Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

For anyone who is knee-deep in planning and starting to enter a deep depression over how many times you’ve gotten out your checkbook in the last few months (days? hours?), this post from Meg on her blog “A Practical Wedding” is definitely for you. In this world where the expectations for weddings have gone completely nuts (what happened to good old cake and punch?), sometimes we just need a little perspective from other budget brides who have been there and understand…AND have gotten through it…AND planned a completely successful and beautiful wedding…cherish the thought.

I hope you enjoy!:

First of all, I have to say that one of the reasons that I started my blog is because I felt like the only bride in the world with a sensible approach to money when I read wedding media. It sucked. While my partner and I are no longer broke (though, *boy* have we been) we still are fairly cautious with our money. Add to that the fact that we’re a one bread-winner household at the moment (my husband is in law school) and, well, we don’t have a money tree in the backyard. So we figured we’d throw together a nice wedding on a oh-dear-god-it-feels-expensive-to-us-but-I-guess-we-can-do-this kind of budget. Ha. Well, about two seconds into wedding planning I started to feel like the poorest and saddest bride on the planet.

I finally hit the wall when I read about a ‘budget’ wedding on one of those big-shiny-wedding-blogs. It read something like this: “Well, since we were doing a wedding on a budget, we obviously had to be very selective in our choices, and limit what we spent money on. That’s why we decided to really limit things when it came to our music choices. In the end, we decided to only hire a string quartet, a gospel choir, and a rock band, to keep things simple and affordable.”

After I finished slamming my head against the table, I think I sent my then-fiance a link to this wedding with an email along these lines, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS? If this couple HADN’T been on a budget were they planning on also hiring a 100 PERSON OPERA CHORUS? WHAT THE MOTHER F*CKING F*CK? I. Hate. Wedding. Planning.”

Right. So I started my blog. Turns out I wasn’t so alone after all.

What I mean to say is this: when you do not have unlimited resources and you are planning a wedding, sometimes every moment feels like a painful negotiation. You can’t afford the things that it seems like everyone else has, shopping for a wedding dress can feel like h*ll, and finding a venue can become you’re worst nightmare. If you’re at all like me, planning a wedding can feel like you are thinking about money all the time, and learning to hate it.

So here are my very best wedding graduate tips about money and weddings. Here is what I learned, and what I wished I known at the beginning:

  • Weddings are not about money. They feel like they are about money when you’re planning, for effing sure, but in the end, money is not going to matter. At all. Weddings are are about love, plain and simple. On your wedding day you could be getting married in your backyard with not a single pretty detail to be found, and you wouldn’t care. The hugeness of getting married, and making this huge commitment in front of family and friends will surpass every single thing around it, and what you spent will disappear.
  • As one of my wedding graduates said, “You don’t have to spend money in ways that does not feel right to you, or that makes you feel financially uncomfortable.” There were many times that I started feeling backed into a corner “But that is just what getting my hair done is going to cost, no matter how crazy it seems!” And I thought back to this advice and just said, “Nope. Not going to do it.” Every time, that ended up being one of the best decisions we made.
  • Forget DIY. The wedding blog world can make you feel like you have to be a crafty, crafty goddess if you want to save money, and that’s enough to drive anyone over the edge. Start thinking about DIT – doing-it-together. Each time we asked a loved one to contribute to our day – from the girlfriend that did my hair to the girlfriend that managed the weekend – it added a depth of joy to our celebration that no money could have bought. On top of that, it gave each friend a way to show their love and feel like they really contributed to this monumentally important moment of our lives, and that turned out to be a gift in and of itself.
  • Once you make a financial decision that feels right to you – stick to your guns. Wedding planning can be a constant pattern of second guessing – “Well, so and so self-catered, maybe we should do that?” This. Will. Drive. You. Mad. If your choice was right for you, that’s it. You’re done, and you’re fine.
  • Your budget is your business. Make sure you’re spending an amount of money that feels good to you. Then ignore what other people think. Big-wedding-media can consume you with guilt about not spending enough. Indie-web-media can consume you with guilt that you are spending too much. You know what? If you feel good about it, what you are spending is just right.
  • Spend your money on things you care about. We didn’t have lots of ‘must haves.’ We didn’t have a DJ, a florist, favors, or matching bridesmaids dresses. And we didn’t miss them. But you know what we did have? Amazing gourmet food, that we splurged on. We’re foodies, we cared about food. The food at our wedding was staggeringly good, and to us, it was worth every penny.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. If you don’t care? Don’t buy it. If someone is making you sign a contract that doesn’t feel right? Don’t sign it. If it doesn’t feel right? Put away your wallet. If you do this, things will somehow fall into place. I could not find a single wedding dress that felt right, even if I was willing to spend $1,000. In the end, I said no to all the options that felt awful, and I found the worlds best dress for me, buried in the corner of a vintage shop, for $250, just a few months before the wedding.
  • Sometimes it is worth it to pay full price. As a bride on a limited budget, people will tell you to bargain, to barter, to do anything to pay less. Sometimes this is the right thing to do, and it will all work out. But there are other times when you don’t want to think about something anymore, and you’re willing to throw money at the problem to make it go away. Do it. Sometimes bartering will make your relationship with a vendor so complicated that you’re uncomfortable. Pay full price. It may be worth it.
  • Try not to become obsessed with your target budget. Pay what feels right to you, and what you feel like you can afford. If you end up a little under or a little over budget? Its fine. Because guess what? You don’t have to report your budget to anyone. So be kind to yourself, and remember that you did your best.
  • And finally: Remember, one day the spending will all be behind you. The best part about spending money on your wedding? It happens once, and then you NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN. The last months before our wedding, I felt like I was taking out my checkbook every two seconds, and I hated it. But on the morning after the wedding I realized it was done, it was over, and I never had to spend that money every again. And that, my friends, felt like freedom.

