Rob and Mandy's Wedding Extravaganza………….. May 26, 2012

Blogging my way to our wedding day.

302 Days to Go – Another Major Decision Made! July 29, 2011

Filed under: Wedding — mandyshaner @ 10:40 pm
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For those of you that wander over to this blog from my Facebook, you’ve probably already seen me spamming photos of the Anderson Japanese gardens and now the fact that we’ve chosen to have our wedding there! We had originally intended to visit as many places as needed in order to find the perfect spot, but it turns out we just needed to visit one.

I think we both started falling in love with the place as soon as we walked into the door. Right away we were greeted with the amazing reception area (and after the long drive I even got to see how lovely the restrooms are hehe).  After that, every step we took while heading deeper into the gardens we fell more and more in love. Julie, the wedding/event coordinator, was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. After our tour of the gardens she walked us through a big folder of information she had prepared, including a very helpful FAQ packet she had written herself based on questions from previous couples. Thinking about all the numbers and prices was a bit overwhelming, as well as slightly discouraging. Sticker shock has been a pretty prominent theme for us so far hehe. Another discouraging issue was the fact that another couple was also looking at having their wedding on the same day, but they hadn’t put down a deposit yet. That meant that if we decided we wanted to reserve that date we were going to have to act fast.  After we sat around and chatted for a bit, Julie gave us permission to walk around the gardens at our leisure for free. Pretty smart move on their part if you ask me, since the whole time we were discussing debt vs. dream wedding we were surrounded by the garden’s beauty.

We couldn’t stop talking about the gardens during our entire drive to the second venue of the day. We were even deciding what items we would order from the menu if that was the route we eventually decided to take. Then the fact that we were completely underwhelmed by the banquet center really started to make us wonder if anything else would ever measure up to our dream venue. We continued our discussion the whole way home as we crunched the numbers and tried to figure out what we needed to do to make our dream a reality.

Once home we immediately told Rob’s mom all about our wonderful day, also including the downside of course… the cost. We had talked briefly about wedding expenses with her once before and had already considered the possibility of taking out a loan from his parents (that we would pay back, at least in part, with money we will ‘hopefully’ receive as gifts at the wedding) as their gift to us. She brought that up again, and said that we had to make sure it was ok with Rob’s dad first. While Rob went to speak with his dad, I uploaded all of my photos to Facebook so that I could show everyone what we had been raving about.  Rob’s dad graciously agreed to loan us the money, and we all oohed and ahhed over the photos together. I’m so grateful and a bit overwhelmed that they are willing to help us out so much with this. Our dream wedding wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I don’t like asking for help, especially when money is involved, so I really had to swallow my pride on this one. I’ll feel a lot better when we start paying it off…

In the mean time…Rob and I headed back downstairs and he immediately fired off an email to Julie. He let her know that we were interested and also asked a few questions we hadn’t thought of while we were there. We decided to keep things on the down-low until we knew for sure whether we got the date, otherwise we would have had to move ours. I was so nervous all of yesterday because Julie was out of the office at an event and we couldn’t get ahold of her! Thankfully, sometime around 2pm today I got a call from my husband-to-be saying that everything was a go.  She emailed us the contract, which I just signed and initialed, and we’ll be sending that plus the deposit her way in the morning. There aren’t enough words in the thesaurus to describe how happy I am right now :). The fact that we didn’t have to stress out while visiting countless venues, we have a way to pay for it, we are having the wedding of our dreams and I’m marrying the man of mine…how could I not be completely beside myself with joy 🙂

….Is it May yet?


304 Days to Go – Our First Visits to Wedding Venues July 27, 2011

Filed under: Planning,Wedding — mandyshaner @ 10:07 pm
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Today Rob and I had our first appointments with potential wedding venue coordinators.  We got up early and were on the road making the hour and a half drive to Rockford by 9am. We thought our trip to the Anderson Japanese Gardens was going to be ruined because not long into our drive we ran into this….

This turned into one heck of a rainstorm, and super fast! Luckily we were able to get through it before we got to the gardens and the rest of the day was beautiful (aside from one other drizzle). While on our tour of the gardens we realized that coming right after the rain was probably one of the best times we could have come. The gardens were simply glowing with droplets of water and gorgeous puddles that had formed in the stone walkways.

This is the gorgeous pavilion where we could potentially be saying our vows. It’s big enough to hold up to 250 people (which we will be nowhere near lol).

There are SO many beautiful places to stop and pose for photos! Also, the entire wedding party & all the guests would have access to the gardens all day. Here is just one of my favorite photos from our day.

The reception area was also absolutely beautiful. Honestly, I can’t convey just how incredible this place is 🙂 The massive floor-to-ceiling windows give everyone an amazing view of the gardens. The room also has two outside deck areas for people to enjoy.

So that was a taste of the Anderson Japanese Gardens, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t our favorite 🙂 But, I also have a couple photos from the other place we visited, the Concorde Banquet center in Kildeer.  We drove another hour and change east to get to this venue.  I didn’t get out to take photos because I wasn’t that impressed overall, but here’s what I got. This is where we would have our ceremony. Chairs would be set up on the pavers and we would stand under the white pergola. There would be no backup plan if there was rain…yikes.

What you can’t tell from this photo is that this is situated about 20 feet (if that) from a VERRRRY busy road. I don’t know why they put it so damn close to the road, it would be so noisy to have the ceremony there! The pergola is on the edge of a cute little pond though, complete with a fountain and swans (and various other waterfowl).

