Whenever I think of a traditional guest book.  I think of...
a little plain for my taste... / Image via Delightfully Tacky
This is something that will likely find its way onto a bookshelf and never see the light of day, save for an anniversary or two where we're feeling especially nostalgic.

I immediately started looking for alternative options to the standard guest book, and surprise surprise - there are TONS of options out there!  A few that caught my eye: (following images via <a href:"http://www.bowtiesandbliss.com/2011/03/unique-guest-book-alternatives/">Bowties and Bliss</a>)
loved this idea of a fingerprint tree or fingerprint balloons!
this couple had their guests sign postcards to be sent to them throughout their first year of marriage!
a Polaroid guest book would be cool to capture candid images from guests with a little note!
I eventually had to narrow the search down to something that felt like us and went with our overall theme.  Enter, the wine bottle guest book!
four bottles to celebrate 4 big anniversaries! / Image via XO Edge
Typically, the couple would buy four bottles of wine.  One to open on each of the following anniversaries - 1st, 5th, 10th and 20th.  The guests, provided with a silver marker, will be able to sign one of the bottles and they'll be saved as our "guest book" that we'll be able to enjoy for the next 20 years!  (Sidenote: when we open the 20th anniversary bottle, I'll be 49 years old!  Ahhh!!!)

After some preliminary research, I realized I don't know a lot about wine.  Hahaha...I enjoy drinking it, I know what tastes good to me, but I could not tell you how long to age a wine or if it'd go bad before we'd actually reach its corresponding anniversary.

Luckily, a new wine shop opened up downtown a few months ago and they were the perfect go-to place to pick out wines that will age with us and with proper storage, taste amazing when we pop the cork!

Crush, the fine wine shop, proved to be a fantastic resource for us - check out their selection!
that awesome library ladder only added to my excitement! / Personal photo
We met with their resident sommelier (wine expert) and managing director, Kristian who knew right away what we were trying to explain when we mentioned "wedding wine guest book...thing!"  He asked us a few questions about our backgrounds and if any wines or regions held a special place in our hearts and went quickly to work finding us the best options for each year.

First, he suggested a Moutard Rosé Champagne for our 1st anniversary.  Because it will only sit for one year, the champagne will not over-mature and will prove to be a nice, sweet bubbly we can pop on our 1-year anniversary.  For our 5th anniversary, he recommended a Spanish red wine by Breca, it's a lighter red option, and will hold up for the 5 years we need it to.  Next, he pulled a darker still red varietal, Amarone Allegrini for our 10th anniversary, that will age extremely well.  Finally, for our 20th anniversary, we needed a very stable, Port wine to ensure it can sustain a storage of 20+ years.  Kristian pulled us a 20-year aged Port by Burmester - when we drink this Port, it will be aged 40 years!

I highly suggest that if any of you go this route, to consult with a trained sommelier and ask specific questions about storage and aging so that you don't open a moldy, nasty wine on your 20th anniversary!

We'll be making our own labels for these bottles similar to the inspiration photo above and displaying them at our reception proudly!  I'll be sure to share the final product!
our "guest book" wines, from our 1st to 20th anniversaries! / Personal photo
traditional portuguese dancers and musicians at a wedding reception. / Image via Color Blind Productions
I've shared with you all that Mr. Jet's family is from Portugal.  More specially, they are from an island off the coast of Portugal called São Miguel, a part of a group of islands known as the Azores.  The Azores are actually a lot closer to the United States than most people think.  The reason why our area is so heavily populated with Portuguese immigrants is because the islands are only about 4 hours away from Boston.  (They are closer to us than we are to a good portion of the United States!)  

