February 2011

You stress over your wedding because you choose to stress, not because of something that has been brought upon you.  Think about it.  You do not need most of the stuff that brides stress themselves out over for their wedding.

I, for one, have only a few requirements for my wedding day:

  • A bride
  • A groom
  • An officiant
  • A marriage license
  • And some way to keep guests fed and happy.

On the surface, most brides realize this is all you need.  But it’s the details that trip them up.  The dress, the hair, the makeup.

Wedding Planning and Time Management

I have discovered that it is this “keep guests happy” thing that trips up most brides.  While I admire some brides’ creativity and tolerance for time consuming tasks, I just want to step back and Stress Photo.  Source http://planningforever.com/blog/2008/07/07/wedding-stresssnap-out-of-it/doink them in the forehead.  Especially the ones that do all of those time consuming tasks, yet write about all their wedding-related stress.

I, for one, have leisure time.  I think that if you can’t get career-related work done at your job in 40 hours, then you have a serious time management problem.  And because I have leisure time, I guard it carefully.  In most cases, my leisure time is used to do things I enjoy (like blogging!).  For instance, my fiancé and I pay for a house cleaning service because we don’t want to use our free time to clean the house, something we don’t enjoy.

I tend to think that people, generally speaking, feel like they don’t have any free time.  Like it means they are less of a person if they say they have leisure time. I think that Laura Vanderkam over at 168 hours says it great.  And while this post is focused on parents specifically, I think that it can also be said for brides-to-be:

… I think modern parents like to claim we have no free time because it’s a way to show how dedicated we are both to our work and our families. We also have this perception of leisure time as meaning something decadent, like a massage at a spa. So if we’re not at the spa, we think we have no free time, even though we’re spending hours parked in front of the tube or hanging out on Facebook. The fact that we don’t use our leisure time well doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
We all like to complain, but there is a big downside to this claim to have no free time. It makes young people — young women in particular — think that there is no way they can build a career and a family and still have time to sleep, exercise, volunteer, read a book, or all of the above. But you can. I hope more of us will start talking about the leisure time we do have as a way to change the conversation from one of “no time” to choosing what is a priority. I have free time. And I’m guessing you probably do too.

My name is Melissa and I have free time too!

I think that Laura’s post says a lot.  By saying that we have free time during the wedding planning process, does it mean that we aren’t as dedicated to our wedding, or worse yet, our marriage?  No.  Of course not.  Laura Vanderkam has another post that writes that $5000 could pay for either A) an engagment ring (or think wedding expenses too!), or B) about 100 nights of babysitting.  Which one will help improve a marriage?

Stop the DIY Madness

Many brides-to-be complain about all this wedding stress, and yet they still cut out hundreds of circle fabric pieces to put over your DIY pudding favor jars?  And you actually make paper doll cutouts for your bridesmaids (with hair to match)?

I will be the first to say it.  This whole DIY business has made brides go crazy.  Seriously?  Just give me a book of matches as a favor and I’ll find it much more useful.  I don’t want you to spend countless hours and stress over the wedding favor that you give me, or worry that I will judge you because you don’t have awesome DIY decorations at your wedding.  I will not think you’re any less of a person.  In fact, I’ll think that you’re more practical for focusing your time on what matters.

Focus on what is important, because, your guests aren’t really going to appreciate the hours that it took you to do stamp your amazingly renewable resource bamboo servingware or how much thought you put into sending box-size invitations

Three Options when a Stressor Presents Itself

And it’s not just spending hours on end crafting perfect DIY decor and favors that stress out brides.  Another point of stress?  People will always try to interfere with the couple’s plans.  When that happens, You have three choices:

  1. Accept their advice and move on
  2. Ignore their advice and move on
  3. Lament and complain at length about how they’re interfering with your plans by trying to get you to fill in the blank [increase your guest list, have a different menu, more bridesmaids, less flowers, a bigger cake, insert other suggestions here.]  Let it eat at you, bother you, dig away at your soul.  Let it add mounds of stress.  Let your wedding become a source of stress rather than a source of joy

Families and friends will always offer unsolicited advice.  Avoid the “You’ll See” Prophesy.   Don’t let others’ comments wear you down.  Pick option 1 or 2 and get on with your life.

