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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't Exactly Have Time

Matt and I worked on our ceremony agenda over tortilla chips and salsa.

It's looking like we're going the modified-Quaker ceremony route, where the bulk of the talking is done by our friends and family. The difference is that it's less of a spontaneous open-mic and more of a targeted selection with preparation.

But the thought of asking the targeted people to prepare a little speech makes me nervous. I feel like I've been asking a lot of people lately. First I asked some folks to learn a dance. And then I asked them to send in fabric samples. And then I asked them to sign the guest book. And then I asked them to mail in their old gold so we could melt them into new rings.


With only T-minus 2 months and 20 days until the wedding, we don't exactly have time to space out our requests.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Life Story Around the Bottom

The dress is coming along.

If you remember, we bought a $15 sundress from Target (approximately $20 with shipping/handling), and we're embroidering our life story around the bottom.

Embroidery is quite the commitment, but I make a habit of calling friends while I work on it. The featured section is from our time in Denver (hence the evergreen tree), and Matt and I are represented as birds. The purple thing is the fox we saw run down our street last summer.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Good Balance, I'd Say

The hunt for rings continues.

We went to an antique jewelery store in Boulder yesterday and were disappointed by the overly-ornate jewelery and the hoity-toity-ness of the employees.

We stumbled into a very small traditional shop, in search of more antique store leads. We were impressed by the variety, as well as the warmth of the store owner. It got me thinking (and I'm sharing my thoughts with you so you can call me out on my potential hypocrisy): Would it really be so terrible for me to buy a ring from a traditional store?

First of all, I would only be purchasing half of what the average person purchases for their wedding rings (since we did not purchase engagement rings). Secondly, I do not own (nor do I plan on purchasing) any other "real" jewelery.

As an environmentalist, I'm always trying to find a good spot on the spectrum from absolutism to hypocrisy. For example, I'm a vegetarian who wears leather. In my mind, we can't drive ourselves completely insane by adhering uncompromisingly to rigid principles in our current world (i.e., absolutism). But on the other hand, we can't compromise our principles every time it's convenient for us. For example, even if a meat dish is the only option available, I won't succumb just because I'm hungry.

So I don't know how I feel about going the traditional route. I definitely wouldn't get a diamond (but I'm not deluding myself into thinking that the environmental and social impact of mining metal and other jewels isn't also disgusting).

Interestingly, a promising alternative has sprung up. An environmentally conscious jewelery designer--greenKarat--lets you send in old gold and they recycle it into new jewelery. Matt's mom has graciously offered to donate one of her rings to the cause, and I'm wondering if I could also round up some support. I like how it promotes environmental consciousness and it's quite sentimental. A good balance, I'd say.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Good News to My [Budget] Ears

I just got an e-mail from my recently-married friend, Camella, alerting us guests to the fact that we could access 300+ photos from her wedding (thanks to the courtesy of friends and family).

She also had a professional photographer there. Before she had access those pictures, she explained that she was perfectly content with the photos from friends and family (much to my relief, since we're not paying anyone to take pictures).

Once the photographer's photos came out, though, I thought she would change her tune. There's simply a different aesthetic quality to the pictures taken by professionals. The lighting is different or something. I don't know what it is.

However, she complains that the photographer's pictures are mostly posed. She still contends that the photos from friends and family are sufficient.

That's good news to my [budget] ears!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Propaganda from the Wedding Industrial Complex

I love getting propaganda from the Wedding Industrial Complex. Today's feature: A postcard from a bridal dress shop in Colorado.

Their quote?

"The perfect little black dress is a wonderful thing......THE PERFECT WEDDING DRESS IS EVERYTHING."

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A Quasi-Real Tie

When you plan a DIY, budget wedding, you have to get pretty resourceful.

What's on today's episode on "How to Pull Off a Wedding on a Shoestring" you ask?


Yep, that's right. I made a tie for Matt to wear on our wedding day.

Long story, short, my dress has way too much fabric around the waist area, so I have to make a sash to cinch it in. Since we're implementing a general policy of reusing (in order to conserve money and be more environmentally-friendly), I decided to cut up a dress I bought in India and use the fabric for the sash. With the leftover fabric, I decided to make Matt a tie.

Luckily, we happened to have an old, cut-up tie lying around the house, since our dear friend Chong-Hao recently gave us one of his.

I simply used the other tie as a pattern for this one. With the help of a few online tutorials (on tie-making and using a slipstich), I was able to pull it off.


I still can't believe it. I actually made a quasi-real tie.

This wedding stuff is fun!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Hate What Mining Does to Our World

This ring situation is very, very tricky. I don't like it one bit.

I hate what mining does to our world (both in terms of precious metal and gems and both in terms of the environment and the human rights issues).

I'd say to hell with rings, but I like the symbolism, and I like being transparent about important aspects of my identity.

I'd go vintage except that most of the styles I've seen are very ornate.

My number one contender right now is a ring from Brilliant Earth. They use recycled metal, and they've said they would put in a fake diamond (moissanite) for me. It's created in a lab. Then if people lean over to ogle my diamond, I could stand on my soapbox and say it's synthetic because the diamond trade disgusts me.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

So Much Fun

Having an interactive RSVP wedding website has been so much fun.

