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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Last-Minute, Cheap Halloween Costumes

In case wedding planning (or just life) has gotten in the way of your Halloween costume-creating, here's a list of last-minute, easy costume ideas from last year's post, plus a couple new ones:
  1. A Birthday Party: Buy one of those plastic birthday party tablecloths, cut a hole in the center of it, and wear it like a poncho. Tape on lots of party paraphernalia like a paper plate with icing and some confetti. Wear a party hat on your head.
  2. Grapes: Wear all green or purple and then use safety pins to attach green or purple balloons.
  3. A Freudian Slip: Wear a sexy slip and write "Freudian" somewhere on it.
  4. A Person Taking a Shower: Wear a bathrobe or a towel and a shower cap. Carry a ducky and have a loofah hanging from your wrist.
  5. A Fortune Cookie: Wear a tan v-neck shirt and attach a fortune to the center of the V. Stuff additional fortunes in your bra and pass them out whenever people ask what you are.
  6. Devil in a Blue Dress: Sport a sexy blue dress with devil ears/tail. Easy peasy.
  7. A Tooth: Wear a white trash bag, put a "crown" on your head, and label yourself with a sign that says "Lateral Incisor."
Creative 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, take it away in the comments section with your own ideas for last-minute Halloween Costumes!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brainstorming Birthday Ideas for My Beloved

Picture from our neighborhood Bike Rally and Scavenge Hunt

After reading one of the recent comments on Meg's blog, I decided to start calling Matt my "Partner in Awesomeness."

So, the aforementioned partner has a birthday coming up at the end of November, and I need to get cracking on his present.

Last year, I planned out a special day and made him a shirt with his beloved bloodhound appliqued on it. I haven't really thought much about what I should do this year.


I know. Let me go check my list. I try to keep an ongoing list of present ideas for my loved ones throughout the year. That way, I don't go into panic mode when it's time for birthdays/Christmas.

These are the things I have associated with Matt's name:
  1. Banjo + lessons (he randomly mentioned that he wanted these earlier in the year)
  2. A quilted jacket that Matt saw during our marathon viewing of Grey's Anatomy (season five)
  3. The Big Sur marathon
  4. Tickets to a Jeff Tweedy concert
Yikes. I just tried researching each of these things, and none of them seem like particularly good/affordable options.

Matt is planning a party this year. He wants to have it at Chuck E. Cheese. That should be fun.

Is there anything he needs but doesn't even know he needs? Last year, my best friend got Matt a subscription to Runner's World. He loves it. I wonder if there's something like that. Maybe a book about how to train for a marathon?

Or maybe a list of all the quirky things to do in Houston?

Maybe I should enroll him in a class? Ooh, what about "Self-Hypnosis for Stress Release and Issue Resolution"? Quirky enough? Or maybe a woodworking class? He does talk about wanting to learn wood working...

Let me think about what makes him happy. Really happy: Running. NPR. Cool photographs. The Office. Arsenal.

Maybe I should get him a Roku player? That feels too much like an "us" present (unlimited Netflix movies on demand...).

So back to the things he likes: The Onion. His friends. Visiting his family.

Maybe I should get him a trip to see his family during the summer in Bloomington when they have a really awesome music festival?

And then Christmas is going to be right around the corner. Why did I have to marry someone whose birthday is so close to Christmas? (I'm kidding, of course.)

What creative birthday/Christmas gift ideas do you all have up your sleeves?

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Contest Winners

And the winners of the Sugarhouse Ink goodies are:

Therese S. = 100 4x6 photo cards (save the dates, invites, or holiday cards, etc.), plus free shipping + handling

(I have to disclose that I know Therese. She works at my school. However, I pinky swear that I am not playing favorites! I went to random.org and legitimately got two numbers. And Therese was one of them!)


Sara L. = a FREE print-your-own design from her Etsy shop

Please e-mail me with your addresses, so I can put you in touch with Sarah at Sugarhouse.

Congratulations to the winners and a happy Wednesday to everyone else!

