Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Contest Winner

And the winner of the date night indie flick is:

Janackeh Bl.!

Please e-mail me with your address, so I can ship your film post haste. It's delectable!

Happy Monday, Everyone...

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Practical and Budget-Friendly Wedding Rings

Have you seen Kate Szabone's work already? Her rings are simple and beautiful (and made from 100% recycled gold!).


These seem like life rings. You can wear your commitment through cleaning, sleeping, showering, working, and traveling in developing nations.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pre-Marital Activities

One of the activities Matt and I did at our pre-marital class (which was actually, um, post-marriage) was talk about our independent visions for our relationship.

Step One:
  1. Each partner independently reads through a list of words and circles the five that really capture the essence of your relationship.
  2. Then each partner takes a turn explaining to the other partner what they circled and why.
It's a really simple activity, but helps foster a conversation about what is important to each of you. Matt and I ended up circling very similar words (40% of them were identical), and the follow-up conversation reiterated that we are very much on the same page about what is important to us in our relationship. I won't tell you what our particular words were because I don't want to bias your thinking about your own relationship!

Here are some sample words to choose from:
  • Warm
  • Trust
  • Honor
  • Known
  • Respect
  • Open
  • Spirit
  • We
  • Belonging
  • Security
  • Bond
  • Attachment
  • Fulfilled
  • Accepted
  • Fun
  • Parent
  • Companions
  • Kindness
  • Loyalty
  • At peace
  • Cherish
  • Connected
  • Sincere
  • Soul
  • Support
  • Us
  • Treasure
  • Supportive
  • Love
  • Gentle
  • Complete
  • Passionate
  • Romance
  • Close
  • Caring
  • Team
  • Committed
  • Sharing
  • Laughter
  • Sex
  • Unity
  • Reliable
  • Encouraging
  • Responsible
  • Friendship
  • Closeness
  • Heart
  • Oneness
  • Understood
  • Future
  • Compromise
  • Pure
  • Empathy
  • Considerate
  • Together
  • Strength

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gifts for Friends and Family Who Help with the Wedding

I get a lot of e-mails from folks asking for ideas about how to thank their friends and family for helping them pull together a wedding. I just had to share these brilliant ideas from a fellow 2000dollarwedding kindred spirit:
I came up with another idea, which I am now doing for all the folks that are contributing their talents. So, I wanted to share. :-) I decided to get copies of The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein to each of the friends that are giving of their talents to help our wedding be lower in cost and more personal. We plan to write individual notes to each person inside the book and I will also be giving them a small aloe plant that comes from a much larger aloe plant that was my great grandmother's. The book is one of my favorite children's books, I work with kids, and the plant is tied to our family and a connection to our history, so I felt it was a great way to give a personal and meaningful gift on a budget.
So sweet! I love the idea of giving a meaningful book and inscribing it with a message. I also love the idea of giving a piece of a regenerating plant. I even think these could work as gifts by themselves. So thoughtful!

Thank you for sharing...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Q & A: DIY Wedding Tablecloths

Reader Question: Hi Sara, I was just reading about how you bought sheets from the Good Will store and used them as tablecloths and I was wondering if you did anything special to them (other than washing, obviously) such as hemming or sewing before you used them in your wedding? I was also wondering if you had any photos of them in use that you could e-mail to me?

Yes, the old sheets as tablecloths idea...

It sounds disgusting, but it actually worked quite nicely.

Matt and I went to a couple of thrift stores and scoured the sheet section to find sheets that a) could pass for vintage tablecloths and b) weren't stained in disgusting ways.

We walked out with handfuls of tablecloths for only $33. All along, the goal was to hem them to fit the tables at Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Unfortunately, I hate sewing big things (it's hard to keep them straight). The tablecloths stayed on our "to-do" list for many months. It was still on the list when we were getting ready to leave. I stressed about it and then reminded myself: "I want our wedding to be about community, connection, commitment and fun--not tablecloths."

