April 2011

Whether you’re looking for used wedding items because you’re looking to save money, be green, or a little bit of both, there are a lot of ways to find used wedding items online.  From dresses, DIY supplies, decorations, favor making supplies, to equipment like chafing dishes or chairs  it’s all available! In addition to your basics like Craigslist and Ebay, you’ve got a lot of options. 

I’ve started to obtain and purchase wedding decor.  In the last week alone, I have bought items from WeddingBee Classifieds sellers, Ebay, thrift stores, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  I actually like this whole “not buying new” stuff.  Someone else used it, loved it, and now wants to pass it along to someone else!  These are some of the best sites I have found to buy (and then sell!) used wedding items. 

Top Sites to Buy and Sell Used Wedding Items

WeddingBee Classifieds.  I check the WeddingBee Classifieds, especially the decor category, several times a day. Wedding Bee classifieds posts, in my experience, are by far the most frequently-updated collections of used wedding items.  But, you must be quick.  I’ve ordered some vases through a seller there successfully, but I have attempted to buy some other items as well, but I wasn’t quick enough, and they were sold.  A tip: If you’re really, truly interested in something and know that you want the item for sure, send a private message to the seller with your PayPal e-mail address and zip code for shipping purposes and tell her to invoice you via PayPal.  That way she knows you’re serious and you’ll get the item! A few things I don’t like:  No image thumbnails in the list of posts.  You have to actually click on the post to see photos.  

The Knot’s Trash To Treasure Forum.  Although it’s updated less frequently than the WeddingBee Classifieds, the Knot’s Trash to Treasure Forum is also a great resource to buy used wedding items.  A few minor complaints: Unlike to WeddingBee classifieds, there are no subcategories in the Trash to Treasure Forum.  So, I have to trudge through all the used wedding dresses and other attire (which I’m not interested in), just to find various decor items that might be for sale.  

Ruffled Blog Recycle Your Wedding.  I really like this forum.  The items for sale tend to be more specific (as opposed to WeddingBee in which a single post which might contain a list of dozens of items for sale) and, it posts thumbnail photos next to the entry.  There’s a lot of great stuff on here! 

Project Wedding’s Classifieds.  Project Wedding’s Classifieds are similar in structure to The Knot’s Trash to Treasure forum. There are no subcategories, so if you’re looking for something specific, you’ll have to rely on search or just scrolling through all the entries.  This board is also updated frequently. 

Recycled Bride.  Another good site that has more focused posts and also contains photo thumbnails.  One thing that bugs me (and unless I’m missing it somewhere on the page), there’s no date of when the seller posted the information.  So if I search for something, like twine, and it comes up in my results, I have no idea if that person posted it for sale yesterday or last year! 

Some Honorable Mentions

Bride Share.  While BrideShare is a great concept, unfortunately it does not have a lot of active users, making it difficult if you’re looking for some very specific items. 

Smart Bride Boutique.  Smart Bride Boutique does not have a very active community either, but again, it’s good if you’re searching for something specific. 

Wedding by Color Marketplace.  While there are several posts from brides selling their used wedding items, Wedding By Color Marketplace seems to be dominated by businesses posting their goods and services, instead of newlyweds looking to pass on their wedding items. 

Wedding Dress Specific

I’m not interested in buying a used wedding dress, so i haven’t played around much on either of these sites.  But if you are interested in buying a used wedding dress or other used wedding attire, here are some great sites:

Brick and Mortar Stores

  • Goodwill and Salvation Army (support a good cause while shopping)
  • Other local thrift stores
  • Habitat Re-Store (Another great cause to support!  I scored some awesome finds from our local store). 
  • Consignment stores (although I have found consignment stores to be outrageously overpriced, at least here in the DC area.  Same thing goes for antique stores in the DC area.)

Non-Wedding Specific Online Resources, but Still Useful! 

Craigslist.  I don’t think much description is necessary here.  But I will share my method for finding items on Craigslist.  Although being a quick replier on Craigslist is typically the way to go, I have set up RSS feeds for the items that I want.  Although there is a slight delay for them to appear in my feeds, it saves me time from having to perform the search each time.  Here are some of my search terms I use for my RSS feeds:  “Wedding -dress -ring” (because I’m looking for wedding items, but not dresses or rings).  “Mason Jar”  “Vase *less than $5”  “cobalt blue.” “autumn.”

Ebay.  I use a lot of the same keywords above on Ebay but set them up as alerts. I also have the app on my phone to let me know when items on my “Watch List” are ending soon.  

Freecycle.  I know a lot of people love Freecycle.  And maybe Freecycle and I just got off on the wrong foot.  But it has not been useful for me.  1) Freecycle is extremely, extremely neighborhood-focused, to a fault.  So, it wouldn’t let me join the Freecycle groups for neighboring communities.  For instance, the city I live in is right on the border of another city.  So, I applied for the city that I live in (I had to give my zip code and nearest major intersection on my group application).  They denied my freecycle application, saying that was the other city’s group.  So, I applied to the other city.  They told me I had the wrong one.  So then, I applied for the DC Freecycle, because their Terms of Service said that folks who work in DC but live in Virginia or Maryland could still apply.  So I applied to the DC Freecycle. And they rejected my application.  Eventually I got one application approved (for the neighboring city).  So, every once in a while I’ll check out the group page, but I’ve never found anything useful. 