After a long day of driving around to different (and beautiful) venues, we stopped in at our friend Jim’s house for a little visit and then headed home. We stopped out for dinner, and while we were waiting at the drive thru we got to see a pretty little rainbow 🙂 It was a nice end to a wonderful day :).


308 Days to Go – Searching For the Perfect Venue July 23, 2011

Filed under: Musings,Wedding — mandyshaner @ 6:06 am

We are going nuts trying to find a place to have both our wedding and reception, preferably at the same place, or at least nearby. We want to get married outside, but have the reception indoors to avoid bugs and whatnot. We’ve been starting to get a lot of flyers in the mail for beautiful (and crazy expensive) venues, and we’ve been doing a lot of online searching. We are starting to agree on a price range…or at least one that seems slightly less painful than what seems to be the ‘standard’ for wedding prices around here. It’s pretty much a certainty that we won’t be able to have the wedding or reception anywhere near St. Charles because it will never be anywhere near our budget. Unfortunately we aren’t dripping with money and able to drop a minimum of $10k on a damn reception lol….So, we are taking our search out a little further.

Rob was lucky enough to be able to get this coming Wednesday off of work so that we can actually have a day off together. That hasn’t happened since before Easter because of my crazy weekend work schedule (the weekends are the busiest time for cake decorators). We have a couple of places that we want to check out already, and we’re working on coming up with some more. We really need to squeeze the most out of Wednesday that we can!


319 Days to Go – Using Etsy for a Good Cause July 12, 2011

Filed under: Etsy,Wedding — mandyshaner @ 8:02 am
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Those of you that know me probably know that I’ve been making and selling jewelry for the last few years through a site called Etsy. I’ve had a decent amount of success, but I almost always use my profits to buy more supplies (except for when I bought my dog, and at Christmas when all sales go toward gifts). Well I’ve decided that I want to leave every bit of the money I make in my account until the day I buy my wedding dress :). I’ve always considered my Etsy profits as ‘fun money’, and I think this will be an exciting and guilt-free way to try and raise as much money I can to buy a spectacular wedding dress! In the last couple of weeks I’ve already been able to set aside about $40, and things should start picking up as the holidays approach.

So I want to shamelessly encourage anyone that reads my blog to check out my jewelry sites (and photography prints), please share with people that you think might enjoy them as well! I want my wedding dress to be at least one thing that I don’t have to buy on a credit card haha, and I think this “modern-day bakesale” is just the ticket

I can’t seem to get links to work on this site, but here they are. You can also go to my Blogroll on the right side of this page and click on the links there:


321 Days to Go – Sticker Shock July 10, 2011

Filed under: Musings,Wedding — mandyshaner @ 10:01 pm
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Ok, so we’ve started looking into where we want to have this shindig, and I don’t know if it’s because we live in St. Charles or what….but oh my GOD are these places expensive! Is it too much to ask to have my wedding in a lovely place without starting this new chapter of our lives severely in debt?? At this point, looking at places that charge ‘by the head’, I’m thinking we might allow like 20 people to come haha! Plus, most places want you to buy their big package deals that include things like the cake, centerpieces, and some of the decor. What if I don’t want that garbage? Just give me some damn tables, chairs and maybe some food and let me handle the rest! Ugh…now I’m thinking about how much everything is going to cost that DOESN’T involve rental fees.


I know that not a lot of people read my little blogs, but I’m really in need of some suggestions on how to keep us out of the poorhouse without eloping 😛

Here are the things we know. We are not religious and as such we do not want a church wedding. We’d love to be outside, near some sort of water if possible (river, lake, pond, what have you).  An indoor/covered (like gazebo or pavilion) option would be great too incase of rain. The reception doesn’t have to be outside (I’d almost prefer not having to deal with bugs and what not). That’s about it.  We’ve been looking at some pretty Japanese gardens, but they all want you to call for pricing, which is scary. We also considered having the reception in our backyard, but by the time you rent tents, chairs, tables and pay for catering, you are in the same price range as the indoor halls. Also, parking would be a nightmare since we live on a culdesac. I think the backyard reception is basically out lol.

We need to win the lottery….but then again, I still don’t think we’d feel right blowing it all on a wedding!


324 Days to Go – Official Engagement Photo July 7, 2011

Filed under: Engagement,Wedding — mandyshaner @ 1:24 pm
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We decided to finally do an ‘official’ engagement photo! This will be the one that we send off to the newspaper (one here and one back in Ohio) with our engagement/wedding announcement 🙂 It took a lot of fiddling with my tripod and getting attacked by mosquitoes to get this photo.

Also, I’d like to note that Rob is one of the few people that makes me feel short ❤


328 Days to Go – We’ve Made Our First Decision! July 3, 2011

Filed under: Wedding — mandyshaner @ 4:50 pm
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Well, we’ve both Googled ourselves crazy since deciding when to have this shindig, but up until last night we couldn’t settle on much of anything. We’ve made the rounds to the local craft stores’ wedding sections, looked through books, played around with color samples for painting and searched the internet for inspiration boards. So after a LOT of indecision, tada! Pink, aqua and brown. Whew….why was that so hard? 😉

So exciting! Now we can start looking for things to buy early and start thinking of all the DIY projects we want to do. Rob is already getting some great ideas for our invitations 🙂 Maybe I’ll finally be able to start narrowing down what I want to do for the cake? (Ya right hehe).

So what do you think? Does this color combo seem like “us”?


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