I handed all the sheets to Cathy and Cory--the innkeepers--since we had paid them to help us set up for the reception. And then I stopped worrying about it. I truly wanted to live in the moment and bask in the joy that a wedding should be.

During the reception, I realized that we apparently didn't have enough tablecloths because Cathy and Cory had to use some of theirs. I also realized that they made do we our unhemmed sheets by simply folding them under. Voila!

Those two realizations passed through my head in about a millisecond, and I was done caring or thinking about the aesthetics of our wedding.

One of the problems with looking at so much lovely wedding porn (which I do!) is that I start to think about creating a wedding for the voyeurs rather than the participants. When we look at the flat, beautiful images from other people's weddings (the centerpieces, the tablecloths, the bouquets, the rings, the shoes, etc.), we start to internalize the idea that the guests at our wedding will be scrutinizing these things at our own weddings. The truth is, if we invite our nearest and dearest to our weddings, most of them won't be voyeurs; they will be participants. And participants care a lot less about the beautiful details that a) can stress us out, b) can cost a lot of money, and c) detract us from the more meaningful aspects of planning a wedding.

Sorry I doth digress so much!

Long story short: Folding the extra fabric under worked perfectly well. I don't have time to scroll through all the photos from our wedding to find a picture, but I think I can easily upload one from a recent potluck at our house (we now use sheets as tablecloths all the time!). Sorry about that!

Enjoy your planning!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Contest: Enter to Win a Date Night DVD

Ooh! I love date nights at home with a movie.

Here's your chance to win this independent movie on DVD. Here's a quip about the film:

"A young Hong Kong rebel finds inner peace and a sense of purpose with a group of Zen musicians in the hills of Taiwan in "The Drummer," an entertaining blend of genre elements and spiritual content that plays much better than it sounds on paper."

--Derek Elly, Variety
To enter:
  1. Leave your first name and the first two letters of your last name in the comments section.
  2. One entry only, pretty please.
  3. Please enter by Saturday, August 29 by 11:59EST. A winner will be announced on Monday.
  4. That's it!
Happy Entering...

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Contest Winner

A huge thank you to Kaitlin of B. Poetic (which can be found here and here) for hosting a contest on little ol' 2000dollarwedding. We appreciate it!

Without further ado, the winner of either the flower shoe clips or Petite Bloom Bouquet is...

Megan Ja.!

Megan, please e-mail me with your address and your preference so Kaitlin can hook you up with your goodies right away!

Thank you to everyone else for entering. Stay tuned for another contest later today...

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Honeymoon Itinerary Tool

I received this e-mail from my beloved best friend, Andy, and I thought it would share it with all of you. It might come in hand for your honeymoon or other Annual Adventures with your partner or your friends:
To my traveling friends: Just learned about this new, well-reviewed free service called Trip It. Basically, after you make reservations -- plane, car, hotel, et cetera -- you forward those e.mail messages to TripIt.

It then automatically creates a stunningly beautiful itinerary grouping all of that information and adding directions, weather, maps, and more, all organized by day. It even adds all kinds of great contextual links, like buttons to check in to your flights:

All with no work! You can send that to friends, or link it to Outlook/Google Calendar, and there's an iPhone app and a mobile interface (http://m.tripit.com) to access your itineraries, too.

I just tried it for my upcoming L.A. trip and love it already.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Q & A: How to Announce Your Wedding Engagement

Reader Question: Hi Sara! The reason I'm writing you today is because I've found myself in a quandary about engagements. If I remember correctly, you and Matt didn't go through the whole engagement rigmarole and just started planning your wedding. My question is this: without the traditional engagement, how did you and Matt tell your friends and family that you were planning to get hitched? Did you just start telling people that you were planning your wedding and let it spread by word of mouth, did you send out Save the Dates or did you just wait and send out the invitations? I'd love some suggestions on meaningful ways to tell people that we are planning on getting married (and I couldn't be more excited!).