Mr. Jet's parents moved here in their late-teens/early twenties, so they have brought with them lots of traditions and cultural traits as well as the Portuguese language.  While Mr. Jet grew up immersed into the Portuguese culture, I grew up in a very multi-cultural family.  Just for your reference, I am various parts Italian, Irish, French-Canadian, Portuguese, Scottish and English.  However, growing up in an area so heavily populated with Portuguese people, I've ALWAYS loved Portuguese food and culture.  (Please tell me you've all tried Chouriço at one point in your lives, and for proper pronunciation - we call it "sha-DEECE", not "chor-E-zo"  Our city has the world's largest Portuguese festival every year in August that sees over 100,000 visitors in a three-day period!

Needless to say, it would be nearly impossible for us not to incorporate some Portuguese cultural traditions into our wedding.

Here are some of the traditions we'll be incorporating:
The Portuguese Rooster / Image via Wikipedia
You can read the full story behind the meaning of the rooster here, but in short - it is a Portuguese symbol of honesty, trust, integrity and honor.  Mr. Jet and I have a set of these roosters in our kitchen, as they are commonly kept in Portuguese households and if you'll remember, our venue has a GIANT one hanging on the rafters.  We'll be sneaking it into our paper suite as well!
he's one proud rooster! / Image via RC Uplighting
The other traditions are far more subtle, but we've chosen to honor them to keep the family happy:
  • Wine at every table.  It's customary, no matter where you go or how old you are, to have red wine with every dinner meal.  Originally, we were going to offer one hour of open bar to our guests, however I was strongly urged to offer two bottles of wine (a white and a red) at every table instead.  In Portuguese culture, it would be considered very bad form to seat guests for dinner without offering them a glass of wine along with it.
  • A few (note: FEW) Portuguese dance songs.  Though many of Mr. Jet's family members have been living in the U.S. for years, they are still very traditional at heart.  In order to appease everyone, we'll be dropping in a few Portuguese tunes during the dinner and dancing portions of the night so that everyone feels included and comfortable.  We want to see Tia Carmen dance!!
  • A "greenback" shower.  Since Mr. Jet and I have been living together for over 5 years, we've managed to accumulate a great deal of...stuff.  We've started a very small registry for those guests who insist on purchasing a gift, but it is widely accepted in many cultures (including Portuguese) to have a greenback shower to allow for the couple to save up for a large purchase, such as a new home.

Are you or your SO incorporating any cultural traditions into your wedding?
A few people have inquired about the envelope liners I added to my Save the Dates, so I figured I'd dive in with my first DIY tutorial!

Envelope liners certainly add a lot of character and flair to an otherwise Plain Jane envelope, but boy can they be tricky if not done correctly!  In my case, I sent out 92 Save the Dates which means cutting around 100 envelope liners.  I deemed this project totally worth it, as my kraft-colored envelopes were seriously lacking in the style department.

First, I had to figure out what kind of paper I wanted to use.  While thicker, richer paper would give the STDs a truly luxe look, the idea of adding weight (and therefore postage) to the piece did not appeal to me.  In addition, I avoided thicker paper to be able to eliminate the step of scoring the paper - my bone folder and I don't always get along.  I also ixnay-ed metallic paper, as it may crack at the seam and look messy once opened.  Once I was able to gather my criteria, I decided that wrapping paper would be the perfect paper.  It was cheap, available in endless colors and patterns, and readily available at almost every store.  (TIP: Try to get a paper that has the cutting grid on the back of the paper, it will help you to line up the template and count out your liners a lot easier.  This also helps if you are using a geometric pattern that you need to cut at a perfect right angle!)
This 22.5 sf roll gave me at least 100 liners to fit an A2 sized envelope. / Personal photo
Next, I pulled out my trusty A2 Paper Source envelope liner template.  (TIP: If you don't have one of these, or are using an odd-sized envelope, you can easily make your own template with a thick/durable piece of paper/plastic/cardstock.  Just measure the height and width of your closed envelope, then lift the flap and trace the shape of the flap onto the template material and add in the measurement you just took.  Don't forget to leave room for the envelope's adhesive strip!)
These templates are a good investment, as they are endlessly reusable! They come in a large pack with all of Paper Sources envelope sizes. / Personal photo
In order to save some paper, I marked off the template about 1/2" below the visible opening of the envelope, and decided to cut each liner so that it would sit just under the visible portion, not go all the way down to the end of the envelope.  If you're making your own template, you can do this too.
I used washi tape to mark off where I wanted the bottom of the liner to hit. Since you can kind of see through the template, I was able to eyeball about a 1/2" below the visible portion of the envelope. / Personal photo
Next, I rolled out my wrapping paper and started cutting my liners using the grid lines and my template.
I traced around the template and was able to fit over 100 liners onto one roll of wrapping paper. / Personal photo
Once all the liners were cut, I started dropping them into the envelopes.  I lined the template up right under the adhesive strip of the envelope, then using the flap of the envelope, carefully folded it over to make a hard crease.
At this point in the STD construction process, my b'maids officially learned I was totally crazy. / Personal photo
Finally, I used Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Roller Adhesive to adhere the top of the flap to the envelope. (TIP:  To save some labor and tape, I only adhered the top half of the liner and left the bottom half free.  I would avoid this if you have something that could possibly "catch" when your recipient opens the invite.)

