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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ringing in the New Year and Staying Grounded

Our living Christmas tree

As Matt and I celebrate the holidays by starting new traditions and traveling to see family, I'm re-reminded of all the reasons I wanted to tie my heart to Matt's at our wedding two years ago. This quote from Kelly Rae Roberts resonates with me: "i deeply believe that our hearts marry the hearts of people (friends, husbands, etc) who are meant to heal and nurture us in ways that nobody else can."

Sadly, planning a wedding can somehow manage to pull our attention away from the most important reasons for having that wedding in the first place. While Matt and I cherish our time with family and focus inward so we can set our intentions for the new year, I wanted to leave you with some posts to peruse. I'll be back at the start of the new year to continue the dialogue about how to have a meaningful and memorable wedding without losing our savings or sanity!

Here's to a healthy and happy holiday season and a rejuvenating new year!


REMINDER: Registration is now open for the next Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy, which starts on January 2. Register today!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Judged If You Do; Judged If You Don't

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but much of the stress that rears its ugly head during wedding planning also emerges during other pivotal life moments, like having a baby.

I think it has to do with transitions and rites of passages. Committing your life to another person is a big, huge deal. Giving birth to another person is also a big, huge deal. Whenever the stakes are high, emotions tend to run high, too. And these major life events are immensely personal. It's so hard for the people around us to not project their own feelings and experiences onto our transitions.

The kind of stress I'm experiencing now as we head into parenthood has to do with being judged for following our own path (our wedding was good practice for this!). But the ironic part is that we also get judged for not following our own path. For example, when I share over on my personal blog that I'm reading lots of parenting books, I get judged for not following my instincts and for turning to the experts.

Then when I share that we're going to very non-mainstream route of using a Montessori floor bed (to cultivate independence and exploration) instead of a crib, I get judged for not following what others consider to be the safest options for children.

And the exact same thing can happen during wedding planning. If you opt for a tea-length dress, you run the risk of causing a heart-attack among at least one of your family members. On the other hand, if you opt for a traditional veil, you run the risk of being judged by someone in the indie community who thinks you're too conventional and oppressed.

You can't seem to win either way!

The answers are definitely not black and white. If you follow the old adage that you can't please everyone so you might as well please yourself, you run the risk of alienating family members and breaking down connections at a time when you're trying to strengthen them.

On the other hand, if you let other people's values, tastes, and preferences overshadow your own, you run the risk of creating a wedding that feels like it belongs to someone else. You can end up feeling like an actor in someone else's show.

I think the best we can do is seek balance. Easier said than done! How exactly do you balance out your own needs with the needs of others?

Well, I think it starts with introspection and self-awareness. Are we will to compromise on something that's actually really important to us just because we want to avoid conflict or make someone else happy? Are we doing what someone else thinks is best just because we are seeking value, love, and affirmation (which we all crave and deserve!). On the other hand, are we being too stubborn and unwilling to compromise just out of principle?

At the end of the day, we each have to be our own judges. We have to shift the deciding factor from an external place to an internal one. We can certainly seek input from others, but, ultimately, we are the ones who have to live with and be comfortable with our own decisions.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Registration Is Now Open!

I'm very excited to announce that registration is now open for the next Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy online course, which begins January 2 and runs through February 4. This course will be the last one before our baby arrives (crazy!).

I'm particularly excited about this January course because it's the start of a new year (a new decade, for that matter!), which, for me, always represents a fresh start, an ideal time for introspection, and a renewed opportunity for self-growth.

As I get closer and closer to my due date, I feel even more thankful for the time I spent preparing my mind, body, and life for pregnancy. Although there is so much that is out of our control when it comes to conception, pregnancy, birth (and parenthood, for that matter!), there's a lot we can do to lay a solid foundation and create a nurturing and welcoming environment. Transitioning into parenthood is a big, huge life event that is worthy of intention, thought, and preparation. The average couple spends months and months preparing for a wedding. It makes sense to spend an equal amount of time (or longer!) preparing for children.

Here's some of the positive feedback the past two course have received:

  • "To be honest, I was hesitant at first to spend the money on a class about preparing for conception (rather than saving it towards actually having a baby!). However, both my husband and I have benefited SO much from this; it's been worth EVERY penny and more. Truly. It's been fantastic and I'm so glad I 'splurged.'"
  • "This was an excellent course and a lot of thought, research, hard work, and love went into it - that is obvious. It was comforting to find a community of others who are really taking the time to plan for conception and parenthood, because I don't find that among my local community. Great job, Sara. Really and truly. This course was a big help to me and I will definitely recommend it to others!"
  • "Thanks to all the reflection, guided discussions, and useful advice from this course, [my] worry/fear has pretty much disappeared. My partner and I have figured out what 'ready' means to us, and it's not as hard as we thought it would be to get there. We have a short to-do list with achievable goals. I'm happy to be where I am right now in my life."
  • "I was very ambivalent about having a child before taking this course. I now know that my husband and I are more prepared than I thought we were to have a child. For the areas in which we need some work, I now have concrete action steps to complete...It's wonderful to actually be excited about this next step instead of fearful or unsure."
  • "I have a long way to go, but I want to work on myself before having a baby. This course has helped me identify concrete areas that need work."