From one practical bride to another – I wish you thoughtful careful spending, and the nerve to say no. But more than anything, my wish for you is that you learn as much about your relationship to money as I did planning my wedding. Because that was priceless.

Do check out the rest of Meg’s blog. It’s that breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for amongst the wedding claustrophia, I promise. 🙂


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After the venue is the booked, the menu is set, the dress is bought, and the flowers are picked out, budgets can tend to shrink FAST. So then how are you supposed to get invitations, table numbers, banners, programs, favors, etc. with big ideas and a swindling budget? From websites and blogs by people who understand…and then subsequently post FREE templates for you to use and enjoy. below are some of my favorite sites to find fabulous and free wedding goodies. 🙂

From DIY project tutorials to pages of templates, this site is a great resource for brides who love a little vintage glam.

Candy buffet sign template

Welcome Guest Bags template

The Wedding Chicks
Another great site for inspiration and free stuff, the wedding chicks have everything from free monograms to invitation suite templates for you to swoop up for free and look like you paid a million bucks for.

custom monogram

Save the Date postcard template

The Blah Blah Blahg
Not solely a wedding blog, this blog has some great freebies that would certainly make for some good wedding use, like stationary templates, envelope wrap labels, photoshop brushes, and more!

envelope wrap labels template

Marriage Motif Photoshop brushes

Candy bar labels template

So when the to-do list is long and the budget is coming up short, definitely take some time to head over to these site and check out the free goods! Has anyone else found great sites for free stuff? Do share! 🙂

Happy planning!

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My sincerest apologies for going MIA for a while there…amongst summer wedding planning and a kitchen remodel, it’s hard to find inspiration while covered in dust. But here I am, with some great ideas for a low-cost bridal shower that is sure to impress- at least on the food front…because let’s be real…it’s not just the bride and groom who are short on wedding-related cash. If you’re a bridesmaid in charge of the shower, don’t stress. There are plenty of ways to give your bride the shower she deserves on the budget you can afford. 🙂

I LOVE this Springtime party idea presented by Southern Living. It’s simple, it’s fresh, and not to mention tasty-looking! Plus, it can be done for less than $10 a person. The table cloth above is actually a king-size sheet found on sale and the table runner and napkins are remnants from decorator’s fabric. Beverages are served in old canning jars and displayed in an antique baby’s bathtub.

Feta Cheese Truffles are served with cucumbers, tomatoes, almonds, and olives. Yum! Use antique or heirloom dishes and glasses that you either already own or can score for cheap at a thrift/antique store….and maybe gift them to the bride after the shower! (after they’ve been washed of course) 🙂

Chicken scaloppine is served for a refreshing and not-too-filling entree. Dessert is simple and simply delicious with a Sweet Dip served with cookies, fruit and chocolate. Southern Living writes that it’s reminiscent of buttercream frosting secretly swiped off a cake. Umm…yes please!

