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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strategies for Minimizing Wedding Planning Stress

I had every intention of planning thoughtfully and deliberately for my trip to Western Massachusetts. I wanted to have a plan for my self-development that included books, my yoga mat, and my Spanish-language learning CDs.

Instead, I found myself frantically and frenetically running around my house at 6:00am the day of my departure. Matt insisted that we leave the house at 6:30, and I didn't want to get up any earlier than 6 because I had stayed up late watching a movie.

Some people work best with high-energy bursts of productivity that stem from periods of procrastination. I just don't happen to be one of them. I don't want to find myself in the same place when Matt and I get ready to leave for our honeymoon or when I get ready to start school this year. Last year, I had a bona fide anxiety attack at 4am when I finally finished my preparation for the first day of school and tried to fall asleep.

I have tons of strategies in my Toolkit O' Organization and Time Management. Unfortunately, I don't always use them. In fact, I oftentimes actively rebel against them.

Don't get me wrong; there is absolutely a time to break free from the shackles of effectiveness and efficiency. There are times to breathe and just be.

However, in order to "breathe and just be" on my honeymoon, I need to make sure that a whole host of stuff gets done before I go. It's time to pull out some of my favorites personal management strategies and kick them into high gear:
  1. Keep a centralized to-do list: I often find myself thinking of something I have to do and neglecting to write it down. Sometimes I am able to re-remember the item and actually get it done. Othertimes, I neglect to get it done and don't realize it until it's too late. Either way, I'm not being as effective as I am if I just write something down (in a centralized place). If we hold things in our heads, we waste mental energy re-remembering them over and over again. I say "centralized" to-do list because if we jot everything down everywhere, we waste a ton of energy trying to corral our thoughts. During my first year of teaching, sticky notes were my preferred system. What a disaster! They were everywhere. They were never prioritized. They would sneak up on me and frighten me. A centralized to-do list can take a lot of different forms: a notebook, Outlook, a website, a binder, etc. The trick is to pick one system and use it consistently. I also keep a centralized list of books to read, gifts to buy people, things I need from the grocery store/office supply store/Target, movies to watch, and things to do someday.
  2. Process e-mail effectively: E-mail can be the bane of my existence. It demands so much maintenance and energy. It helps if I follow the advice of David Allen: if an e-mail will take two minutes or less to respond to, I go ahead and do it. If it will take longer than that, I move it into my "action" folder in my inbox and add it as a to-do item on my to-do list. Also, if I'm trying to work at my computer, I turn my e-mail off. It's so inefficient to constantly flip back and forth. It's better to process e-mail in batches.
  3. Keep paper under control: I have a filing system that helps me keep my piles under control. I have a folder for "action required", "upcoming", and "to be filed." As I open mail or get more paperwork at work, I try to process it into one of these folders (or into the trash). If something requires action, I put it in the folder and then diligently add it to my to-do list (if I don't write it down, it never gets done). If I know I'll need something soon (like a boarding pass, meeting agenda, or directions), I put it in my "upcoming folder" so I'll immediately know where to access it when I need it. Finally, I put things in my "to be filed" folder and--once a month--I file everything in the folder into another system.
My pre-honeymoon to-do list is 33 items deep. I'll work as hard as I can to get stuff done (and then I'll write a post about crossing off entire items on your to-do list without getting them done and forgiving yourself in the process...)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Tip #15: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Make time for self-development apart from each other.

I love spending time with Matt. Although there is a direct relationship between the amount of time we spend together and the amount of quibbling we do, I still love hanging out with him. I long for eating breakfast with him at the park, playing Boggle, going to the farmers' market, watching our Netflix movies in bed, taking our dog to the park, eating at yummy restaurants, just sitting and talking, cooking dinner together, wrestling, and making crafts.

However, when the opportunity arose to trek to Western Massachusetts to stay with a potential kindred spirit in her cabin in the woods, I had to jump at the chance.

One of my goals for last year was to plan a retreat for myself. Unfortunately, in the busyness of wedding planning, buying a house, finding a new job, and getting a dog, I never got around to it.