At this point, you can stuff your envelopes and send them on their merry way.  Don't expect the phone calls to pour in to congratulate you on your amazing envelope liners (unless you're inviting a member of the hive!), but do expect to stage a photo of an excited "guest" opening their invitation/STD!!
Mr. Jet is SO impressed by this little touch of whimsy!!
I'm pretty put-together most days.  

I have a crap-ton of hair and it's usually brushed, straightened or generally just...dealt with.
Chillin' in NBC studios with Matt Lauer - I hear he's kinda jerky, true story?? / Personal photo
I know my way around a make-up brush and a pair of tweezers.
Date night with Mr. Jet. / Personal photo
But for my wedding day, I need to call in the glam squad (my hairdresser, Christy!) to make me look supa dupa fly!

Wedding hair and make-up inspiration photos were some of the first "pins" I ever added to my Pinterest board!  I was drawn to really romantic, messy-but-perfectly-messy hairstyles like these:
Doesn't this chick look like Leighton Meester? / Image via The Knot
Love the ALMOST braid going on here. / Image via The Knot
This might be my fave so far! / Image via F@*# Yeah! Hairstyle
For headpiece reference, I am opting for a fingertip mantilla veil.  Here's a sneak peek...
MOH K and me keepin' it real at the bridal salon. / Personal photo
On to makeup!  In my every day life, I usually wear a tinted moisturizer, a few layered eyeshadows, some eyeliner, mascara and blush.  For my wedding day, I looked for makeup inspiration on celebs who share my skin tone and overall style.  Enter Adele.  Not only is her makeup always perfectly applied, but her look is completely classic and absolutely stunning.  Exhibit A...
Umm, hello perfection? / Image via Vogue
This bitch is flaw. less. I could look at her all day and I'm totes jealous of her accent! / Image via Vogue
It's like the cover of a Fabio novel.... / Image via Vogue
While I'm not graced with her high cheekbones and creepily symmetrical face, Adele and I have a lot of features in common.  We both have fair skin, eyes in the green color family and hair with various red tones so by choosing her makeup style, I can really get a good sense for how those colors will look on me.  Now, the question is - bold or nude lip?  I'll have to play with both options when I have my trial with Christy in September - but I'll be sure to report back!

Did anyone model their makeup style after a specific celebrity's?
An interesting concept, no? / Image via Youth Ki Awaaz
I always say that I met Mr. Jet at the perfect time in my life.  I was out of college, on the hunt for a "grown-up" job but really enjoying my time as a young adult coming into my own.  Mr. Jet is older than I am, and since I've always heard that women mature faster than men, was in a similar place in his life as well.  I've never been a believer in fate necessarily, but there are some very strange facts that link Mr. Jet and me in ways that I don't think I'll ever really understand or be able to explain.  I always ask myself, "Why did we meet now, not years ago?", "What brought us together after that wedding?", "Did our paths ever cross before then?"

