Monday, December 31, 2012

A Little Piece of My Family's History

Here, my dad is shown posing with the restored Civil War flag of the 122nd Illinois Infantry, dedicated today at the Macoupin County Courthouse on the 150th anniversary of one of the regiment’s shining moments, a victory over Confederate forces under the notorious Nathan Bedford Forrest at the battle of Parker’s Crossroads, Tenn., Dec. 31, 1862. Benjamin Griffith, my dad's great grandfather, served in the 122nd.

Mom, Dad and I took a little family trip to Carlinville to attend the ceremony. My aunts Ginny and Donna were there, as well as my cousin Sandy. I took some photos and video (which I need to try and throw together before too long).

Ginny's late husband, my uncle Dick Griffith, was really interested in genealogy before he died. He took vacations centered around finding information about our ancestry. Ginny read the article in The Telegraph about the flag dedication, and recognized the infantry number. Somewhere, she said, she had a photo of Benjamin Griffith - but she didn't know where it was. My dad really wished he could see it.

A while back, David and I were able to trace both of our family trees back super far in one night using an trial membership, but we only found names - not the kind of stories and photos Dick was uncovering. Still, I figured there'd be no harm in Googling. So I hopped on my tree (once you build it, it's a part of your free membership), grabbed Benjamin Griffith's birth year and went for it.

Voila! I found the above photo of the very same Benjamin Griffith on a Find a Grave memorial website. I sent it to my dad and he thought it was really neat. Genealogy is fun. Maybe one of these days I'll do some more digging :)

Our First Married Christmas

Our first Christmas as a married couple didn't go exactly as we had planned (due to lack of sleep and other stresses), but in the end, we were together and that's all that matters. And the weeks and days leading up to the big day were pretty eventful as well.

Earlier in the month, we attended an ugly sweater Christmas party with my friends from high school, which was a lot of fun.

Next, we went to a bowling party with David's coworkers from Domino's. 

I am usually terrible at bowling but for some reason I was super awesome that night, and peaked at around a 160.

We usually don't print photo cards professionally, but since we had so many great pictures from the wedding this year, I didn't want to miss the opportunity. I got some from CVS, and then when I realized I didn't have enough, I went to Walgreens and printed some in store. Both were pretty nice actually - I preferred the look of the CVS design, but appreciated the convenience of using Walgreens. Photos to be loaded later on.

We had our usual party on Dec. 23 at my parents' house, and although James came down with something nasty (sneezing and itching and swelling eyelids - we think possibly a reaction to the ink in a new pair of pants he put on without washing) and had to leave early, it was nice.


And our ornament this year was a snowglobe with our wedding picture on it. :)

Well, that's all for now.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I'm Thankful For

Everyone has been posting what they're thankful for on Facebook these past few weeks. Instead, I have decided to post about the things I'm thankful for on our blog. Here goes:

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, who loves me despite for the weirdo I am.

I'm thankful for my kitty cats, because they're soft and love-y and pretty much the sweetest animals on the planet.

I'm thankful for our cute little house - it might be small and crowded at times, but it's home and we love it.

I'm thankful for my job. Not only do I get to do something I love, in a place that I love, but my boss is pretty much the coolest, my coworkers are great friends and my office mate and I have fun and laugh every day - does it really get better than that?

I'm thankful that it's cool to be a dork these days, because otherwise, I'd be screwed.

I'm thankful that #Supernatural did NOT end after Season 5. I probably would have died without my weekly Sam and Dean (and Cas) fix.

I'm thankful for my health and the fact that I can run now! TAKE THAT, high school self who couldn't finish the mile.

Most of all, I'm thankful for my wonderful family, which recently has gotten bigger. In addition to my mother, father, brother and kitty cats, I have added a husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and two brothers-in-law, along with their larger family, and all within the past month. :)

I know that's not it, but that's all for now!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ceremony Music by Spotify

We love music, so I wanted it to be a big part of our wedding ceremony.

