May 2012

I seriously could not decide what to do for a wedding guest book. I had toyed around with this idea of wedding guest book “art” way back, but I was kind of worried that the finished product would be, well, underwhelming.

So, we opted for something a bit simpler. It could still be hung as art in our home, and therefore not left languishing in some box only to be seen every 10 years, but something we would see and appreciate every day.

We bought multiple types of cardstock, including handmade papers, and had our guests write us notes on that paper (using a variety of markers, charcoal pencils, and colored pencils) and then tack it up on a piece of fabric-covered cork.

Then we had the whole thing framed. And just last night, we hung it on the wall in our kitchen! (Pictures intentionally blurred )





I just think it’s so fun!



Kids drew pictures for us:




And we even received messages in different languages!




And here are some photos from our professional photographer of the guest book “station” at our wedding. We also had the favors set up there, hoping to encourage guest book participation!





I really, really like how everything ended up looking. We got it professionally framed which, unfortunately, is outrageously expensive, but we had purchased a “cheap” frame at first (which was still nearly $100) but the frame was just that.  Too cheap and flimsy for the finished product, and also looked really really cheap.

I love how the silver of the frame picks up on the silver thumbtacks that are holding up the message.

Perhaps in retrospect, I wouldn’t have opted for handmade paper, because it makes the writing look very “ridge-y” but I still like the eclectic look of all the different papers and writing utensils.

What about you all? What was your guest “book?”


A Few Bits of Randomness

by Melissa on May 15, 2012

A few things I realize I never shared with you all about our wedding, but none of which really warrant their own full post!

Our Save the Date

We designed this ourselves and used one of the photos from our engagement session. A perfect infusion of fun and geek.

Save-the-date 2011-05 - flat


Our Favors

We toyed with a lot of ideas for favors, but ultimately settled on customized flashlights ordered from Ebay. Our campground wedding venue had virtually no lighting outside the buildings and pavilion, so we wanted to make sure guests could find their way around and back to their cars when it was time to leave. Truly practical! And no DIY time consuming-ness necessary! Oh, and the kiddos got glow necklaces, bracelets, and glow sticks.

We could’ve opted for a slightly cheaper flashlight, but those ones used watch batteries instead of AAA’s. We wanted folks to be able to use their flashlights forever, and who actually changes things with watch batteries? We figured folks would use things more if they could just swap out AAA batteries when they needed them! Even today, more than six months after our wedding, our guests still tell us they use their flashlights!



Our Programs

Also self-designed, and quite fun if I do say so myself!





Our Thank You Cards

Keeping with our photo theme, much like our invitations, we created these thank you cards in iPhoto. Rockin’






Simple, clean, and easy. Oh, and only about $1.49 each (including the envelopes!)


One of the first things that gave our day-of-coordinator a near heart attack was that our Save-the-Dates didn’t match our “color scheme” (whatever that was anyway. Fall colors with sapphire blue). And then that our invitations didn’t match our invitations.

So what! Seeing everything together here, I think everything went together beautifully, even if they didn’t “match.”


The 60/40 Wedding Budget Approach

by Melissa on May 9, 2012

Remember a few months ago when I posted our distribution of wedding expenses by amount, and realized that, based on my analysis, 60% of our total budget was spent on expenses less than $500!?

That was an insane realization for me. Absolutely insane.


Weddings are so expensive and I was so focused on saving on the big ticket items, like catering, videography, and deejaying. And of course, I’m not saying that focusing on decreasing those big item costs was bad or unnecessary or anything like that, but I shouldn’t have forgotten about all those “small” expenses of $500 or less, which added up to more than $14,000!!


So, I got to thinking. Why are wedding budget tools so damn complicated. I mean, nearly all of my wedding wire budget categories were drastically different than what was projected. Why do I need to focus on each category so specifically? Especially when those categories’ prices can vary so much depending on your geographic location.

Let’s try a different wedding budgeting technique. I’m calling it the 60/40 Wedding Budget Tool.  And here’s how it works.

The 60/40 Wedding Budget Technique

You see, most of those smaller, less than $500, expenses were “unknown” expenses. They’re expenses that didn’t fit neatly into typical wedding budget categories, like wedding cake toppers, photobooth props, cardstock for signage at the wedding, foamcore for display signs … you get the idea. All things I couldn’t really estimate how much I was going to spend.

However, most of the “big,” greater than $500.01 expenses, were known, anticipated expenses. Because, for instance, I knew what our venue fee was going to be. I knew how much our photographer was costing us, and how much our catering budget was going to be (plus or minus a few hundred dollars depending on our final guest count). Of course there are a few exceptions. For instance, I “knew” how much our officiant and hair stylist was going to cost, and those were both less than $500.

Here’s how I suggest projecting your wedding budget:

Add up the expenses from your desired (or already booked) big ticket vendors, like the caterer, photographer, deejay, videographer, etc. You should anticipate that the sum of all those vendors’ costs will comprise approximately 40% of your wedding budget, so you can expect to spend approximately.