I’m not saying that I won’t stress over my wedding.  I had an anxiety attack over it just a few weeks into planning, mostly fueled by how much weddings cost.  But now that we have decided to eliminate as many wedding vendors as possible, including wedding caterers, we can now have the wedding WE want and not pay a dollar more than what we want.  I’m not going to spend countless hours on trying to craft amazing decorations and favors.  I’m not crafty.  I’ve tried to be, and it’s just never stuck.

So instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on what I can do and what I am known for, (excessive planning), and just make our day as special as possible.  Even if we don’t have bridesmaids newsletters.

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Returning Next Week

by Melissa on February 25, 2011

Hi All,

I haven’t felt all that hot this week, so blogging went on the back burner.  I’ll be back on Monday!  Have a great weekend!

Melissa

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Weekly Roundup February 18

by Melissa on February 18, 2011

Links I’m Loving

I’m not a flower person either, and we won’t have any flower decorations or centerpieces.  However, I may decide to get an actual flower bouquet.  Or not.  I do LOVE this centerpiece idea though

Love the potential royal wedding shoes.  Ummm, do those first ones come in blue?  I guess I should check the prices first …

My fiancé is a huge fan of legos, and he even built the Lego Millennium Falcon not that long ago.  So any way of integrating legos into the wedding would be awesome! 

Wow, this jewelry rocks!  (Literally?)  For the wedding day, I wouldn’t want anything to detract attention from the engagement ring and wedding band, but I’d love to find something similar in necklace-form

I think people traditionally say that you start out wanting a small wedding and not a big production, but I think I’m the opposite.  I started out wanting all sorts of stuff.  Calligraphy for our invitation envelopes, a custom monogram, awesome Etsy decor, and the list goes on and on.  Now that I’m a few months in, I don’t want any of that stuff.  The simpler the better.  I’m also going to try and limit the amount of DIY projects I do.  Because, like the author of this post, I’d fail (but at many, many more things). 

I think I may totally steal the “travel destinations” seating chart from this bride!  My fiancé and I have traveled all over, and I think it is a great way to incorporate past experiences into our wedding! 

I really like all these tent-decorating ideas.  We won’t have a tent, but we will have a picnic pavilion, and I think that similar decorations can be used. 

In addition to tent decorating ideas, we can incorporate some of these backyard-wedding ideas too, since our wedding, while not taking place in our backyard, will take place in a park with an awesome backyard feel. 

I don’t want a bouquet toss or garter toss at our wedding either.  They are two traditions I am not fond of.  At all.    I think  Miss Prairie Dog described it perfectly.  Cringe Worthy. 

Okay, these are officially the last links in my weekly roundups that I will ever include about inviting kids to weddings.  It is all over the wedding blogosphere!  I, for one, will not understand people that do not invite kids to weddings, but it is a very controversial issue! 

These sustainable wedding trends for 2011 are not only “greener,” they sure make things a lot simpler too!  No printing menus for each of your guests.  Just write the menu on a chalkboard!  And while avoiding “conflict diamonds” was not my primary reason for wanting a sapphire engagement ring, I do not approve of diamond companies’ business practices that include artificially inflating the prices to make diamonds appear more valuable than they actually are. 

I’m thinking we don’t need a program for our wedding (again, I’m all about eliminating things for the wedding!)  But, if we did, I love this creative option like the one seen here

This bride wore NINE wedding dresses?  I can probably think of a lot of words to describe why someone would do that.  None of them are particularly nice, so, judge for yourself

I realize that bloggers have to make a living, and that sponsored posts are typically part of that, but I really don’t understand the purpose of honeymoon registry services and universal registry services.  They take nearly 10% of your guests’ generous gift money as a service fee.  As a wedding guest, I would be highly offended if a couple asked for this as a gift.  I for one would rather see them get ALL the money, not have it go to some company.  In fact, I’d be less offended if they just outright asked for cash!  These sites are the worst idea since credit card interest. 

