ceremony which will be administered by my maid of honor, then on to program designing, invitation designing, losing weight, flowers, center pieces, dj set list (we are just running a MP3 player), favors & finally some tastings!  Maybe I do have quite a bit to do in the next 6 months…

Now you know. – S

Corporate 5k Pic Recap: Lots of Thumbs

Just a few choice photos. More here.

Online@UCF Team
Most of our Team! Kitzzy our lovely organizer of course on the phone.

5k Virgins
5k Virgins… Austin did not want to take this picture.

You can do it!
AFFIRMATION SHIRT! YEA!

Jason with Helmet Cam
Voyeur… Jason Cam He still finished in like 24 minutes with that camera on his head…

Thumbs up!
Thumbs!! Please note that they have invented a contraption to replace pins to hold your number. What will they think of next?

Walking to the start
12k people…

Chuck, Sheila, and Sherry at start
Chuck, Sherry and I at the start!

Sheila and Sherry ready to go!
All Thumbs!

nothing but thumbs – S

TRY THAT MILK and Other Pre-Wedding Tips

This is the first in a series of “what I learned so far” wedding posts.  Honestly only now with the wedding planning at a semi-lull (at that awkward not a lot to do until closer to the wedding stage) have I had the time to reflect on what I’ve learned!  As well as, trying to help my maid of honor who is recently engaged plan her wedding in 7 months, helps rehash the memories.  O. The horror.

So You Are Engaged?:

This may not work for everyone but I suggest to begin putting yourself into a “fake marriage” if you haven’t already.  What does this mean?

  • Plan the Wedding Together: Or as much as possible! And when I mean planning, I mean not just the woman stereotypically ordering the man around, but both making all decisions together. Throughout the rest of your life you’ll be planning (hopefully) together, so start now.  Planning a wedding can be an ordeal and is a BIG learning experience.  Heck, for most people its the first and only 100-200 person two day event they’ll ever plan!  Wedding planning can bring to surface a lot of family, personal and otherwise ticks.  You’ll want to do this together and use it as a bonding experience and not just a hassle. Sure, if the woman relinquishes some of the control she might get a WOW cake BUT not only will she be less stressed (if you guys work well together) but he’ll feel he owns the day as well.  It also means learning each others strengths.  Maybe one is a better designer, they’ll take more of a lead there, but in the end both need to be happy and in agreement.
  • Move In: If you haven’t already moved in together. It doesn’t ruin the magic in fact it doubles it! Austin and I moved in together after a year… which may have been quick but we never regretted it. Comes down to this, it is the TRUE test of if you guys can work as a team and cohabitate. When you get married the least amount of surprises the better. What about this doubling the fun? Here’s my road plan for those with trepidations about ruining the magic.
    1. Imagine moving in together in your first apartment, you’re saving money, learning about each other & giggling every night because you are having a sleepover with your bestbud. Better yet move into a place with roommates and each have your own room. Sleep in the same room but still have your haven (this is probably good after marriage as well). Roommates are good because they help you save money (we are planning a wedding after all) and they are a bit of social fun that doesn’t make you feel SO all alone with one person and that nothing will ever change before it even started to change.
    2. Now a year later you get married and move into a new house/apt! Better yet, no roommates! You will be sick of them by now. This has all the newness you need plus you are prepared with “living with your hubby” skills. You still need all that fun stuff from your registry and you feel more married with just the two of you!
  • Start Merging Assets:  There is no better test to see what you are getting yourself into then to see how your partner manages money and the responsibility of dispersing it to bill collectors.  We weren’t sure how to go about it so I asked for advice from friends/family and finally decided to have one joint bank account and two personal ones.  90% of our paychecks go into our joint account and 10% go into our own personal accounts.  I can’t even see his personal account and that is OKAY!  This way we don’t feel guilty or have to explain to each other (and our budget) when splurging on ourselves, as well we can surprise each other with gifts!
  • Now Make Budget: Aside from the wedding budget which anyone could tell you should be your FIRST action when starting to plan (more on this later), you need a life budget!  Austin and I use Mint.com and a spreadsheet that we share through Google Docs to keep us on track.  Not only do we have a regular budget but a savings budget.  This savings budget shows over the year how much we are saving and any big expenditures we are going to pay out from savings (vacations, loan lump-sums, foreseen medical expenses, etc).  Budgets aren’t perfect so after we pay rent each month, Austin and I try to sit down & categorize our expenditures in Mint and tweak our budget if need be (or our drinking habits).