Let’s say those big ticket expenses add up to $4000. And from this formula, you can assume that you’ll be spending 60% of your budget on expenses less than $500, most of which are probably going to be “unknown” expenses. So if you’re spending $4000 comprising 40% of your budget, then that means you’ll likely spend an additional $6000 (or 60%) on expenses less than $500.

That works out great if you have a wedding budget of $10,000. You’ll spend $4000 on big ticket items and then $6000 on smaller expenses.

But, what if your budget is $10,000, but when you added up all your “big ticket” expenses, that it came to $5760. That would mean that your “unknown” and lesser expenses of less than $500 will likely add up to $8640. Now, all of a sudden, you’re looking at the potential for spending more than $14,000 on your wedding. More than $4000 over your budget!

This is a really easy trap to fall into. Saying, that you have a $10,000 budget, and then spending 90% of it on your big ticket vendors and figuring you’ll still have $1000 of wiggle room budget and money to spend on décor. Wrong-zo. You need to allow yourself significantly more wiggle room in your budget than 10% for all your unknown and smaller expenses.

I realize that my wedding is just one wedding an the 60/40 ratio might not work for everyone. But I do think mine is an illustrative example of someone who really tried to save money (got very inexpensive catering, two wedding dresses that were less than $200 each, the only flowers we had were my bouquet and corsages and bouts for family members, we self-deejayed, etc.) but we STILL managed to go more than $8000 over our intended wedding budget.

So, while 60/40 might not work for everyone, you should anticipate that it will be something similar. Maybe 50/50 or 40/60, etc.

Did anyone else out there track their wedding expenses obsessively like we did? Was your expense distribution about the same?


About my Wedding Ring!

by Melissa on May 1, 2012

**Disclosure: I started writing this post back in September 2011, right after my wedding ring arrived, but just never got around to finishing it and posting it!

I started looking at wedding rings in June 2011 (plenty of time for our November 2011 wedding), and it took me nearly three months to decide on what I wanted.  I knew that I didn’t want to spend more than $400, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for, but after trying a few on, I had identified my criteria more clearly:

1) I wanted a band that was as close to identical in height and width as the band part of my engagement ring.  For instance, I felt that wedding bands that were wider than the band part of my engagement ring looked really off balance and distracted attention away from my engagement ring.

2) I also didn’t like wedding bands that were significantly “shorter” than the band part of my engagement ring. Again, I can’t describe it, but it just looked very strange.

But, when I would find a wedding band that was as high as my existing ring, it wouldn’t fit flush up against my engagement ring.  Because the prongs stick out, it would be impossible to fit something of the same height directly next to it.

Hmmm, dilemma.

Also, although I really liked the look of diamond bands, they were (obviously) more expensive than just plain bands.

Well, one day on one of the wedding blogs, I can’t remember which, I found some beautiful rose gold bands! I was set.  I thought that a plain rose gold band would be a beautiful contrast to my existing engagement ring but not be too distracting. So, I set out to a custom jewelry place here in Northern Virginia that gets excellent reviews. They told me that they would be able to custom make me a band precisely to my specifications (identical height and width of my engagement ring) by “cheating” a bit and making the wedding band not precisely round. This way it would fit up against my engagement ring and not be affected by the engagement ring prongs.  It would range from $350-450 and I would have to leave my engagement ring with them for a few days so that they could make a mold.

Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that $350-$450 for just a plain band is a LOT of money, even if it is custom. So, I had a quick conversation with my fiancé. He suggested that I try Natural Sapphire Company, where he bought my engagement ring, to see if they could custom make something cheaper.  Well, they quoted me the same price as the local jeweler for a plain band.  For a diamond band that would match my engagement ring precisely, it would be $750.

Although I liked the look of diamond bands I had tried on, that was well over my budget.

I was really struggling with what to do.  I love love LOVE my engagement ring. So I suggested that my engagement ring double as my wedding band.  But my fiancé didn’t like that idea.  He wanted them to be two separate rings.  Then he said,  “You know, you rarely wear jewelry” (except for my engagement ring now of course). “$750 is not a lot of money for a piece of jewelry that you will wear every day for the rest of your life, especially if it’s exactly what you want. It will custom match your existing engagement ring”

Easy to say for a guy who paid $14.99 for his wedding band!

So, I took his advice and contacted his original salesperson at Natural Sapphire Company.  She was really helpful and sent me a wax model of the band. To be honest, it was kind of difficult to tell from the wax model how the ring would look and fit, but, trusting my gut, I decided to place the order for diamond band.  Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars.  Le sigh.

But, zero regrets here! I love the way that it matches my sapphire engagement ring and doesn’t detract from it one bit. It’s gorgeous!


My wedding ring, the day it was delivered via FedEx!


What about you all? Did you spend more than you anticipated on your wedding rings?