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Contest: Enter to Win 50 Photo Holiday Cards

I feel for those of you who are planning a wedding right now. This time of year always adds so many other things to our to-do lists:
  1. Figure out a Halloween costume
  2. Make Thanksgiving plans
  3. Start buying Christmas presents
  4. Decide whether or not to send holiday cards

Vistaprint is here with a contest to make one of the items a little easier for you. They are offering:
  • 50 flat 4’’x8’’ holiday cards with free shipping

They have lots and lots of customizable templates to choose from, and uploading your own images is a breeze.

To enter, leave your first name and last two initials in the comment section by Wednesday, November 4 at 11:59 EST. Voila!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Q & A: Uninvited Guests

Reader Question: I myself am planning for my wedding next July in the Colorado mountains (and am a little bummed I secured a place before finding your blog and reading about the Sunshine Mountain Inn – that’s exactly what we were looking for). Anyway, in part of our effort to “be green”, we decided to send out email save-the-date/invitations with a link to a website where you can RSVP online. We just sent out the emails to our 80 guests on Wednesday and I’ve been having fun reading people’s comments who have RSVP’d. It was very difficult to narrow down our invite list, especially since my dad has 10 siblings which includes several cousins, second cousins, etc. But since I haven’t spoken to most of them in years and my fiancé has only met a handful, we’ve decided against inviting any extended family – just our parents and siblings. I talked to my dad and my mom about this decision. But apparently my dad didn’t relay this information on to my step-mother who took it upon herself to forward the website to my uncle who is local and to her sister who lives in Maine! I just found this out because I saw that my uncle and his wife have already RSVP’d! We made a point to personally address each web-invite so that this wouldn’t happen, but obviously I should have gone one step further by putting some type of notice on the email saying “please don’t forward this on to anyone” – I just felt that seemed a little tacky. I just got off the phone with my dad and he will be talking with my step-mom and to ask her not to send it to anyone else. I’m just having a real hard time figuring out why she would think it’s ok to send it on without asking me first, but that’s another issue altogether.

Well, after having a bit of a nervous breakdown, I know I need to just take a deep breath and realize that a few extra people won’t make that big of a difference. But it’s the bigger picture I’m worried about - now I’m faced with more dilemmas – should I now invite my cousins who also live in Denver? Seems weird that my uncle will be there but not the rest of his family. And then what if other aunts/uncles hear about this particular uncle’s invite and are bitter or angry that they didn’t receive one. Most importantly, what about my soon-to-be in-laws who we literally had a conversation with LAST NIGHT about our decision not to invite extended family? They were practically insisting that we invite their siblings, etc. but my fiancé and I stood our ground saying that’s not the tone we wanted for our wedding – close friends and immediate family, people we have real sincere relationships with and people that have a significant part of our lives. We promised each other we wouldn’t invite people out of obligation or anyone our parents wanted that we didn’t know.

What do I do? I need some perspective on how to deal with this. And how do I break it to my fiancé (who already thinks my family is completely cooky). Sigh.

Oy vey. I'm so sorry for your technical difficulty! (Although, kudos to you for going the eco-friendly route!).

The good news is that none of this planning stress will matter on your wedding day. You will be basking in so many other (er, happier) feelings and emotions.

But in the meantime, here's what I would do:

  1. Let the invitation to the uncle go. Like you said, a few extra people won't make a difference. (Although, if you can muster the courage to uninvite him, you totally have the right to do it. I would say something like, "I'm so sorry that our decision to send an e-mail invitation has caused this kind of confusion. In an effort to limit the scale of our wedding, we decided to invite only immediate family members. The invitation was forwarded to you without our knowledge. At this point, I feel like my only options are to invite all the uncles/aunts/cousins or to retract your invitation out of fairness to the family. Given our decision to invite only immediate family members, it makes the most sense to retract your invitation." Or, ask your mom or dad to do it--whoever is closest to him.)
  2. Don't invite his children. Stick to your original decision to only invite parents and siblings. If this feels weird to your uncle, he can talk to your step-mom for clarification.
  3. Don't worry about the other aunts/uncles. Have your family members explain the situation to them (we all know families gossip about this kind of stuff, right?). They'll quickly realize it was an accident and that he shouldn't have been invited.
Honestly, it's becoming easier and easier for people to accept that some people choose to have smaller weddings. They'll think it's because of the economic downturn. For some reason, that's easier to understand that the fact that some of us just want to proclaim our love and commitment in front of our nearest and dearest.

