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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tip #14: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

"When you say 'I do,' one of the vows should be that you understand that you are taking on the financial behavior of your spouse."

I was flipping through Suze Orman's book, The Money Book for the Young Fabulous & Broke, the other day, and I came across that quote.

I think it's so important for people to go eyes-wide-open into marriage. Even though movies usually end with the wedding and the implication that everyone lives happily ever after, real life keeps on truckin'.

Unfortunately, marriage alone doesn't really solve problems. All the problems that were there before you got married are still going to be there when you say "I do" (or "Hell yes!" or whatever it is you're going to say in your ceremony to seal the deal).

It's easy to get distracted by things like flowers-shoes-dresses-centerpieces-cakes--oh my! For many people, those things are fun and light and airy.

It's harder to think through the really hard stuff of marriage, like, "What will it be like when we merge our money? How will we do it? What are the potential pitfalls? What do we need to proactively do to make it work?"

A simple answer to a complicated questions is: talk, talk, talk. As a couple, it's important to sit down together and figure out how it's going to work.

One question to start with is: "What kind of financial person am I? What kind of financial person are you? How will our two [potentially] different styles work together?"

If you think about a spectrum of personal financial management from saver <----> spender, most of us fall at different places. I am definitely on the saver side (I pay my credit cards off in full every month, and I try to temper my consumeristic urges and impulses by reminding myself of my bigger, long-term financial goals). But I am not all the way to the left. I don't save as much money as people with more miserly tendencies. I eat out at least three times a week, and I spend money on things like movie and concert tickets, as well as more expensive things like weekend trips.

Matt is also on the saver side, although we're not at the exact same point on the spectrum. I would classify us as a saver-saver couple.

Here are the other combinations:

Saver-Spender: These couples can balance each other out: "Let's save for our future child's education!" versus "Let's seize the moment and enjoy life!" They can also get into a lot of arguments about how to spend money. Potentially, the saver can feel bitter that s/he has to be the responsible one all the time. Oftentimes, a saver will work hard to pay off debt, while a spender is comfortable accumulating more debt. To make this relationship work, both parties have to figure out a system that works for them. One idea might include a personal allowance every month that each person is allowed to spend as they please. Beyond that, everything else has to get decided jointly. In this relationship, it's particularly important to set joint financial goals, so the spender is more invested in tempering his/her spending habits as necessary.

One of my engaged friends is in this situation right now. Her fiance has a significant amount of debt (for various reasons), and they're working together to figure out a way to work down the debt and live in a way that will prevent new debt from accumulating. It's difficult work, but it can be done.

Spender-Spender: This couple is probably the life of the party! Unfortunately, financial fun is usually a short-term experience and not a long-term one. If your income is significantly larger than your expenditures, it's less of a problem (unless there's an emergency and you don't have an emergency fund). However, it's often true that people spend whatever money they have to spend, so spenders can easily find themselves with credit card debt. Credit card debt is the worst, since you actually end up spending more money for your money. Couples in this situation have to figure out what their goals are and put systems in place that help them reach their goals, despite their spending tendencies (think automatic bank transfers so your money goes directly from your paycheck to various saving accounts).

I don't mean to oversimplify the situation by boxing couples into one of three categories. The nuances look different from couple to couple, depending on where each person is on the spectrum. Introspection is key in this situation.

Matt and I joined our finances fairly soon after our engagement. We used that period as a trial run. We put systems in place that would make the transition smoother.

Now that we're married, we're still refining the system and figuring out what works (yes, by talking, talking, talking).

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Q & A: Alternative Bridal Showers

Reader Question: I've been doing some thinking lately about how much I don't care for bridal showers. First and foremost, I'm not a fan of being the center of attention and I think it's really strange to sit in the middle of the room while people oooh and ahh over measuring cups and hand towels (and the whole "personal" shower bit horrifies me). I prefer to be the person making snide comments in the corner, capitalizing on the free mimosas but I fear that will be tough to pull off as the bride.

What's more I don't really feel like we need all the stuff. I've lived with my fiance for two years and though it's humble, our home is pretty well furnished. We're hoping to move around some more before we officially settle in somewhere and aren't looking to tie ourselves down with a lot of housewares. What's more, it doesn't make much sense to me environmentally replace perfectly good items and I am sympathetic to the financial burden the shower circuit puts on our twenty-something friends.

