Monday, August 31, 2009

What a great weekend!

This was just one of those wonderful weekends when we all really enjoy working!

We had a baby shower on Saturday for Katie, one of my all time favorite brides. Katie was married last year on that horrendous Sunday in September when we had about 14 feet of rain, and there was flooding everywhere. She and her husband had planned such a lovely wedding and reception, and a number of their guests just couldn't get there because of the closed roads and flooding. Katie was a trooper though, and those who did make it for the reception had a fabulous time. They had "coffee guy" (as we lovingly refer to him) come and serve specialty coffee drinks after dinner, it was like having Starbuck's come to your reception! Really fun!

But I digress!

So Katie and Tom are having a baby boy, who will have a chocolate and light blue nursery, so of course, that was the theme for the shower. And, by the way, the sun was shining all afternoon. :)

I really wanted to get some pictures, but with Amanda and I having to man the shop all afternoon, there was just not time. We were swamped!
I love doing the baby showers for "our gals"! That's one of the reasons we offer discounts for baby showers for "alumni", we love having them come back!

They had a lovely lunch with chicken salad (our special homemade secret recipe!) a three berry muffin, and black bean and corn salad. Yum! After the lunch was served Katie sat in the rocker that my grandfather made and opened her gifts. So many beautiful gifts and pretty things for the new baby!
Following Katie's shower, the Aberdeen Team jumped into action to reset the room for the wedding Saturday evening. The wedding party arrived and did photos in the garden, and because we had the tables all set and ready to go, it was a quick turnaround.

The ballroom looked stunning! Vanessa and her mom had spent a lot of time with us planning all the colors, flowers, decorations and such. Her colors were black, ivory, and red. The Flower Cart did an amazing job, as usual, with their flowers.

Our black bichon tablecloths looked amazing. I love those table linens. We have so many colors now, and all of them look so beautiful.

And Linda's cake! It was incredible! I've seen a lot of wedding cakes over the years, but this one was outstanding!

The crystal trim on each layer was SO pretty. They also had their initials on both sides of the cake which looked so classy.

Here are a couple shots of the horse and carriage that took Vanessa and Aaron for a spin around Aberdeen after they had greeted all their guests:

That's Bob, the horse, looking all cute with his little feather hat on for the wedding. Buggies and Things does a great job. Bob is very gentle and calm, the perfect horse for doing a wedding. Dick Stephens, the owner of Buggies and Things, calls him a "deadhead", which seems a bit condescending for a horse who does such a fine job! :)

Aaron and Vanessa had our favorite DJ's, Transaudio, so they took full advantage of their free choreographed dance lesson! It always makes for some terrific shots for the photographer. This was an excellent dip Aaron!!

It was what we call an "A-Team" wedding! Vendors from our favorites list, that all work together like a well oiled machine. Awesome! Thanks Aaron and Vanessa! It was so much fun working with you to make this beautiful day happen!

So Sunday, we returned for a wedding shower for Jill, who is having her wedding with us in October! I LOVE having the showers for our upcoming brides! It's always nice to know that we will be seeing them again. It's great for the guests too, because they have a chance to come to Aberdeen and when they come for the wedding they already are familiar with how to get here.

Their meal was an absolutely fabulous spinach salad, that was topped with crumbled bacon, shaved parmesan cheese, grilled chicken, tomato wedges, and red onion. It was awesome!

It was served with a wedge of garlic toast. The smell was incredible!

We're looking forward to their wedding in October, they are a lovely couple, and it will be a fun affair.

So that's our weekend in a nutshell. Hope yours was as much fun as ours was!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gown Shopping! Still looking for your opinions!

A little while back I asked for feedback on what your experiences were when you looked for your wedding gown. I don't get out much you know, and a lot of gals ask me about shops and where to go.
Have you had good experiences? Bad experiences? Where are you all going to find your gowns? What have your experiences been?
Help me out here ladies!!!!! :)

Busy Weekend at Aberdeen Manor!

Aren't these pretty? Friday evening's wedding used navy blue as their main color. They also had programs for their wedding and table numbers that matched the placecards. It was very pretty. Their ceremony took place at the Valpo University Chapel.
The palette was very simple, very elegant, as were the bride and groom. It was a beautiful evening and a delightful mix of guests from all over the world. They were having an Indian ceremony and reception on Saturday! (It wasn't with us though because they had well over 300 coming for that one.)

Congratulations Stephanie and Abhishek! Beautiful wedding!
Saturday evening, we AGAIN had navy blue as one of the main colors! The fuchsia and oranges with it though, gave the whole affair an entirely different attitude!