Sometimes, expanding the guest list a little bit can actually help you forge deeper, stronger relationships with family members, and it's worth it to deviate a little from the original plan. Other times, you're merely deviating out of obligation or cowardliness. In your situation, it sounds like you really, really want to stick to your original intention. If that's the case, I say go for it!

May the force be with you...

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Wedding Talent Shows

Weddings focused on community, commitment, connection, and fun make me so happy. Yippee!

Like Betsy and Iya's. Here's what Betsy has to say about it:
I have never been a woman who thought or said hyperbolically, “My wedding will be the BEST day of my LIFE!!!!!!” That’s why it feels funny to admit that the entire weekend had me smitten indescribably-in-awe … and it actually was one of the most memorable times in my life (and hear me out…it’s got A LOT to compete with). It wasn’t just the strength of our love that had me, it was the ineffable feeling of support and love and joy seeping from every corner of every room and every tree and every single person who graced us with their presence. It wasn’t just a union between me and W. It was a celebration of all that is good in the world—shared by all of my favorite people in the world. That is what love is to me. And this wedding was pure love.
And they had a talent show for their rehearsal dinner. It takes a special set of friends/family to pull this off (either talented or audacious--or a combination of both). What fun! I'm going to store the talent show idea in my "Big Wedding Anniversary Party" file.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Friday Song

This cracks me up. If you're reading this blog at work, just put the volume really low so you can watch it. Very cute.

Dance song at your reception, anyone?

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tying the Knot (Literally)

Oh, how I adore Liz and Jeff of cosa verde. We met a while back at the Summit of Awesome. Liz just sent me this update, which I'm chomping at the bit to share. I think their idea was simply brilliant. So meaningful and memorable. I'm going to shut up about it because I can't possibly do it justice. Liz, please take it away!
We never wanted a ceremony. We have been together for eleven years, since high school, and while we knew a wedding was important as a way to include our friends and family in our commitment, it was also something of a non-event to us. We've thought of ourselves as married for years now, and acted that way. We've gone through lots of good times as well bad times, and we worked through them as a committed couple long before our marriage certificate was signed.

So when it came time to actually plan a wedding, we had a lot of discussions about what we wanted, what might be "expected" and what would be the right fit for the day. We had talked about eloping, but we knew that it was important to our families and friends to witness our union. We had settled on just throwing a celebration without a ceremony, but the closer we got to our wedding day, the more I felt like we needed to do something ceremonial. It seemed like if we were gathering people to witness our union, there should be some sort of union. But neither of us was into the whole wedding thing. I don't like being the center of attention, neither of us is remotely religious, and after eleven years together, it didn't seem important to say vows--we've been saying them in the way we take care of each other for years now.

So we decided to mush together a bunch of customs I'd read about and have a wrist-binding. We included a note with the invitation explaining that there would not be a traditional ceremony (I didn't want people coming with expectations) and inviting people to bring their own piece of string to help us literally "tie the knot." Unlike a handfasting, we didn't want this to be part of a structured ceremony, but a chance for people to have an individual moment with us as a couple during the first hour of the evening.

I can't tell you how much I worried about this. It was exactly what I wanted to do, but I was afraid people would think it was too weird, and that it would wind up feeling silly instead of meaningful. But when Jeff's grandpa tied the first string onto our wrists--a piece of ribbon saved from the cake at the 50th anniversary of his wedding to Jeff's (now deceased) grandmother, I knew we had made the right choice. Some people just brought pretty ribbons, and some people used ones from the large stash we had provided, but an amazing number of our guests brought sentimental pieces to share with us. Ribbons from their own wedding gifts or favors, a piece of lace from a pillowcase made by Jeff's other (also passed) grandmother, yarn that they spun themselves.

The whole thing was an incredibly affirming experience. It gave a chance for our guests to spend some time with us outside of a receiving line (where you know there's always someone waiting to be next, right behind you). It opened people up--they told us about their weddings, or their wishes for us. It made each guest a part of the wedding, which was really important to me, because, as I said earlier, a lot of this wedding was for them, not for me. And it made us feel like each guest was affirming our choice to be together. We know we have a huge network of love and support. And the best part of it was that we were physically tied together for an hour. I've heard that the bride and groom often rarely see each other on their wedding day...well, we were stuck with each other, which meant that we both were there to hear all these wonderful stories, and that we gave out an awful lot of three-armed hugs.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wedding Readings

Photos by Sarah Q

Yipee! My friend, Whitney, got back to me about the readings from her wedding. As a member of the audience, I found myself really paying attention and listening to the words and concepts. They got me thinking a lot about the nature of love.