Here are the facts...

  • Mr. Jet grew up in the city we live in now.  I grew up in a smaller town "across the bridge" (think Capeside, a la Dawson's Creek - omg, Pacey.  LOVED him!).  Mr. Jet's city always got a bad rap from the kids in my town, and we hardly ever ventured over the bridge for fear that we'd encounter some crazy, evil shit.  We stayed on our side, they pretty much stayed on their side even though my house and Mr. Jet's house were only four miles apart!
  • Mr. Jet dated a good friend of b'maid V for several years, and about a year after I started dating Mr. Jet, I started working at my current job - where Mr. Jet's ex was a design assistant!
  • Mr. Jet's best friend in college (BM K) was best friends with my sister in high school (MOH J)!
  • And the real kicker??  Mr. Jet attended a Catholic school from the 1st to the 8th grades and one of his best friends throughout that entire 8 years?  MY FUTURE STEP-BROTHER!  After Mr. Jet and I started dating seriously enough to broach the subject of my "boyfriend" to my parents, my step-mom asked his name.  When I told her, she said, "Mr. Jet --- from such-and-such catholic school?"  We all put two and two together and realized that Mr. Jet spent many afternoons and weekends at my step-mother's house before she met my father!

It's just all too weird, right hive?  When Mr. Jet and I were getting to know each other, we talked a lot about our pasts and the type of kids and teenagers we were.  While I was the poster child for sobriety and good grades and serving as president of both my French AND Drama clubs, Mr. Jet was skateboarding, skipping school and smoking pot with his minions.  I soon realized, Mr. Jet would've been THAT guy - the one I rolled my eyes at in the hallway for being such a deadbeat.  I was judgmental, he was apathetic.  Boy, have we changed.  While he's still somewhat the laid-back guy he's always been and I'm still the judgmental girl rolling my eyes at "hoodlums", as adults we just work.  And it's our common goals and desires in life that make us perfect for each other now, and in our futures.

Again I say, I met him at the right time.  I don't know why and I'll never know how - but if I've ever believed that anything has ever happened for a reason, this was certainly that thing.

Anyone out there believe in some sort of fate?  Meet your mate at "just the right time?"

Hey there, hive!  Guess what showed up at my desk today????
Could it be...my wedding shoes?! / Personal photo
In case you missed the last installment of the shoe saga and want to read about it, catch up here!  Long story short, I narrowed my shoe search down to 9 sexy finalists from The Dessy Group
The contenders!
Thanks to the hive and my b'maids - I made a final decision and could NOT be happier with my choice!  Since I'm a total tease about my gown, I'll throw you guys a bone...presenting my wedding shoes!!
NUMBER FOUR!!! (Please disregard the Irish sunburn...) / Personal photo
Thanks to everyone for their awesome input, #4 was secretly my #1 all along and I'm glad most agreed!  So there you have it, my "Something Blue"!  I'll update on the Old, New and Borrowed soon....
Bespectacled Miss Jet v. Empty-Faced Miss Jet / Personal photo
Okay hive, I wear glasses on the reg.  I've been rockin' 'em since 7th grade - holler at those wire framed nightmares!  Right now I wear brown tortoise Ray Bans and they've been an every day staple on my face for a few years now.  

For my wedding day, I want to look like the best version of myself.  Not to say that the glasses version of myself is any more or less "me", but if I have an option to not wear them it's a decision I'll have to make.  I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing my contacts the day of my wedding, not only to show off my whole face (the Ray Bans sort of take on a life of their own!), but to reduce photo glare!  It'll also just look "nice" to have a clean look what with the veil, jewelry, hair, etc.  We'll see how tired my eyes in my contacts get by 9 pm, but I'm all for a costume change into my trusty Ray Bans should the situation arise!  By then, everyone will be on the dance floor and all of the pertinent photos will have been taken.  My best friend, MOH K did the same thing and has no regrets about changing into her glasses part way through her reception.  