I’m confident that our budget will actually be MUCH LESS than original $15,000 budget.  So, no need for a budget buffer.  Least of all a $20,000 buffer! 

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit.  (disclaimer:  because commenters have expressed … displeasure … with my use of the term “shit,” I just want to clarify that I do not think that the projects or ideas themselves are “Shit.”  In fact, they look awesome and you can tell that a LOT of time and hard work were put into them.  This is just my effort to poke a little fun at some things that I find over-the-top and what I think could be the source of a lot of wedding stress.)

  • This week was an amazingly “shit less” week.  Nothing I found too over the top.  Although the post about the $20,000 budget buffer link ALMOST made it here.  Almost.

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I lost 2.0  pounds this week, for a total of 9.4 pounds since January 5.  I really stalled on the workouts this week.  I haven’t done a workout DVD since Saturday *look of horror*

February Wedding Planning Goal Progress

There’s not too much on the wedding action plan for February.  It is a short month after all.  But, no progress made yet on any of the following goals:

  • Research hair and makeup artistsIn progress.  I contacted two.  This is a really tough one.  It’s hard to tell their quality from their website, and I really don’t want to pay more than $250 for hair and makeup.  Some places charge like $500 for hair and makeup!  This one will take more research.
  • Interview videographersDeferred.  I contacted six videographers last week.  I don’t think we’re going to have one.  But, in case we change our minds, I have pricing information from a bunch. 
  • Research marriage license requirementsIn progress.  Applying for a Virginia marriage  license has to be done within 60 days of the wedding, so October 1 might look like a good timeframe.  Now I just have to figure out where the nearest circuit court is.

In addition, we also met a neighbor who owns a concierge business here in Northern Virginia.  She plans weddings too!  Since we were planning on hiring a “month of” coordinator to help us out with last minute stuff and to take care of things on the wedding day.  She’s in need of a new website, so we worked out a partial barter deal.  Score!  She’ll provide me the names of some more hair/makeup folks. 

Finances and Administrative

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
  • Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 2 hours (mostly our meeting with the planner)

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I am a bit of a personal finance geek.  I follow way too many personal finance blogs.  I constantly tinker with spreadsheets that will help me stay on top of my finances.  I’ve tried all the big personal finance tools and sites, like Mint and Yodlee, but really, nothing gives me the flexibility that I need more than a good ‘ole spreadsheet.  For each vacation my Fiancé and I have taken, I can tell you precisely how much money we’ve spent, and provide an analysis of how our spending breaks down by category, all in one neatly-organized spreadsheet in Google Docs!

Because of my obsession with saving and tracking my money, I  love maximizing the benefits of my purchases by taking advantage of cashback bonuses through credit cards and online cashback sources such as Ebates and FatWallet.  I’m always switching around the credit cards that I use based on the best cash back rewards offers.

*** Disclaimer. I only advocate using credit cards for wedding expenses if you can pay off the full balance every month.  I pay off my credit card statement balances every month to avoid interest charges (with the exception of one 0% interest card I have).  Any cashback program wouldn’t be worth it if you let yourself accrue 15%+ interest just to get 3% cashback.  However, used correctly, cashback credit cards are an awesome tool!

credit card 2

So, how am I preparing my personal finances and planning credit card hacks for our wedding expenses?  I plan to use a combination of the following cashback methods:

  • Store-Specific Cashback Offers. Let’s say I want to buy some wedding makeup from Sephora.com.  I head on over to Evreward (more on that later) and type in “Sephora.com” and see that Mr. Rebates and Shop Discover offer the best cashback bonus.  So, I link to Sephora through Mr. Rebates or Shop Discover and earn 5% on my purchase!
  • Category-Specific Cashback Offers (usually through credit cards only).  Many credit cards offer cashback rewards on certain categories, and sometimes those categories rotate on a quarterly basis.  For instance, my AmEx offers 3% cashback on Restaurants and Gas all year round.  On the other hand, my Discover card is offering 5% cashback on Drug Stores, but just between January and March.
  • Generic Cashback offers. These are cashback offers that are independent of stores and categories and are good on anything.