It’s funny how friends tend to get married in clusters. While Matt and I were engaged, for example, we went to four weddings in the span of four months. It was fun to be able to compare wedding planning notes with our good friends during the process.

Camella was the first in the group to get married. She called to let us know she and Kevin were tying the knot. Then she sent out a more formal (but still very casual) engagement announcement. It featured a photo of the happy couple in a gorilla costume and a French maid’s outfit—with an accordion. The postcard read: “We don’t yet know where or when, but we know to whom.”

Although we loved their announcement and kept it posted on our fridge for several months, Matt and I decided to take a more budget- and eco-friendly route. We simply called our family and closest friends and e-mailed everyone else. We did attach a cute picture of ourselves dressed up for Halloween (me as a picnic and Matt in a child’s dinosaur costume), but we decided not to turn the engagement process into a big deal. With the Save-the-Dates and formal invitations on the horizon, we figured we would conserve our energy for bigger projects to come.

Different couples need to figure out what works best for them. I would love to hear from 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits about how you handled the wedding engagement announcement situation. Please chime in!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tip #17: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Establish a "time-out" procedure.

Matt and I had a rough week last week.

The previous Sunday, he woke up feeling terrible. I let him sleep in while I took Hoss for a run. By the time I returned, his condition had worsened significantly, and he was asking me to take him to the doctor.

We did a quick search for an urgent care clinic but couldn't find one that was open on Sundays. We opted to take him to the emergency room instead.

Luckily, they got him into a bed pretty quickly. His symptoms included: achiness, fever, severe headache, cough, congestion, nausea, and diarrhea. After he vomited, they hooked him up to an IV. He said the pain was about an 8 on a 10-point scale (which scared me because Matt never complains about feeling sick or hurt--I am the certified hypochondriac in the family).

After several hours in the hospital and several tests later, Matt was released with the general diagnosis of "flu." They sent him home with pain medication, anti-diarrhea pills, and anti-vomiting medicine.

All three of us slept for the rest of the day: Matt was sleeping off his sickness, I was sleeping off potential sickness, and Hoss was sleeping off his week at dog camp.

The next day, I reported for my first day of work, which includes two weeks of professional development before my first, second, and third graders arrive on Monday, August 24. Matt stayed home. By the time I got home, I was exhausted from a day of moving furniture and boxes around my room. I napped for several hours and then got a call from a friend who was stranded in the Houston airport. I ended up picking him up, making dinner for all of us, taking him out for ice-cream, and getting to bed late. Then Matt and I couldn't sleep because a) we were itching from all the Saltine cracker crumbs that were in our bed from Matt's lunch and dinner and b) we had napped for so many hours earlier.

The next day, I was back at work and tired again. Then we proceeded to have a very busy week. We attended a surprise birthday party on Wednesday, a dinner party on Thursday, and a birthday party on Saturday. I also started taking Spanish lessons (on Tuesday) and committed to studying for 20 minutes every night. Aack!

Matt and I were insanely tired every night and over-extended. I wasn't exercising or eating very healthily, so my stress level was rising. When we get over-tired and over-stressed, Matt and I start getting impatient with each other. We pick more fights and get more angry with each other. Then our fighting creates more stress, and it's just a downward spiral from there.

We have to get better about strengthening rather than sabotaging our relationship during times of turmoil. Our lives our easy compared to what we will face when we introduce a baby into the mix or when we start dealing with more sickness and death in our extended families.

One of the strategies we learned our our pre-marital class was to declare a "time-out" whenever our emotions overtake us and we are on the precipice of getting into a bad fight. Here's how to make the time-out work for you:
  1. Decide how either of you can initiate a time-out. It may be a signal or a word. Matt and I opted for the word "ice cream" because it has so many positive associations for us and it seems like it has the potential to lift the mood just a little.
  2. Decide what each of you needs to do during the time-out to help you cool down. For me, I need to go do some yoga breaths and stretches.
  3. Decide what you can say to yourself to help ground you. I need to say things like, "We're on the same team; we're building a life together."
  4. Commit to coming back to resolve the issue with a conversation after both parties have calmed down and can talk rationally about the situation.
It's a work in progress, for sure!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Contest: Enter to Win Flower Goodness

I have a thing for handmade flowers--especially when they're made from vintage fabric like the ones made by Kaitlin of B. Poetic (which can be found here and here).