As far as the food goes, this is one bridal shower I’d be RSVP-ing to with a resounding “Yes!” Bridal showers are way more memorable when they are personal and well thought-out…and that definitely does not always equal spending more money. So get creative- the guests and the bride are sure to appreciate it. 🙂

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Has anyone received the new Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel catalogs in the mail? While these two stores offer a zillion things for the home to swoon over (and make us wish we all had larger bank accounts), their new spring collections are full of wedding inspiration! Check them out! Do you see what I see?

The centerpiece on this table found at Pottery Barn is so fresh and springy! Plus, you can create this look for cheap! If you're having a spring wedding, plant tulip bulbs in your own garden in the fall and come spring, you'll have beautiful flowers to make your own centerpieces! And filling the containers with lemons and limes not only looks great, it's inexpensive!

who doesn't love twinkle lights? These globe string lights from Pottery Barn will set a romantic glow to your outdoor garden wedding. Just perfect!

Serve lemonade, sangria, or a signature drink in gorgeous drink dispensers for an upscale backyard gathering look.

How adorable are these dahlia napkin rings from Crate and Barrel? While these babies can be budget-busting at $2.95 a piece, I see the perfect opportunity for a DIY project with fake flowers and hair ties. Or just buy a few and wrap them around votives instead of napkins!

Since when did paper napkins get so cute! For these, you should have no qualms about nixing the linen napkins (and the rental cost associated with them!)

If you're having a spring wedding (actually, I could probably justify it for every season), you NEED this pedestal stand. Use it for cupcakes, desserts, favors, anything! It will make whatever you put on it that much cuter. And for only $29.95, it's budget-friendly.

Spring inspiration is all around us! Look for it in unexpected places and you’re sure to find ideas that will not only make your wedding unique, but more “you.” Happy hunting!

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Now this is a couple going to extreme measures to pay for their wedding. Pete and Andrea of Spokane, WA are on a mission to collect and recycle 400,000 cans to pay for their modest $4000 wedding in July. Sound crazy? Maybe…but only until it hits you that they are going to accomplish their dream day and save the planet all at the same time. Andrea and Peter claim that after they recycle the planned five tons of aluminum, they will have offset five years of their own carbon footprints—in addition to the emissions from the wedding itself.

As their website says, “the whole ‘mission’ thing sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s the truth. Our relationship has been a bit off kilter from the beginning, and why should our wedding be any different? We don’t want anything huge or extravagant… really, we’re planning a potluck, DIY decorations, and getting the help from friends and family for flowers, pictures, the sword-fighting battle, home brew beer, even the cake.” But even after all the strategic planning and generous help from family and friends, this couple is still in need of cash for the wedding (a common feeling among brides, I’m sure).

Pete and Andrea have collected 328,424 cans so far in addition to cash contributions equivalent to 116,563 cans. The couple still has 71,576 cans to go! Wanna help? Visit their website and find out how!

While paying for your entire wedding this way may be too “out there” for you, Pete and Andrea are definitely onto something. Collect and recycle your own cans to pay for favors, invitations, a DJ, or any other smaller item in your budget. Sell your old “treasures” on Ebay or craigslist for someone else to love, while scoring you extra cash for your big day. There are plenty of unique ways to not only save big, but to save our lovely planet as well.

So what do you think? Are Pete and Andrea nuts or absolutely genius? Would you ever tackle such a cost-saving  project?

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My friend and bride-to-be Jen is having favor issues…should they even have favors? If so, what the heck should they give? And how much should they spend? All valid questions in today’s wedding world. Favors seem to be one of those minor details that can tend to give couples more than minor stress…but they don’t have to. Jen has a few ideas in mind, so I want to break them down into pros and cons to help make the decision easier.