I'm wondering if you (or anyone out there) has any ideas for alternatives to showers? I've contemplated something like walking in a relay for a good cause or volunteering as a group but I'm not sure how the older women in my life would handle such a radical notion.

A huge part of planning a wedding is sifting through what our families/friends/TV shows/magazines/The Wedding Industrial Complex/etc. say we have to do versus what is meaningful and memorable for us.

I don't like feeling pressured to do things, especially when those "things" usually involve spending lots of money (which isn't good for the bank account and usually isn't good for the environment).

When Matt and I approached our wedding, we put almost every aspect of a "traditional wedding" under a microscope and asked ourselves:
  1. What do we want to keep?
  2. What do we want to modify?
  3. What do we want to invent?
  4. What do we want to throw out?
(Editor's Note: I use quotes around "traditional wedding" because so much of what falls into this category was actually fabricated by the Wedding Industrial Complex in the 1940s. Bleh.)

Of course not everyone in our circle of friends or family agreed with every decision we made. My best friend, Andy, was initially very, very skeptical of the self-catering thing. In fact, I finally asked him to step down from his role as Lead Salsa Maker because I didn't want to cook alongside naysayers on our wedding day (at that point, he relented and said he really did want to be part of it).

My grandfather rejected the opportunity to be one of the speakers in our outside, non-religious wedding ceremony.

My mom didn't understand why we wanted to use the cake cutting ceremony as a time to thank our nearest and dearest rather than feed each other cake.

Luckily, none of the little things were deal-breakers for anyone. They all came to the wedding and realized that most of our decisions made sense within the larger fabric of the kind of wedding we weaved together. They realized, "Oh, I get it. Matt and Sara wanted to plan a wedding that represents their relationship because they want to share their values, love, and commitment with their closest friends and family. I'm here because I'm part of that circle."

When I read about your situation, I understand your urge to create experiences that reflect you and your partner, rather than try to mold yourself into the people everyone thinks you and your partner should be. Some people want a traditional bridal shower; others don't.

I also hear your concern about the effect your decisions will have on your friends and family, and I think we have to divide those decisions and effects into two categories:
  1. Decisions that will make your friends and family uncomfortable because they don't align with their tastes and preferences or their visions about what a wedding should be and what a bride should do
  2. Decisions that will literally make your friends and family uncomfortable and hinder their ability to feel connected to your celebration of community, commitment, connection, and fun
Examples of the first kinds of decisions include things like types of flowers (or--gasp--the decision not to have flowers at all!), the color of your wedding dress (or your decision to wear shorts!), the formality or the format of the food you serve. These decisions can piss off your friends and family because they have their own ideas about what your wedding should be.

Examples of the second kind of decisions include things like asking your friends and family to hike five miles uphill to the ceremony site and not providing any alternatives for individuals who cannot physically handle the challenge. Or holding your wedding on a remote island that only offers primitive camping for accommodation. These decisions literally prevent your nearest and dearest from being part of your celebration. They undermine the real purpose of trying to bring friends and family together in the first place.

I think distinguishing between these two types of decisions is essential.

I also think it's essential to get to the real purpose behind a tradition when deciding how to alter it. So, what is the real purpose of a bridal shower? I'm actually afraid to google that answer. I'm afraid it goes something like this: "The Wedding Industrial Complex invented the 'bridal shower' as a way to increase the number of goods that had to be purchased for the 'wedding experience'."

But what can a bridal shower be? An amazing opportunity to connect with your friends and family (and give them more opportunities to meet each other), share your interests and values with those you love, and have fun(!). So, to figure out the best kind of bridal shower for you, I suppose it would help for you to answer these questions:
  1. Whom do you want to surround yourself with at your pre-wedding party?
  2. Once you have all those people in mind, think about what kind of experience would be enjoyable to all of you (or as many people as possible!). The tricky part of this question is remembering that people might enjoy something in the end that they didn't think they would enjoy at the beginning (like volunteering).
I love your ideas of walking in a relay or volunteering. Some other ideas I have (of things that would be fun for my friends and me) include:
  1. Going on a random acts of kindness scavenger hunt
  2. Taking a cooking class together
  3. Eating a picnic lunch on blankets and playing bocce ball
  4. Organizing a private craft class at some place like Sew Crafty
  5. Bowling! I think old-school bowling parties are hilarious.
  6. Ugh...I'm already running out of ideas! 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, please help!
The one other piece of this puzzle that I'll mention is that a lot of showers are planned by friends or family members. In that case, showing appreciation and gratitude for whatever type of shower they put together may outweigh your desire to have the kind of shower you really want to have. And, just like I mentioned earlier about subjecting our guests to things they don't think they're going to like, "People might enjoy something in the end that they didn't think they would enjoy at the beginning."