We decided to use a Spotify offline playlist, played from an iPod, hooked up to some decent computer speakers. I wasn't sure how that was going to go over, so I spent many days beforehand Googling suggestions, many of which were that it would be much easier just to pay a DJ to come do the music. I disagreed. Not everyone has money to do that - we certainly didn't.

Bottom line, I'm writing this post about our very positive experience in case anyone is thinking of doing the same thing. I wish I could have found something to this effect - it would have eased my nerves a bit.

You'll Need 

  • A Spotify premium subscription. It costs $9.99 per month and you can use the same account on multiple mobile devices.
  • An iPod Touch. You could probably use a phone, but if someone calls you during the ceremony, even a telemarketer, it could ruin everything.
  • Speakers or access to a sound system. We used a small sub with two peripheral computer speakers - a setup easily connected to an iPod via auxiliary cord 
  • A playlist. We'll get to that. 
  • A responsible person to control the tunes. Someone you trust, who understands how to use an iPod.


  • If you're creating your own ceremony, figure out where you'll need music and have fun with it! If you're more restricted, ask your officiant where music might be appropriate. 
  • Download the Spotify app (for an iPod, from the iTunes Store).
  • At a computer, make a playlist using your Spotify premium account OR make one from any account and subscribe to it later using a mobile device that's logged into the premium account.
  • Set the playlist so that it's available offline on the mobile device of your choosing. If you're using a iPod Touch, you need Wi-Fi long enough to "download" the playlist. Spotify lets you download temporary files to your iPod which last 30 days, at which point you'll lose access and have to log back in and re-download.
  • Test your setup wherever you plan to have the ceremony, preferably with some of the same songs you'll be using to see how they sound and how loud they should be.
  • Designate a responsible person to control the music. Give them a script for the ceremony with cues for where they should play each song. 


  • Don't make people sit there and listen to entire five-minute-long songs. Choose music that can be faded in and out as the ceremony moves along. I stressed about this, worrying about cutting off lyrics, but the transitions will sound better than you might think.
  • Keep the playlist in order for easy use.
  • Give your person a script and a copy of the playlist in advance so they have time to study their cues and familiarize themselves with the music. I had my brother (who was also an usher) do it, and he and his girlfriend knocked it out of the park - but by giving him his cues the night of the rehearsal rather than earlier, we inadvertently caused him more stress than was necessary. If I could do it all over again, I would have been more prepared for his sake and mine. 
  • Practice with the music the night of the rehearsal.
  • Use the music to cue actions in the ceremony (look at my list to see what I mean).
  • Use an iPod rather than a phone to avoid interruptions. 
  • Download and check your playlist a few days before so you know it's good to go.
  • Make sure your device is charged before the ceremony. (In this case it doesn't hurt to have a second mobile device, even if it is a phone, as a backup.)
  • Make sure the music is not too loud, but that it can be heard from any seat.  
  • Relax. You'll have so much to pay attention to during the ceremony, you won't be as worried about the music as you might think.

Now for the fun part - Our Playlist!

These songs played on a loop starting half an hour before the ceremony start: 
Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am 
The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You
Dave Matthews Band – Where Are You Going
The Avett Brothers – Living Of Love
When this song began, it was a cue for the ushers to seat the parents of the bride and groom, and when they were seated, the officiant and the men took the stage (only the girls walked down the aisle).
Band of Horses – No One's Gonna Love You
From there it went straight into the processional song -
Bon Iver – Towers
And then into an instrumental for the bride and her father, just to help it stand out. NOTE: If you use something other than the bridal march like we did, it may not be obvious right away that the congregation should stand ;)
Vitamin String Quartet – Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (String Quartet Tribute to Arcade Fire)
We used the first verse of a song - a clip, not a reading - as our "reading." It required some set up by the officiant to not be awkward, but it turned out nice. ;)
The Decemberists – Red Right Ankle
We did a Unity Ceremony with sand to this song:
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
And last, but not least, after our first introduction as Mr. & Mrs. - we walked out to this:
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

I don't want to brag, but we got a lot of compliments about the music ;) We enjoyed it anyway, and that's all that really matters. Brides, it can be done!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflecting After a Long & Wonderful Week

A few days have passed since the wedding, and it's Halloween. It hasn't been much of a Halloween this year, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. 