I love the idea of retreats. Retreats are a chance to separate ourselves from our everyday surroundings and reconnect with our essential selves. In other words, we can step outside the cloud of electrons whizzing around us and focus on our nucleus. Ideally, I would like to create at least one retreat-like opportunity for myself each year.

This year, I've been fortunate to spend six days and five nights surrounded by trees and damp dirt. One of my consulting colleagues lives in Western Massachusetts and primarily telecommutes. I've been here for four days, and I feel my coiled self unwinding and making space for my thoughts and ideas.

My new friend and I spend our days talking, hiking, cooking healthy food, reading, doing yoga, exploring the quaint town of North Hampton, and sleeping. Although I miss Matt (and Hoss), I know this kind of time is important. I can't be my best version of wife or [dog] mother or daughter or teacher or friend until I am my best version of me. It reminds me of this Nikki Giovanni poem I just learned about:

Revolutionary Dreams
i used to dream militant
dreams of taking
over america to show
these white folks how it should be
i used to dream radical dreams
of blowing everyone away with my perceptive powers
of correct analysis
i even used to think i'd be the one
to stop the riot and negotiate the peace
then i awoke and dug
that if i dreamed natural
dreams of being a natural
woman doing what a woman
does when she's natural
i would have a revolution

I'd like to find a regular retreat to attend year after year. I can imagine meeting amazing friends who flock to the ritual of reconnecting with one's core. I love the Be Present Retreats that Superhero Journal is part of, but the cost is a bit high for my budget.

Any other ideas for budget-friendly, yearly retreats focused on self-development and rejuvenation?

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wedding Traditions

Oh man. If you want really depressing insight into the origin of wedding traditions, read this article.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Encouraging Wedding Guest Involvement

Matt and I kind of asked a lot from our guests:
  1. We asked them to fly to Denver (since most of them lived elsewhere).
  2. We asked them to rent cars to trek 1.5 hours into the mountains for the wedding (although we did facilitate carpooling on our wedsite!).
  3. We asked them to pay for their own lodging (although we found a place that only cost $25 or $35/person/night).
  4. We asked them to upload a picture and write a short bio on our wedsite (to facilitate the creation of community among people from very different social and familial groups).
  5. We asked them to mail us a scrap of fabric before the wedding, so we could incorporate it into a wedding quilt.
  6. We asked them to donate any of their unused, old gold to greenKarat so it could be melted down and formed into new rings.
  7. We asked more than 30 of them to take on small jobs to help make the Welcome Picnic, ceremony, and reception possible.
  8. We asked them to upload all of their photos after the wedding to a centralized flickr account.
Phew. I get tried just listing all those things.

Not every guest did every item on the list, but many of them did a lot of them. In the end, it helped our wedding center on community, connection, commitment, and fun.

That's why I was so excited to hear about Zach and Meg who are encouraging their guests to read Infinite Jest before attending their Alaskan wedding. Here's what they say on their wedsite:
Diversion In the midst of wedding planning and enjoying the Alaskan summer, I’ve decided to take the infinitesummer challenge. Won’t you join me? After all, you have at least 3-9 hours on a plane to get to Alaska for the wedding. Plus, it could make great cocktail party conversation at the reception, if someone else happens to have read or is reading the book (I can think of 2 other people who are and they may be at the reception). Also it doesn’t require physical exertion and you shouldn’t get sweaty, well you could, but then you’d probably be doing more than just reading the book.
We used creative name tags to facilitate conversation at our Welcome Picnic, but I love the book club idea! Oh, how I wish I were friends with Meg and Zach. The ceremony is at a rose garden in downtown Anchorage, and the reception will be held at their home. [insert sigh of contentment]

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

One of My Website Staples

Grand Hotel le Florence in Nice, France (where we'll be spending two nights)

As a blogger, I know I'm supposed to be "one step ahead" in terms of what I find and share on the internet, but sometimes old things are really worth a post.