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And the Winner Is...

A hearty thank you goes out to Turtle Love Committee for sponsoring this contest. Your rings are a hit!

And thank you all for participating!

Without further adieu, I will announce that the random generator picked: Kelly K. (also known as Kel).

Please e-mail me, so I can help you get your ring. Hooray!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A friend of mine is marrying a long-time friend of her family, and they found this adorable picture of themselves from many years ago. My friend is on her mother's lap on the far left, and her fiance is on his sister's lap on the right.

Honest-to-god, some of their friends vetoed the idea of using this picture in their Save-the-Dates. What?!? It's adorable! (And even if it weren't, it's still their Save-the-Dates and their prerogative!)


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Contest: Last Chance to Win

A unique and practical engagement or wedding ring from Turtle Love Committee!

The contest ends tonight at 11:59 EST.

Go to this post to enter (only once, please).

Best of luck!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Reporters Looking for Budget Weddings

A journalist contacted me today looking for people who are planning their weddings on a shoestring. If you fit the requirements below and are interested in spreading the word about spending sane amounts of money on weddings, please e-mail me your details:
  • A journalist in Vermont is looking for Vermonters who are planning their weddings in a "budget-friendly, recession-conscious" way.

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Weekend Recap

Honestly, I didn't date a lot of guys that I wanted to marry before meeting Matt. Although many of them (note: I did not say "all") had interesting and redeeming qualities, they didn't have the right combination of characteristics that made us a good fit as lifetime companions.

Matt, on the other hand, is an extremely compatible companion. Our weekend is a case in point.


When Matt got home, he spent an hour or so responding to e-mail on the front porch, and I worked on my clown costume for Saturday night. Then we trekked to one of my former colleague's houses that I haven't seen in years. Matt was totally psyched to meet new people and imbibe some Indian food made from scratch! Matt asks lots of sincere questions and genuinely listens to the responses, so it's always fun to hang out with him in group situations.


He was totally game to go to our neighborhood Pooch Promenade. We rode our bikes to the park and entered Hoss in the Most Handsome category. He didn't even place. Matt spent the bike ride home telling Hoss how handsome he is, regardless of what the judges decided.

When we got home, I was in a funk and couldn't think of a single thing I wanted to do. My costume was not progressing very well at all. I didn't want to shop. I didn't want to work in the garden. I didn't want to read. Matt was getting ready to go running, so he invited me along. We drove about 40 minutes outside of Houston to the Lake Houston Park. Matt ran while Hoss and I just strolled for an hour or so. It was exactly what I needed.

Back at home, I suggested we watch a movie, and Matt was totally game. He even let me pick the movie: Rachel Gets Married.

Then we had exactly an hour to get ready for the Clown Gala. I ditched the wedding dress idea because it wasn't comfortable enough and decided to wear my tutu instead. I hurried and made a pink yarn wig using this tutorial. Matt scrounged around in our closet and came up with an adorable costume.

The Clown Gala was a blast. I wish one of my friends would have a clown wedding so everyone could dress up and play fun games. They had a tossing game, a clown therapist, a face-painting station, free clown noses, a Mexican buffet, a stage with bands playing all night, hula hoops, cotton candy, snow cones, an open bar, and a cupcake and brownie buffet. Matt was hilarious. A woman challenged him to lift his weight six times and do six lunges. Matt said, "Ha! That's so easy I'll do them at the same time!" In a very exaggerated and hilarious way, he did the six lunges, threw down his barbell, and proceeded to lift a trashcan over his head. He cracks me up.


We went our separate ways for the morning: I took Hoss running at the park, and Matt went to his soccer game and then picked up some stuff from Target. Then I spent some quality time with a friend--walking, grocery shopping, and working on a template to track students' character development.

That evening, we went over to our friends' house (the famous cook who served us frozen mint lemonade last week) for dinner. Yum!