Because it’s difficult to keep track of the actual costs of the items I’m looking for across so many different sites, I’ve developed a spreadsheet to determine the true cost of each item to ensure that I’m not overpaying!  I’ll share it with you in a few days!  Simple, but works like a charm! 

Am I missing any other good sites out there?

{ 1 comment }

Weekly Roundup April 23

by Melissa on April 23, 2011

Links I’m Loving

I haven’t given much thought to wedding jewelry (besides the ring of course!) but these bracelets have got me thinking!

I have to say, for being a kind of anti-bride, I’m really excited about the Royal Wedding!  But it perplexes me that all the big wedding bloggers and a lot of the wedding industry just hates on the Royal Wedding on Twitter!  But, here’s a great post about why the Royal Wedding Matters!

In order to make wedding-direction signs like the one pictured in this post (third picture down), I scored some free “rustic” looking wood by taking some wooden pallets that were next to a dumpster!  Now all we have to do is disassemble them and paint lettering! 

LOVE these ideas for photo booth walls and backdrops!

This is a great post detailing the trend from very formal, elegant weddings, to more homemade, personal touch weddings (and now back again?)

So, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this like ten times already, but I’m really torn about what to do about wearing my glasses on our wedding day.  I wear them all day every day, and am really, really blind without them, but I can wear contacts on occasion (like if I’m going swimming).  So, I’m not sure what to do. 

I just scored two awesome cake stands at a nearby thrift store.  Grand total, $14 for both.  Much better than the $40 ones I’ve seen on eBay and Etsy. 

I really like these card box ideas.  I need to come up with something creative, although I do really like the vintage suitcase!

I’ve only heard about this trend of not inviting “Plus One’s” recently.  A former coworker of mine was the first I ever heard say that she was invited to a wedding and she couldn’t bring a guest. 

I’ve been considering making my own bouquet recently too.  This is a great tutorial.  But my question is, do you buy the flowers the day of the wedding, or the day before? 

What an amazing wedding invitation!  My fiancé and I are both photo enthusiasts, so this is great! 

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

Since my post earlier this week, I have felt amazingly motivated and have avoided indulgence, even when hungry and/or tired!  I’m going to revamp my DIY wedding fitness plan, so I’ll update you all soon!

April Wedding Planning Goal Progress

(as part of our Wedding Planning Timeline)

  • Develop potential wedding songs and playlists – In progress.  I’ve been collecting links of wedding playlists, and my fiancé found an awesome first song for us last week!  We took the music to our dance lesson on Tuesday and started practicing to it! 
  • Start wedding dress shopping – In progress.  My first appointment was yesterday.  More on that later! 
  • Interview DJ’s – In progress.  We’ve identified two that sound promising.  All the rest we’ve interviewed suck. 
  • Have engagement photo shoot – In progress.  Scheduled for May 6. 
  • Research cake bakeries – In progress.  I’m taking a new approach to this.  Rather than scheduling free cake tastings and having to tell the bakery that the cake is for a wedding (which runs at least $3.50 a slice), I am now going to the bakeries, paying for cupcakes or individual cakes, and doing my own tasting, that way I don’t have to tell them the cake is for a wedding.  I can just order a regular old cake, which, when you do the math, comes to $1.46/slice.  Just did that yesterday.  The cupcakes were delish!

Finances and Administrative

Check out our Wedding Expense Tracking Spreadsheet for a list of all our expenses to-date.

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $69.96 (thrift store finds, cake tasting on the sly, test prints of Save-The-Date cards, and some decor from online sellers).
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $1188.79
  • Total budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $13,811.21
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 6 hours (mostly searching for decor online)


Thinking about some post-wedding administrivia

by Melissa on April 22, 2011

In the excitement of planning a wedding and all the fun things that go along with it, every once in a while I’m reminded of the not-as-fun-but-still-necessary things that we should plan for after the wedding.

Of course, the biggie.  Name Change. Ugh.  This must have been easier for women when they married at the age of 20.  I have at least a decade worth of accounts, credit cards, usernames, travel documents, etc. that all have my current last name.  But, I don’t want to be a brat about it, because women change their last names all the time.  The plan is to append my current last name to my middle name, and take my fiancé’s last name.  I’ll be doing more research on what is required of legal name change in our State.  Does anyone have step-by-step instructions?  (Like if it is easier if things are changed in a certain order?)  I’ll also look into MissNowMrs.com.  Have any SuperNoVAbride readers used their service?

But, with that said, I’ll probably wait about a year to formally change my name, for a few reasons:

  1. My current passport expires in early 2013.  I don’t want to get that amended with a new last name just to have to apply for a brand new passport about one year later.
  2. I want to be able to NOT THINK ABOUT ANYTHING for at least a few months after the wedding.  A legal name change and changing everything associated with that last name, will be a hassle that will require a lot of errands and phone calls, so I just want to wait for a little while and enjoy some downtime after the wedding.

Consolidate policies like health insurance, car insurance, cell phone accounts, bank accounts, etc.