Another argument for a glasses-free look - while I'm used to bespectacled life now, it may not always be so.  What if I get Lasik or hit my head and end up back at 20/20 vision?  What if in ten years Ray Bans are hideously unpopular and I look totally dated in my wedding photos?  Call me vain or an over-thinker (both of those things are probably true), but a specs-free face it shall be!

::near-sighted vent session over!!::

My squishy little love bug!! / Personal photo
Almost 5 years ago, Mr. Jet and I decided we wanted to adopt a dog together.  We had both owned dogs growing up and it had been years since either of us had one.  We thought it'd be a great way to make a commitment to each other that didn't involve rings or a baby carriage just yet!  We started looking at local shelters searching for the perfect pup to add to our new "family".  A few weeks into our search, we visited a local humane society and as we walked down the cage-lined hallway, we stopped dead in our tracks when we saw a little tan chihuahua-mix just staring back at us.  

Bruce had been abandoned by his previous owners and found in the woods, nearly 5 full pounds underweight.  He melted our hearts immediately and showed cautious affection when we played with him in the pen.  We put an application in for him that day and anxiously awaited the call that we had gotten him!  Bruce became a part of our family on August 17, 2008.  We celebrate him every year with an extra belly rub and his favorite treats.

To say that Bruce is anything less than family at this point, would be completely untrue.  He has become Mr. Jet and my BABY - we love him an incredible amount and can't imagine having our wedding ceremony without him there!  We made sure our site would let us have him during the ceremony and I started thinking about sprucing up his look for the big day.  Why shouldn't he get dressed up too?!

I found so many cute options (and dogs!) on Etsy:
I want to cuddle that dog so hard!! The outfit is a little too formal for us though! / Image via Etsy Seller Keli Fastner
Very fitting with our theme, almost made the cut! / Image via Etsy Seller All Lavender And Love
Those eyes! This tie was really cute as well, but couldn't find a good color match. / Image via Etsy Seller Gypsy Tailor
And now, for the winning look!!
Hehe...he looks like a little old man! This was the eventual winner, Bruce will match his dad's suit and he looks dashing in grey! / Image via Etsy Seller Charlie Be Good
I put my awesome paint skills to work and did a little mock-up of the jaunty little tie on my furry friend.  Check him out!  Anyone else dressing up their pet for the big day?
Handsome devil! / Personal photo
In Part I of "Let's Get Tra-Ditional", we covered the cake smash, bouquet toss, line dance, rice throw and dollar dance.  (Catch up here!)

Now, the shocking conclusion...dun dun DUNNNNN!
TRADITION #6: The Photo Slideshow / Image via iStockPhoto
I love to reminisce about my life through photos, it helps memories come rushing back and always seems to make me laugh, cry or even both.  The wedding photo slideshow is a way for the bride and groom to showcase their young lives, the time they met, and their lives together as a couple for all of their guests.  The only downside is that if it seems too "in your face", guests may tire of the slideshow rather quickly.

The Verdict:  Still out on this one - if we manage to have the time, energy and equipment for this, we may put something together.  
TRADITION #7: The Endless Toasts / Image via Comediva
(I can literally quote Steve Buscemi's entire scene from this movie, The Wedding Singer!)  Toasts are a great way to allow parents or members of the bridal party to say a few words about the newlyweds and maybe share an embarrassing story or two, but can very quickly get out of hand.  Ever been to one of those weddings where all you want to do is eat your chicken, but everyone from the maid of honor to weird Uncle Sal seems to get up on the microphone with something to say?  There needs to be a cutoff somewhere to prevent that story about you hula-hooping naked at the age of 2 from ever seeing the light of day.