Of course our weekend wasn't all roses and daffodils. We had disagreements about who was doing more to contribute to the family (I've been doing all the refinancing stuff, while Matt does extra work every week on the yard). And we also had disappointments (he wanted to have sex on Saturday afternoon, and I didn't). But overall, I just enjoy spending time with my beloved.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Q & A: Marriage Laws

Reader Question: My fiance and I are getting married this October, in my parents' back yard in Fort Collins, CO. We have asked his cousin to be our Wedding Officiant. However, we are unsure of where/how to go about getting a license. Since you were married in Colorado and your best friend was your officiant, what/how did you do this? Any advice is much appreciated.

Lucky for you! I haven't done a ton of research on this stuff, but Colorado has refreshingly simple marriage laws and procedures (aside from the fact that they discriminate based on your genitalia).

Matt and I got all the information we needed from the website: US Marriage Laws. It's a compendium of the procedures and laws for all 50 states. Hooray for compendiums! You'll find all your answers there. Enjoy!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bride Clown Costume

Matt and I got invited to a "Clown Gala" tonight. I'm still not entirely sure what we're getting ourselves into. Doesn't the advertisement little a little--um--scary?

We just found out about the event and haven't had much time to pull together our costumes. My original idea involved wearing the tutu I made a few years ago, but I couldn't think of anything else creative to go with it.

And then it hit me. I should be a bride clown. Yes!

My idea involves procuring a cheap wedding dress from a secondhand shop, doing a little work to make it short and poofy, wearing my rainbow thigh-highs (from my Rainbow Brite costume a few years ago), making a garter, finding/making a veil, and making a colorful yarn wig.

I started searching for cheap wedding dresses on Wednesday with my friend, Camella, but we didn't have much luck. Even dirty, sweat-stained, ugly-ass dresses cost more than a $100! I found the perfect one for $19.00 but squinted a bit more and realized it was actually $190.00. Seriously? The influence of the Wedding Industrial Complex extends all the way down to secondhand shops?

Matt and I continued the search the next night, but even at a really seedy place, the dresses still cost $38. Too much for a costume!

As the store was turning off and on its lights to herd us to the cashiers so they could close, I pulled out a super-ugly and stained dress for $4.80. It wasn't what I was looking for (I wanted poofy! lacy! beady!), but it definitely was a wedding dress. I held it to my waist to make sure it stretched at least halfway around on both sides.

Since I don't have that much time, I won't be able to alter it to make it poofy, lacy, and beady. I might just have to go for poofy. I'm thinking of simply sewing layers of tule to the outside and cinching everything together with a sash.

And I have to make the yarn wig...

At least I was able to buy a gawdy veil for $6.50. The cashier thought the veil was beautiful and assumed I was going to use it in my wedding. Oh. I felt terrible. That's exactly why I spent approximately five seconds looking on craigslist for dresses. I couldn't bring myself to buy someone's wedding dress and then have to confess, "Um, I'm actually already married, and I'm going to cut up your dress to turn it into a clown costume."

Now that is tacky!

I'll let you know how it turns out...

P.S. Traditional wedding dresses are h-e-a-v-y!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Genie + Kelvin

Photos courtesy Delphine Photography

Imagine a wedding focused on community, commitment, connection, fun, and--a cave. I'm excited to let you immerse yourself in a little bit of magic off the New Zealand coast. Genie, please divulge all the details (and the big, important stuff, too)...


Our ceremony was held outside Kelvin's parents home at Rapaki Beach. We were always inspired when we visited Kelvin's parents at Rapaki so it wasn't hard to decide that we wanted to get married there too. Our reception was about 10 minutes away at The Cave, Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand. The Cave is an underground cave that was used during the war to store munitions. Christchurch is on the other side of New Zealand from where we live in Auckland but we didn't let the distance stop us.

How your wedding was a memorable and meaningful celebration focused on community, commitment, connection and fun?

We wanted to personalise our wedding wherever possible.

Our aim was to have a fun, day filled with colour and fun activities. There were certain things that just screamed to be DIY - our decorations - I folded 1000 paper cranes for the wish of a happy marriage. These also set an oriental theme that ran through the day. Bouquets and button holes were DIY by me using fabric flowers, ribbons and feathers. While we love fresh flowers, they only last a few days and it seemed unreasonable for us to spend so much on flowers. So we shopped around for flowers and feathers. Ribbons were a bit harder but we managed to buy about 400 metres of coloured ribbon for $15NZ ($8US)! We were originally quoted $300NZ ($170US) for ribbon (in which case we wouldn't have bought ribbon) but $15NZ was totally possible.