  • We’ll need to figure out who has the better health insurance and insurance rates.  This always sounds more straightforward than it really is.
  • My fiancé owns the house that we live in now, and although he has home owners insurance, I still retain a separate renters insurance policy to avoid any problems if there every was a catastrophic home accident.  For instance, I would hate for his homeowners insurance policy to not cover any of my belongings just because I’m not the homeowner.  But, after we get married, I can cancel the renters policy.  He and I need to do an extensive home inventory though to best determine what coverage we need.  We have a lot of high tech gadgets.  We’ll also research what it takes for me to get added to the deed and the mortgage.
  • We both have the same cell phone carrier, but have separate accounts.  Consolidating will save us money.
  • Bank accounts will be complicated and will be a slow transition.  I’ll write more about this in the future, but  I’ll transfer all my recurring expenses to a separate bank account, then transfer money from my existing checking account to the joint account at first (without changing my direct deposit). That way, once I do change my account for direct depositing my paycheck, I won’t have any surprise charges that come out of my long-time checking account.

Changing beneficiary information and adding joint owners on accounts like 401k’s and other investments. I maintain a spreadsheet of all my accounts and I update their balances each month.  Once married, I’ll have my fiancé enter his information as well, that way we each know all the accounts we have and who they’re with.

For the morbid of the post-marriage administrivia, taking care of things like setting up a living revocable trust, making clear our wishes if either one of us was ever incapacitated, and our burial/cremation wishes, etc.  Enough about that one.

What am I forgetting?


Help scale tape measureMy weight loss has not been going as well as I planned.  When I first started my fitness routine back in January, my goal was to have lost about 20-30 pounds by this point (halfway to my 60 pound loss goal), so that I would look better for our engagement photos and so that I would be a little closer to “wedding size” by the time I started shopping for wedding dresses.  Well, our engagement photos are in three weeks and I’m going for my first wedding dress appointment this Friday, and I’m down only 10 pounds, and my clothing size has not changed.   I have no excuses.  I eat junk, too much of it, and I don’t workout as often as I should.

I thought I could do this!  I need a good ass kicking!  (Or at least to analyze some things in a blog post).  Maybe you all could give me a good ass kicking in the comments?

I’ve done it before.  *Sigh*

In 2004, I lost 40 pounds (just 16 pounds more and I would have reached my ultimate goal weight).  I had no specific motivation to lose the weight back then, other than I was tired of being chubby and wanted to wear cuter clothes.  Now that I have concrete motivation (ummm, WEDDING DAY PHOTOS WILL LIVE ON FOREVER!), I just can’t seem to keep my eating and fitness on track.  And it’s making me really, really angry.  (Side note, all 40 of those pounds were put back on by late 2007).

Why isn’t it working this time?

I’ve been trying to explore why weight loss worked for me back then, but why it’s not working now.

Here are a few things that I’ve eliminated as reasons:

Having junk around the house. Yes, we have junk food in the house now.  My fiance is not on a diet, so I see no need to refuse to keep any junk food in the house simply because I’m obsessing about my weight.  But back when I was losing weight in 2004, I was living at home with my parents, and we had plenty of junk food in the house then too.  Somehow, I managed to avoid all temptation to eat the packages of oreos and Edy’s Ice Cream in the freezer.  Also, since my parents are pretty set in their ways and have been eating the same 10 (unhealthy) dinner recipes for as long as I can remember, they weren’t interested in any of my “new, healthy” recipes.  So, I would make my own, separate dinner.

Going to parties or dining out or other things when there’s lots of temptations around. My fiancé’s family lives nearby and they have a lot of celebrations.  When I go to the parties, I indulge, way to much, in all their delicious food.  But, back in 2004, I went to plenty of celebrations and restaurants with friends and I managed to beat all temptation and order something healthy, or only eat the healthiest thing available.  And if there was nothing healthy available, I didn’t eat.  Period.

Working out regularly. When I lost weight back in 2004, I went to a gym for about the first three months of the weight loss.  But, because I was living at home and didn’t yet have a full time job, I cancelled my gym membership to decrease my expenses.  Guess what?  My weight loss continued even though I wasn’t working out!  Just eating right was all it took.

So, the fact that I continue to have junk in the house, go out to eat, and don’t work out regularly, shouldn’t affect my weight loss given my past experience.

So, what is different this time around?

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and a few things come to mind:

Being hungry was okay. I know that this is probably not what nutritionists or doctors or other experts will tell people, but, like I mentioned above, if I went somewhere and there were no healthy options, then I wouldn’t eat. A lot of times that meant I would be hungry, sometimes for several hours or more, and in the presence of very tempting food.  And you know what?  That was okay with me.  But now, any time I feel any pang of hunger, I’m like “MUST EAT SOMETHING NOW RIGHT AWAY NO MATTER THE CALORIES OR WEIGHTWATCHERS POINTS.”  This is also compounded by the fact that I seem to get headaches nowadays if I’m hungry for too long.  I don’t remember that happening before.

After about the first 10 pounds, weight loss became addictive! I weighed myself on Wednesday mornings, and I would look forward to every Wednesday to look at that scale and see how much weight I had lost!  It was addictive to see that scale go down.  I didn’t want to do anything to sabotage that downward movement, so I followed WeighWatchers perfectly.  I remember the first time I had a gain.  It was eight weeks into my weight loss.  I was devastated!  I followed my plan perfectly!  I didn’t do anything different!  It wasn’t “that time of the month.”  There was no good reason for a gain.  I went on the WeightWatchers messageboards and voiced my concerns (that was actually my first post ever!).  People were supportive, and basically told me that gains will happen sometimes, despite doing everything right.  But now, my weight has yo-yo’ed so much over the last several years, and I’m wondering if that addictiveness is gone.  “Oh, another 2 pounds lost.  Whoop-dee-doo.  You’ve done that bunches of times before.”  I need to figure out how to get that addictive quality back, or if I can’t, replace it with something else!