Emily and Dustin are both dental students, and their favors reflected that! So cute! Bags of gummy bears, banded with the little rubber bands used for braces, and a nice new toothbrush tied into the ribbon around the bag!
Their groom's cake also went with the theme:

How cute is that?
The inside was red velvet cake "To look like the pulp of a tooth." Emily said. Too funny!

Such a beautiful wedding, and such a nice couple. The men all wore the beige linen suits that are so popular this summer--perfect for a garden wedding! Their shoes were navy blue keds with fuchsia trim!

I have to say that I see a lot of beautiful wedding gowns, but Emily's gown was absolutely stunning! So different! The skirt was a mass of fluttering chiffon "leaves" (I don't really know what to call them!) This photo is a little bit on the yellow side because of all the incandescent lights. It will give you an idea, though, of how this gown moved. It had the look of ostrich feathers all fluttering around--really cool!

So congratulations to Emily and Dustin! It was an amazing evening!

Sunday's wedding was in the afternoon. It was hot and humid, however since the wedding was in the air conditioned chapel, nobody seemed to mind. Kelly and Tom took pictures in the garden after the ceremony, and also after their reception ended at 5. It was the best of both worlds!

Their cake was really pretty, with sugared fruit decorating it. A nice change from flowers. The sugared fruits went beautifully with the eggplant purple and ivory they had chosen for their colors.

Tom and Kelly booked their wedding three months ago, in May! It was elegant, personal, and everything that a wedding that was planned over two years might be! It only goes to prove that we don't need alot of time here at Aberdeen to plan a beautiful wedding!

Kelly chose to make her trip down the aisle unaccompanied. Then Tom walked up the aisle from the front and met her about halfway, and walked the rest of the way to the front of the chapel. It was very sweet. They didn't have any adult attendants, just a flower girl (who had amazing hair!) and ringbearer.

Kelly and Tom released their guests themselves, and greeted everyone. The guests went out to the stairs of the chapel to wait for them. The newlyweds rang the bell in the steeple, and then proceeded out the chapel doors to the applause and cheers of all their guests. Everyone had a group photo taken on the chapel stairs, and then went to the ballroom to start the party while a few last minute photos were taken. Kelly and Tom had chosen to do all their pictures together before the ceremony, so they were able to go and enjoy the cocktail hour along with their guests.
Many years of happiness Kelly and Tom! It was a joy working with you this summer!
So there you have it--our busy weekend in a nutshell! I could go on for days about our weddings, this is just a few of the highlights!
It was a wonderful weekend with three lovely, elegant, personal weddings. Each different in its own way, and each with its own special touches.
This is why I love my job! :)
Incidentally, I am going to try to offer a little recap like this every week. If I could figure out a faster way to upload photos it would make it much easier. (Amy? Any ideas?) Right now, it's very time consuming. I'll try though, I promise!

Just in case you missed it!

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email to all of our clients' email addresses. I am finding, in talking with some of our clients who have called since then, that we might not have the correct email, or for some reason they didn't receive this.
This letter contained some important information that will affect plans, so I am going to publish it here on my blog as well, with the hope that everyone will see it one way or another.

If you didn't receive the following, you might want to double check with us to make sure that we have your correct/most used email address on file.

So just in case you didn't receive this, here it is again-------

Dear Friends,

I hope that this note finds you all well, happy, and busily working on the plans for your upcoming weddings!

We have been making some big improvements here at Aberdeen Manor as well as some necessary changes, and I thought it would be good to let you all know about them. As ever, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about anything, feel free to email me, or call me, any time! I am here for you to help you in any way that I can.

First, my daughter, Megan, has decided to resign her teaching position and come on board full time with us. Megan has worked with us for 10 years on weekends and over the summers and vacations, so she is very familiar with all the goings on at Aberdeen. Megan has a wealth of experience with weddings and events, and is a tremendous addition to our Aberdeen family. Jim and I are both very excited to have her!

Second, we have had some other staff changes lately. Connie Ransom left at the end of May to take a job with Porter Health Services. I’m sure many of you will miss her crazy sense of humor!
Michelle Mercon, who has been with us for nearly six years, will be leaving in October to student teach. I think it’s the fates getting even with me for taking Megan away from teaching! I know she will be a wonderful teacher though, and I am happy to see her expanding her horizons and pursuing something she loves. We’re all going to miss her!