Like Trip Advisor.

You all know what I'm talking about, right?

I would be elated if I had the honor of introducing at least one person to the marvel that is Trip Advisor--a website for user reviews of hotels in almost any city imaginable.

Matt and I are trying to book lodging in Paris, Nice, and Athens. Trip Advisor feels so candid and real (almost a little too real sometimes).

My best friend Andy and I used Trip Advisor when we went to Costa Rica a couple years ago. That reminds me--I need to figure out what Andy wants to do for Thanksgiving this year. He and I have a tradition of traveling together (I think Matt is going to see his family in Indiana. Since we're going to see them a few weeks later at Christmas, I think it's okay to travel with Andy instead. Maybe Belize? Definitely somewhere Spanish speaking...I need to practice so I'll be able to communicate with my students' families next year!)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Column: DIY Wedding Invitations

Marissa is here to share how she made eco-friendly, budget-minded, hand-crafted wedding invitations. (If you'd like to submit a guest column, please e-mail me your idea(s)!)

Take it away, Marissa!


I only used materials that I already had lying around in my craft box (minus the envelopes), and it only cost me about $2 to make about 25 invitations this way. I used cardstock that I bought on sale at Joann Fabrics last fall (6 pieces for $1!) on a whim. The actual invitation portion is just printed out on plain computer paper that I used on my home printer. The ribbon I got for free from my roommate who had it left over and didn't need it any more. And...it was really easy to do! The most time-consuming part was implementing the detailing around the bottom edge (I cut a scalloped shape and punched holes with an exacto knife to give it a bit of a border). I just thought I'd share my peace of mind that DIY invitations need not be a labyrinth of complicated pocket-folds and tons of stress.


  • 12 x 12 Cardstock (each piece yields 3 invitations)
  • exacto knife or other sharp detailing knife
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • computer paper
  • pencil with eraser
  • ribbon
  • glue
  1. First, use a sheet of paper to make the templates for the invitations. The first one will be used for the cardstock backing and measures 3.5" x 10". The second template will be used for the actual invitation layer and measures 2.75" x 6.25".
  2. Use a hole punch to punch two holes near the top of both templates. These will be the holes the ribbon goes through to tie the two pieces together, so make sure both sets of holes line up!
  3. Optional: cut a border along the bottom of the cardstock template. I used eyelet lace and traced along the bottom edge to get a scalloped effect on my template, but you can use any number of patterns.
  4. Using the completed template, trace the design along the pieces of cardstock.
  5. When you're all done tracing, use the scissors to cut out the basic pieces (use an exacto knife to get the detailed edge, if necessary). Use the hole punch to punch out the holes. Use an eraser to erase any stray pencil marks.
  6. To do the detail work around the edges, use an exacto knife and gently puncture holes in the cardstock. Use a ruler to guide you. Don't worry if the lines aren't exactly straight--that's part of the beauty of home-made!
  7. If you haven't done so already, design the actual invitation on a word processing document. I did a trial-and-error process to get the measurements exactly right, but you can choose to alter the margins to fit the invitation template size.
  8. Once you design and print the invitations, use the invitation template to trace and cut out the invites.
  9. Using about 2" of ribbon per invite, tie the cardstock and the invitation together and glue together on the back.
  10. Enjoy your handiwork!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Q&A: Wedding Flowers

Reader Question: I am planning my own very inexpensive wedding and don't see flowers anywhere on your pricing breakdown. I am ordering bulk and doing them myself but I was curious as to how much of your budget went to flowers.

Originally, we had $50 allocated to "decorations." We used $33 of those dollars to purchase vintage sheets from the Goodwill that we used as tablecloths. We were going to use the rest of the money to buy my bouquet from Whole Foods, but at the last minute, we realized we could ask a friend to collect wild flowers from the property adjacent to the Bed & Breakfast where we were staying.

