Some of the best lessons learned and moments lived have occurred for me immediately after rejection.

Of course, that's never easy to remember in the heat of rejection, when you're told by a photographer with whom you've been talking for more than a month, who told you she'd booked your date for you: Never mind. I don't want to barter after all.

I thought about not sharing this. It's humiliating, and it hurt my feelings. But, once again, in vulnerability, I've learned something about me, something about Steven and something about life.

Late Tuesday night, I started anew my search for photography. I found it hard to sleep. Wednesday morning, I awoke to discover that my husband-to-be had stayed up until 3 a.m., wedding planning. He's never done that before. But in my moment of defeat, he stepped in. (Reason #34,891 I'm so in love with him.)

He refined our invite list to make dinner more affordable. He spent hours researching centerpieces. And then, he proudly told me while I brushed my teeth that morning, he struck his own bargain on eBay. He managed to buy eight of these for $50 instead of six for $60 like the seller pictured below:
I think these could look beautiful with some sort of lace detail on our tables, maybe like this:
Tuesday night, at about the time I was lying in bed, restlessly worrying about my ability to find someone who had a need for a seasoned writer, an email arrived in my inbox from a photography company interested in a blogger. A surge best described as a flutter started beating its wings. My confidence was creeping back.

Another silver lining: The photographer rejected our agreement BEFORE the Today's Bride bridal show on Wednesday. So, I revised the flier I'd written (designed by my sister) to reflect that I still needed someone to capture our moments and set out to spread the word with Steven and my "entourage":
I wanted people to know that I have something to offer THEM, too.

The show was informative, yet intimate. I chatted with my DJ, for whom I'm ghost-writing, and PartyPix, the photo booth company with which Something New Entertainment collaborates often. Here's a photo we took wearing their ridiculously bright props:
Actually, we played in two photo booths. My advice: Proofread future husbands who can't read...
So it's the day after the show, and I've received a phone call from a different photographer potentially interested in my blogging for his company and creating a Story of Your Life about the 10-year-old enterprise. I also received an email from someone who shared her packages but said she didn't need writing or editing. I appreciated her honesty and her other cost-cutting suggestions: no engagement session, fewer coverage hours, the exclusion of a second photographer.

I also received an email from a photo booth company whose owner asked me to visit his web site and explain how I would improve it. I will. (I've been in talks, though, with another photo booth company for months, and I want to be fair. I guess it comes down to details and contracts, who feels I can benefit them most and who I feel will benefit us most.)

My confidence is at full-flutter again. If I may, I'm going to steal, while citing, a line written in a recent blog by Jasmine Star that really resonated with me throughout all of this:

"None of us are above doing what we need to do to get things done in the name of our dreams."

I'm certainly not. Indeed, it's the premise that drives all of this.
One of the perks of ghost-writing for my DJ's blog (other than her highly recommended entertainment, eventually) is sound wedding advice. Case in point: I recently completed a blog about how brides can guarantee guest comfort, and without it, I doubt I ever would have thought of providing flip-flops for all of the ladies. Or restroom amenity baskets. For each of these pieces, I interview my DJ and wedding planners, so this is solid, professional advice.

And yesterday, I interviewed a bride and groom for a profile I'll pen about their wedding and their musical selections (they outlawed the chicken dance, and I can't say I blame 'em), and from them, I gleaned a personal touch I want to, well, personalize.

They created picture frames for each table, and on each, they wrote memories. This prompted their guests to migrate from table to table when the opportunity arose to read the different memories.

So Steven and I have settled on a rustic theme, right? A la this:
And this:
(And don't think I'm too proud to go rooting around in the park near which I live to get twigs for this! Because the park can barter, too!)

Oh, and this, which is probably my favorite of the three:
So here's the related idea with which Steven and I are toying: For each table, we'll create cards (hopefully designed by my designer sister) titled "Rooted in Love," and on each, we thought we'd share some of the memories we've created together (like that time we went to Hocking Hills by ourselves and thought -- foolishly -- that bringing only horror movies would be enjoyable, but then, oh so surprisingly, it resulted in a nightmare so awful he woke ME up screaming, awesome). But I digress.
And now... the rustic touch we won't be incorporating. Not one person (not my mom, my sister or Steven) seems to find this appetizing, and seeing as we don't really want a cake, I'm not arguing the point. Sorry, tree treat.
I had begun to think that expecting to walk into a place and know instantly it was THE PLACE was idealistic and unrealistic. Then, today, I stepped inside here and knew.
Choosing a venue has been a task. Without naming names (because it's no one's fault that we cannot afford most venues), here's a summary of our search:

A few weeks ago, we met with a caterer and salivated over the pasta station, the fajita station and the crepe station their event planner described. Then, we learned that the cost of the food ALONE would fall a few hundred dollars short of our entire budget.

On to the next.

This past Saturday, we went to see a fairly well-known and frequently suggested venue about 45 minutes away from Cleveland. It had a lot of character and a pavilion by the lake for ceremonies, and its pricing was more reasonable. In fact, everything included (food, alcohol and service) totaled what the first place's food totaled, which meant it was more affordable but still cost-prohibitive.

Also, though the event planner there showed interest in my writing content for their incomplete web site (one of its pages says, content coming soon, and another is blank), she said they wouldn't know until January if they would be willing to barter and offer us some kind of discount. In the world of wedding planning, that's an eternity, especially when Steven and I want to marry on Labor Day weekend (so we can take advantage of Sunday rates without inconveniencing our guests).

So, we visited a restaurant today (it was OK, but had sailboats sailing all over the walls), followed by this cabin-y community center, which is super rustic (made of logs in the late 1800s) and fits perfectly with the rustic theme we want. Its enclosed patio and pavilion overlook Lake Erie, plus it has a stage that will be SPECTACULAR for the karaoke we will have, courtesy of Something New Entertainment, the company with which I've traded blog-writing for DJ, karaoke and uplighting services.

So our deposit is made, and the date is saved. In a little more than a year, I will be a married woman. It. Cannot. Come. Fast. Enough.
My love asked me to marry him on April 16, 2012, with craft beer (mmmm!), orange roughy (fish) and the ring tied around our Cora cat's neck (safely). He is incredible. Patient. Loving. Selfless. Sports-obsessed. Very self-deprecating at times.

I figure, how could I write a blog about writing to make our wedding happen without introducing the person who makes it all worth it?