I took what I now call the “alcoholic” approach to weight loss. Just like an alcoholic can’t have a single drink, I never took even a single bite of an indulgence.  Why?  Because, like an alcoholic who can’t just have a sip, I can’t just have a bite.  I have to have more and more and more.  And before you know it, I’m full and feel disgusting.  Like the “being hungry” observation, I also realize that this is something that weight loss gurus would tell you is not a good idea.  They’re more “everything in moderation,” and “if you deprive yourself, you’ll just end up overeating later.”  Or some folks allow themselves one “cheat” day a week.  But, I cannot think of a single circumstance in the last several years in which I promised myself I would just have “a bite” or “take just a tiny bit of everything,” that it didn’t devolve into full-blown overeating.  Just one oreo turns into 20.  Just one bite of french fries or a greasy burger, I have to eat the entire plate of food.  If I eat anything rich, delicious, sweet, etc., I have to have the entire thing.  That is probably why my weight loss was more successful last time.  I didn’t even allow myself a single bite.  You know, this reminds me of a conversation I had with a co-worker during my weight loss in 2004.  It was right around Halloween, and she offered me some candy.  She knew that I was losing weight, so she said, “here, I brought in Reese’s Miniature cups just for you.”  She was well-intentioned, but I declined.  Even a single, tiny Reese’s miniature.  Why?  Because I knew that I couldn’t have just one.  I would’ve gone back for more and more.    I can’t eat just one peanut butter cup or a couple bites of dessert.  I need to learn to avoid all of that once again.

I tracked every bite of food that went into my mouth. And it didn’t go into my mouth if I didn’t know precisely how many weightwatchers points were in it.  Now, I’m doing the opposite.  I’ll eat something, and then calculate the points later.  Big mistake.  But most of the time, I’m not tracking what I eat at all.  I’m just keeping track mentally.  Or sometimes I’ll just enter all the previous day’s points the following morning when I’m on my computer at work.   Call it laziness or whatever, but if I eat some chips downstairs from the pantry, I’m not going to run upstairs to my computer to enter the points. Well, you know, maybe I should.  Weight loss is not for the lazy, and tracking what I eat is just as important as other non-lazy things like exercise and grocery planning.  Related to my above observation about hunger, if I was at my maximum Weight Watchers points allowance for the day, I didn’t eat anything, even if I was hungry.  Nothing, nada.  (I should note that Weight Watchers has changed their plan a little bit since then, so there are a lot more 0 points foods available).

I drank water like crazy. Like going-pee-every-30-minutes crazy.  Pre-2004, I used to drink regular soda almost exclusively.  Rarely water or juice or anything else.  I also hated diet soda.  So, when it came time to lose weight, I cut out the soda and went to water exclusively for nearly 6 months.  Well, after drinking nothing but water for so long, regular soda tastes disgusting and sugary, and diet soda actually tasted pretty good!  In the last several years, I have attempted to restart my weight loss with varying success.  I have found that I lose weight significantly faster if I drink water exclusively as opposed to diet soda.  I don’t know what it is, but diet soda definitely seems to hinder weight loss for me.

I stalked the WeightWatchers messageboards regularly. In your WeightWatchers profile, you can list your Starting Weight, Current Weight, and Goal Weight.  I loved checking the profiles of folks who had lost a lot of weight and loved looking at their progress photos.  Now, I don’t like reading the messageboards as much.  I’m busier, and there seems to be a lot of petty or non-weight loss related threads that bore me or frustrate me.  But, I think that motivation helped before, to be around like-minded people, even if it was just on a computer screen.

I’m more budget conscious now. (Stupidest, most nonsensical reason of all)  Nowadays, if I go out to eat, I don’t want to order some overpriced veggie sandwich or a salad with dressing on the side!  But, that’s what I used to do. It didn’t matter the value I was getting for my food, I just picked the healthiest option.  Typically a salad (dressing on the side, I’d dip my fork in the dressing, then grab the salad and eat) or a turkey burger (wouldn’t eat the bun) and I wouldn’t eat fries or any unhealthy sides that would put me over my points allowance for the day.  And it didn’t bother me.  But now, when I go out to eat, I feel like I have to get my money’s worth.  So no overpriced salad.  Give me a juicy burger! And certainly I can’t let those fries go to waste!  Dining out is a part of life, and when it does happen, I need to make better decisions.  Eating healthier is ALWAYS more expensive than eating junk, whether at the supermarket or at a restaurant.  I need to get over my obsession with “value” for my dollar.  As I write this, it makes me wonder.  Because really, what “value” is it?  Value that will be added to my waistline?  Future weight-related medical bills?


There are a few other things that come to mind (mindless snacking, etc.), but that’s enough for one post.

So, it’s time to re-visit my Wedding Fitness plan.  I’m not sure how I’ll revamp it because the working out motivation is not my problem.  It’s the eating.  Lots of parties and events coming up, so I need to learn to resist the temptation!  I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it again.

Ready for my ass kicking.

{ 1 comment }

Weekly Roundup April 15

by Melissa on April 15, 2011

Links I’m Loving

I’m typically not a fan of “inspiration boards” and “mood boards,” but I do like this Royal Wedding one.  Please please, bring sleeved dresses back in style!  Although, surely enough designers won’t update their collections in time for me to have one!

Love love LOVE these stamps.  I just ordered one for all our wedding-related papery!