So far in the frozen margarita poll, strawberry and regular flavor are tied for first, with mango pulling up second.

Plus, the owners of Sunshine Mountain Inn updated the guestbook with the following photo and caption: Cory and Cathy, Sunshine Mountain Lodge innkeepers, Matt and Sara FANS!

And, to top it all off, Matt's grandparents added their own story on the "How We Met" page, which was originally only designed for our story: "We started off as ping-pong partners at the Y. That was in 1950. Here we are getting ready to celebrate our 54th wedding anniversary in September. We never have figured out what exactly lights the match, but you know it when you feel it."

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Little Bit of Titillation

Matt and I are working on our "first dance." It's actually going to be a surprise, but I'll leave you with this little bit of titillation:

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Personalize Your Wedding

I'm a firm believer in the idea that life should be personalized. How we spend our professional time. How we clothe ourselves. How we fritter away our free time. With whom we surround ourselves. With whom we form deeply significant bonds.

In order to live an authentic life, we have to personalize all of these things.

As Matt and I plan a ceremony (and a party) to formalize and celebrate our commitment to each other, I realize that we are making decisions that lead to a very personalized wedding.

We started with our end vision for what we wanted the experience to be like, and we have been planning backwards from there (thank you Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Understanding by Design). Every decision connects back to the vision.

Oftentimes, I think the tendency is to do the opposite. Couples start with the standard template of what an American wedding is and make decisions to tweak it and personalize it from there.

An example of this came across my inbox this morning from--none other than--The Knot. The wedding makers decree: "Personalize your wedding." I nod my head in agreement and then scroll down to see their strategies for making that happen:

Personalized napkins.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Box is Remarkably Small

The bag o' compostable goodies arrived today. The bowls feel a little small, but they'll be just right for the excessively rich chocolate and cherry dessert (a la mode, of course) we're having Friday night.

The cups advertise their coolness with a logo: This cup is made from corn and is 100% compostable.

The good news is that the box is remarkably small. It doesn't feel like we're creating too much waste after all.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Return Some of the Favors

Wedding planning is my new hobby.

Well, planning my own wedding is my new hobby.

Yes, planning has always been one of my hobbies, but this event is especially fun.

Today, we got a message from the owners of Sunshine Mountain Inn (the reception site) saying they had already contacted the recycling center in town. They are going to take charge of setting up separate bins and carting everything to be recycled after the wedding.

And they secured 30 more chairs for us, by borrowing them from another B&B.

And they're figuring out the parking situation with the local authorities.

How amazing are they?

Taking the non-traditional route has really facilitated the building of authentic relationships. At some of the wedding sites we looked at, two or three couples would be scheduled to get married on the same day.

Matt and I volunteered to help them with their spring gardening. I hope they take us up on the offer so we can return some of the favors.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Add More Fuel to the Bonfire

Now that our invitations are out there in the black abyss of the U.S. Postal System (I don't mean that negatively; I am a huge fan of USPS), we've had to hurry and put the final touches on our website.

My best friend, Andy, helped us locate and install a guestbook feature that lets people upload photos and write a brief bio about themselves. In my mind, it's a great way to build community and help people from two different camps (Sara v. Matt) find common ground before it comes time to mingle.

We asked a few of our closest friends to sign it now as a way to model for other people what the purpose is. This picture is from Matt's friend Noah. His corresponding bio: "Wassup single ladies!!!"

It cracked us up (immensely!) but, in the end, we decided to censor it. We figured there's enough in our non-traditional wedding to freak out the grandparents; we didn't need to add more fuel to the bonfire. (But Noah, we love you!)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Good for the Budget and the Environment

The invitations went into the mail today.


It's 3 months and 5 days to the wedding (no, I'm not obsessively counting the days; I set up a countdown feature on our wedding website).

I think that's enough time for the out-of-town folks (which is pretty much everybody), especially because we sent save-the-date cards.

The invitations are a simple postcard with a hand-painted tree and the wedding details on the front and personalized notes from Matt and me on the back. Since finishing the invitations, we have decided to change the ceremony time, which means our invitations have a big fat error on them.

Oh well!

The invitations cost very little to make. We already had tons of water color paper and watercolors. The stamps were only $0.26 each.

Good for the budget and the environment!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Intimate and Relaxing Environment

Yesterday, Matt and I trekked to the Sunshine Mountain Inn (site o' reception) to talk through some details with Cathy and Cory, the lovely inn owners.

The visit completely reaffirmed that we picked the right place. So many of the reception sites we looked at included "wedding coordinators." Cathy and Cory are more like friends who have agreed to help us out. When we explained that we wanted to string white Christmas lights around the outside area, they piped in, "Oh, we have about 20 strands you can borrow." When we asked about the chair situation, Cathy offered to try to borrow some more folding chairs from another B&B in the area.

Phew. They are really fun to work with. Plus, it's such an intimate and relaxing environment. It will really allow us to reconnect with good friends and family.