Third, we have been rearranging the hours for our shop in order to accommodate our clients schedules more easily. On June 1st we made some big changes. We now have what we are calling “open hours” when anyone can walk in, for whatever reason. These hours are on Thursdays from 12 to 8, and Friday and Saturday from 12 to 5. With this change we can make appointments outside of our “open hours”, during the mornings, afternoons, or even during the evening! With most of our couples working days, we felt this would make our time more “user friendly”. We encourage you to make an appointment if you want to come look for tuxes, invitations, veils, or even if you just want to do a little “wedding checkup” to make sure you are on the right track. Call us at 465-7130, or email me at and we’ll get something arranged. This will also enable us to give you our full attention to help you with your needs.

Fourth, after long and painful deliberation, we have decided that offering childcare is just not feasible. We are using it on average about 6 times a year, which, when we have nearly 100 weddings per year, is very infrequent. We have a lot of difficulty getting staff to man the childcare area because of the infrequency, and it is a large amount of space to devote to something that we rarely use. Unfortunately it just isn’t working. In addition, our insurance carrier has informed us that it is a very big liability area, and they have advised us against offering childcare to protect ourselves from the possibility of a lawsuit.
If this causes you a hardship, I sincerely apologize. I will be happy to help you try to figure out an alternative, just let me know how I can be of assistance.

Fifth, our next “Taste of Aberdeen Manor” will be held on November 15th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. This will also include a vendor show with some of our vendors from our favorites list. We normally have about 18 or 20 different vendors who attend and are there to talk with you about your wedding plans. It’s a great opportunity to not only try lots of different menu items, but also to meet and chat with many vendors in all different areas. These are only vendors from our favorites list, so you can book any of them with confidence!

Sixth, keep in mind that we offer some really nice perks for ordering your tuxes and/or invitations through us. Our tuxes are less expensive than anywhere in the area, and we offer the usual groom’s tux free with 5 rentals. We also make sure that everything fits perfectly, and the guys can leave their tux at the end of the reception, which they REALLY like! We have a wide range of invitations, for every budget and style, and we have some really nice deals in that department too, so come by and check it out!

Lastly, I would like to encourage all of you to subscribe to my blog at so that you receive all the updates and latest information on what is going on here at the Manor! Whenever we make a change, or have something exciting to report, or even if I just get the bug to write about something, I try to put something on the blog right away. I also have been trying to find some time to post a few pictures and some comments about some of the weddings we have had, which might be of interest. If you don’t want to read it, you can just delete it, but if it IS something you need to know, then you’ll have it! Feel free to comment on anything you read there, either publicly, or to me personally at my email address above.

Keep in mind that we are always glad to see you, and you are welcome to stop by, just keep those new hours in mind. If your grandma is coming to town on a Tuesday and you want to show her where your reception is going to be, just give us a call and we’ll set up a time. If your groomsmen are all going to be in town on a Monday night and you want to get them all measured—give us a call! Want to look at invitations? Give us a call! We are here to serve YOU! We will be happy to do whatever we can to make your wedding planning as smooth and carefree as possible.

I look forward to seeing you all over the next few months. The weddings that are the most fun for us to do are the ones where we have had an opportunity to really get to know the bride and groom! I hope to have the opportunity to get to know all of you better.

See you soon!


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Ladies!!! Just in case you might not have noticed the comment on my post about finding shoes I wanted to point out this info for you.
Cindy writes:
"I have purchased many pairs of shoes from --- as a bridesmaid and for my anniversary party. I have not utilized any dyeing services. What I like is that there is free shipping TO you and then free shipping to return (as long as you return all of the shoes from the order in one package – one free return shipment per order). This website also offers lots of shoes in hard to find sizes. I am a 6W which is a difficult size to find, I ordered at least 10 pairs of shoes since I didn’t know what I would like, and I found several that fit well. Returned the nine other pairs with NO problems.
Also – as a tip – before I place the order I google “SHOEBUY.COM PROMO CODE” and almost always find a code for a percentage off!"

Gotta love that couponing tip! My daughters will be all over that!
So then additionally Cindy tells me about the shipping:

"When you return them, you go on line and print out a shipping form for UPS, attach it to the original mailing box and POOF! All done! I have had great luck with casual as well as dress shoes from this website."

How easy is that? So you pick out a pair you love, and order it in a couple of sizes so that you have some leeway, figuring you'll return the ones that don't work, then UPS just comes and gets the rest of them and you are done! Cool! What I really like about this, besides the utter convenience of it, is that you could wear the shoes around your house for a couple hours and really give them a good "road test". As long as you don't wear them outside on concrete or asphalt, you could REALLY try them out and have a much better idea if your tootsies would be cozy for 8 or 10 hours in them.