Here they are:
  • Reasons for Marrying - Charles Darwin
  • Union - Robert Fulghum
  • excerpts from True Love by Thich Nhat Hahn
  • Matthew 7: 7-8, 24-25
Here's a little glimpse:

"Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice DEEP LOOKING directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha." - Thich Nhat Hahn

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Contest: Enter to Win

Anyone want a coupon for a "Free Panty" (any color) from Victoria's Secret? It's valid from October 13-November 2. I'm not going to use it, and I will gladly spend 43 cents (um, is that how much stamps cost these days?) to send it to you.

Let's make this easy. The first person to leave a comment with their e-mail address wins.

Happy Tuesday!


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Contest: Enter to Win

Sarah from Sugarhouse Ink is back with another contest!

She enjoyed custom designing her wedding invitations so much that she decided to start her own business that simplifies the process for everyone else.

She's offering 100 4x6 photo cards (save the dates, invites, or holiday cards, etc.), plus free shipping + handling to one lucky 2000dollarwedding kindred spirit.

She's also offering a FREE print-your-own design from her Etsy shop for a second winner. Bonus!

To enter:
  • Leave your first name and last initial in the comments section by Tuesday, October 27 at 11:59pm EST.
  • One entry per person, please.
Here's how simple the process is:
  1. You browse through her invitation templates or Save-the-Date templates and pick one you like or any of the other dozes of templates!).
  2. You click order and enter any changes to the colors, fonts, etc.
  3. Sarah e-mails you with directions for submitting your photo(s).
  4. Voila!
Happy Entering!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Reducing and Reusing

While I was cleaning out my craft room and bedroom in an attempt to de-stress my environment, I was struck by just how much stuff Matt and I already own.

Sadly enough, we still buy a lot of new stuff. When we need something, our first impulse is usually just to buy it, rather than reevaluating whether we truly need it or whether another solution might work just as well.

The impulse to buy something new all the time not only takes a toll on our wallets; it also takes a toll on the environment (since so much energy gets wasted in the production, transportation, and disposal of goods).

Now that Matt and I are back on a strict budget so we can save money for our upcoming vacations, next car purchase, retirement, etc., I'm becoming more conscious of my impulse to buy new things and instead I'm looking for ways to reduce and reuse.

When Matt and I set our arbitrary $2,000 wedding budget, we had to do exactly the same thing. For example, when we decided to make nametags for our Welcome Picnic, we didn't have money to buy more paper, so we dug around in our craft drawer. The only paper we had sufficient quantities of was bright orange (not exactly a color you would see in a Martha Stewart Weddings spread), but we asked ourselves, "Does it really make a difference?" We reminded ourselves, "We want our wedding to be about community, connection, commitment, and fun--not the color of the nametags."

So, bright orange paper it was. And you know what? We were still married in the end, our guests had fun, and we saved money and were a little less harmful to the environment.

Now I'm thinking that I might try to make all of my holiday presents for friends and family from stuff I already have at the house...

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Love Song du Jour

Matt drove to Florida this past weekend for a friend's birthday party. I opted to forgo the 20-hour drive round trip in order to relax and rejuvenate at home.

He called from the road and told me to listen to "Mexican Blue" by Jolie Holland.

This song would be a lovely wedding song.

(Um, please excuse the images in this random "fan video" from YouTube.)

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Weddings Can Change the World

Happy Blog Action Day! Thousands of bloggers all across the world are talking about Climate Change.

Before I talk about something as big as climate change, I want to talk about something as small as a story book.

On International Peace Day, I read my students a book about peace, entitled, Peace Begins with You. The title says it all: Something as big as international peace begins with something as small as the individual person. How we treat each other day in and day out determines what kind of world we live in.

The same is true for climate change. The kinds of habits we have on the individual level affect the kinds of habits that get manifested on a larger scale, and those larger-scale habits determine what happens on a massive scale--in this case, with global warming and our climate.