We had visions of potentially using potted zinnias from our garden for centerpieces, but our garden didn't do very well that year, so we decided to skip centerpieces. We figured the food would be enough decoration. We had homemade guacamole, salsa, and chips waiting on every table when the guests arrived at the reception. Matt's parents hosted a family lunch on our wedding day and so we did end up with some reused flowers from that event that Cathy and Cory (the B&B owners) added to some tables at the last minute.

I hope that answers your question!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Our first wedding anniversary is coming up. Can you believe it?

We were married on Saturday, July 19, 2008.

Matt and I are trying to figure out how to celebrate our anniversaries (it's pluralized because I'm talking about all of our future wedding anniversaries, not just the first one). We're not really presents kind of people. Exchanging gifts at Christmas and birthdays (and other random times) seems sufficient.

Maybe we should start a tradition of planning a surprise excursion or experience for each other. We could alternate who does the planning each year. Some years it could be a trip. Other years, it could be more like a date night. For example, since we're going on our Annual Adventure right around our anniversary, it might make more sense to do more of a day-trip this year.

Hmm...I'm liking this idea! It seems like a great way to cultivate care and creativity in our relationship (and, once we have kids, the said kids won't be invited, so we can continue to cultivate intimacy in our lives).

I wonder if we should also write a letter to each other to encapsulate our past year together. We could keep these in a binder and look back over the old ones each year. We started this tradition at Christmas, but it might make more sense to move it to our anniversary. Or we could go through our pictures from the year, print them out, and put them in an album together.

Have you come across any cool ways to celebrate wedding anniversaries?

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Paperless Wedding Invitations

2000dollarwedding kindred spirit, Sarah, shared this New York Times article about Paperless Post, a company that lets you send real looking invitations electronically.

Matt and I opted for snail-mail invitations because we like real mail and we wanted to write personalized notes to each of our guests, but we did send electronic Save-the-Dates. I love that this company combines the look of real invitations with the money-saving and eco-friendly benefits of e-mail (only $5 for 60 invitations!).

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unique Wedding Reception Catering Ideas

Matt and I self-catered our reception for 80 of our nearest and dearest because we wanted to save money, spend quality time cooking with our friends, and feel very connected to the experience of crafting a wedding from scratch.

If the majority of our guests had been been local, I think we might have opted for a potluck, which would have helped us save money and foster a sense of community and connection.

If we had been looking for a third or fourth option, I think we would have gone with a taco truck or a portable wood burning pizza oven. How yummy and fun!

Ooh, a crawfish boil (with vegetarian/vegan options) might also be fun!

I'm constantly reminded that--at its core--a wedding is really just a public proclamation of love and commitment and a fun, fun party. And both of those things can be whatever we want them to be.

What other ideas do you have for unique catering ideas that create a f-u-n party?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dyeing Your Wedding Dress

Photos courtesy of This Young House

One of the things I never considered when selecting my wedding dress was this important question: What am I going to do with it after the wedding?

Once the day had come and gone, I came up with this list of options for What to Do with Your Dress After the Wedding:
  1. Donate it
  2. Resell it
  3. Store it
  4. Wear it
  5. Transform it into something other than a dress
I'm pretty convinced that I'm going to transform mine into a skirt one of these days (to preserve the embroidery), but in the meantime, I thought I would share this idea from Sherry over at This Young House. With black RIT dye for $5, she was able to transform her wedding dress into a party dress for a lifetime (even though the label said, "Dry Clean Only").

It's certainly risky, but it worked out really well for her!

What are you planning to do with your dress after the wedding?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Plug for Practical Rings

Photo courtesy of Kate Szabone on Etsy

I opted for a very practical ring (read: a thinner band with a 2mm synthetic sapphire bezel) for a variety of reasons:
  1. I've never been a big jewelry wearer, so I wanted my ring to feel as inconspicuous as possible to make the transition from never wearing a ring to always wearing a ring easier.
  2. I never want to take my ring off. If I had to take it on and off for a variety of purposes (showering, sleeping, doing dishes, gardening, etc.), I would be more likely to lose it or prefer leaving it off.
  3. I don't want to worry about cutting myself or a baby or snagging something important.
  4. I want to be able to wear my ring while traveling in a developing nation without feeling like I'm flaunting America's excessive material wealth.
Sometimes I feel a little like a hippy or someone who is flat-out broke when I compare my ring to other women in professional situations. When I feel insecure about it, I try to remind myself that I intentionally chose the ring I'm wearing. It reflects who I am and what kind of life I lead. It's funny how easy it is to feel insecure about being different in a culture that values conformity.