Charity donations-

Jen wants to make a donation in her guests’ honor to savetheelephants.com. Sound silly? Maybe. But I love it. And I love it merely on principle. I love being able to take something that is characteristically materialistic (i.e. wedding favors) and turning it into something better…any opportunity we get to give to worthy causes, yes, yes, and YES. 🙂 If you want to make a donation, I suggest picking something meaningful to you as a couple. Have you both volunteered your time with Habitat for Humanity? Did you adopt a kitten or a puppy at your local shelter? Something that is meaningful to you will also be meaningful for your guests. Added bonus: You are in COMPLETE CONTROL over the cost. Want to donate $300? $500? That’s exactly how much you’ll spend. There will be no surprise costs that are easily found in providing wedding favors, like shipping, packaging, etc. And that is a beautiful thing.

Candy buffet-

I love candy buffets simply because they involve candy. ha. Candy buffets are always a big hit at the party, but they are also usually a big hit on the budget. Glass jars or canisters can get pretty spendy. And fancy cookies, truffles, and candies can certainly run up the bill fast. But YOU CAN DO IT CHEAPER. Find cool bowls and jars at places like Goodwill. Or check out the marketplace on weddingbee.com. Tons of brides go there to sell stuff they bought for their wedding and can’t use anymore. Their loss is your gain! And remember that the candy is going to be EATEN. While those expensive ribbon candies that were made to match your colors and the M&Ms stamped with your monogram look extremely pretty, they will be gone before you can say, “Look how pretty my candy buffet is.”

Make cookies! Include yours and your groom’s favorite candies growing up…or candies you like to share together now. Again, the more personal you make it, the more meaningful it will be to your guests. It won’t just be a pretty candy buffet, it will be an extension of you as a couple. Plus, you don’t want to take any attention away from your fabulous cake, right? 😉

Mix CD’s-

Custom mix CD’s are a relatively inexpensive way to share a little bit of your personalities with your guests. You can put “your song” on them, the song you’re walking down the aisle to, the songs you sing to each other in the car, songs that tell your story, etc. The con? not everyone is going to love the songs you love and that CD may make a better coaster than anything else. But that’s not the point. They’re songs the two of you love and songs that represent you. Maybe include a “reference sheet” with the CD, explaining what each song means to you.

Photo Booth-

Photo booths are awesome. They add another element to the party and give your guests a great memento to take home and remind them of how much fun they had on your big day. they can act as wedding entertainment, favors, and a unique guest book (have the booth print 2 copies…one for your guests, one for you to keep in an album). The only problem? Financially, photo booths are hard to justify as they can run you $1000 and up to rent. If you can compensate that cost over several elements, like the guest book and favors, it might be worth it. But definitely sit down and decide how important an element of this cost means to you. Gotta have it? Cut back in other areas, like photography. Since you’ll be swarmed with photo strips documenting you and your guests at your reception, maybe cut back on the photographer time at your reception. If you can swing the cost, a photo booth is guaranteed to be a big hit. 🙂

So what do you think? How did you give favors that were meaningful and on (under?) budget? Whatever Jen and her fiance choose, from saving the elephants to a photo booth extravaganza,  I have no doubt that they will be perfect…and perfectly inspired by them. 🙂

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Some of the most common ways brides and grooms go over budget are things that a lot of people don’t even consider in the budget, but can result in you wondering, “where the [expletive] did all of our money go?!” These include things like hair and makeup (including trials! Some brides need multiple!), gym memberships to get yourself in bridal shape, spa treatments for your bridal party, etc.

Plan ahead by first including these items into your budget. After you’ve done that, sign up for groupon.com immediately. If you haven’t yet discovered this little gem, it is a site that offers amazing discounts on products and services in your city/town. Most popular offerings include theater tickets, classes (like yoga, pilates, art classes, etc.),  spa treatments, salon services, discounts on sporting events, bars, restaurants, boutique stores, gyms, concerts, and more! There is a new deal every day (yes, EVERY DAY!) and every time I receive the groupon e-mail, I think of how handy these deals would be for wedding planning.

%50 off a new bridal hairdo? Yes please! 40% a yoga class and facials for me and my bridal party? Oh yea. 60% off drinks and appetizers at a local hot spot for some pre-wedding libations? uh-huh! 45% off that gym membership I keep telling myself I’m going to get? Absolutely. And even $75 worth of goods for $35 at a local boutique store to get attendant’s gifts for my bridesmaids? Awesome! There are endless ways to utilize the deals offered through groupon for your wedding…and beyond!

So take advantage and sign up!! 🙂

Happy planning!

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