This post basically espouses knowing what you are getting yourself into it. Trying the milk first is not bad because when you buy the cow there’s a whole buncha new stuff and places to go with said cow. Playing house!  So that when you do get married its not like getting dumped into a desert island with you and that person on the marriage license.

What now?

Next wedding themed post shall be about the nitty gritty start of wedding planning and some money saving tips I’ve realized a long the way.

nitty & gritty -S

Get Active in Your Community (and don't pass out)

So tonight I ran my first 5k! I never thought it would be my bag and I still don’t think it is but I’m glad I did it and I may do it again. So I guess it’s my minibag, a satchel per say.

Some Background:

So you guys know I’m getting married in 6 months.  Haven’t been so successful in losing the “new job 20”.  Kitzzy & Jason my awesome coworkers at Online@UCF/CDL/UCF (where I work) decided to put together a group for the Orlando Corporate 5k, the biggest sporting event in Orlando with 12k people!  Really its a stroke of genius because coworkers feel the pressure to bond/participate, its short enough to walk, office workers always need exercise and this is a gateway activity.  So CDL set up a team and a blog and though my knee and extra bone in my foot makes it hard to run I felt this was a perfect opportunity to jump start my routine.
Online@UCF Learning to Live Well

Didn’t work that well.  But I tried.  Allergies/sickness and lethargy kept me to only training 2-3 weeks for it.  But the beauty is, with a 5k you can always walk!

Why I’d Do It Again

Not sure I’d TRAIN heavily for a 5k again (due to knee/footness I’m sticking to biking) but I’d do one again.  Especially if I move to a new city.  Because:

  • You get to see the city. Roads blocked off, bands playing (mariachi!), running in mass, its a pretty awesome sight.
  • You get to meet people. Like 12k of them… all in mass.  Running.  Humanity running, often in funny outfits.
  • Entertaining t-shirts: Everything on them from godzilla killing a city to threats of being superior to commands to “eat your dust” to ascertains of their physical prowess over you.  Okay, really there are just a lot of threatening t-shirts.  In fact, I think our team was one of the few positive ones, with affirmations blaring on the back.
  • Feel accomplished: Run as much as possible, walk, then jog, do whatever.  No matter what by the end you feel pretty good!
  • Community outreach: Not only can you reach over and touch your brother but many of these events are charities.  And charity is good, as well as, brotherly love.
  • Pack Mentality… I mean Spirit! It’s just a good bonding experience where people are taken out of their element and must rely on each other for support. Not that I talked much, what with concentrating on breathing, but it was nice to have them there (nicer than I expected as I liked training in quiet). I’m not sure I’d want to do it without seeing the happy affirmations on the backs of my team member’s shirts… as I pass them… like Godzilla. ;p  At least, you’ll know who you can outrun in the office, for when the zombies attack.

So I guess what I’m saying is, not sure I’d do more then a 5k but its a fun occasional community activity that should not be intimidating!

How’d I do?

Why thanks for asking.  Did it in 36-37 minutes (not good at this number thing).  I jogged/ran the whole way except for one minute.  Pretty proud I must say. Austin pushed over some grandmas to make his time of 25.5 minutes.  You see it is a race to him.

Possible pictures to possibly come.

run sheila run – S

Quilting Dumbledore Would Be Mildly Embarrassed Of

So a friend of mine Jessica offered to hold a quilting learning bee.  I happen to have a sewing machine that I got for high school graduation but have never used (other than Austin’s foray into tailoring).  I think I shall call her baby Olga after my Baba.  I have lots of t-shirts I can’t bear to part with.  Quilting + Learning – Whole T-Shirts = T-shirt Quilt or EXCELLENT!

First project is just piecing together some scraps. This is how Jessica taught me.

  1. Iron your fabric.
  2. Cut out pieces of fabric, squaring off and leaving a 1/4″ margin on all sides for seams.
  3. Sew these together being wary of straightness of stitch and tension.  You can sew large strips together and then cut these to make your squares!  Very handy tip.