The kinds of people we choose to be and the kind of lives we choose to live have huge ramifications for the kind of world we create and inhabit. Don't get me wrong; I still believe that corporations rule the world and entire industries have a much greater impact than a tiny individual, but corporations and industries and governments are, at the end of the day, comprised of individuals--individuals with certain values that manifest themselves on a larger scale.

So what the heck does this post about climate change have to do with weddings?

Weddings are an amazing opportunity for us to clarify our values, to decide what kind life we want to live with our partners, and to share those values and that life with our larger circle.

But we hardly ever talk about weddings in this way. Instead, we get swept away by pressure from the Wedding Industrial Complex to focus almost exclusively on the details of the day. If we're not careful, our weddings will quickly begin to reflect the values of our dominant culture, which include materialism, consumerism, and the prioritization of external beauty over internal substance.

Matt and I worked hard to resist pressure from the Wedding Industrial Complex in order to create a wedding that reflected our values and the kind of life we wanted to forge together. But boy was that difficult!

We faced doubts and judgments from certain family members and friends. We spent hours upon hours trying to find a wedding venue that wasn't really a wedding venue. We calculated and recalculated costs in a persistent attempt to stay within our budget. We dealt with the emotional turmoil that comes from swimming upstream against the current of "the way things are done."

We also faced the dilemma of conflicting values. Yes, a $15 wedding dress from Target reflects our desire to conserve money but it conflicts with the value we place on healthy working conditions and supporting local businesses and independent artisans.

We also faced sheer uncertainty. As we piled 64 rock-hard avocados into our shopping cart at Sam’s Club four days before the wedding, I wondered, “Can we really make guacamole for 80 people on our wedding day? Will these avocados even ripen in time? What were we thinking?”

But the truth is, when you align your actions with your values, you usually can't go wrong.

Matt and I were able to have the best possible wedding for us because we took the time to delineate our values and then figure out specific ways to manifest those values.

In terms of aligning our wedding with our environmental values, here's what we did:
  1. Sent postcards for our invitations
  2. Used an electronic RSVP
  3. Provided cloth napkins
  4. Reused clothing rather than buying new (such as my shoes, necklace, shawl, etc.)
  5. Had our rings made from the recycled gold of friends and family
  6. Set up composting and recycling at our reception
  7. Avoided unnecessary decoration and additional "stuff"
  8. Served beer from a keg and boxed wine to cut down on packaging
  9. Gave seeds to our guest as a wedding favor
  10. Served organic, anti-biotic free meat
  11. Planted a tree during our wedding ceremony
Here are some things we try to do day-to-day to align our lives with our environmental values:
  1. Intentionally live in a small house
  2. Use canvass bags at the grocery store (and net bags for our fruits and vegetables that absolutely need bags)
  3. Avoid bottled water and instead reuse our own bottles over and over
  4. Drive eco-friendly cars
  5. Ride our bikes as much as possible
  6. Work as close to home as possible (well, I do but Matt has quite a commute)
  7. Compost in the backyard
  8. Collect rain (we have the equipment for this, but it's not set up yet)
  9. Use old rags to clean up messes at our house rather than paper towels
  10. Use cloth napkins
  11. Let our hands drip-dry after we wash them in public restrooms
  12. Purchase bio-degradable dog poop bags
  13. Use eco-friendly hygiene and house cleaning products
  14. Turn off the water while we brush our teeth
  15. Try to buy things "used" as much as possible
  16. Try to limit our monthly purchases of stuff
  17. Eat vegetarian (I know I said I was going to start eating organic, local meat a few months ago, but I haven't started)
  18. Use real dishes for parties and avoid disposable items as much as possible
  19. Recycle, recycle, recycle
  20. Get our power from Green Mountain Energy
And here are all the things I want to commit to doing this year:
  1. Read magazines at the library, bookstore, or online to avoid creating more trash
  2. Set up our rain barrel collection system
  3. Build a raised bed for a spring garden
  4. Add extra insulation to our attic
  5. Install ceiling fans
  6. Stop brushing my teeth in the shower
  7. Pee more in the shower (it saves water, ya know?)
  8. Remember to bring our tupperware containers to restaurants for our leftovers
  9. Raise chickens
  10. Try to ride our bikes even more
  11. Investigate solar options for our home
Hmm...that's all I can think of for now. Other ideas?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dealing with Stress

I'm still working on ways to cope with stress in my life (without stressing myself out about how to de-stress!).