Matt and I walked around the property, trying to plan the layout. This deck is where Cathy and Cory will set up three grills, so we can cook up some yummy fajitas. Hooray!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

How to Compost All That Stuff

It's a shame, really, that there tends to be a direct correlation between cost and environmental friendliness. The better something is for the environment (e.g., organic, local, hybrid), the more expensive it tends to be. The one exception we've come across--so far--was sending postcard invitations instead of full-out cards and envelopes, envelopes, envelops [Stage note: go back and read that sentence with a fading echo at the end].

Matt and I have opted for paper products upon which to eat. Because we're catering the thing ourselves, we don't want to tie ourselves down with too many tasks that have to get done during the reception. Like doing dishes. Not to mention the fact that the Sunshine Mountain Inn doesn't have enough serving ware for all our guests.

So paper it is, which pains our environmental consciences. The good news, however, is that we have found compostable stuff made from corn starch from a place called World Centric.

Don't think we've cleared our consciences. We're still firm believers in the idea that the first two r's in reduce, reuse, recycle are the only way to decrease our footprint on the environment. So much energy, petroleum, etc. are wasted in the creation and then the recycling process.

But it's a good compromise.

The next step is to figure out how the hell to compost all that stuff.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Easier Said Than Done

Hmm...we're trying to figure out the Friday night food situation. No rehearsal dinners for us.

a) Too exclusive
b) Too stuffy
c) Too expensive
d) All of the above

But we do want to have food and drinks to welcome our guests to Colorado and to our wedding weekend. We have exactly $290 allocated to the occasion at this point. We're thinking of deli sandwich trays, chips, and homemade dessert.

Easier said than done.

The best deal I can find right now is $200 for 40 people. And we're expecting around 100 for the wedding, so maybe 75 for the Friday night gig.

We'll have to keep looking. On the bright side, we have found inexpensive compostable plates and corn starch biodegradable forks. And we've decided to sew cloth napkins for the occasion. Woo-hoo!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Never-Ending Hall of Mirrors

Matt hasn't been sleeping well. It's a sure sign that Stress is paying us a visit (plus our neighbor has a blood hound that rises earlier than the roosters and starts the day with a startling bark).

When we laid out our plan for accomplishing all our wedding "to-do" items before July, I felt a lot better. It allowed me to focus on just a few things each week. But I guess it had the opposite effect on Matt. Now he just sees all the tasks ahead of him, staring back like a never-ending hall of mirrors.

Tonight was fun (for me). We went to Sam's Club (my dear mum includes me on our family membership) and priced things like compostable plates, sodas, and avocados. They even have a gallon of Breyer's Ice-Cream for a mere $6.14. [Editor's Note: Yes, I know that Sam's Club is really just the warehouse version of Wal-Mart, and, no, I am not a Wal-Mart supporter. But we can't have an all-organic, all-local wedding without dumping loads of [non-compostable] cash.]

When we returned home, I offered Matt my services as an organizational consultant (in yoga pants). I helped him look at his to-do list. To-do lists are totally and utterly overwhelming unless certain tasks are assigned to certain days. That way, you can concentrate on a few tasks at a time and rest assured that everything else has been assigned to a different day and will get done when it needs to. I tried to help him realize that he only needs to focus on what needs to get done today. He doesn't need to worry about the whole pile of things that needs to get done this week. It seems to have helped a little bit.

I'm excited that we're bringing friends and family together for a big fiesta. And I'm especially glad that I'm marrying Matt. Cheesy, but true.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Settle This Once and for All

So the results are in. Here's a sampling of what we heard back from people regarding the alcohol plan:

VOTER A: "Can't go wrong with any of the domestics (Bud, Michelob...) My vote would be Budweiser and Coors Light (brewed in Colorado)...and, they cost less than the imports!!"

And the very next e-mail I received:

"Here's what I'd suggest, if beer snobbery is as rampant among your loved ones as mine: striking a balance between quality and affordability, and avoiding Coors products at all costs."

Oi vey. I guess you can't please 'em all, right? The part of my brain that has a penchant for statistical analysis and data-driven decision making has a hankering to create yet another Survey Monkey survey to settle this once and for all.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Alcohol Plan for Our Budget Wedding

Matt and I are fresh off the plane from our dear friend Camella's wedding in good ol' Houston, TX. Her wedding kind of lit a match under our arses about our own wedding. When you've got six months to plan a low-key, there's no real sense of urgency (beyond securing the location).

But when you're down to four months, you start to realize it's time to get moving.

So, we've got tasks assigned to each week for the next four months.

One of the things on tap for this week: solidifying the alcohol plan for our budget wedding.

Here's the tentative rough draft of our alcohol plan for roughly 100 guests:

1) A frozen margarita machine (serving peach margaritas)
2) Two 1/2 kegs
3) Boxed red and white wine

We've got approximately $500 of our budget going toward alcohol, and we figure this is a good way to divvy it up.

I would specifically appreciate your input about which two types of beer to purchase from the attached list: http://www.superiorliquor.com/keglist.asp. Please think in terms of broad and diverse appeal (from our college buds to our grandparents). My alcoholic knowledge is next to naught, so your input would be greatly appreciated.

If you have other comments about the overarching alcohol plan, we'll accept those as well.


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