We didn't take a honeymoon. Instead, we opted to stay home and enjoy the holiday, with the hopes that we can take a vacation together sometime this summer. We spent some of our gift card money and spent several otherwise lazy days together, but today, David has gone back to work. I'm at home watching TV that's been DVR'd over the past week or so. Tonight, we'll go to the Halloween parade and watch "Cabin in the Woods" and Monday, my vacation will be over and it will be back to real life.

Since I have this opportunity to catch up, I wanted to jot down a few things I want to remember from our whirlwind of a wedding weekend. Pictures later.

On Wednesday, a week ago today (our first day off together), we picked Diane up from the airport, and had lunch with her at Mac's Time Out in Downtown Alton. He played volleyball while I played a softball double header, then we stayed up till about 3, anxiously awaiting the arrival of two more out-of-towners - Brian and Erin. Once they got here, we went to bed almost immediately, but it was the start of a wonderful stretch of days.

Thursday, Brian, Erin and the guys, along with David's mom and brother, went to Fairview to pick up the tuxes from Willard's Formalwear. It was a surprise to see the place so busy - but I guess I'd never been in during a fitting day. Everything was almost perfect, except that we had to order shoes to Justin's order (my fault) and David needed a different shirt because the sleeves were the wrong size. (His parents would return the next day to pick those up for us.) For lunch, we went to St. Clair's Square for Panda Express' orange chicken. I'm sure Brian and Erin thought it was odd that we'd make such a big deal about it but there isn't one much closer to home so we don't get it very often. Later that afternoon, we hit up Target for some last minute items, and had dinner together at Applebee's. It was nice. At the end of the night, we watched Paranormal Activity 1, 2 and 3. It may not sound like much, but it was one of my very favorite parts of the weekend.

Friday, Erin and I met Diane and Marissa at Fancy Nails in Alton, where they got pedicures, and Marissa, Erin and I got our nails done. While sipping mimosas, they got manicures, and I got acrylic nails - only I didn't know they were called that so the lady got halfway through giving me a manicure just to have to back up and start over again. My bad! To top that off, I spilled my coffee on the way out while trying to dig my engagement ring out of my pocket with nails I wasn't used to, so they probably will never welcome me back ;( After nails, we went to Josephine's in Godfrey for lunch. While we waited for our reservation, we looked around the shop and I found a blue glass heart, which I bought for my "something blue." At lunch, I had a turkey sandwich with half caesar salad, and a brownie on bottom cheesecake with another mimosa. Everything was beautiful and yummy. Afterward, we went home and I cleaned up a little bit - nervous energy waiting for rehearsal.

Suddenly, it hit me - the nervousness - and I couldn't stand still. I realized that even though the rehearsal was just a practice run, it was also the first time I would see this ceremony that I almost singlehandedly planned myself, and whether or not all the details would work. Before I knew it, it was time to go.

Once we got to the Benjamin Godfrey Chapel at Lewis and Clark Community College, it was even more nervewracking - lots of people everywhere, little kids running about. The control freak in me started to come out. All I knew was that we had one hour to work out the kinks - and I didn't want to have to worry about any of this on our big day. Eventually, it started to run more smoothly. Everyone was a great help - the biggest problem was that I had failed to print the music queues for my brother, and he was worried he wouldn't be able to do it perfectly. A part of me knew it would be OK though.