We can use these offers for a variety of our wedding expenses!

Catering

Category Specific Rotating Offers: We’re planning a self-catered wedding plus some accompaniments by a local restaurant or caterer.  Coincidentally, from October to December, my Discover More card will offer 5% cashback on Restaurants and Fashion.   So, I’ll use my Discover More card at the restaurant we use for catering (hopefully they take Discover! ).  Typically the 5% cashback bonus is good on up to $500 or $800 worth of purchases.  In case we spend more than that, I may ask my fiancé to apply for a Discover More Card as well so that we can use his card and get additional cash back bonuses.

Or, my American Express True Rewards card offers 3% cashback on all restaurant charges.  So, we can switch to that card after we reach the Discover More threshold (or switch to a generic 5% cashback card.  More on that below!)

Generic Cashback Offer: My Discover More card is also offering a promotion that if you spend a total of $3000 between February and October (spending money each month), that you get a $500 cashback bonus.  That is a nearly 17% cashback bonus.  (I received this offer from Discover by mail, and can’t seem to find anything about it online.  It sounds a lot like what is mentioned here though)

Because my Discover More card is not my everyday credit card, I’ll start using it more for wedding-related purchases to make sure I get to the $3000 threshold.

Online Shopping for Wedding Items

Store-Specific Cashback Bonuses: I anticipate doing a lot of shopping online for wedding-related items.  Before I click “purchase” on anything that I buy, regular or wedding-related, I always head to www.evreward.com to determine who has the best cashback bonus for the store I’m about to purchase from.

(Evreward is a website that aggregates all the cashback reward programs websites, so all you have to do is enter the store where you’re shopping, and it’ll tell you who gives the best cashback, and even if there are any coupons!  I have accounts with all the rewards programs, including Ebates, FatWallet, Mr. Rebates, and of course, Shop Discover).

I have an Amazon.com credit card that I’ll use for any purchases from Amazon.com, since it offers me 3% rewards on all Amazon purchases.  It looks like Amazon has reasonably priced catering supplies, like chafing dishes, that I could buy and then try to sell after the wedding.  The only reason I wouldn’t use my Amazon.com Chase Card for a purchase from Amazon is if another credit card had a better offer.  For instance, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Discover Card offered 5% cashback on all online purchases.  5% beats Amazon’s 3%, so I used my Discover Card.

Generic Cashback Bonuses: For non-Amazon, non-cashback rewards-offering websites that I may use for wedding items (ahem, Save-on-Crafts), I may either use one of my airline cards, or apply for (yet another!) credit card that offers a short term, high percentage, cashback bonus.  For instance, Madison over at My Dollar Plan (who, by the way, runs an enviable credit card arbitrage game.  She’s my hero!) wrote about how you don’t have to be retirement age to apply for the AARP Credit Card, which offers 5% unlimited cashback for six months.  This 5% card, or something similar, would also be the perfect fallback card for places that don’t accept Discover Card (or if we’ve reached our “restaurants” category ceiling) or American Express.  With our wedding planned for mid-November, I’ll wait until May before I apply for it though.  Once I reach the $3000 ceiling for the additional $500 Discover Cashback Bonus, I can switch to the 5% cashback AARP card (or whatever card I decide to apply for) for other wedding-related purchases, regardless of whether they are online purchases or in-store.