I love reading these types of posts.  This one is about the best decisions the bride made for her wedding, but I also like reading ones about what went wrong on wedding days, etc.

A Star Wars Grand Entrance sounds BRILLIANT!

You have to scroll quite a bit, but I thoroughly enjoy the ceremony reading that is being read off a Kindle!  I heart my Kindle!  And, I would just like to point out, that the photos in that post are by far the best I’ve ever seen from a destination wedding photographer.  Amazing!

Good wedding budget tips in general, but I can’t agree with all of them.  For instance, #2 says “If you save money in one area, don’t spend the savings in five other places.”  Actually, that’s exactly what I’m doing.  We’re saving money on catering so we can have more money to spend on things that are much more fun and important to us for our wedding!

My fiancé and I just picked out our first song this week!  In fact, it was he that found it!  So perfect!

Fellow wedding blogger Broke Ass Bride, aka Dana, suffers from an autoimmune disorder that causes her body to attack her eye as a foreign object.  The disease, left untreated, can ultimately cause blindness.  Dana is need of her 12th surgery in 9 years, and her medical expenses are adding up.  This week, she announced Dishing for Dana, which will help her cover expensive medical treatments and insurance costs.  10% of your donation will go to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association.  Please venture over to Dishing for Dana and help her out!

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

Weight loss stalled.  Again.  0.0 lbs lost.  oh well, at least it’s not a gain I suppose.  This is not going as well as I had hoped.  I know I can do it!  I lost 40 pounds several years ago.  I need to find that mentality again!  I also didn’t work out a single time.  Granted, we were busy every night, but that’s no excuse.  I have to find time to fit it in!

April Wedding Planning Goal Progress

(as part of our Wedding Planning Timeline)

  • Develop potential wedding songs and playlists – In progress.  I’ve been collecting links of wedding playlists, and my fiance found an awesome first song for us this week!
  • Start wedding dress shopping – Just barely started. I contacted the one and only bridal salon in the area that sells the one and only dress designer that has ever caught my eye, Saja.  I called them to make sure they have Saja wedding dresses in stock (they’re only sold in Bella Bridesmaids stores).  They’re only open weird hours though, so I need to figure out when to make an appointment
  • Interview DJ’s – In progress. We’ve interviewed three so far with several more interviews set up next week.  Only one of those three sounded knowledgeable.
  • Have engagement photo shoot – In progress.   Scheduled for May 6.  I bought some fun outfits this week for the pictures!
  • Research cake bakeries – In progress. We had our first cake tasting on Monday.  I was kind of unprepared.  I hadn’t given much thought to how we want our cake designed.  Seriously, it’s on the bottom of my priority list.  But I did show her this link of cakes I loved from the link roundup a few months ago.  Love the cake display instead of one tiered cake!

    Finances and Administrative

    Check out our Wedding Expense Tracking Spreadsheet for a list of all our expenses to-date.

    So, although our expense tracking spreadsheet is still in its infancy, I will add some analysis functions to it in the near future.  One of the many things that I may analyze are the items that we purchase that could have use beyond our wedding.  For instance, we bought an address stamp this week.  Sure, we’ll use it on our Save-the-Date cards and Wedding Invitations, but we can use it on other things we mail too, right!?  Same thing with the dance lessons.  We’ll use our new dancing skills in settings after our wedding for sure!  What about the outfits I bought for the engagement photo shoot?  They’re also great for every-day clothing.  So, for now, these murky category purchases will be tracked (except the clothes), but I’ll separate them out at a later date!

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $90.85 (a prop for our engagement shoot, the address stamp, and some envelope samples (the cost of the envelope samples will be credited to my account when/if I place a full order with the company.
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $1118.83
  • Total budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $13,881.17
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 5 hours


Centerpiece Proof of Concept

by Melissa on April 13, 2011

Last week I showed you what has been arriving on our doorstep.  Well, this week I’d like your thoughts on some of our centerpiece ideas.  Our guests will be seated at picnic tables, so this is a fairly accurate depiction, but the picnic tables are 13 inches longer than the table pictured below. 

First I made a burlap table runner using some Stitch Witchery, which basically allows you to create a clean edge without sewing anything.  Just an iron and some of the stitch witchery stuff.  It was a quick process.

However, it was also an epic fail.  I made it way too wide:

2011_03_19 14_17_46 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)My too-wide burlap table runner, over a brown tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com

So, I folded it under for the time being to make it narrower.  And I put the first of our centerpiece items on the table.  Remember last week when I showed you a box and said that what was in that box really makes me love the internet? 

2011_03_16 18_47_29 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)  What is in the box?


2011_03_19 14_19_05 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)


Well, they’re plastic pumpkins.  For the wedding,  we’d have real pumpkins, the really tiny kind.  So, above, the pumpkins are pictured on the now folded-under burlap table runner. 

So, here are some of my setups, using floating candles, votive candles, and small bowls of Reeses Pieces, keeping in line with our autumn color scheme:

2011_03_19 14_41_44 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Pumpkins on ends, two floating candles, and a bowl of Reeses Pieces in the middle


2011_03_19 14_43_02 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Bowls of Reeses Pieces on the ends, two floating candles, two pumpkins in the middle.  This one looks a little cluttered to me, but remember, our tables will be 13 inches longer than this.  I was also considering some other fall-type fruit (wait, are pumpkins a fruit?), like gourds or something else in the center in addition to a pumpkin. 