One lucky winner has the opportunity to claim either the flower shoe clips or the Petite Bloom Bouquet as his/her very own. Loveliness!

I think the shoe clips would be perfect for gussying up a comfortable pair of everyday shoes for a wedding, although I'd be tempted by the three flowers, too.

To enter:
  1. Leave your first name and the first two letters of your last name in the comments section.
  2. One entry only, pretty please.
  3. That's it!
Happy Entering...

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Contest Winners

A hearty thank you to everyone who entered the contest to win The Worst-Case Scenarios Survival Handbook: Weddings.

The two lucky winners are:
  1. Sara Sh.
  2. Alish Os.
Please e-mail me with your addresses!

For those of you who didn't win this one, you can find free hilarious tips on the Worst-Case Scenario Blog. Stay tuned for another contest later today!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Words of Wisdom (from a Kindred Spirit)

You all are an amazing community. Matt and I got married over a year ago, and yet I'm still here because of you. The quest for meaning, authenticity, truth, and the good life manifests itself in wedding planning, and I'm thrilled to be part of the ongoing conversation and search.

I thought I would share this message from a fellow kindred spirit:
My fiancé and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day '09 and our wedding is in two weeks. The past six months have been a whirlwind of ups and downs. I’ve learned so much about how commercialized weddings are. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, my fiancé, and our families.

I found your blog in June when I was freaking out about how we were going to pay for a wedding and googled “wedding reception on a budget”. Since then I’ve read your entire blog and am a different person because of it. I realize I’m not crazy for not wanting to throw a bouquet. I’m not crazy for not wanting to sit at a head table and have everyone watch me eat. I’m not crazy for not wanting to cut cake and have people take pictures. I’m not crazy for not wanting to wear a frilly poofy scratchy dress that costs as much as my car. I’m not crazy for not wanting to be center of attention and have everyone treat me like I’m royalty. I’m not crazy for not wanting my fiancé's mom to invite 30 of her friends that she hasn’t seen in 20 years and we have never met. I’m not crazy for wanting to invest in a down payment on a house that we can live in forever than a wedding for one day.
And for those of you who do want to throw a bouquet or wear a frilly, poufy, scratchy dress--you're not crazy either.

The point is that we all have to sift through the messages we've received and internalized about what a wedding has to be and instead create a wedding that represents us. It's that simple (and that complex).

And it's the same thing we have to do in life: sift through all the messages we've received and internalized about what we have to do to be successful or happy and instead carve out a life that authentically represents our deepest selves. Again, it's that simple (and that complex).

I'm reminded of this line in a poem by Mary Oliver:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Q & A: Not Hurting Mom's Feelings

Reader Question: I have a question for you. My mother bought my wedding dress and two other wedding dresses at a salvage store (total price for 3 =$50). She thought it would be a great idea to use the other wedding dresses for my two bridesmaids. Now that we've had them for a while, we've discovered that they can't be dyed. So she decided on a sash and thinks that should be enough of a difference. Another friend wants to paint the dresses, but my mom worries that it might not come out well. In the meantime my bridesmaids hate the dresses, don't want to wear white to take away from me (or being mistaken for the bride!), and are conspiring to wear something else. All in all, my mom put a lot of time and effort into getting these dresses, but it is an odd solution for bridesmaid dresses. I don't really know how to smooth the ruffled feathers of my mother or my bridesmaids if I decide one way or the other!

My loyalty lies with your closet friends in this case. Their concerns are very rational and legitimate, and I think it's important to ensure that they feel comfortable in whatever it is you require them to wear.