Vendors that Accept Cash or Check Only

Now, what about all those pesky vendors that take cash or check only?  It’s funny, because I was just complaining to my fiancé the other day about how much I hate getting those credit-card blank checks in the mail.  I shred them as soon as I get them, and am always afraid of someone getting a hold of them and compromising my account.

Well, I think I may have finally discovered a use for them!  Why not use those checks to pay vendors that accept cash or check only?  Or, I can write one of those checks to myself, and then deposit the money in my checking account in order to use a “less shady” looking check when paying a vendor.  I haven’t ironed out the details yet, but I think my US Airways Dividend Miles card would be perfect for this.  They send me checks all the time, and plus I could rack up some frequent flier miles just for paying vendors with those checks!

Buying in Bulk

We anticipate a lot of purchases at bulk-item stores for our (mostly) self-catered wedding.  My fiancé and I belong to Costco, and I have an Amex True Rewards card that you can use at Costco.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Costco, they accept cash, check, or American Express only.  So, since I hate dealing with cash and checks, I applied for their credit card.  The card only offers 1% cash back on purchases at Costco, but it’s better than nothing, and I don’t have to deal with paying with cash or check.

Isn’t this a lot of work?

Not at all!  I have a blast with all of this.  I use my cashback rewards every year as my Christmas gift fund.  Let’s say that I average a 4% cashback on a $10,000-$15,000 wedding.  That’s an at least $400 bonus just for money I had to spend anyway.  Plus, let’s not forget about the additional $500 Discover Card cashback bonus.  Plus some frequent flier miles!  Score!

As always, before applying for any new credit card, do a quick search online to see if the credit card is offering any sign-up bonuses.  Folks on forums and personal finance blogs will often post sign-up bonus links.

Does anyone else have any tips for playing the credit card game for their wedding?  Any good stores that offer cash-back bonuses?

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Uber-Inspirational Budget Weddings

by Melissa on February 15, 2011

While reading all throughout the Bridal Blogosphere, I have learned many things.  One of the major stack of change lessons is that, as you approach your wedding date, you start spending more money than you thought you would have to and that you budgeted for.

Because, after all, let’s face it, The Wedding Industrial Complex will try to convince you that spending all that money is “worth it” so that you can have a “perfect” day.  Well, our wedding is now just a little less than nine months away.  And I’m convinced that we can spend LESS than we originally budgeted, not more.   I’m want a FUN day, not a perfect one!

I chuckle when I watch “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC and brides say that they’re on a tight budget, so they can’t spend more than $2000 on a wedding dress.  *Blink*  What planet do we live on that a $2000 dress is considered a “budget dress?”  I went to a quasi-bridal show back in November called “The Not-So-Big-Wedding-Boutique.”  Teams of wedding vendors pooled together and developed a plan for a $15,000 wedding in the Washington, DC area.  Not an easy feat, I thought since I was so early in the planning stages.  Well, the $15,000 wedding only included 65 guests!  I would like to have a budget wedding too, but really, I don’t want to cut more than 70 people from the guest list!

I digress.

I have come across a small handful of blogs and websites that have inspired me to keep our budget even lower.  These brides have thrown amazing weddings for $2000, $4000, and $5000.  Hopefully they can inspire you as well, that a great wedding doesn’t have to be an expensive one!

I searched high and low online for other inspirational budget weddings, but they are few and far between!  If you have a story to share about how you threw an uber-inspirational budget wedding, send me the link, or write it up and I’ll post it here!  (And yes, there’s no shame in admitting that your wedding was, in fact, uber-inspirational).  Likewise, if you come across similar blogs like the ones listed above, let me know in the comments!  I’m addicted to these stories!

 

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Weekly Roundup February 11

by Melissa on February 11, 2011

Well, it was a great birthday week!  Although I still need to create my “30 in my thirties” list of things to do over the next decade!  What should I put on it?

Links I’m Loving

I’m becoming increasingly discouraged about wedding dresses.  The more I look at them online, the more I realize that it may be impossible to find a dress that I like.  *Le Sigh*  Although I do LOVE these tutu dresses that Miss Pancakes wrote about! (Although I want something with SLEEVES!)