It's up to each of us to make choices that reflect our deepest, authentic selves without feeling pressured by what others think we should or ought to do (which also means, if you want a big ring, don't let me pressure you otherwise!).

(For those of you who also prefer smaller, practical rings, I offer you this link to Kate's amazing store!)

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Preparation for Bikini Season

I want to lose 8 pounds before we leave for Paris (and Nice and the Greek Islands). Of course there are better indicators of health and wellness than pounds, like your energy levels and general contentment and muscle tone and how your clothes feel, but I know my body and know that it is most healthy and well when it is 8 pounds lighter.

My amazing mom has recently joined Weight Watchers and has already lost 13 pounds (go, Mom!). She has remarkable amounts of will power (which did not necessarily get passed down to me). I like to eat. I really like to eat. Like this past weekend, I made ice-cream sandwiches out of homemade chocolate-chip cookies and vanilla ice-cream. I think I single-handedly ate at least 7 of them. And they were big. I also ate a lot of goat cheese spread (with garlic, olive oil, fresh rosemary, and pita chips). And then there were the brownies and the little lemon cakes at the picnic I went to...

Like I've said in the past, I'm not a big fan of diets. To me, diets imply a state of temporariness. Diets feel like, "I'll work really hard to resist temptation and lose weight." When the ideal weight has been achieved, it's tempting to go back to one's old ways and put the weight right back on.

Instead, a good "diet" is really a lifestyle change. You change your eating habits, lose weight while doing it, and continue with the habits once your idea weight is attained in order to maintain it.

Easy said than done, of course.

I like the Weight Watchers approach because it follows a simple premise: in order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to eat fewer calories than you expend. It also retrains your brain to have a more realistic understanding of portion size. (Just for the record, Weight Watches is not paying me to sing their praises...)

I went to the Weight Watchers site and got a lot of recipes for this week:
  1. Baked Falafel Sandwiches
  2. Bean Burritos
  3. Chickpea and Brown Rice Veggie Burgers with Cucumber Salsa
  4. Bowtie Past with Wild Mushrooms
  5. Feta, Tomato, and Spinach Pizza
For breakfast, I'm going to stick with my smoothie made of 1 cup vanilla yogurt, half a banana, and ice. For lunch, I'm going to eat veggie burgers, Amy's burritos, or leftovers. For snacks, I'm thinking carrots, applesauce, cheese sticks, or cottage cheese. I'll indulge in a big dinner on Saturday when I'm in New York.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not thinking, "I'm going to lose weight before my honeymoon and then gorge myself for two weeks straight." I'm really trying to change my lifestyle, and I'm merely using my impending honeymoon as a little extrinsic motivation.

P.S. If you want more insight into the recipes I try, consider joining the 2000 Dollar Wedding Facebook group. I update it much more frequently.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Guest Column

I'm excited to share this guest column with you! Mandyrosy shares some of the frustrations and difficulties that come from collaborating with your fiance to plan a wedding. I hear you, sister; I really do.

Let me just preface this by noting that I love my fiancé very, very very much. We share many of the same life interests and goals. We've known each other for over eight years and worked hard to establish a good, caring, strong relationship.

We've been planning our September wedding for about six months now. Well, most of the time, really, we've been not planning our wedding. We've been planning our trail run and working on our work and finding a new place to live together and moving.