In addition to these strategies, I recently decided to dedicate two full days to re-organizing our house. I know not everyone gets unconsciously or consciously stressed out by clutter, but I do.

It's a catch-22 because I don't like to pick up clutter and yet I don't like having it around. Argh!

Even worse, the more stressed I am, the messier things get, and the less I feel like I have time to pick things up.

I decided to stop the cycle and just spend two days organizing our craft room and bedroom. Our closets still had stacks and stacks of book boxes from our move over a year ago. I decided to go through hundreds of books and get rid of the ones I've been saving but not using since high school.

Since I've invested thousands of dollars in books over the years, I decided to try to resell them at a local used bookstore. My piles and piles of books amounted to a whopping $83. I almost cried.

Even worse, Matt and I used the money to buy some new [used] books. We got the Lonely Planet guided to British Columbia for our trip this summer, and I bought two other books:
  1. Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight: 52 Amazing Ways to Master the Art of Personal Change by Karen Scalf Linamen
  2. Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf
That left us with only $40 to show for my 14 years of books. [insert soft whimper]

Oh well. It feels better to have less clutter.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Announcing Your Engagement

This weekend, a letter arrived in the mail for Hoss. It was from his great-grandparents.

They were responding to the fact that Hoss has been sleeping in a really small chair, all curled up into a tight ball so he can fit. They sent a letter to Hoss explaining that there are better sleeping options for dogs, including nice, comfy dog beds. They sent pictures of multiple options.

I decided to use my digital camera (just a regular Canon point-and-shoot) to take a video of myself opening the letter and reading it to Hoss.

Then I popped my SD card into my computer, loaded the video into Picassa, and then uploaded the video to YouTube. Finally, I sent everyone in the family a link to the video.

The whole process was quick and painless. It made me realize: How cute would it be to make an engagement announcement video and e-mail the link out to friends and family? Or even a Save-the-Date.

Of course not everyone on the invite list is tech-savvy and not all electronic options will work for everyone. But it's easy enough to provide a phone call for those folks.

Has anyone seen this done? Does anyone have any links to share?

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Office

Did you catch the wedding episodes of The Office? If not, here they are...

And here were some of the themes:
  1. Be cautious with your guest list. Your guests will set the tone for your wedding (for better or worse!). Invite people that you really like (and don't feel obligated to invite all your colleagues.) Of course you may feel obligated to invite a close family member (or two!) that you don't particularly like, but try to stick to your guns and populate your wedding with people you truly want to be around.
  2. Glitches will happen, and, at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is the love between you and your partner and the commitment you're making to each other.
  3. One strategy for immersing yourself fully in the moment and being mindful of the day is to take mental photographs of the moments you want to cherish forever.
Some food for thought!

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Party Idea

Photo courtesy of Progressive Pioneer

I love this party idea courtesy of Progressive Pioneer: Make-Your-Own-Natural-Spa Night!

They made their own beauty concoctions and treated themselves to an evening of pampering. Sounds fun!

Bachelorette party anyone?

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

When to Say Enough Is Enough

Sometimes there comes a point when your to-do list is never-ending (wedding to-do list or otherwise) and you simply have to say, "It's time to remove things from this list."

For example, in the months leading up to our wedding, I had every intention of hemming the sheets we bought from thrift stores in order to help them resemble actual tablecloths for our reception. When it finally came down to it, I had to simply cross-off that action item. It never got done. And you know what? The wedding went on.

I remember Kristina over at Lovely Morning (who is p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t, by the way!) talking about how she crossed things off her list at the very end. It's actually very liberating.

I'm at that point now with Halloween. I love Halloween and I have been planning my Melting Polar Ice Caps costume all year. But I've come to realize that I simply don't want to prioritize it right now. I don't want to spend the time or money on it.

I don't feel sad about it. There's always next year. And the other projects I want to devote my free-time to seem more important. And I really did like my Scrabble costume. Who cares if I wear the same costume two years in a row...

I do need to spell out new words this year. "Go Obama" was perfect right before the election, but it would feel a little overly patriotic at this point (no offense, Obama).