I understand that you're concerned about hurting your mom's feelings, but the last thing you need during the wedding planning process is this kind of stress. I would kindly sit your mom down and say, "Mom, thank you so much for being involved in this process with me. It means so much to have your support and to factor your opinions into my decisions. With the dresses, I've decided that my bridesmaids should wear something else. They are worried about wearing white, and they would be more comfortable in something else that is more their style. I want to find something that all of us can agree on. I'm sorry you spent so much time looking for those dresses. Let me know if you want help reselling them on craigslist, ebay, or Etsy or if you want to save them for future occasions."


In situations like this, it's important to follow your heart (in a way that respects other people's feelings, of course). Your mom's feathers may be temporarily "ruffled" but none of it will matter when she sees you standing next to your beloved, professing your love and commitment!

Best of luck to you...

(and please, 2000dollar kindred spirits, chime in with your opinions!)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tip #16: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Attend pre-marital classes.

So Matt and I were supposed to go on our Anniversary Date this past Saturday (which entailed a homemade picnic and a boat ride on the bayou), but a couple things happened:
  1. We found a free pre-marital (and, um, post-marital, I suppose) class that we really wanted to go to.
  2. Our friend, Camella, invited us to her birthday next weekend, which--surprise, surprise--entails the same boat ride on the bayou (although it's even better because we're riding our bikes to meet the boat, and she's renting out the entire thing for 20 of her closest friends).
We decided to ditch the date in favor of the class. I invited friends of ours to join us, and Anne said, "But do they welcome same-sex couples?"

It didn't even occur to me to ask! On the one hand, I didn't think to ask because I just assumed that a course sponsored by the state would not discriminate against an entire group of people. On the other hand, I didn't think to ask because I'm heterosexual, and I have the privilege (sadly enough) of not having to think about who's included and who's excluded.

When I called to register, I asked the woman if same-sex couples were welcome. She replied with a very matter-of-fact, "No." My blood boiled and I responded, "Well, I don't feel comfortable attending a class that doesn't welcome my friends and family. Please take us off the list."

She went on to explain that because it's a grant-funded program and the state of Texas doesn't recognize same-sex couples, only heterosexuals could attend the class.

Luckily, Matt and I were able to find another free class (sponsored by the state) that would allow same-sex couples to attend (just not give them a certificate of completion). We decided that we would attend the class but then democratize the information via the internet so that all couples can benefit.

So, in the coming weeks, we'll be sharing what we learned at our class for all couples.

As a side note, I have to add that attending a marriage class with my beloved just reiterated that I am so lucky to have him. The fact that he was willing (and excited) to attend means that he's committed to our relationship and committed to doing the hard work that it takes to forge a life together. Hooray!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love Song du Jour

Hello, to all the beautiful people living in the 2000 Dollar Wedding world. This is Matt Bradford, Sara's partner, aka "Hoss' Daddy", aka "Snores at Night", aka "Smelly Feet", aka "Never Follows Directions".

It seems that this summer has just been a monsoon of craziness, meaning: I only got to give one, count-it, one post recommending music that would surely have love delivered straight to your door in 30 minutes or less. Music that certifiably will allow you to sweep the love of your hour/week/month/year/life off their feet and let them know just how indie you are.

In this very special, and very short, post, I, Dr. DJ Love, am going to prescribe to you the perfect music video forward following those 5 indescribable minutes of carnal bliss following my previous post. This is a five-star iTunes ballad; a ballad to hang your spurs on at night; a ballad to dim the lights to; a ballad to pop some Santana Champ to.

Enjoy. Open carefully, because, as I say, contents under presha'.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - Home

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Original or Kitsch?

I just read an argument against trying to personalize your wedding with new traditions and self-written vows over at Double X (thanks, Jessica, for sharing!). There's a whole lot of judgment (both in the piece and in the comments), so be forewarned that it's a bit of a Debbie Downer.