Our families were really involved in the planning process and we wouldn't have it any other way. It's nice to be able use people's strengths to your advantage.

My mum sewed the sashes and boleros as well as shopped for lots of oriental decorations during her perfectly timed trip to China last year.

Kelvin's father made the lantern holders used to line the path to the beach and the aisle. Kelvin's parents planted flowers in our wedding colours months ahead for the guests to enjoy.

My sister bound our guest book.

Our caterers specialise in spit roast which was meaningful to us as our relationship has been strengthened over the last 7 years over roast dinners at home shared with friends.

Our locations were very much a celebration of the land. Beside Rapaki beach is an amazing natural pyramid which is mentioned during the ceremony. Rapaki Beach itself is a Maori settlement and is one of the bays in the area with very few houses.

I wanted both parents to walk me down the aisle as they both important to me. We factored in a lot of hugs into the ceremony to cement the idea of joining our 2 families. Kelvin and I hugged both sets of parents during the ceremony. Our parents walked out arm in arm with each other. eg. Kelvin's mum walked down the aisle with my dad.

We wrote our own vows and though they were long, we were told they were fabulous and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We also passed our rings around to key guests for a ring blessing to involve our loved ones.

As our reception venue was very dark - lit entirely by candles and fairly lights, we set up a photo booth with our own digital camera and tripod with fun props so that people could have a place for flash photography. Our props we collected over the last few months and we also have lots of borrowed props like dress up gloves, a fox, a red cow boy hat. It was so much fun going through our camera the next day seeing the relatively tame first photo booth photos to the more risque photos as the night went on.

Music was important to us and we wanted the nights playlist to reflect our musical tastes as a couple, but also wanted some community input. We requested 2 song requests from our guests as part of the RSVP card. We got some great responses and the dance floor was busy all night.

We had helpers cleaning up the big stuff from the beach on the wedding day, but the next day, we cleaned up the beach more thoroughly. It was actually really nice walking along the path to the beach with a bag and taking down our decorations. Ok, so we may have left 2 paper cranes up for others to enjoy.

We think that having most of our guests travel out of town to our wedding made it more festive. It meant that everyone was on holiday mode for a few days rather than just driving down the road to our wedding and having only 1 day of wedding festivities.

What was your ultimate budget?

At first we decided that $10k would be a nice number but in the end we spent $13k ($7200US). We were happy with that. There is nothing we would change in terms of spending. We shopped around and really brought down the prices of things.

The things we splurged on were The Cave, the boys' suits and quality wine and beer. We do not regret these at all. I think having a reception in an underground cave is something that our friends and family will remember for years to come.

Get quotes from a range of vendors! There are people that that are genuinely talented at what they do without charging the earth. We paid a fraction of the price for some things because we got plenty of quotes and were able to make educated decisions. Our photographer had only just started to do wedding photography so we got her at amazing price. So lucky!

Some things we saved on:

Nibbles. Instead of paying $10 head for canapes ($600+ total), we put together our own cheese and fruit platters and bought trays of mini sandwiches and sushi from a bakery and a sushi place. The food was divine (and healthy). I think it's always better to buy sushi made by sushi chefs instead of by caterers. Cheaper too! (No offense to caterers).

My dress. We had it made to measure in China from a local seller. It cost about a third of what the stores were charging and took a quarter of the time to arrive. I'm not a lace and beads kind of girl so that really helped to bring the cost down. My dress cost less than the outfits of some of our guests!

BYO drinks and caterers. Kelvin's parents have a close friend that sells wine and was able to sell it to us at wholesale prices. So we managed to get fantastic wine at low prices. She also organised beer, glasses etc for us and organised for her and another staff to be bartenders during the night.

Any advice you have for other wedding planning folks?

No matter what you do, there will always be someone that thinks your wedding is not traditional enough and there will be someone that things your wedding is too "out there". Just do what feels right for you.

There were some little details that were forgotten on the day. But in hindsight, those details matter less and less.

Feed your vendors. They will appreciate it and for the $30 or so you spend on their dinner, they will go so much further for you in their appreciation.

Where can we bask in more lovely glimpses into your celebration?

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Frozen Mint Lemonade

Matt and I went over to our new friends' house for an impromptu dinner party last night. Stephanie is the Queen of All Things Domestic. She's decorated her home in vivid colors, original artwork, and interesting curiosities. She also built a pond in her backyard and grows succulents.

