Tag Archives: engagement

Venue selection is moving along nicely!

Greetings from Highway 218 North in Iowa!


Matt’s dad and stepmom are becoming full-time Floridians so we traveled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help them with some packing and loading this weekend. It was such a beautiful weekend that Macy was able to work on her farmer’s tan:


(she loves to stare directly into the sun)

I was moderately successful at portion control. I said no to the tasty-looking breakfast pastries but yes to Papa Murphy’s cinnamon wheel. Last night, I also said yes to hibachi:


I used to think hibachi was brown rice, but it turns out it is actually white rice with a lot of soy sauce. My success at this meal was only eating half of the meal and opting for a Subway lunch today instead of leftovers of soy sauce-soaked deliciousness. This also gave us a good reason to meet Matt’s mom and stepdad for a brief lunch so we could update them on our planning!

The exciting news of the weekend is that we might have a venue and date! I will wait to announce the date until we have the venue officially booked but we might be going with Campus Club at the University of Minnesota. This venue was a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways – the rental fee is reasonable, the view of the city from the reception room and the terrace are gorgeous, the food is all local and seasonal, it fits within the budget, and we will be able to find availability this fall :) . Another bonus is that Matt and I both attended the U for our Masters. We aren’t exactly huge Gopher fans, like Abby (but who is?), however it is still exciting to share part of our past with our guests (even though we didn’t actually know each other when we were going to school there… but let’s not let details ruin the cuteness of it).

We also looked at Profile Event Center in Dinkytown and Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul last week (knot.com has better pictures). This is the pro/con of the Profile Event Center:


  • Great party atmosphere
  • No rental fee if minimums are reached (which I loved!)
  • Option to bring in our own alcohol if we book by April 1 (after that, they won’t offer the option to bring in alcohol since they are getting a liquor license)
  • Option to count photographer, DJ, and decorations toward minimum



  • Although they have the option to have the ceremony there, it’s not what we want for our ceremony so we would have to rent a separate ceremony site

Wabasha Caves was interesting but I probably liked it the least of the three.


  • It was a nightclub during prohibition so it has an interesting history, including a shoot-out and bullet marks as proof
  • They offer tours to guests during cocktail hour
  • Nice big bar (can you sense a theme with our people?)
  • They have 4-5 different caterers to choose from


  • I don’t like that there aren’t any windows (obviously, since it is a cave)
  • We could have our ceremony there, but it isn’t necessarily what we want for our ceremony
  • The rental fee is higher than Campus Club

The ultimate decision-maker with Campus Club has been that, 2 days later, we are still very excited about it. It will allow us to show off beautiful views of our city to our guests and we can get married outside on a beautiful fall day. Sounds good to me!

I hope everyone enjoyed the wonderful weather this weekend as much as Macy did! :)

The Wedding: Budget reality check

Ok, now it’s time to get down to the details of planning (since we are still hoping to get married this year, which might be a little crazy).  Our first step is to establish our desired budget, which is $20,000.  This includes the invitations, groom’s dinner, ceremony, reception, wedding bands, and all little things that go along with a wedding.  I love Excel files so I found this nifty budget planner online:

$200 for my band? I better not let Matt get that idea into his head! :)

At first, we thought this sounded like more than enough money to get us a decent wedding for about 225 guests.  Then, we did some internet searching and realized we need to adjust our expectations.   Whoops.  Welcome to the reality of today’s wedding.  (I still can’t believe the average wedding is nearly $30k!)

We decided that, rather than extend our budget, we want to look for ways to have a nice wedding within our budget.  From what I’ve read and been told, there are two ways to cut cost – trim the guest list and get less expensive food.  We will need to trim the guest list, but we have a lot of friends we’d like to invite and both have relatively large families so the lowest we can probably go is 200 people.   

Matt and I have been in full brainstorming mode for the past two days and, as a result, my head hurts (literally.  where did this dang headache come from?  It must be bad because I wrote “my head hearts” and I read it five times before I realized it didn’t say “hurts”). 

The thing that seems to be the most important to us is uniqueness.  We want something a little different than the standard banquet hall experience.  The problem is the cute venues are all expensive (if it’s not the rental fee, it’s the food!) or won’t fit the size of our guest list. 

