I love it when a plan comes together.

As I browsed the pictures I took during a recent visit to the venue with the Husband-To-Be, my little sister and designer extraordinaire, Stephanie, and my event-planning friend, Katie, I realized: We have chosen most of the vendors  who will transform this wonderful place into our wedding. So, so happy to have such an incredible *cast*!

Capturing it all will be Cavanaugh Photography, which recently gave us access to all of our engagement proofs. We are thisclose to selecting which will be the image for our save-the-dates.

Doesn't this stage seem built for the karaoke and DJing Something New Entertainment will deliver?
And we're excited to have Bill the Bartender behind this rustic bar, too. Nice and spacious:
Here's where our officiant (whom I will introduce in my next blog entry) will marry us. Interestingly, those who get married here have to pay a fairly nominal fee for security because otherwise, there's really nothing separating guests from the cliff into the lake (except common sense, lol):
We still are looking for ideas as to how we can transform this simple gazebo into something rustic and whimsical, perhaps using fabric of some sort. Have some thoughts? I await your email: mrandmrslazette@yahoo.com.

There's another vendor I have yet to introduce: OUR CATERER!! But I'm waiting until our taste tests, which are scheduled for January, so I can show off their food. Our wedding meal will be served up for our guests in this enclosed patio overlooking Lake Erie. We figured it'd be a nice view for people to take in while they wait. I'm not revealing our menu yet, but here's a clue: Every plate will be completely customized to each person's tastes.
What remains to be determined is what style and color flowers we'll use. My mom is somewhat allergic to flowers that possess strong scents, so I'll need a florist's opinion on which would least harass her. (Hint, hint: If you're a florist with ideas, I'd love to hear from you!)

I also am contemplating crafting one or more of the 40 DIY projects presented here. Namely some variation of numbers 3, 13, 20 and 21. Maybe you'll see some ideas you like?

In the meantime, I am quite pleased with the collection of pickle, spaghetti and Mason jars we've amassed, as well as the 20+ tree slabs. We're planning to outfit each table with an ivory linen and a contrasting lace overlay, topped with three tree slabs and an assortment of twine- and lace-wrapped jars, a la this (though we only had two slabs during this particular visit):
A word to the wise: Always take a second (or third) walk through your venue, especially if you're responsible for the decorative vision. Top reason I'm glad we did? It solidified for us that chair covers are a MUST:
Waiting to hear why this blog's title references a bear? Behold, our furry friend. My handsome HTB joked that we should dress him up. There will be no toying with the big, dead bear, I retorted.
I guess, when you ask for rustic, a taxidermic animal isn't such a stretch.
 
Meet Bill.
He's been tending bar off and on since he was 21, and now, he'll be tending ours. What cinched this deal was a combination of Bill the Bartender's experience and his overt desire to please and work within our budget. (Never, ever hesitate to ask for a discount; more vendors are willing to do it than you might expect.)

We found Bill's business card at the venue the first time we toured it. The venue has a bar, and the ability to bring in our own alcohol was attractive (it helps keep costs down). But we definitely wanted someone behind the bar, keeping things sane, clean and, well, did I mention sane?

When Bill offered to stay within our budget and emailed us information about how much alcohol he'd suggest we buy for the number of guests we expect, he established himself not only as flexible but as a resource, too.

"I never truly liked the corporate world of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.," Bill wrote to me. "Bill the Bartender was officially created during a shift at a restaurant. A regular asked me for recipes to ‘umbrella drinks.'  I told her she needed a bartender. And as they say, the rest is history."
 
That was October 2004. Today, those who hire Bill can expect him to show up with his portable bar, garnishes and mixers and a canopy, in case an outdoor bar is desired. He also has a staff of part-timers upon whom he calls when second and third bartenders are needed.

"Your guests should not have to wait for drink service," he said. "Understand that the first ‘slam’ at the bar is always stressful, but leave it up to me to keep the line moving."
 
Will do, Bill. If you, too, desire a bartender who comes across as incredibly eager to please and helpful, click here.

And now, an unrelated story:

I received my first "gifted" glass jar from a coworker last week. Then, I went and bought pasta sauce, a different brand than ever before because I liked the jar.
Then, using whole wheat pasta (see previous blog), I whipped up a turkey sausage pasta dish for me and Handsome.
And then, there were two!