Thanks so much for you input Cindy!!! I know everyone will find this really useful!

Anyone else have any good shoe ideas?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pictures together---before? after?

It seems that a big dilemma with our couples is often whether they should do their photos together before the wedding or after.
Here are some of the arguments I hear against it and my responses to each:

It's tradition for us not to see each other.

My answer: This tradition comes from when marriages were a business proposition and brides/daughters were bought and sold as property! They didn't want the groom to see the bride until it was too late for him to back out! (that's what the groomsmen were for you know!) Personally, my feeling is that any woman with half an ounce of feminism will reject this tradition as sexist and not something that a woman who is CHOOSING her mate would ever do!

I want the first time he sees me to be when I go down the aisle.

My answer: The moment when he sees you is between the two of you, not the two of you and two hundred guests! Wouldn't you rather be able to actually see his reaction, rather than having everyone stand and block your view as soon as you step into the room? Wouldn't you prefer that the groom be able to really let his true emotions out, rather than to feel that he has to "suck it up" because 200 people are watching him?

My xxxx (insert the appropriate person--parents, siblings, attendants or friends) will have a fit if we see each other before the ceremony.

My answer: Don't tell them. Keep it between you and your photographer. If you don't want them to try to talk you out of it, then don't TELL them! They won't argue with you about what they don't know. Once you get to the day of the wedding, it really is too late for them to argue with you about it. You just say "this is the way our photographer suggested/insisted/required that we do it" and then you go about your business.

It won't be as "special" if it isn't when I go down the aisle.

We have had a lot of couples take their photos before the wedding together. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has said that it was THE MOST SPECIAL MOMENT OF THE ENTIRE DAY!
They had a chance to talk to each other (which isn't something you have in the middle of a ceremony) they could kiss and hug each other, and say "gee, we are really getting married today! Do you believe it?! and stuff like that. It isn't in the middle of the ceremony where you can only look at each other and not really express your true feelings to each other at that moment. Your groom can look at you with tears running down his cheeks and say "you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I am SO happy to be marrying you today!"
My dear friend who has been married nearly 40 years did the photos before their wedding, and she STILL gets choked up about it when she talks about how special that time before the ceremony was to them!

It won't make any difference, so we'll just go with tradition.

My answer: It does make a difference! A huge difference!
First, your pictures will come out SO much better! When you do all your photos together before the wedding, you are still "fresh". Your hair and makeup are still pristine. You haven't been hugged and kissed by 200 guests! Consequently your photos will come out SO much better!

Second: You are both so much more at ease. When you see each other beforehand you have an opportunity to talk ("so, do you like the dress?" "wow! we're actually getting married today!") so you are much calmer, less tense and more at ease, than you are when people are running around worrying about whether you will see each other or not.

Third: You are able to enjoy the cocktail hour, and move from the ceremony to the reception without feeling rushed and overwhelmed. You can greet your guests, have bubbles or petals, take a group picture with all your guests, have some hors d'oeuvres and enjoy yourselves without feeling like you should be out smiling for a camera.

Fourth: You have more opportunities to shoot some photos at other locations--the Dunes, Ogden Gardens, Deep River, the fountain in Aberdeen, where ever you want to go. You have the earlier part of the day to go and take photos in those special places, without having to squeeze it in between your ceremony and reception.

I honestly don't know of a single photographer who doesn't recommend doing the photos together before the wedding. These are folks that do weddings all the time, and they KNOW how much better it is! Talk to your photographer about it. Find out if they will make it a special moment for just the two of you. Tell them you are considering doing your photos together before the wedding, and see what they have to say about it. I think you will find that any photographer that knows weddings will applaud you for your good sense and they will tell you that you have made a very wise decision, based on fact and not silly antiquated traditions.

And it isn't bad luck either, the two couples I know who have been married the longest of any of my friends, both did their photos before the wedding! I KNOW you will thank me for this after the wedding! I feel very confident that it is something that once you experience it, you will wonder why anyone would ever do it any other way.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Such a Pretty Wedding!

Shelly and Ken-----August 1, 2009

Shelly and Ken REALLY wanted to have their ceremony in the garden, and despite a very light mist, not even a mist really, just an occasional tiny raindrop, they were able to have it in the garden! The weather actually seemed to improve throughout the ceremony, getting a little lighter and brighter out by the minute. Fortunately we were on the tail end of the stormy weather that passed through today.
Shelly chose a very muted palette of chocolate brown, soft greens, a mauve/mushroom sort of color for the bridesmaids, and lots of woodsy, twiggy kind of greenery and the like decorating the ballroom.