These are a few of our ideas (please chime in with your ideas in the comments section):

  • Friday evening wedding.  My concern here is the minimums are lower, but not necessarily the “per plate” cost so I’m not convinced it will save us money. 
  • Lunch wedding.  We could get married around noon, serve lunch, and go out to a bar for some fun.  The main drawback of this idea is I really like the thought of dancing into the night with my friends and family.
  • Find a unique ceremony site and use a standard banquet hall (or one that will let us bring in food).  The reality is that banquet halls have better food pricing and, once everyone is dancing, it doesn’t matter where it is. 

Tomorrow, we are going to look at Profile Event Center in Dinkytown.  The benefit of this place is it’s in a great location and there aren’t any rental costs if you meet the food minimum.  They used to let you bring in your own alcohol but recently changed that policy.  Boo to that.  That is probably better because we determined it would cost us over $2,000 to buy enough alcohol for our guests (hey, our people like a good time!) but it is much less expensive to give two drink tickets or host a cocktail hour.

We are working on scheduling more showings for Friday.  Since we want to get married this year, we have about two weeks to figure out if we can make that a reality.  We have already discovered a lot of venues are booked for the year, but luckily there isn’t a shortage of options in the Twin Cities area!

How did you or someone you know save money on their wedding?  What is the most unique wedding you’ve attended?

The BEST few minutes of my life (up to this point)

I’ve been MIA the past few days because I’ve been celebrating.  Matt and I got engaged last week!  Yaaaaaaay!!!! 


Wednesday night: 

The gist of our conversation was:

Anna, “Should we go out for dinner tomorrow night to celebrate your new job?”  (it’s our tradition to go out for a celebration dinner when one of us gets a new job or promotion)

Matt, “Sure, should we plan to leave work by 4:30 so we have enough time to work out before we go to dinner?”  (we are training for Tough Mudder and a sprint triathlon)

Anna, “Sounds good to me!”

Thursday night:

I strolled into the house to find a candle lit in the kitchen, Farewell Milwaukee playing from the iPod dock, and Matt looking at me from the couch.  It was the kind of moment where I knew what was about to happen, but still wasn’t sure if that was really what was about to happen.   (One thing I knew for sure is that it was not the atmosphere for a 20 minute weight circuit!)

When I walked into the living room, I saw this on the coffee table:

Wine, candles, flower petals (from our Valentine's Day flowers), and the ring!

So, what did I do?  I went about my business and put my coat and shoes away.  This is the gist of what happened next:

Matt, “Come sit next to me on the couch.”

Anna, “What is going on here?”  (in the smiley tone, not the accusatory tone!)

Matt, “You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me and I’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you.  Will you marry me?”  (I was crying at this point)

Anna, “Yes, of course.  YES!!!”  (he is the best thing that has happened to me too!)

Then I slipped the bling on my finger:


After that, we drank wine, called our family, and went out for a great sushi dinner.   My camera was completely dead so I didn’t get any great pictures that night (of course, the one time I can’t find my battery charger!!!).

It turns out Matt didn’t plan to propose that night when we made our plans.  Stephen Vincent, the jeweler who made my ring, called him on Thursday to tell him it was ready and I guess he couldn’t wait! 


I expected it to happen at some point because we designed the ring together in December, but I didn’t expect it to happen that night.  I honestly thought we were going to celebrate his new job (which we still need to do!).


Farewell Milwaukee.  Matt used to play their first album for me all the time when we started dating.  In fact, we went to their show at the Cedar in January:

…and here we are – all smiles at the show!

The bottle of wine.  I showed Matt how to etch glass in December and he went on a glass-etching frenzy.  He etched a ring on this bottle in December and I found out about it a few weeks later when I tried to bring it with us to a friend’s house.  He was insistent we couldn’t bring that bottle and I was stubborn about wanting to know what he had against a bottle of wine he hadn’t even tried yet!  He showed me the etching and we agreed to drink it after we got engaged.

The red candle holders.  They fit the occasion well and they belonged to my Aunt Kim.  She passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 49 in December. 

I am not sure if I though we would move in slow motion, but it all happened much quicker than I expected.  One minute I was putting my coat away, and the next I was engaged (literally).  I am looking forward to marrying my awesome fiance!

Up until this point in your life, what are the best few minutes in your life?