But the other day I decided it was time for us to start thinking about the ceremony. (Unfortunately, in our process it is my job to create a sort of wedding lesson plan and assign regular homework projects to my Dearly Beloved.) We'd thought about virtually every other aspect of the weekend, but not the actual marrying part. Of course, I had been reading around on the blogs, getting various ideas of interesting, not-too-weird, not-too-out-there things to try. I asked DB to look into it. Then I sent him a few links. Instead of noticing the sweet, loving touches of the wedding ceremonies I was trying to point out, he noticed creative beer receptacles and elements of the party.

So I tried suggesting some of the things I had liked. We went up to look at our ceremony site and talk over some ideas. I mentioned readings as a way to incorporate family and friends (we have a wedding party of two – the Maid of Honor and the Best Man) and said maybe we could have about four. He thought that was too many and insisted that most wedding guests would really prefer it if the wedding was as short as possible because they didn't really want to be there anyway. I wasn't so stuck on the numbers, but the idea that our guests would actually be hating every moment of the wedding really bothered me. I pointed out that all the friends/family I had invited probably wanted to see us get married, since that was what we were inviting them to do. He insisted that many guests – esp. all male guests – would basically just be counting down to the reception. Finally, he noted that anything creative I wanted to do with the ceremony was really "just for me" and "wouldn't mean anything" to our guests.

I may have exploded. To me, trying to involve my family and friends in the wedding is really important. I have a large family and friends who are traveling long distances to be there, and I love them all dearly. I also want to have a ceremony that illustrates who we are and shows people how much we love each other.

Unfortunately, planning this loving ceremony has brought out the less-than-lovely side of me.

I yelled, I cried. Finally, I gunned the engine of my pickup and fishtailed as we pulled out of the parking lot, all while angrily gesticulating and explaining.

Why, I asked, did he have to shoot down all of my ideas so negatively and immediately while putting forth none of his own?

Well, he saw it as his role to "reign me in," he replied.

Whoa there, cowboy. Poor choice of words.

"Reign me in? Reign me in? What ever gave you the idea I needed to be reigned in? What outlandish idea have I ever suggested?!" This sputtered by the very angry owner of a $20 vintage wedding dress, who is getting married in a state park with minimal decorations. Who will style her own hair and makeup. Who took their own engagement photos and DIYed their recycled-paper invites. Whose friends and family members are baking the cake, arranging the locally grown flowers and making his ring. Who is planning a BBQ instead of a rehearsal dinner and encouraging guests to camp instead of reserving a swanky hotel.

I never thought I needed reigning in. Somehow, though, DB has imagined that as his role and will occasionally squat like a wet blanket over all things wedding.

Despite his wonderfulness, he has often used the phrase "It's your day" to attempt to pawn off all planning responsibilities on me. But then, just when he's insisted he doesn't care and I should do whatever I want to do, he expresses an unbending opinion about some key aspect.

We have gone round and round with, "It's your wedding." "No, it's our wedding."

There are times when wedding planning is not fun. I think every intended bride and groom has the occasional wedding spat. If you're like DB and I, this might be the first big event you've ever planned together. In our latest (unheated) conversation about it, we concluded that we're both generally solo planners, the kind who don't work well in groups.

But we're getting there. After we'd cooled off, DB confessed that he'd never thought of the ceremony beyond us saying our vows to each other, and that alone is the most important part to him.

Today I had a flash of saying those vows and slipping the ring on his finger, promising to love him forever. And I didn't see anyone's face but his.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Canned Good Wedding Centerpieces

Hooray! I've been obsessed with the idea of canned good centerpieces for a while now, and 2000dollarwedding kindred spirit, Alison, pulled it off.

Without further adieu, here's Alison to share a couple ideas for planning a wedding that reflects your values (despite eyebrow-raising from the Wedding Industrial Complex) and a wedding that is f-u-n!