The Verdict: Yes - but we're only allowing a select few speak on our behalf.  The DJ's on strict orders to strike up the Academy Awards orchestration if anyone tries anything funny.
TRADITION #8: The Garter Toss / Image via Bridal Guide / Photography by Long's Photography
Much like the bouquet toss, the garter toss gives me the hives just thinking about.  As much as I love Mr. Jet removing parts of my clothing in front of our entire family....  As a joint tradition, the bouquet/garter toss and presumable dance that follows it up is a "fun" way to single out the...single people in the crowd, but again, way too embarrassing for me as a wedding guest, nevermind as the bride.

The Verdict: Nuh uh - sorry to all of our male guests just itching to put a used garter on some random female.
TRADITION #9: The Receiving Line / Image via June & Art
Not sure if this is a cultural or even regional thing at this point, or maybe just an outdated tradition, but I've never been to a wedding with a receiving line.  Weird?  It's obviously the bride and groom's way to formally greet each guest and thank them for coming to celebrate their day.  It's a lovely gesture and as a guest, it's always nice to get a little face time with the couple since much of their time is taken up doing other things.

The Verdict:  Kind of - we're not doing a receiving line per se, but we may sneak around during cocktail hour to greet guests.  Either that, or we will work the room during dinner to say hello to everyone.
TRADITION #10: The Glass Clink / Image via Wedding Gurus
Clinking glasses at a wedding signifies to the couple that someone hiding in the corner wants to see them kiss.  Kissing Mr. Jet is one of my favorite things!  Go ahead, clink a glass - just don't break it!

The Verdict:  Yes - why not take every chance given to give your new hubs a smooch?

How will you approach reception traditions?
When MOH J and I were little kids, our maternal grandmother used to show us her wedding photos from time to time and talk about the gorgeous silk and lace gown she wore the day she married our grandfather.  That dress was wrapped up in her closet, with a promise to my sister that she could wear it on her wedding day (seeing as though she was the oldest of my female cousins).  She always boasted that she felt like a movie star on her wedding day, with her handmade lace and nearly 10-foot train.  

"I was 90 pounds when I got married, then SIX kids later, good Lord!"  

When my grandmother passed away 6 years ago, I fetched the dress from her closet and sent it to MOH J in Seattle, honoring Grandma's wishes.  The dress as-is, was a little worse for wear and her 90 pound frame?  Yeah, good luck zipping that shit up said almost everyone ever!
The dress that started my family, untouched for years! / Personal Photo
While my sister loved the dress for it's very traditional style, she wanted to call upon her artistic, visionary side to create an entirely new piece suited to her personality.  Not to mention she got married on Oahu - hello?!  30 pound long-sleeved silk gown on a tropical island?!

MOH J consulted with Amanda, founder and designer for Twice Blushed - a "reconstructed bridal gown" boutique which specializes in bringing old gowns back to life with a modern, personal twist.  Amanda also believes in the green concept - as wedding dresses are made up of dozens of types of reusable materials that can be transformed into any bride's dream gown!

My sis worked with Amanda for months on a concept and re-design of our grandmother's dress, to maintain the integrity and beauty of the silk and lace while creating something so very "her" for her wedding day.  The final result was beyond breathtaking, check it out!
The silk looked brand new and all of the chiffon ribbons at the bottom were added for depth and flair! / Photography by Julia Sieber
Hard to believe those yards and yards of silk became this dress, eh?  MOH J and I both agreed that our sassy grandmother would more than approve of this - a nod to her generation with an expression of individuality.

After the dress was finished, MOH J had collected the leftover silk and lace from Amanda's shop and asked how I felt about having something made from grandma's dress as well.  Having purchased my dress complete with its own sash and really not liking the design of it, I asked if we could have Amanda make a sash from some of the materials left so that I could carry a piece of grandma with me on my wedding day as well.

A few phone calls and emails later, the plan was in place!  You'll all have to wait to see the finished result (I haven't even seen it yet, in case it makes you feel better!) - can't wait to share this project with you guys!