The cake table was especially pretty, with vines and greenery going around the edge, and the cake on a glass pedestal on top of one of our chocolate bichon tablecloths which was swagged around the table.

Their placecards were mounted on tiny little green topiaries--so cute. Shelly used three different designs of centerpieces--a tall arrangement of twigs with silk flowers scattered on them, and moss and natural tiny rocks in the vase--a low "shabby chic" sort of little lantern which sat on a moss mat--and a tall twig like cone which also had moss and some tiny silk flowers.

It was really lovely!

Her menu cards were green on white with a flourish sort of design, and she had also made her own table numbers with moss on the diagonal corners which was very cute.

It was very apparent that Shelly had put a lot of thought as well as time and effort, into her wedding. She used a lot of lovely touches that made it very special and really made it "hers".

They also chose to take advantage of the free private dance lesson that Transaudios offers to their customers, and it was terrific! They did turns and dips and just really spiced up that first dance! I always tell folks that particularly if they aren't big dancers, that dance lesson is golden! If you already feel uncomfortable dancing, having a few little moves to throw in is only going to make you feel better about the whole thing. At least that way you have something to do besides sway and smooch! And when the crowd whoops and claps the first time you do a twirl--well, it does amazing things for your confidence and your comfort level! You might even find yourself enjoying being in the spotlight after all!

So congratulations Shelly and Ken! You had a beautiful wedding, a wonderful dinner for everyone, and a terrific party! You left no stone unturned, and thought of all the wonderful little touches that make your guests feel good about your event. I wish I could do weddings like yours every week!!!

The Great Aberdeen Childcare Dilemma

Back in 2004, when we xpanded and moved into our present bridal shop, we started offering childcare during receptions in the "old" shop. As a mom, I knew how hard it was to take young children to a wedding, and also how difficult it was to find sitters, particularly when I was out of town. My thought was that people would LOVE having a place where their children could play and be supervised by responsible adults, in a room adjacent to the ballroom. I THOUGHT it would be huge!
Well yes, many folks thought it was a really good idea too, the problem was that they didn't bother to mention it to anyone that was attending the reception. So I would pay gals to sit in the childcare room waiting for some little customers, and nobody would take advantage of it! Even when I would go around and mention it to people, they were reluctant to leave their children in the childcare room. I think this was because they just didn't have time to process the idea sufficiently. They really needed to know about it in advance so that they could think it through and realize that it might be really great for their kids and for them both.
So we thought, ok,we need to provide some sort of encouragement to clients to mention it to their guests in advance, and encourage them to use the childcare room. I didn't have a problem paying staff to be in there IF it was being used, but paying them to do nothing was really becoming annoying! So we said, ok, we'll charge what it costs us for the first two hours, which came to about $90, to use the childcare room. If the kids were using it, we would pay for the rest of the evening, and if they weren't, then we would send the gals home.
Well, that hasn't worked either. Now what happens is that even though some weddings have had 10 or 15 children running all over the place, they didn't want to pay the $90 to have childcare! We have had childcare, on average, roughly once every 2 months this year. The saddest part is that we have had SO many weddings where they SHOULD have had childcare, but they haven't wanted it! Go figure!
Unfortunately it's very difficult to get good people to staff the childcare room when it is that infrequent. It's a lot of space to devote to something that is hardly used. It's just become very apparent that it isn't a feasible thing to do.
So unfortunately, I have no choice but to admit defeat and say goodbye to childcare. I have to admit that I was wrong (oh BOY! that is REALLY hard to do!!!) and cut my losses.
I don't know for sure what we are going to use that space for at this point. We've been kicking around some ideas but haven't really firmly decided on anything yet. We need to have that room available for garden weddings in order to have a place to sequester the wedding party before the ceremony, so it will need to be something that still gives us access to the space.
If anyone has any thoughts about this, I would be happy to hear them. My apologies to those few people who, like me, thought this was a great idea. I'm sorry that we won't be able to offer childcare for your receptions.
I do know that our insurance man will be thrilled by this decision! I thought he would have a heart attack on the spot when I told him we were planning to offer childcare! So at least HE will be happy!
I'll keep you posted (no pun intended haha) on what develops with that space. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or input on possible future uses, let me know!! I'm sure there is probably something I'm not thinking of that would be fabulous!