The bonfire went off without a hitch. Brian, Erin, Marissa and I stayed behind at Lewis and Clark to print the ceremony program for James, and by the time we got there, the fire was already blazing and people were already helping themselves to food. :) We had several drinks and sat by the fire. It was a little cool, but it was a wonderful night for reminiscing drunk college stories, dorky high school stories, and more. I thought about how lucky I was to have such great friends and family there with me and I felt content. I'm not sure the gifts we had for our wedding party were enough to show our thanks, but we gave the groomsmen and ushers their chalkboard paint mugs, which they seemed to love, and the girls their DIY canvas monogram tote/gift bags. The parents received picture frames, and will later get a new family portrait to store in them. The night didn't end early like we originally wanted it to, because even after mostly everyone was gone, the rest of us stayed up into the night watching "Friends" on mute, like an episode of Masterpiece Theatre. It was a great way to end the night.

Instead of staying at my parents' Friday night, I opted to stay at home with my soon-to-be husband. I woke up Saturday in his arms, and we headed to the VFW to decorate around 9:30 a.m. My mom and her sisters were already there, along with some of the wedding party. Everyone worked as a team and things started falling into place quickly. The cupcakes and jack-o-lantern top cake were delivered around 11, and we were out of there before noon or so. Erin and I caught a ride with my parents back to their place and the guys went to our house to get ready. It was the last time I would see David before walking down that aisle.

Sally showed up a little early, but we waited for Korin to arrive before starting my hair. We had ham sandwiches for lunch, but I couldn't eat a lot thanks to nerves. The girls grabbed various mirrors throughout the house, and got dressed/did their makeup. Like some twist of fate, TNT was showing a marathon of "Supernatural." :) Once we were all ready, we sent Korin to the chapel to take pics of the boys, and asked Justin to call us when she was ready for us. We sat around the living room for what seemed like forever, then we sent James' girlfriend Katie to get us some more booze. Just as she pulled back up, Justin called, so we downed two bottles before heading out the door. We shot some pictures and then headed inside the chapel to wait - it would be another hour before the start of the ceremony. We sent David and the guys to the balcony so that we girls could have access to the bathrooms. Because we were waiting on the stairs, the guys instructed David to face the back wall so he wouldn't see me, and Joe gave him his new Windows tablet and a painting app to keep him busy. He later told me he was so nervous, that the drawing helped - and that's how "Curtis the Turtis" was born. (Joe later printed and framed Curtis as one of our wedding gifts ;) Yes, I just noticed he has a wang.)

Anyway, we were on the stairs for what seemed like an eternity, then the music started playing (denoting the half hour mark) and we came around to the front to switch the guys. I didn't know it, but the other way around the chapel was blocked off - I kept yelling at them to go behind the building so we could get in. I look back on that and feel bad for yelling - it was just nerves getting the best of me. We went to the balcony and the boys went around back. My stomach hurt worse and worse, until finally, it was ready to begin. Only ten minutes before, the chapel felt empty, but suddenly, the house was packed.

When people stopped coming in, we queued Katie to start the ceremony music and the parents were seated in the front row. Once James took his seat and the guys took the stage, he started the processional music and the girls went in before me. Olivia was perfect, except she forgot to throw the leaves. ;) Madden walked slow, sporting a "Here Comes the Bride" sign. Then, it was mine and my dad's turn.

When asked "Who gives this woman?" My dad replied, "Her mother and I do." I could hardly look at him I was so nervous, but I gave him a big hug and locked eyes with my David. We took the stage and the ceremony began. The only hiccup was that I was so nervous I almost forgot to give Erin my flowers. As soon as I realized that I gave them over to her and took David's other hand. I could tell he was nervous too because he swayed from side to side as if we were slow dancing. The rest of the ceremony went so fast. All I can really remember is smiling at David and trying to hold in the emotion. I felt like my smile looked half like a smile and half like a grimace (although I'm hoping it was more attractive than that). I couldn't tell whether I was about to cry or laugh, or throw up! But I was happy. :) The unity ceremony felt like it lasted forever, so I hurried it up. David, it turned out, was trying to make the song last. :) I was too nervous to hear the song, the beautiful "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star. After that it was a whirlwind. The kiss was perfect - although I didn't know it (and I'm not sure if there were any pictures taken of it), the boys high-fived behind our heads. I knew they had planned on it, but didn't realize it even happened! We walked down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife, and our friends followed after us.