Because I’m having such a difficult time picking wedding dresses I like, I may have one made out of my grandmother’s wedding dress.  So, I should probably read these seamstress tips closely!

We’re planning on having my fiance’s aunt bake her amazing cupcakes for our wedding.  I think that cute cupcake wrappers like these would be cute.  I’ve also seen a bunch on Etsy.

Google Weddings has launched.  Although this isn’t nearly as impressive as I thought it would be.  It’s basically just a compilation of all their products, with the same function as what I was using before.  And all their templates were already available on their Google Docs templates site.  Still, worth checking out.  (via Lifehacker)

These old Brides magazines are adorable!  Ah yes, back when weddings were much simpler

As a compulsive planner, I have found that Wedding Planning Timelines have been crucial for me, especially since we have a somewhat complicated venue booking situation.

I chuckled at this post big time because it sounds a LOT like what I’ve been encountering.  No one can understand why I don’t want to attend a Bridal Show.  We’re not having flowers and someone said, “well, you’ll at least have silk then, right?”  Nope, no flowers, real or silk.  There are SO many more creative decorating ideas than flowers!  (although, unlike the author, I am taking an interest in the upcoming Royal Wedding!)

Since we’re going to do a lot of self-catering for the wedding, I’ve started to collect images for how we should set up our buffet.  Does anyone know what the silver trays pictured on this post are called and where you can buy them?  Warming dishes, perhaps?

Fitness is a big goal for most brides, including me!  My DIY wedding fitness plan (more about that here) has been going great!  I recommend all the DVD’s I’ve used so far.

I am SO torn about whether to wear glasses on my wedding day!  I wore contacts for nearly 12 years (from age 13 to age 25).  Then astigmatism set in and made contacts kinda uncomfortable and I’ve been wearing awesome glasses ever since.  I’m not sure what to do!

So, the more I try to limit the number of wedding vendors we have, the more I struggle with how much trust you should actually put in them.  I stalk the vendor forums over at Bridal Tweet fairly often, and frankly, they all sound like they have their heads up their asses.  But, this article is worth a read.

A milk and cookie bar would be awesome!  Especially since my fiancé is a big milk drinker!  Even drinks it with dinner!

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit.  (disclaimer:  because commenters have expressed … displeasure … with my use of the term “shit,” I just want to clarify that I do not think that the projects or ideas themselves are “Shit.”  In fact, they look awesome and you can tell that a LOT of time and hard work were put into them.  This is just my effort to poke a little fun at some things that I find over-the-top and what I think could be the source of a lot of wedding stress.)

Is assembling wedding invitations really this complicated?  I hope not!

So, here’s the deal.  I had never heard of some traditions before I actually started planning our wedding.  For instance: buying gifts for your parents and your spouse-to-be.  Isn’t the marriage a big enough gift?

More bridesmaids newsletters?  Oh right.  And MORE bridesmaids newsletters.  I would like like to say that I realize more and more every day that our decision to not have a bridal party is one of the best we’ve made. It eliminates so many decisions.

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I lost 1.2 pounds this week, for a total of 7.4 pounds since January 5.  It feels great to see the scale moving down.  I just wish it would go faster!

February Wedding Planning Goal Progress

There’s not too much on the wedding action plan for February.  It is a short month after all.  But, no progress made yet on any of the following goals:

  • Research hair and makeup artists – In progress. I contacted two.  This is a really tough one.  It’s hard to tell their quality from their website, and I really don’t want to pay more than $250 for hair and makeup.  Some places charge like $500 for hair and makeup!  This one will take more research.
  • Interview videographers – In progress. I contacted six videographers this week.  Yeowza, I did not realize that they would be so expensive!  My fiancé and I are now discussing whether we actually need one.  Thoughts?
  • Research marriage license requirements – In progress. Applying for a Virginia marriage  license has to be done within 60 days of the wedding, so October 1 might look like a good timeframe.  Now I just have to figure out where the nearest circuit court is.