    Practice Stitching

  4. Lay out/plan your pattern (though you probably already had this in mind).
  5. Plotting

  6. Sew these pieces together keeping in mind that the seams are going the same way (ironing helps ascertain a set seam flappy direction).
  7. Sew together these blocks in bits.  Combining these bits to make bigger bits.
  8. OILA!  You have the front of an oddly Hogwartish Wall Hanging front.  Still have to edge this off and put backing and all that fun stuff.

Complete Front!

Next project I’m thinking a jersey/nerdy themed scarf, like this but scarfy.  Need to get used to jersey for my big t-shirt quilt! Or I shall make a throw for my mask room.  Mondrian style!

sew… – S

Superior Donuts: It Ain't Horse Fat!

So tonight I went to Mad Cow Theatre‘s production of Superior Donuts., in its first ever debut on an nonbroadway stage. Mad Cow Theatre is a small theatre that makes awesome use of its space and whose season is varied, affordable and worth the subscription. Acting is not always up to par but valiant and ambitious in its scope.

Superior Donuts Cover

Superior Donuts is an endearing dramedy about an intellectual poor black kid who forces himself into the life of an embittered draft dodging donut maker son of a Polish immigrant, saving him (and himself in the process) from certain loneliness and failure.

Sounds a bit sappy, huh? I’ll spare the sugary donut metaphors.

But really the play is pretty interesting and has quite a bit of the depth. The play explores the dynamics of the American Dream and personal faults of a wide splash of ethnic backgrounds in a small Chicago burrough, from Croatian porn selling immigrants to star trekies. Good and attention keeping writing overall.

As for the production: The set was awesome (as per usual) but it didn’t make up for the lack luster main actor. I’ve seen him in other productions and he ALMOST fit but the wavering accent really kinda lost it for me. Franco, the young ragamuffin, was much better but still in the first serious scene wasn’t quite convincing. The secondary eccentric characters were much more awesome (and sinister) and hilarious. Overall the comedy could have been a little bit more discrete and fitting if the director toned down the acting. Still as the play hit its climax the acting hit its stride (accents or not) and the emotional payoff was good.

All in All: It was my second favorite play I’ve seen at Mad Cow (of 4 this season) and worth checking out.

I give it a three out of five penguins. – S

P.S. It also will most certainly get you hungry for donuts. I bet they did better in concession sales in this production than any other (except maybe Superior Concessions). So bring a few dollars and support local theatre.

The Importance of Being Mrs.Ernest.com

There are very few careers nowadays where public image does not matter. I find myself constantly aware of it, despite wanting not to. It all amounts to “Am I seen as a professional?” And a large part of starting to build awareness of your professional knowledge is creating a “personal branding”. I know that word is bandied about to the point of being a scare tactic. But it’s true: If people don’t know who you are how will they give you lots of $$ and props?

This is what I propose: The modern woman might be giving up even more then just her history by changing her last name. Street cred? Pride? But is she giving up more by refusing to?

I’m not sure my stance other than I’ve been afraid to admit that I can’t wait to change my name in domestic bliss. This is a bit more deep rooted than the personal branding angle.

Some history: I’m getting married to a one Austin Flores. After much debate I have decided to change my name to Sheila Suarez de Flores come October when we wed. I am modern enough to keep my last name but honored enough to append. I have a website called sheilasuarez.com, as two years ago, I tried to abandon my wishy washy handles that I always grew tired of (deltaspark, eatther0ses, esscore, bluespringtied, birthdayzoot, smapdi3000… and so on) for something I have always been: Sheila Suarez. Plus then when an employer saw my awesome CSS skillz they’d know who to call.

But now as I’m relying on this handle more and more, filing my taxes (or failing to) online, banking, handing out business cards and otherwise, I realize that with the ring comes the destined name change. I know who I will be in six months. Why not change now?

Pride. I always thought myself the feminist, a sensible one, likes to pay dutch but doesn’t mind a car door being opened for her. But with this has come a stubborn streak that won’t admit that she WANTS to change her name. Aghast when other girls did so before their wedding. Changing their handle to include a “Mrs”? Good lord not your internet handle! If guys don’t do it at all or get all giddy about it, why should I (working in a male dominated field probably doesn’t help this…)? If it was more acceptable, would guys do it? I do not want to be defined by my relationship but supported (like Hedwig!). Why do I really think this name will define me?