2011_03_19 14_43_51 Wedding Designing Progress (tables) 

Bowls of Reeses Pieces on the ends, two floating candles, one pumpkin in the middle


2011_03_19 14_49_43 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Bowls of Reeses Pieces on the ends, votive candles, and a pumpkin in the middle.  (No floating candles)


2011_03_19 14_50_52 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Pumpkins on ends, votive candles, and Reeses Pieces in the middle (again, no floating candles)


2011_03_19 14_51_43 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Pumpkins on the ends, votive candles, and a floating candle in the middle (no Reeses Pieces)


2011_03_19 14_54_46 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Floating candles on the ends, votive candles, and a pumpkin in the middle.


Which option do you like?  What other options should I consider?  Do you hate it?  Have other ideas?  Leave them in the comments!

Next up will be to see how our favors presentation will look on the tables. 


Oh, well I don’t want “that” kind of wedding

Do you know the type of wedding I’m talking about?  When you tell people you’re on a budget and they tell you to check out firehalls or VFW posts or church halls to have your wedding reception.  Or when they tell you to try and cater it yourself.  Or they tell you to buy just a simple white off-the-rack dress instead of an elaborate wedding dress. And your immediate response, whether out loud or kept to yourself, is, “Well, I don’t want to have THAT type of wedding.”

What exactly is “THAT type of wedding?”  First though, let’s examine what “THAT” type of wedding is not.

Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, the Knot, and all sorts of other beautiful and inspiring magazines and blogs tell me the type of wedding I should have.  I don’t know how to characterize it, but I know that it definitely looks like this.

Magazine Wedding 1Source

Magazine Wedding 2 Source

aisle-rose-petals Source


Or, if I go with the trendy, DIY budget option, it should definitely look like this:

DIY wedding 2



DIY Wedding Flower Petals



DIY Wedding 3


As I look at photos of those DIY budget weddings, there is nothing “budget” about them.  At least not “budget” in the sense for anyone in the real world.  Just take a moment and look at all the STUFF that is in the photos.  How am I supposed to find aged oak barrels on a budget?  And purchase all those floral petals to make a DIY aisle? (yes, that is actually something listed as a DIY project on Martha Stewart)  How each item, even at just a few dollars a piece, can add to your budget so quickly.  In most of these photos, I don’t see a DIY wedding.  What I see is a carefully coordinated effort by a very talented wedding planner that puts all these elements together for a flawless, effortless look.  But, it does take effort.  And hassle.  And stress.  And MONEY.  But that is what my DIY budget wedding should look like, right?

Wait.  Who exactly is telling me what my wedding should look like?  And why am I paying attention to them?

Well, let’s face it.  We want those guests to think that “we’ve made it” and can afford a lavish wedding.  Or maybe we want them to think that we’re awesomely crafty and stylish.  We definitely want to have a more awesome wedding than the guests have ever attended before.  And we will stress ourselves out to no end to make it lavish and/or crafty and stylish.  Why though?  Who will judge us if it does not look like the above pictured weddings?

My fiancé and I are having our wedding ceremony and reception at a National Park campground site. Will guests judge me or my parents for not paying for a “proper” wedding that accommodates their guests to today’s wedding standards?

A public park campground site??  That sounds like it could be *gasp* the equivalent of having it at a firehall!

Can someone please, for the love of God, tell me what is so wrong with having a wedding at a church hall or firehall these days?  Does it convey that we’re poor, or worse, cheap?  Does it convey that we didn’t have the creativity to explore all sorts of amazing historical sites, art museums, or waterfront property rentals to host our wedding?  Will I be judged by my friends and family members if I don’t hand crimp our amazing textured linen stationery for our invitations?  Somehow, I doubt it.  But yet, it still nagged at me.

Recently, my fiancé digitized the 8mm film reel of my parents’ 1969 wedding.  The reception was held at the church hall.  There were no table linens.  Deli meat sandwiches and other basic foods were served on paper plates.  There was a small band.  Bottled Beer and soda in plastic cups.  And lots and lots of dancing.  And it looks like it was a blast.

When I first started wedding planning, I wanted a wedding that looked like the first set of pictures.  I figured I could bargain, find some perfect, unheard of location, buy uplighting, have amazing centerpieces, get all sorts of cool stuff from Etsy, and have one of those beautiful weddings for a fraction of the price that all those “suckers” pay.  Very quickly, my hopes were dashed.  Vendors operate like a cartel aren’t willing to negotiate.  $110 per person for food.  Maybe $80 if you can “bargain” with them.  The less expensive vendors don’t call you back.

As I became angry with wedding planning, people started suggesting things like having a wedding at a public park, or in a church hall, I scoffed, thinking to myself, “I don’t want THAT type of wedding.”

So, here we are.  What exactly is “THAT” type of wedding?  The type of wedding where a bride and groom say their vows and go to dinner and have a blast?  The type of wedding where family members who haven’t seen each other in a long time come together to celebrate a joyous occasion?

Well.  Yes, BUT, but maybe I won’t have a good time if there’s no uplighting or cutesy placecards or I’m not wearing a designer dress.  Or maybe my guests will never speak to me again if I don’t give them custom embroidered welcome bags.

Seriously, what did I become to actually think all that for even a second?

What has society and bridal magazines done to us?  We’ve become spoiled brats riddled with the affliction of conspicuous consumption, myself included.  The need to show off.  The need to one-up everyone.  So what if someone judges me because “so-and-so’s wedding last year was SO much more creative and beautiful.”  I’ve ditched toxic friends in the past.  I’d do it again if for a moment I thought someone judged me for having a “less-than-adequate” wedding.