Finances and Administrative

Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50
Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 4 hours

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Happy Birthday to Me (It’s a big one!)

by Melissa on February 9, 2011

30th birthdayThis week, I turn 30 years old.  EEK!  I’m also getting married at this age!  Time is just zooming by.  And so is life, for that matter.  I don’t want to look back on this year and realize how much time I “wasted” by focusing on such frivolous wedding details.  I want to enjoy the next year, not stress over wedding planning to the extent possible, and just focus on marriage (and having a really fun wedding as a secondary thought). 

I know I like to poke fun at some over-the-top blog posts in my weekly roundups, but I can actually “hear” the stress in these brides’ voices as they write about various bits of wedding drama, ranging from the inane (I can’t believe my maid-of-honor just got pregnant and will need a different dress!) to the serious and sad (my future in-laws won’t come to the wedding because we’re not having a [insert religion here] ceremony). 

I really don’t want that to be me.  But is it actually possible to plan a wedding and not endure excessive stress?  I think I can! 

 

(image source: Jamieofalltrades)

And how will I do it?

  • Plan, plan, plan and continue tracking my action plans
  • Visualize all potential projects to ensure that I have the adequate resources to see them through.  Estimate time to completion and track actual time spent on each project. 
  • Complete tasks as far in advance as possible.  I’m currently taking online Photoshop and Illustrator courses through Lynda.com to help me learn how to design our save-the-dates and invitations!
  • Not spend every waking moment thinking about or doing some sort of planning.  In fact, my fiancé and I are planning to start another blog related to all our home projects!
  • Even in the weeks leading up to the wedding, take at least one or two days a week to not do anything wedding-related
  • Continue to share my experiences with other brides through this blog and provide valuable tips and advice (and not just the same recycled timeline shit you see everywhere else)

That sounds like a very happy 30th birthday year present.  Did anyone else have a low-stress DIY wedding?  How did you do it?  Also, how old were you and your fiancé when you got married?

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Technical Difficulties

by Melissa on February 9, 2011

Ahem.  Attention!  Attention!!  To the oh, five readers of my blog.  Four of whom are haters 😉  :

I’m currently experiencing technical difficulties with my theme on WordPress, so please forgive the uber-boring, non-customized theme for now.

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Buying and Obtaining Decor Items for the Wedding

by Melissa on February 8, 2011

I’m trying to create a strategy to determine what type of decor I will want for our wedding.  For now, I’m thinking tons of candles in vases of various sizes.  But for some reason, I’m really struggling with what else I want.  Paper lanterns perhaps?  String or fairy lights?  Who the hell knows.

My fiancé and I intend to hire a “month of” wedding planner.  Luckily we know one from our neighborhood that is also in need of a new website design, so we may be able to work out a bartering strategy.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to bring her to our venue to get thoughts.

Anyhoo, the reason I am starting to think about decor is primarily because I want to allow jar_reception_mmyself plenty of time to start to acquire items as cheaply as possible.  The dollar store sells all sorts of glassware that I could use as candle holders.  But the real gem is, of course, Craigslist.

Brides who no longer need their decorations and want to sell it at a discount.  But since I’m kind of all over the place with what I want as decorations, I can’t focus my searches well.  I think what I may need to do is engage in a really clear visualization of our wedding day.  From start to finish.  What we want things to look like and where we want things placed.

In a few weeks my parents are coming to our house for a weekend visit.  I’m hoping that our venue is free one day that weekend so that I can bring my parents to see it, and potentially ask our planner if she can come too.  Seeing it a second time will allow me to pay more attention to the nitty gritty details that I may have missed the first time around, mostly due to the fact that I was so overwhelmed with the place the first time we saw it last month.

Crazy.  All this so I’m not distracted by all the prettiness of wedding decor that newlyweds are selling on Craigslist.