So, our wedding was this past weekend and it was SO much fun! It was definitely not a $2,000 wedding (sigh, how I wish I was stronger in standing up to my parents at times. Who knew that being an only-girl child would lead my normally very reserved parents to spiral into "dreams we've been harboring for years but never clued you in on until this moment" mode???), but there were some elements that I thought your other readers might appreciate!
  1. We did pull off the canned good centerpieces. When I pitched this idea to my florist she was SUPER skeptical, but I just kept pushing. It also meant that our floral budget was cut by 75%!! We went to Costco and got roughly 250 cans for around $200. The crates I struck a deal with a local Hobby Lobby manager and got from about $3.50 each. A bridesmaid and I painted them one afternoon in my backyard using simple Acrylic paint. The cans themselves were wrapped in simple white paper (that was already partly recycled and will be recycled again). We reused the bridesmaids bouquets (blue hydrangeas) on some of the tables, threw in a few stems of lilies and used frosted votives (you can get really good deals online). Anyway, there is a picture attached! It was so much fun for us to pick them up today and take them over to the foodbank, where it turns out a girl I knew from college actually works now!
  2. We had a roulette table where people "gambled" on charities. We picked 3 that were close to us and each will get something based of "votes" they got. This was probably the BIGGEST hit of the night. The table was literally packed with people all night and some guests ended up writing down their names and pitching in checks and cash even if they didn't play (which we totally had NOT planned on and found really touching!!) We rented the table from a local company for pretty cheap and did hire a dealer, but if you used an acquaintance and made your own table it could probably be even cheaper. No picture of that just yet, but it was so much fun that I had to share the idea :)

Thanks for sharing, Alison!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Infrequent Indulgences

I talk a lot about being frugal, reusing, distinguishing wants from needs, reducing, and scouring Craiglist and secondhand shops.

Lest I be a complete and utter hypocrite, I wanted to share my recent indulgence with you.

I found this French vintage wire basket on Etsy and I went weak in the knees. I showed it to Matt, and, although he thought it was cool, the $98 price tag kept him from declaring, "We should get it."

I closed my computer and occupied myself with other pursuits (like redoing our front walkway with flagstone and moon rocks and refinishing our mid-century modern living room chair by sanding off the old finish and sewing new cushions).

However, I kept thinking about that basket. I kept seeing the little metal knots and that darling tag in my head.

I went back to the site in the morning. I tried to convince myself that $123 (base price + shipping) was entirely too much for one piece of home decor. Then I pushed myself to figure out exactly where I would put the piece--if I did end up buying it. I realized the basket was only 8" x 8". It wouldn't fit very well on our bigger book shelves.

Suddenly, I glanced at our succulent desk (it's an old student desk with succulent plants on top) and realized that it had a little cubby hole that might be the perfect size for the basket. I grabbed the tape measure and learned that the little hole was about 10" x 10".

At that point, I could no longer resist the temptation. I decided to use my allowance money and some of my left over birthday money to buy that little wire basket and call it my own.

I'm crossing my fingers and my toes in the hope that I will love this precious specimen in person as much as I do in photos. I hope that it settles into our home for the next 50 or so years (then it will only be $2.46/year).

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2000 Dollar Wedding on TV

Matt and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to tell our wedding story on KIAH-TV Channel 39.

Yolanda and her amazing videographer and intern came to our house a couple weeks ago to chat about our wedding. They were so friendly and fun!

I'm so glad that eco-friendliness and budget-mindedness values are being spotlighted and celebrated in our society these days.

Some behind-the-scenes info: When we sat on the love seat on our front porch for the interview, we realized the rain had completed soaked it the day before. We did the whole interview with water seeping into our pants. After our chat, the videographer wanted to get some shots of us walking down the street, but I had to kindly alert him that he couldn't take any shots from behind, due to the immense wet spots that had spread across our entire rumproasts.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

DIY: Vintage Wedding Cake Stands

Image courtesy of Tangarang

Oh. Wow.

I wish I were a sixteenth as creative as the people in Blog-land.


Cake stands made out of vintage plates and glasses?

Brilliant! And i-n-e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e!

And better for than environment than buying something brand-new.

Eco-friendly, budget-minded, and hand-crafted. Yes! Make that an emphatic, "YES!"

These would be lovely at a wedding with a bunch of regular cakes (to give people options!) or with cupcakes.