The receiving line was great because we got to see everyone who came to see us, but it was also a lot more hugging than I'm used to! When everyone was outside, with their ribbons Anna and Gracie handed them, we came out and everyone cheered. It was the most awkward part of the ceremony because we approached our closest friends and then stopped, ready to go back in for pictures. ;)

We took pics with Korin, then we piled onto the party bus. I had Greg take us the LONG way to the VFW. We had about a half hour on the bus, but it was nice to wind down with our closest friends. Because David wouldn't allow him to speak at the reception, Kevin gave a short speech to the wedding party, which was very sweet and heartfelt. :) When we got there, the DJ came out and put us in the order we would walk in. The house was TOTALLY PACKED! Everyone seemed to like the food (fried chicken and cheesy tortellini by Chef Bob), and then the toasts went on. Marissa was going to talk, and then Erin stepped in at the last minute. Her speech was short and sweet, but I appreciated her kind words. Next, Justin spoke. He started with a story (without naming Ben) about one of our first encounters with one another - the night we held a seance in the Washington House and he and Ben tried to convince us ghosts took pictures (of Ben's butt) with my camera. Then, he spoke about his friendship with David, centering around the story of them coming from from Bonnaroo 2007 and listening to old timey radio at 5 in the morning. It was sweet and personal, and almost brought a tear to our eyes.

After the food, we did cake, and then the first dances. David and I danced to "Do You Realize?" by the Flaming Lips, and then our parents and we danced to "In My Life" by The Beatles. Then the dance party began. It took awhile to get people out on the dance floor, but it was a good time when they did start dancing. The place started clearing out around 8/8:30 - one problem with serving dinner too early. At 9 we did the bouquet and garter toss. I freaked a little when I couldn't find the souvenir garter to throw, but it turned out Brian had it, which was funny because he was the one who ended up catching it. Kevin dove for it about three minutes too late, which, I have to admit, was pretty funny. Diane, a person who has said over and over she never wants to get married, ended up with the bouquet.

By the end of the night, some of my mom's brothers and sisters were still around, as were our closest friends. A lot of people had left, but we couldn't have asked for a better crowd out of the people who stayed. We danced until the lights came up around 11, and even then, some of our closest friends stayed around. We continued to drink for another 20 minutes until we cashed out the second keg, and then we went home. Some of the others went out, but we helped my dad unload presents and made our marriage "Facebook Official." ;)

It was an amazing day and night that went on without a hitch, for the most part. The only problem was the free beer debacle - apparently the VFW tried charging my family for beers, which were supposed to be free. We were also supposed to have our own bartender inside the hall, but they screwed the pooch on that one.   They later told my dad the bar was closing at 10 and that we were out of beer, which was simply not true when I inquired about it, and it turned out we had just enough to close up shop when we did.

It does feel different, being married. We feel more grown up, more official, and our relationship feels new and wonderful. It turns out that even when you've lived together for five years, there's still a honeymoon period to be had, even if there's no honeymoon. We've already started the official stuff as well, like merging bank accounts and other aspects of our life, although we still need to vote tomorrow before I start the name changing process.

And that's all for today's update ;)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Belated Bridal Shower Photos

I promised some pics from my Bridal Shower and got so busy in September I forgot to post! Here are some belated images. For more, you have to be friends with me on FB. ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bridal Shower Decorations

Today, my aunts threw me a bridal shower. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot of good stuff! In honor of my Grandma Wittman, who couldn't be there, we had grandma's spaghetti with my mom's "Moonlight" salad and rolls. Beth took some photos that I'll share later, but for now, I wanted to share pics I took last night of their decorations!