So, I’m over it.  There is nothing wrong with having “That” type of wedding.  In fact, the only thing wrong is that I was so judgmental at first about having “That” type of wedding.  I’ve gone from wanting what was in that first set of photos, to wanting a wedding that’s ours, no matter what the above photos tell us ours should look like.


Weekly Roundup April 9

by Melissa on April 9, 2011

Links I’m Loving

A cute sendoff idea!  Perhaps for ours, we could get people to toss Apple logo confetti?  Or some other geekery?

It’s so funny because just the other day I was thinking about using bales of hay to line our “aisle.”  How does one even purchase a bale of hay.

We’re renting our venue for several days, so we’ll probably have our “rehearsal dinner” / pre-wedding party at the venue itself.  But I think an at-home rehearsal dinner would be a fun option too!  Considering we’re just planning on ordering pizza!

I’m already working on burlap projects!  It’s such an awesome, inexpensive option for our fall wedding.  (See Thursday’s post.  And more to come!)

Ah yes.  One of my worst fears if I have to wear a strapless wedding dress.  Boobs.  Nuff said.

A Spud Bar!  Dude.  What a rockin’ idea!

A DIY Sundae Bar!  Dude.  What a rockin’ idea!

Best Wedding Decisions Retrospect.   A few that caught my eye.  Not leaving on the honeymoon right away (we’re planning on that too) and alone time the week of the wedding.  I’ll definitely have to keep that one in mind!

Another rustic wedding that I’m loving!

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

After two consecutive weeks of gains, the scale moved down again this week with a loss of 2.2 pounds!  Phew.  Although working out has been difficult.  Evenings have been incredibly busy for some reason.

April Wedding Planning Goal Progress

(as part of our Wedding Planning Timeline)

  • Start wedding dress shopping – NOT STARTED.  I haven’t even made appointments yet.  I guess I should get on that.  Wedding dresses just look like a bore to me.
  • Interview DJ’s – In progress.  We’ve interviewed three so far with several more interviews set up next week.  Only one of those three sounded knowledgeable.
  • Have engagement photo shoot – Waiting.   Scheduled for May 6.
  • Research cake bakeries – In progress.  We have a cake testing set up for Monday.

Finances and Administrative

Check out our Wedding Expense Tracking Spreadsheet for a list of all our expenses to-date

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $1027.98
  • Total budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $13,972.02
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week:  7 hours


Shopping Haul

by Melissa on April 7, 2011

So, although I wasn’t scheduled to start purchasing decor for the wedding until May, I couldn’t help myself, and bought some items for “proof of concept” designs in March.  Remember in this post when I talked about how many votive candle holders to buy?  Well, that was part of one of my proof of concepts (proofs of concept?  whatevs).  I’ll give an overview of the actual projects next week, but for now, here’s what’s been arriving at my door:

2011_03_17 19_48_37 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Lots of Burlap (here it is in its post-washed state.  Lesson learned, I don’t think I’m going to wash burlap for future projects, no matter what online tutorials tell me.)  Actually, this one didn’t just “arrive at my door.”  I bought it at JoAnn Fabrics.


2011_03_19 14_28_18 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

Multiple varieties of candles and candle holders from Quickcandles.com


2011_03_16 19_45_46 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

One tablecloth from Linentablecloth.com (again, this is just for a proof of concept)


2011_03_19 14_14_31 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

My first thought?  Wow, this is going to be a wrinkled tablecloth!  It’s folded up so tiny!


2011_03_19 14_14_45 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

You’ll see it unfolded next week.  And yep, it’s brown


2011_03_16 18_47_29 Wedding Designing Progress (tables)

And what’s in this box?  You’ll see.  Let’s just say, I LOVE the internet and the way it gives you an opportunity to buy anything at any time of year.


There are a lot of tips out there for having budget weddings.  From DIY wedding invitations to finding student photographers, having a afternoon brunch reception, and using an iPod instead of hiring a DJ, there is no shortage of tips to help you save money on your wedding.  We all know that these are things that we can do to save money on our wedding, so that’s not the problem

The problem is perspective and how you view money and budgeting.  If you don’t have a good relationship with your money or if you don’t consider yourself “financially savvy,” or even if you say, “I hate math, so I just don’t bother,” then you won’t really know what it means to budget for your wedding.  So, learn some of the basics about personal finance and take these two tips below to help you plan a budget wedding.

#1: Personal Finance Books First, not Wedding Books

If you want a budget wedding, the first books you should read are some good personal finance books, not wedding books and magazines.  There are a lot of very simple personal finance concepts that can help guide the way you think about money, budgeting, and spending. Check out some excellent personal finance blogs like Get Rich Slowly, My Dollar Plan, and The Simple Dollar. Watch some episodes of The Suze Orman Show.

But, if you do only one thing, you need to read Your Money or Your Life.  It is the one book that will help you gain some of that perspective on your personal finances, and what it means to spend money on anything in your life, not just wedding expenses.  For those of you who have read Your Money or Your Life, you’re familiar with the concept of Life Energy.  I’m oversimplifying, but basically, Life Energy is a statement of what something “costs” in terms of hours that you have to work for that item.