And, she cooks four-course meals. Yum!

I just had to share the recipe for one of the things she made last night: frozen mint lemonade.

  1. Organic sparkling lemonade
  2. Ice
  3. Mint
  4. Blender
  1. Put everything in the blender
  2. Press the on button
  3. Serve
Delicious! It's also easy to spike with gin or basically anything else.

It's really, really good. I drank multiple glasses of it. It was worth multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night...

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

101 DIY Projects for Weddings

Okay, it's time to run--er, gallop--over to Stylish Events to check out their list of 101 DIY Projects for weddings.

I love compendiums! The internet can be frustrating sometimes because so many ideas are scattered everywhere. I love when similar things are corralled into one place.

Big hugs to Stylish Events for doing this!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Contest: Enter to Win a Unique Engagement or Wedding Ring

Oh wow. I am so excited to announce this contest!

Turtle Love Committee is giving away a ring to one of you. You can choose from any ring in stock, including engagement rings or wedding bands for men or women.

To Enter:
  1. Leave your first name and last initial in the comments section (enter only once, please)
  2. One winner will be randomly selected
  3. Enter by Tuesday, April 28 at 11:59pm EST
Here's what Turtle Love Committee says about what they do:
The jewelry you select as a public celebration of your relationship sets the tone for the future. The value of the ring should be based on the love and commitment it symbolizes, not the financial expense it represents. A ring from the collection at Turtle Love Committee is priceless - it represents an emotional commitment, not a financial one. Each relationship is unique, and the jewelry collected by the Committee is carefully selected for design and quality to include the perfect ring to fit your lifestyle and your relationship. It doesn't matter what kind of a relationship you're in, or with whom. We're confident that if a distinctive ring fits your relationship, you can find the right piece with TLC.
I had a follow-up conversation with Adrianne of Turtle Love Committee to find out their approach to mitigating the harmful effects of mining. She said that her goal is to make TLC "as socially-responsible as possible." The company's mission is "to focus people on love and commitment and away from a culture of consumerism, and that includes a commitment to the people and resources around us." They are working on creating a system to identify jewelry that is environmentally and socially responsible.

She continued, "I am definitely committed to making TLC as people-friendly and environment-friendly as possible, and it's quite a juggling act between keeping price down, getting sales up, and meeting our goals of social responsibility and fostering social change."

I definitely know what she means by the "juggling act." When Matt and I were planning our wedding, we had to juggle several different goals that often conflicted with each other. Yes, my dress was budget-friendly, but it wasn't made from eco-friendly fabrics, and I have no idea about the working conditions. Yes, the meat we served was organic and local, but it was expensive. Living in ways that align with our values is a constant challenge, for sure.

I'll stop talking now so you can go enter to win. Good luck!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Unique Rendition of Stand by Me

This song is a wonderful tribute to marriage and family and friends and neighbors.

Matt saw "Washboard Chaz" during his last visit to New Orleans and forwarded this link to me.

Thanks, baby!

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Wildly Creative & Entertaining Wedding Ideas

Our weekend festivities gave me lots of creative ideas for weddings. My best friend, Andy, says we should plan our weddings the way we plan birthday parties. We should retain a few elements of tradition, but beyond that, they should be wildly creative and entertaining.

First there was the Time Bank potluck. Check out this spread:

Those flat, cornbread-looking things were the cupcakes I made from scratch. They looked like complete crap, but they tasted divine!

On Saturday afternoon, we took advantage of some box tickets to the baseball game provided by Matt's work, The Knowledge Is Power Program. It would be amazing for a pair of sports fanatics to tie the knot at a baseball game.

On Sunday we went to an evening soiree with a Taco Truck and a bouncy house. Awesome!

I'll have to add these ideas to the List of Ways to Have Fun at a Wedding.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Campaign for More Affordable Engagement Rings

Image courtesy of Turtle Love Committee via A Diamond Is Expensive

I know some people really, really want expensive, fancy engagement rings; I just don't happen to be one of them. Matt and I have so many other things to spend our money on:
  1. Our down payment and monthly mortgage bill
  2. A backyard garden and chicken coop, so we can live in more eco-friendly and sustainable ways (and have fun!)
  3. Our yearly trip abroad so we continue to experience the amazingness of other cultures and places
  4. Matt's next car, so we can pay in cash and avoid wasting money on interest payments (he wants a Honda Insight)
  5. The list could go on and on...