DISCLAIMER: I don't mean to pressure you into making every aspect of your wedding cute and crafted. I'm the one who went with a bunch of smaller cakes from Whole Foods (cheaper and less of a hassle) and just plopped them straight on the table (a table that didn't even have a cute or crafted tablecloth). Matt and I had other things to worry about (like writing our ceremony, making our wedding quilt, choreographing our first dance, creating our wedsite, creating name tags that would foster conversation, writing personalized notes to each of our guests on the invitations, buying a new house, planning a move, looking for new jobs, and generally trying to keep ourselves grounded and happy). Yikes!

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fun Things to Do at a Wedding

I'm a big fan of making weddings fun, and I've got a new idea to add to my ongoing list: Rent a Snoball Truck.

This Snoball Truck parks at a grocery store within walking distance of our house and serves up delicious, snowy goodness. They have more than 26 flavors to choose from, and they will soon use biodegradable cups, straws, napkins, spoons, and carriers.

You can find them on Facebook.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

It's About the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Sometimes, planning a wedding is really, really hard.

While I was in the midst of it, I tried to put on my sane hat. I tried to put on my rational hat. I tried to put on my normal hat and remind myself, "All of the little things that feel really, really big are actually very small."

Now that I've made it through to the other side, it's even easier for me to see how I obsessed about pretty inconsequential things (like photo stamps), and it's easier for me to see how a marriage is so much more important than a wedding. (My rational self kept reminding my irrational self of this fact during the planning process, but sometimes the irrational self would plug its ears and start humming.)

These photos from Rubyellen's Mother's Day celebration remind me of this idea: it's about our relationships and our lives together. It's about how we love and let ourselves be loved on a daily basis. It's about weaving a life together of laughter, meaning, purpose, and joy.

You can find the details over at her blog, cakies.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

DIY: Wedding Garter

Photo courtesy the purl bee

I talk a lot about how Matt and I held each element of a "traditional wedding" under a microscope and decided whether to:
  1. Keep it
  2. Modify it
  3. Reject it
  4. Create something new
When it came to the wedding garter, we decided to reject it. We didn't know where the tradition had come from, and, frankly, it seemed like just another trivial detail that we didn't want/need to worry about.

However, everyone needs to make the decision for themselves, based on what makes sense to them. If you are going the garter route, this DIY version from the purl bee is pretty darn cool.

It uses elastic thread in the bobbin, which is my new favorite trick. I'm in the process of making a dress from scratch, using this miraculous invention (just say no to darts and pleats!).

The tutorial from the purl bee is very clear and easy to follow. Happy sewing!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Contest Winner

And the winner is...

Jennifer Cu.! Congratulations, Jennifer!

As a consolation prize for those of you who didn't win this contest, you can check out Jennifer's cooking blog: Yum.neatlysliced.com.

Jennifer, please e-mail me, so I can put you in touch with the lovely Robyn of Petal to the Metal and Craftivist fame.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Will You Be My Friend?

One of my favorite things about having a blog is making new friends. I've actually managed to get myself invited to two weddings!

For those of you who live too far away to come to my Halloween parties or to trek to the fabric store with me, we can at least be friends on Facebook. It's not nearly the same thing, but it's a start.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Unique Wedding Ceremony Ideas

I recently traveled to Dallas to meet with one of my mentors. She's the Executive Director of an organization that opens and runs Montessori schools for economically-disadvantaged kids. (As a side note, I just took a teaching job at a public Montessori school in Houston. I'll be teaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders next year! Eventually, I want to start a Montessori charter school for economically disadvantaged children and then grow it into a national network of schools. We'll see!)

We got around to talking about her wedding (I swear we spent many hours talking about the achievement gap and instruction and educational philosophy first!). She mentioned that she and her partner, Joe, got married while standing within the intersection of two circles, one representing their families and one representing their community of friends. Their union took place in the center of those two circles (which was constructed from rocks).

I loved the metaphor and asked if I could share it with you!

Any other ideas for how to construct the two circles?

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