It’s easy to determine Life Energy costs.  Again, this is oversimplifying the formula a bit, but first figure out your “real” income.  Take your weekly net income and subtract all the money you spend related to your job each week, like gas/public transportation, clothes/uniforms, dry cleaning, going out to lunch, office gifts, etc.  This gives you your “real” income.

Then you determine how much time you really spend related to your job each week, including commuting time, time spent “unwinding” after work, time spent at happy hours or social functions you’re expected to attend, etc.  This gives you your “real” hours worked.

Then you divide your real income by real hours worked to determine your real hourly wage.  For instance, my Life Energy calculations look like this:

I net $963.50 each week after taxes, insurance, retirement contributions, etc.  I spend $22.50/week on parking, $25/week on gas (estimate), and given my patterns of clothing expenditures, I would estimate that, when broken down by week, that I spend $19/week on clothes and dry cleaning that I probably would not need or buy if I didn’t work in a professional environment.  So this makes my “real” net weekly income $897/week ($963.50 – $22.50 – $25 – $19).

I work in the office 40 hours per week, commute 10 hours a week, and spend time “getting ready” for work 0.83 hours/week (like packing my lunch, etc.).  So this makes my real “work” hours 50.83 hours/week.

So my real wage is $897 / 50.83 hours = $17.65/hour.

So there you have it.  My “real” wage is $17.65/hour.  Now let’s see how that translates into Life Energy

So let’s say that an item I want to purchase, like a wedding dress, costs $3000.  That would mean I would have to work nearly 170 hours to buy that dress ($3000/17.65.  In Your Money or Your Life, this concept is known as “Life Energy.”   I have to invest 170 hours of my life energy, i.e. working, when I could be doing something else I enjoy, just for that dress.  Doesn’t sound worth it to me, when I put it like that!    If we spent $10,000 on catering, like some caterers quoted us, that would cost 566 hours of life energy.  Granted, this only includes my life energy and not my fiancé’s, but still, that’s a LOT of freakin’ life energy used up on rubber chicken catering!

I highly recommend doing some of these calculations to help put into perspective what you’re spending on your wedding.  And this is also good for putting into perspective your everyday type purchases too, not just large wedding purchases.

In addition to Your Money or Your Life I also recommend

#2:  Do Not Rush

Let’s get another important tip out of the way here.  Do.Not.Rush.  I know, I know.  It’s not what you want to hear.  “I’m ENGAGED!  I’m so EXCITED!  Everyone is asking me when our wedding date is!  All the wedding books and websites say I need to book my venue 12-14 months before our wedding date!  I don’t want to wait longer than that, so we must do everything now!”

I hate to break it to you, but if you want (or need) to stick to a budget for your wedding, then you need to take your time.   I’ll share our story of how taking our time has really helped us.  Within our first month of being engaged, we visited several venues.  We found one that we loved, so we put a two-week, no deposit hold on it because we could totally see ourselves getting married there.  It was unique, and the venue fee was within our budget.  The problem was the caterers.  This venue only had six preferred caterers to choose from.  Unfortunately, their initial budget estimates were not all that straightforward.  I had a sinking feeling that they were waiting until we put the deposit down on our venue until they gave us their “real” estimate.  Because we weren’t willing to risk being taken advantage of, we let our two week hold expire.  On a venue that we really, really loved.  *sigh.  The second venue we fell in love with, once we crunched all the numbers, we realized that, given our $15,000 budget, that our wedding would cost us $3000 per hour, since that venue had a strict 5 hour limit for both ceremony and reception.  If we had rushed into either of these decisions, we’d be sweating our budget.  Yes, this is a really exciting and overwhelming time.  And yes, you’re probably being rushed into making decisions by outside forces like family and friends who are excited for you.  But the more you rush, the more overwhelmed you feel, and the less likely you are to pay attention to the important details (and no, I’m not talking about decor details, I’m talking about budget and contracts).

You don’t have to rush for other things either.  Just like there is no rule for booking your venue within a month of your engagement, there is no rule that immediately after said booking, that you need to book your DJ/Band, Photographer, Caterer (in most cases), Officiant, and so on.  The more you rush, the more you’ll feel overwhelmed with having to do everything at one time and the more you may ignore your budget just to get things done.  Let’s take an example.

Within the first month of your engagement, you research and visit a lot of venues, and decide to book one that you love.  So now you’re trying to research all the catering details for the venue.  And now that you have the venue and date booked, you think that means that you want to send out the Save-The-Dates right away.  So in addition to trying to book all your vendors for that date, you’re trying to find or design the perfect Save-The-Date card, trying to wrangle all the addresses to send said Save-the-Date cards to, and then, oh, of course, since you want to list your wedding website on the card, that means that you have to develop content for your wedding website.  Ugh, which means that you have to hurry up and decide on your bridal party that will be included on your wedding website.  And let’s not forget about dress shopping, picking out bridesmaids dresses, oh, and you definitely want to include some engagement photos on your wedding website, so now you have to hurry up and find a good photographer and schedule an engagement session ASAP so that you’ll have the photos in time.  Deposit checks are being cashed left and right before you even have a chance to add everything up.  The more rushed and the more overwhelmed you feel, the more likely you are to disregard important budget considerations just because you feel like you have to get things done.

I realize that people are rushing your decisions.  By the time our venue is finally confirmed, we will have been engaged for seven months.  But I am completely comfortable with that because it has given us the time to have the exact wedding that we want, at the price that we want


Any other budget tips?

{ 1 comment }