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Free All-Natural, Organic Burrito

My best friend, Andy, who functioned as our wedding officiant, also happens to be a self-proclaimed reality TV expert. If you proclaim anything consistently and vehemently enough, the world starts to believe you. He does weekly interviews for radio shows to give his two cents about the latest reality TV happenings. People have even made documentaries about him.

He keeps me abreast of everything I miss in the television world (we only use our TV for DVDs). I keep him abreast of everything that happens in the wedding planning world. Even though we really couldn't care less about each other's quirky passions, we listen respectfully and continue to be the best of friends.

He just let the world know about a fun freebie from some Survivor dude. Apparently, the guy who runs Bear Naked granola was recently voted off (is it an island?) and is using his dismissal as an opportunity to promote his newest venture: all natural, organic burritos.

You can read the story on Andy's site or go straight to the burrito site and register to receive a free one!

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Gifts for Far Flung Friends

Jamie and I, Halloween 2004, preparing to do superhero deeds like passing out lunches to homeless people and campaigning for a Congress person (she was Super Freak and I was Super-ego)

Because your life is not just about wedding planning, I thought I would share an idea for gift-giving.

My dear friend, Jamie, is celebrating her birthday in California. And I am way far away in Texas.

I decided to find something cool in her city (the Bay Area) and buy her and her family tickets to it. I liked the idea of buying her an experience (and, truth be told, I liked the idea of being able to e-mail her a present rather than sending it in the mail because I didn't start thinking about her present until the post office was already closed for the day--argh!).

I searched and searched and unearthed some really cool stuff (you Bay Area folks are so lucky!). I wanted to buy her a dinner at a local farm but instead came across a group called Frugal Foodies. A different group of 10-15 people meet once a week to cook a mostly organic and entirely vegetarian dinner together (there are locations in Berkeley and San Jose). The total cost per person is a mere $8. Cooking yummy food among new friends? So fun! I quickly ran through my mental list of friends in the Bay Area who might be willing to babysit for Jamie and her partner.

Then I found the Maker Faire: a family-friendly event to MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology. Perfect! Jamie is way into crafting, and likes family-friendly events.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation to e-mail to Jamie on her birthday:

Voila! Do you have any other ideas for last-minute gifts for far flung friends?

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Tell Your Story on National News

Exciting news!

A reporter is looking for someone who is planning a DIY or budget wedding for this summer. I love that more attention is being drawn to our kinds of weddings!

If you fit the bill, you can e-mail her the details (put 2000dollarwedding.com in the subject line).

I can't divulge the publication, but I promise you've heard of it!

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A Case for a Potluck Wedding

Potluck wedding via Recipes and Ruminations

Potluck wedding via Once Wed

When I first moved to Houston back in 2003, I lived in a commercial apartment complex. I had grand aspirations of building community by hosting potlucks and creating a directory of residents, their contact information, and their birthdays.

Ironically, I had never lived so close to other people (physically) and yet so far apart (emotionally and psychologically).

After two years there, I took a year off to travel. When I returned to Houston, I decided to live in a house that had been converted to five apartments. There, it was much easier to achieve my community-minded aspirations. We had Community Dinners about once a month, and I made cards to welcome new neighbors into the house.

After one year there, Matt and I moved to Denver (are you sensing a trend? I move around a lot...) to get our Montessori teacher certification and teach in public Montessori schools.

After one year there (yes, we really, really move around a lot), we moved back to Houston. This time, we bought a house and really committed ourselves to putting down roots (for a while at least). We held a potluck dinner to meet our neighbors, and then decided to start a Time Bank.

A Time Bank is a time exchange system that builds community. For example, when you spend an hour doing something for a neighbor--like babysitting, home repair, guitar lessons, etc.--you earn a Time Dollar that can then be spent on getting another neighbor to do something for you. Time banking is an international movement.

We currently have 18 members. Our first monthly potluck is Friday, and I'm reminded again of how much I love potlucks. I love the element of surprise that comes from people going in their own directions and deciding what to bring. I love the sense of collective accomplishment that comes from realizing, "We created this meal together." And then there's the metaphor of each person taking a small piece, putting their small piece together with everyone else's small pieces, and creating something big.