And as a couple who wrote their own vows and wedding ceremony and choreographed a first dance with our entire wedding party, Matt and I clearly don't agree with the author. Writing our own ceremony and vows helped us connect more deeply with our commitment. As for the dance, it was just a way to have fun and celebrate our love with our friends and family. One of my favorite wedding weekend memories was practicing the dance with our closet friends (and I love the look of shock on my grandma's face--see below--when we performed).

I do think it's good to expose oneself to different opinions as a way to help you clarify your own. It's definitely worth a read.

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Contest: Enter to Win a Sane Wedding Book

I steered clear of a lot of wedding planning books during my stint with wedding planning, primarily because so many of them were chock-full of "Things You Must Include in Order to Have a Real Wedding."

I was always on the lookout for books that helped relieve the pressure rather than add to it. This book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings, seems to do just that. Heck, it even alludes to "How to Avoid a Nervous Breakdown" on the front cover.

Here's what you can expect:
The authors of the phenomenally best-selling Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series are back with all new, step-by-step instructions to help the bride and groom [or bride and bride or groom and groom]—and everyone else—survive the nuptials, from trimming the guest list all the way through to repurposing unwanted presents. his matrimonial magna carta teaches how to charm nightmare in-laws, survive the bachelor party, combat floral allergies, stop a disastrous toast, and respond to honeymoon surprises. A helpful appendix provides creative solutions to other wedding emergencies: how to make a ring—or a bouquet—out of paper, conceal wedding day blemishes, and painlessly generate thank-you notes. No one should say "I do" without this essential survival guide: it's the absolutely perfect shower gift, and an indispensable self-help guide to getting hitched without a hitch.
To enter to win your free copy:
  • Please leave a comment with your first name and first two letters of your last name.
  • Enter by Monday, August 17, 11:59pm EST
  • US residents only please (sorry to all our international friends!)
  • One entry per person (but you can get your fiance to enter, too!)
In the meantime, you can check out The Worst Case Scenario blog for free, helpful advice like How to Trim the Guest List.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Wedding (and Marriage!) to Meg + David

Photo courtesy of A Practical Wedding, via Emily Takes Photos

Meg and David should be sealing the deal of their marriage with a kiss right about now! I'm extending a hearty congratulations into the blogosphere. I also want to extend a thank you to Meg for consistently dispensing level-headed, witty, and articulate advice throughout her wedding planning process. Thank you for the sanity!

I'm sending well wishes your way for a life filled with laughter, caring, nurturing, perseverance, respect, and commitment.

Happy Wedding and--more importantly--Happy Lifelong Marriage!

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Contest Winners

Before I announce the two lucky winners of our Envirosax bags, I just want to extend a hearty thank you to the folks from Envirosax for hosting a contest here. What fun!

I was at an educational conference all week (through KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program), and of course I brought my Envirosax bag with me. I used my red Franklin Covey bag as my main professional bag, but when I had to cart all of my workshop packets and my computer cord to a session presentation, I whipped out my Envirosax bag. It's so compact and yet so hard core when it needs to be.

So, without further ado (some of you have probably already skipped down to this section anyway...), here are our two winners:

Ellie Sh. and Tracy St.

Please e-mail me so I can put you in touch with the Enviorsax folks!

Thanks to everyone for participating (it's fun to get comments, even if they are just to win something...) and stay tuned to another contest next week!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Q & A: Wedding/Bridal Showers

Reader Question: I am writing to request some words of wisdom on wedding/bridal showers. A woman at work has offered to throw me a Pampered Chef shower. I’m not particularly into direct sales, but I do think Pampered Chef carries some great products, and I’m honored that she wants to have a party for me. She has asked me to create a guest list of folks from work and otherwise who would be interested. Here’s my concern: there are only a handful of folks at work who would be appropriate to invite, which leaves me to decide who outside of work I should invite (a PC party would be a little awkward with only a few people). However, my friends have hinted at throwing me a shower of some kind also, and I don’t want them to feel as though they must attend and purchase gifts for both. Is it weird for folks to be invited to multiple showers for the same person? Should I just invite a crowd with the logic that if folks want to come, they will, and if not, they won’t?