But I’m here to admit it. I like that I’m changing my name because I’m proud of being Austin’s. Can’t wait to change my name! But pride has also kept me from doing it sooner than later. Until tonight, setting up hopefully a blog (god I hate that word) that will last me through several adventures (including marriage), I had to pick a name and I picked: sdeflores.

Is this me being realistic or girly? Austin is pretty dreamy… and there really is no good reason to change my name other than that fact. But if I’m going to do it, why not do it now?

My point has quickly deflated as I’m out of coherent blogging practice. But a little part of INDEPENDENT WOMAN OF STEEL AND CAREER-NESS, named so man or not, has died in me tonight. I know its not a bad thing. In fact, I have missed out on all the giggles. I don’t need my old name to define me! Take that maiden name! In the end, its not that big of a deal. A redirect added from sheilasuarez.com and new business cards in 6 months, but, at what point should we define ourselves? How do we define ourselves? And what is there in a name?

What’s the big deal?

A rose by any other name would taste just as sweet… – “Mrs.” Sheila Suarez “de Flores”

P.S. I need to go to Feminist-Anonymous and admit I like fluffy things and that’s okay.

Back to Blogging VII: BLOG WITH AVENGENCE!

So I have a long history of “blogging” and then forgetting to blog.  Let’s take a memory tour:

  1. Pre2000 – Homestead .gif website and Kamishibais about penguins.
  2. November 2000 – Sheila departs upon creating a “Moment of Zen” on her personal website The Dandelion Patch. These blurbs are a mix between pop culture quotes, high school wisdom and esoteric rants.
  3. December 2003 – Too lazy to continue hand coding her stream of conscious, she moves to livejournal and just includes it in an i-frame on her website.
  4. July 2003 – She moves almost solely over to livejournal due to the social networking/emo sharing possibilities!
  5. June 2008 – Sheila attempts to have a grown up blog and weight loss blog on blogger. Interest wanes fairly quickly.
  6. 2,763 tweets ago – Void is filled by twitter.

Needless to say I like writing and I like sharing and I learn stuff all the time.  Here I HOPE to make an effort to chronicle the next few turbulent years that shall encompass: planning a wedding and subsequently getting married, making a quilt, surely painting more murals, traveling to Europe, traveling to Asia, traveling some more, picking up new skills, applying to gradschools and other icky/fun adult stuff.  Because I love to write!  Heck, I have a tattoo dedicated to it.  I’m sick of squirreling it away via twitter.

For now this blog will be pretty simple until I get my act together and host it on my website.

Now that is over!  Next entry shall be more informative.

Or at least therapeutic- S

Perfect Ripples

Lazy fingers dip into the water
Bored eyes scan the horizon
Weary heart and worn spirit
Guide me as I drift

Nothing to hold on to
So I keep going
Endlessly spinning
With nothing to grasp on to

What a lovely mirage I had once
Of comfort with a smile
True love I could relate to
Keeping me warm for just a while

But when I opened my eyes
And reached out to touch the faceless beauty
My fingers met perfect ripples
It was but my reflection in the water

Hopes crushed and feelings hurt
It was only me that let me down
I thought this one was different
But it was just the same

The realization hit me
As I tumbled from the false supports
How could I have been so foolish?
To have been carried away

But I continue
Hoping I have learned
And the deep loneliness still fills me
As I drift in this sea of people

Blind

Fog has settled upon my mind
Misty eyes guide me
And shadows support me

Fumbling through the dark I find you
But how can I know you
If I can’t see the true you

Dark shadows fall on your face
Tangible beauty you are to me
But how do I know

For I know no other
You are the one
The only one

Careful for I am fragile
I am weakened
From the endless pain

I hold onto you with trembling fingers
I no longer know what’s right
All familar lines have blurred

For so many voices calling
Tearing me
Ripping me apart

Beloved hands that once had lead me
Fight with each other
To grasp me

Oh the silky white hands
Sport dark talons
How lovely they had once seemed

But I can’t be certain anymore
In the darkness
This utter black

I watch my step
As I fall
Always back into your arms

Guide me for I am blind
Love is a sort of blindness
That ails us all