It makes me wonder why more people don't host potluck weddings. I love the idea of asking guests to bring their best dish. Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the scrumptiousness! It would be awesome to label each person's dish with their name, as a way to foster more interaction among guests who are meeting each other for the first time. ("Oh! I must meet Mary to tell her that her quiche is divine!") And you could ask people to bring the recipes, put them on a website, and share the link with your guests after the wedding.

I think we probably would have done a potluck meal, if the majority of our guests had been in-town. Or maybe our Welcome Picnic on Friday would have been potluck and we could have still self-catered Saturday night. The possibilities...
  1. I was able to find a potluck wedding via Once Wed (see second photo above). The summary is lovely.
  2. There's also one at Offbeat Bride. The couple baked lasagna for their 200 guests and asked people to bring drinks and dessert.
  3. Then there's this couple who have a whole wedding website dedicated to the potluck idea!
  4. Ooh, this couple had a beautiful spread (see top photo).
For those of you who are considering the potluck route, you can find some good step-by-step guidance on this site.

I was also able to find lots of forums that talk about how "tacky" a potluck wedding is. Matt and I tried to avoid this kind of judgment from others by only inviting our closest friends and family. Of course there are still critical people within that circle, but they loved us enough to respect that we wanted a wedding that expressed our values as a couple. Plus, several of them ended up enjoying those things that seemed "tacky" initially.

I don't understand why asking your friends and family to contribute a small piece of themselves to share with the community is considered "tacky" or "budget." To me, it's an amazing way to build community and connection among your friends and family. Further, it's the way weddings were done for hundreds of years before consumerism took over. It's also fun!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vintage Wedding Dresses

Hooray for these vintage dresses that are eco-friendly and budget-minded! (Thanks for sharing, Amanda!) You'll have to look past the rather seedy ebay pictures...

This 1950s ruched prom dress starts at a mere $24.99.

This 1950s wedding dress starts at, um, $0.99. Yes, less than a dollar.

This 1960s Emma Domb dress starts at $34.99.

This 1970s formal dress starts at $19.99.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unique and Interesting Wedding Ceremony Scripts

An e-mail from a 2000dollarwedding kindred spirit gave me the idea to create a resource list of unique and interesting wedding ceremony scripts. Creating your own (or even revising one provided by your officiant) can be a daunting task. A little inspiration can go a long way. I'll add to this list as links are mentioned in the comments section. Please, help a girl out! I had trouble finding a lot. If you want to e-mail me your script and have me upload it and link to it, let me know!
  1. Sara & Matt of 2000 Dollar Wedding
  2. Ariel & Andreas of Offbeat Bride
  3. Kat & Justin of Weddingbee
  4. Jen & Shell
  5. Peonies & The Boy of Peonies and Polaroids
  6. Katie & Paul of A Backyard Wedding
  7. Hope & Ben of hippie dippie bebe

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Contest Winner

And the winner is--thanks to random.org--Rachael Eisner!

Congratulations, Rachael!

And to everyone else: a hearty thank you for entering! As a consolation prize, you can follow this link to a customized page that should give you 25% off whatever you order.

If you decide to use VistaPrint for your printing needs, I would highly recommend you get on their mailing list. They send out new offers and deals constantly. Just be sure to read the fine print. Sometimes the deals don't apply to items for which you want to upload your own images.

Again, thank you for entering! Happy Wednesday, everyone! Stay tuned for next week's contest: a free ring from Turtle Love Committee!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tomatoes, Chickens, and Water Conservation--Oh My!

Ooh. This post isn't particularly relevant to planning meaningful and memorable weddings, but I just had to share. You can go to Good Magazine and see this amazing graphic about how much water we consume through various things. It's definitely an implicit public service announcement for vegetarianism!

While I'm off-topic, let me throw in a few other things I've been meaning to talk about (but just couldn't seem to connect to weddings or marriage). Luckily, they do connect to this post!
  1. Matt and I started growing a tomato plant upside down in our backyard (using this tutorial). We don't have a lot of sun, so vegetable gardening is a huge challenge. However, we were able to get the plant more in the sun by hanging it from an 8-foot piece of wood. Apparently, upside down tomato growing is easier (no staking) and more pest- and disease-resistent because of the increased air circulation and the barrier between the plant and the ground. You can also use Tospy-Turvy.
  2. We are thinking about getting hens! To continue with the Bonanza theme to honor our dog, Hoss, we are considering these names: Little Joe, Candy, Clem, and Hop Sing. (We're only going to get 2-3 hens, so we'll have to eliminate some options.)

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