I think wedding/bridal showers are very personal things. I think everyone person has to do some deep introspection and figure out what works best for them. I can't tell you what will work best for your friends/colleagues, but I can tell you what makes sense for me, and you can take it from there.

First of all, I think parties are fun. I am always on the lookout for opportunities to get together with people for some merriment. I think it's awesome that you have a colleague who wants to throw a party for you, as well as personal friends who might also want to throw one.

I don't think it's "weird for folks to be invited to multiple showers for the same person," but I think it's important to explain to your friends that a gift is not required/expected. I think we should all be very careful about the financial strain that our weddings place on others. Weddings (and the celebrations leading up to them) should focus more on community, connection, and fun and less on material goods.

I'm curious to know what others think!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hoss's Honeymoon

While Matt and I frolicked in the Mediterranean on our honeymoon, Hoss frolicked at dog camp. He's the one in the middle with the insanely floppy ears.

The owner sends us pictures of Hoss's adventures at camp (apparently he swims!). She says he barks every morning because he wants to be let out to play, and she calls him a "maniac" because he prefers to follow his nose rather than obey commands from two-legged creatures. (Just don't tell the people at the Delta Society who registered Hoss as a therapy dog that he doesn't listen when he's off the leash...) Matt and I are much more content leaving Hoss at camp rather than taking him to a kennel.

He makes me smile.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Power of Partnership

Image courtesy of The New York Times

Ooh la la! I'm bowing down to this couple from afar.

Priced out of the insane NYC housing market, they bought a vacation cottage in the Catskills for $90,000 and spent every weekend renovating it in time for their wedding, according to this article in The New York Times. They kept their renovation budget down to $10,000 and their furnishing/decorating budget to $2,352--buying lots of used things from Craigslist, salvaging things from heavy trash, and getting items donated from friends and family.

Hooray for the power of partnership!

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Lovely Wedding Postage Stamps

Why, oh why, didn't the post office sell these amazing love stamps when I was planning a wedding? Matt and I didn't have money in the wedding budget for the photo stamps I desperately wanted to create. We had to resort to the Florida panther (since we used postcard stamps). It was seriously the only option. Ugh.

Oh well. It was a good learning experience about how to step outside one's crazy wedding planning self and try to stay grounded. I resorted to my mantra: "It's about community, connection, commitment, and fun--not ___________." [insert postage stamps]

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Laying the Foundation for a Strong Relationship

Matt is five years younger than I am, which actually makes me feel younger. I figure I won't want to retire before he does (boring!), so I feel more like 26 than my ripe old age of 31.

One of the few ways in which I actually feel 31 is in regard to my biological clock. I worry about my declining fertility as I advance in years. No, this isn't a post to say that Matt and I are trying to get pregnant. My point is actually about marriage.

Since we'll probably start trying to have a baby in the next couple years, we really want to make sure that our marriage is as strong as possible. I can only begin to imagine how much a baby adds stress (as well as goodness, of course) to a relationship. We want to make sure we have really strong communication, conflict resolution, habits of caring, physical intimacy, shared goals, and self-awareness in place as a foundation for our expanding family.

Unfortunately, we didn't attend any sort of pre-marital counseling before we got married. We got overwhelmed with buying a house, getting a dog, looking for new jobs (and planning a wedding). I wish we would have prioritized a marriage course, but we just didn't.

So now we're prioritizing it. We're going to go to a free class offered to Texans. (The last one we tried to sign up for didn't work out because we didn't live in the proper zip code.) We're also going to seek out couples counseling while our relationship is going well. It seems to make more sense to be proactive rather than reactive. Anyone know a good couples therapist in Houston?

Lastly, we bought a book called Happiness for Two. Each chapter offers a poignant piece of advice with an explanation that spans about 1.5 to 2 pages. It's perfect for reading in the bathroom.

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