Any ideas? It has to be short going across and can be longer going down.


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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wedding Crashers

Okay, okay. People have been asking about the wedding crashers at our wedding.

It's a boring story, really, but since you asked...

Here's how the events of our reception progressed (including wedding crashers):
  1. We started by eating appetizers of homemade guacamole, seven-layer dip, and salsa (as well as totally unhealthy but utterly delicious nacho cheese from a can).
  2. Then dinner was served and we helped ourselves to black bean and corn salad, make-your-own quesadillas, and fajitas.
  3. When folks finished eating, Matt and I grabbed our portable microphone and did a brief little speech to thank everyone for their contributions to the wedding ("It takes a village" kind of thing). Then we invited everyone to help themselves to the cakes. Yum!
  4. Then we moved to the flagstone patio and performed our first dance.
  5. Then we invited others to start dancing with us--to music provided by our trusty iPod. I danced for a good, long while. At some point, the vibe turned into more of a frat-party feel on the dance floor, so I moseyed inside. I played a faster version of Scrabble (involving the tiles, but not the board), looked at video of the wedding with my mom and aunt, hung out with my best friend in the living room area, and then wandered out to the campfire. On my way to the jacuzzi, I noticed a group of unfamiliar people walking toward us. I said, "Are you wedding crashers?" They said, "Kind of." Matt's good friend, Noah, introduced himself as the groom and me as his bride. Then he started digressing on some long story about our wedding, so I left them and got changed to go into the jacuzzi.
And that was that! I really don't know who they were, where they were from, or what they wanted. They looked harmless enough.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reason #4,106 I Love My Partner

Last week I was putting together a presentation for a family education night at the public Montessori school where I work, and I asked Matt if he would watch a video with me about how to raise a child in a Montessori home.

We watched the amazing film together: Edison's Day (digression: I highly recommend you watch it if you're a parent or parent-to-be, and I also recommend that you buy it for anyone who is pregnant). Matt and I were equally inspired by the video and both committed to implementing the principles in our home whenever we have a child (hooray for being on the same page about parenting!).

Then Matt suggested we do a yoga video together (hooray for having such a good influence in my life!).

Then I went off to study my Spanish in the bedroom, while he watched sports on his computer in the dining room (hooray for maintaining and pursuing our separate interests!).

Here's to celebrating relationships and marriages alongside weddings...

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Q & A: Tree Planting Ceremony

Reader Question: My fiancee and I loved your tree-planting ceremony (he's a woodworker so it has an exceptional appeal to him) and want to incorporate something like that into our ceremony, but weren't quite sure how to orchestrate that without pulling out garden gloves and a trowel in the middle of the chapel where we will be getting married. How exactly did it play out during your wedding?

You have great forethought!

Matt and I thought through some of the logistics (that's why his brother had a cloth napkin on hand to give to Matt), but not all of them (that's why I accidentally poured in so much water that it came running out the bottom--which ended up providing some welcome comic relief!).

Here's how the whole thing went down:
  • Now Matt and Sara are going to plant a Live Oak sapling from the backyard of Sara’s family to symbolically represent the growth of their love.
  • In early America, live oaks were widely used to build planks in ships because of their remarkable resilience. The live oak of the USS Constitution repelled the shot of enemy gunfire so effectively that one of the sailors was heard to shout, "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!" The ship was given the nickname, Old Ironsides.
  • Like the planks on ships, marriage, too, must be resilient. It must weather the challenges of daily life and the passage of time.
  • And just like the tree that they are planting, marriage requires constant nurturing and nourishment. As they provide the sun, soil, and water for this tree, they will provide the encouragement, trust, and love needed on a daily basis to consciously nurture and nourish their connection to each other.
  • [Sara will hand her bouquet to Brent to hold. Jamie will bring forth the watering can, hand it to Sara, and return to her spot; Brian will hand the sapling to Matt and return to his spot; Mike will hand the pot with soil to Sara and she will hold it while Matt plants the seedling; Mike will hand the napkin to Matt to wipe off his hands; Sara will water the seedling and set the watering can down behind her.]
Matt didn't need any tools to do the planting; he just pushed aside a little dirt, put the sapling in, and then patted down the dirt. We did have the napkin available for him to wipe his hands, but it wasn't very messy.