Zucchini bread favors

Door prizes

Table setup

Table setup, different view

Cake table decorations

Engagement photos display

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bouquet Toss

In a lot of ways, our wedding will be non-traditional, but there are some traditional aspects I'd love to keep as well. I know some people forego the bouquet toss, but it's always been a fun part of weddings for me, ever since I was a little girl - even if sometimes I was too shy to go out and try to catch it.

The problem is, I want to keep my bouquet forever and ever. It's not surprising - I have a hard time letting things go on a general basis; especially things this sentimental. The good news is I've found a solution - a second toss bouquet - and I decided to have a little fun with it.

I don't have MY bouquet at the house - it's at my parents' with my dress and undergarments. I do, however, have these beautiful bridesmaids bouquets my momma made. They're similar to mine, but without the white flowers :)

I LOVE my fall colors scheme, don't get me wrong - but there's a part of me that loves black and orange and fake blood and all that as well. Once I decided I needed a second toss bouquet, I decided to Halloween it up - orange, white and black style. It's only being used for the toss, so I figured anything goes :)

I am soooooo ready for fall, and for Halloween!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

4 Months to Go!

The countdown to our wedding day is on, and we've got much less time ahead of us than when I last posted on this blog. We've not been up to much in particular, but little DIY stuff here and there, and getting plans together as best we can. 

Here is a prototype for our centerpieces, without giving the whole thing away. 

I made our guestbook from the photos Korin took of us for our engagement session.

I still need to work out the boutineers, but here is a design I'm messing with.

Lots more to make, do, plan, pay for and a whole lot more. In fact, right now we're going to figure out where to register. Hope you enjoyed this quick, visual update.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Save the Date!

E-Save the Dates are "green" and great for couples with a budget. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Alton VFW

For design inspiration, here's our reception hall in the raw: 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Said Yes to the Dress

I can't show you a picture because it would ruin the big punchline - but I found and purchased my wedding dress today! It was at David's Bridal. I could have shopped around some more - I had planned on checking out Carole Frew's and went to a little place in Collinsville called Champagne and Lace, but what can I say? When you know you know. I had to choose between two beautiful gowns, and it was a touch choice, but in the end, the dress that was more me was my dream gown. Easy on the pocketbook too.

David also picked out his tuxedos - yes, he decided to go with tuxes. Technically, we won 6 free plain black tux rentals from Williard's Formalwear in Fairview Heights, but since we wanted brown we were able to put the cost of the free ones toward the cost of the ones he chose. So we're still getting a pretty good deal. They're chocolate brown, almost black, and David will be wearing an autumn orange, while the other guys wear a leafy fall green.

I need to go shopping with Marissa for bridesmaids dresses and she can help me pick out the brown color. I have something in mind, but that way we can look for something for her too! The other girls will have to wait for swatches in the mail so they can go find their dresses. This is all starting to be very exciting.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Wedding Site

I know it's only been a few weeks since we even got engaged, but I've moved our wedding site to I got sick of logging into multiple sites all the time, so I figured this made the most sense.

Promise not to change on you again ;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Date set!

We'll be getting married on:

at the Benjamin Godfrey Memorial Chapel at Lewis and Clark Community College, reception to follow at the Alton VFW Hall. Times TBA.

Stay tuned for e-Save the Dates! :)  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chapel? Check!

We put a deposit on the chapel and signed our contract today! So I snuck in on my lunch break to take some photos for decoration inspiration. I forgot how pretty it is, even if it is white and simple.

I also read about it some more. I mean, I know it used to be across the street (my family came to watch it being moved when I was little!) and I knew it was in use during the days of Monticello College, but I never knew what religion it was or who worshipped there exactly. Apparently, it was a non-denominational chapel on purpose - so that everyone who lived in this area, no matter their religion or denomination, could come and worship together. Neat, huh?