I also don’t want these items cluttering up the house for a long period of time, so I’m trying to figure out when I should start to actually buy things when I see something that I like.  For now, when I see something, I just say, “well, it’s too early to buy it now!”

Action Plan

  • Do a complete wedding day visualization of venue.
  • Make sketches and jot down ideas
  • Re-visit venue and pay close attention to details to determine other decor ideas (and potential quantity of decor items) and potential logistical restraints
  • Develop wish list of decor items, as well as necessary supplies that may need to accompany the decor (e.g, extension cords, batteries, tape, thumbtacks, etc.)
  • Designate an out-of-the-way storage space in the house to store wedding decor items.  Photograph the items before storing them to better remember what you have already obtained
  • In March, start actively monitoring craigslist and freecycle and contact sellers with items of interest.  Don’t forget to monitor other cities (i.e., my hometown city of Pittsburgh around the time when I’m planning a trip to see my family there).
  • Make monthly trips to thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army.

 

When did other brides start to purchase decor items for their wedding?  Also, does anyone have any familiarity with using wholesalers?

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Weekly Roundup February 4

by Melissa on February 4, 2011

How was everyone’s week?  I’ve been following developments in Egypt very closely … almost obsessively.  As a random bit of trivia, yours truly lived in Cairo, Egypt for nearly a year back in 2003-2004.  I studied Arabic full-time as a Rotary Scholar.  A part of me is excited for Egypt and the progress that the protests represents.  On the other hand, there is a lot that can go wrong on the political front there, so I am also nervous for them.  Anyway, that’s my two cents.  Now, on to the roundup:

Links I’m Loving

I definitely want to have some sort of sweets or candy table at our wedding, but I’m not sure what to put on it.  I really like this dessert bar setup (in the last photo pictured).  It looks simple and elegant and DIY!

Although we’re not having flowers at our wedding, I found this post about why flowers are so expensive very enlightening.

I am very, very torn about calligraphy options for our invitations when the time comes.  It’s gorgeous, but is it worth it?

Okay, so Kate Middleton quit her job to plan her wedding.  This is not a NORMAL wedding, folks!

As an avid number cruncher myself, I like all the breakdowns of costs in this post.  I need to find some cost breakdowns of self-catering a wedding for 125 people!

I often wonder if costs break even when you rent a more expensive venue with equipment included, vs. cheaper venues where you have to rent equipment on your own.

Researching and interviewing officiants is on our March action plan.  Time to start I suppose.  Hopefully it won’t be this dramatic.

Holy crap.  These cakes are awesome!  Just like what I want!  Cupcakes plus a bunch of little cakes.  Does anyone know inexpensive bakeries in the DC area where I could get a bunch of these?

I really like these return address stamps.  It’s been on my list!

I really enjoy Broke Ass Bride’s “Get Over it” wedding dress feature.  I had submitted a request asking her about stylish wedding dresses with sleeves.  I was tired of coming across the same old boring dresses in all my searches.  She posted a response!  She did not disappoint, finding some awesome options for wedding dresses with sleeves!

Loved this bag.  Then I saw the price.  Umm, no.

These City Hall wedding dresses are adorable!

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

Who exactly starts planning their wedding before they’re engaged?  I mean, some dreaming and researching is fine, but to actually book things?

A wedding confirmation pamphlet.  Good grief, can’t people just call if they’re incapable of looking at your website?

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I had an awesome weigh-in this week.  I lost 2.4 pounds for a total of 6.2 pounds since January 5.  I also started a new workout DVD for February, Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones.  It’s totally butt-kicking (in an awesome, sore, kind of way)

February Wedding Planning Goal Progress

There’s not too much on the wedding action plan for February.  It is a short month after all.  But, no progress made yet on any of the following goals:

  • Research hair and makeup artists
  • Interview videographers
  • Research marriage license requirements

Finances and Administrative

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
  • Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 2 hours (didn’t do much planning this week)

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