The messy part was the watering. I would not recommend doing what we did if you're going to be inside a church! I poured in so much water it came streaming out the bottom. I made some joke about wanting to give the tree a really good start.

If I were you, I would a) skip the watering b) do more of a symbolic watering or c) set the pot down on a table with a saucer under the pot and then water lightly.

Hope that helps!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

National Night Out

I'm always looking for an excuse to try and build community among strangers. So when I heard about National Night Out--a nationwide movement to "promote neighborhood spirit"--I jumped at the chance to host a block party.

National Night Out was officially August 4. However, Texas celebrates it on Tuesday, October 6. Is that because we are essentially a separatist state (I mean, we do, after all, encourage our children to recite the Texas pledge on a daily basis in K-12 schools across the state).

But I am pooped, so I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to host a huge block party. Here's what I'm thinking:
  1. BYOB
  2. Bring a dish to share (I love potlucks!)
  3. Bring your own chair or blanket
  4. We'll set up our folding table and our dining room table and our science lab table on the front porch for the food and drinks (which we'll cover with the leftover sheets we used as tablecloths at our wedding). We'll move our front porch furniture to the lawn for extra seating.
  5. We'll set up some blankets and chairs on the lawn. People can add their own as they arrive.
  6. We'll move our cars out of our driveway and set up a Bocce Ball court there.
  7. We'll set out games (Apples to Apples, Taboo, Jenga, and cards).
  8. We'll set up some music. Hmm...our iPod speakers aren't working...
  9. We'll have nametags laying out, so people can write their first name and the street they live on.
Let me go look at the List O' Fun to see if I can come up with anything else:
  • Frisbee! Yes, people can play in the street...
  • Hula hoops? That could be really fun...
  • Sidewalk chalk?
What will I make for the potluck portion? I'll use my giant glass container to hold some kind of drink. Maybe homemade lemonade?

Oh, I know. I'll make Hibiscus and Ginger Iced Tea. It's delicious!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Q & A: How to Tell People They Aren't Invited

Reader Question: Your blog is very encouraging as my fiance, Russell, and I are trying to plan a budget-friendly wedding. I have one question for you that I'm sure you've received before, but here it is :) Because we are planning a budget-friendly wedding, we too had to cut the guest list by a huuuuuge amount. The problem we have run into is that even though our wedding isn't until May 30th of next year, we already have people inviting themselves. We now realize that saying" we set the date!" in a facebook status is a bad idea. We have both received comments from people who we aren't particularly close to that say something along the lines of, "May 30th, 2010! I'm marking it in my calendar." Whoops. So how should we go about telling people they are not invited. We have a website and I'm thinking of doing a nice announcement on there saying we are having a small wedding. So how would/did you do it? How do you tell people, "Sorry, you're not invited." in a nice way?

Yeah, we had this problem, too. My boss tried to invite herself! But before I talk about how to get out of it...

I want to state for the record that Matt and I chose to limit our number of guests to 80 for reasons other than our budget. We wanted to spend quality time with our guests. We wanted to dwell in deep conversation and linger. We wanted to truly be able to connect with our nearest and dearest, and we didn't want to feel like our wedding "flew by."

It's hard, though, to navigate the social awkwardness that arises when people assume they are invited. We only had two strategies for dealing with it:
  1. We let people figure it out for themselves. Most people figured it out pretty quickly when they didn't receive a Save-the-Date or an invitation.
  2. If they still didn't figure it out and they confronted us about it, we simply said, "It's a small wedding and we are only able to invite our closest friends and family."
We also had awkwardness around guests bringing guests. For example, Matt invited one of his friends and hoped that the friend would bring his brother as his guest. He did, but then the brother wanted to bring his girlfriend. We explained to him honestly and openly that we really just wanted to be surrounded by our closest friends and family.

It's tricky business, and there are no perfect answers. Just do the best you can. In the end, a few random people did slip into our wedding (as well as some wedding crashers!). It didn't detract from the quality time I spent with my friends and family (although I did confront the wedding crashers by asking them point blank, "Are you wedding crashers?").

2000dollarwedding kindred spirits, what strategies do you have for dealing with the guest list conundrum?

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