The Nitty, Gritty Details

  • An online course and community focused on preparing our minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy
  • January 2-February 4
  • $99 USD

Here's the more detailed version:

Are you thinking about getting pregnant or are you already actively trying? Welcome to Purposeful Conception! This course is for all of us.

The idea is simple: bringing a baby into the world is both an overwhelming joy and a life-changing commitment. When we approach conception with intention and purpose, we create a welcoming and prepared space for children in our lives.

This online course will help us position our minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy. Over the course of five weeks, a new lesson will be uploaded each weekday. The lessons will address a whole host of topics, such as preparing your body through solid nutrition and exercise, finding balance between what you can and cannot control, making space in your life for pregnancy, deciding whether to track your cycle, building a solid partnership as a foundation for your future family, and much, much more. As a participant in the course, you'll receive information, tips, reflection exercises and prompts, access to interviews, and a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are on a journey similar to your own.

Interested in learning more? Visit the Course Overview or About the Author. Spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to the first 100 participants, so Register Now! The total cost is $99 USD. Happy Conceiving!


Please consider spreading the word by sharing this post via the buttons at the bottom of the post or by reposting the information on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thank you so, so much!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

2000 Dollar Wedding in 2011

When I sent out an S.O.S. for guest posters to help me keep 2000 Dollar Wedding saturated with new content when I go on maternity leave in February and you all responded in droves, I realized that I need to do more to feature your voices and your stories. After all, you're amazing! And you're in the thick of it.

Even though my wedding is said and done and I'm pursuing other passions, this site is still alive and kicking because weddings matter. How we formally start our married lives can establish patterns that influence how the future of our family unfolds. It's big, important, profound stuff. Cheesy, but true.

This site is about how to plan a meaningful and memorable wedding without losing your savings or sanity. Easier said than done!

In that vein, I'm looking for a kindred spirit who loves to scour the internet for eco-friendly, budget-minded, hand-crafted wedding ideas and would like to compile a list to share with all of us each week. I'm thinking 6-10 links would be a good amount each week.

Here are the kinds of links I'm looking for:
  • Interesting DIY projects
  • Eco-friendly wedding ideas
  • Money-saving strategies (used for weddings or elsewhere)
  • Articles about strengthening your relationship
  • Affordable, wedding-related items for sale (from Etsy, etc.)

If you already spend a good chunk of time perusing these sorts of things on the internet, please consider stepping forward and volunteering to compile them for us each week over here at 2000 Dollar Wedding!

Sadly, I can't offer you any monetary compensation (I don't make any money off this blog except some pocket change from Amazon referrals), but imagine the goodwill you will be sharing with the world! This gig would probably also generate lots of traffic back to your own blog if you have one.

If you're interested, please send me an e-mail with a sample of your work (i.e., 6-10 links of interesting things you found around the web this week with a very brief description).

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Happy internetting,


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Q & A: How to Create an Online Wedding RSVP

Reader Question: I know you had a friend create an html code for the RSVP form on your wedding website - would you know where I might find a preset html code for such a site? Or if anyone responded to you with helpful hints on that front? We're trying to do the same and would love some advice.

In fact, we're getting ready to do the same thing for our baby shower! We're going to send out postcard invitations and include a link for an online RSVP. Let me take a second to go get that process started, so I can write step-by-step directions...

Okay, here's how I created an online RSVP form:
  1. Log into Google Docs (or create an account)
  2. In the upper left-hand corner, click on "Create New"-->Form
  3. From there, the process is pretty self-explanatory. First, you create a title and add a description, if you like.
  4. Then, you add each question. You have multiple formats to choose from, including drop-down menus, short text responses, longer paragraph responses, matrices, etc. You can easily rearrange the order of any of the questions by dragging the question to the desired spot.
  5. When you're done, you can click on "More actions"-->Embed to copy the HTML code.
  6. Finally, you paste the code into your website. For my baby shower RSVP, I had to edit the size of the frame. I simply decreased the default width until it fit nicely within my page.
  7. The amazing thing about Google docs forms is that they automatically generate an Excel spreadsheet to track the responses. You can click on "See responses"-->Spreadsheet or "See responses"-->Summary for different views of the information.

I hope that helps! I promise I am not secretly sponsored by Google. I just find their free products so helpful.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blog Worthy Weddings, Nurseries, and First Birthday Parties

I've been spending a lot of time browsing the blog ohdeedoh for inspiration about how to create our baby's nursery. Although I love the creativity, I am slightly disconcerted about the trend toward "blog-worthy" weddings, nurseries, and children's birthday parties.

Whenever we feel pressured to create something and then take pictures of it that are cute enough or creative enough to be posted on a popular blog, we run the risk of losing sight of what really matters. If we spend too much time making the perfect bunting or the perfect party hats, we inevitably take time away from other, potentially more important tasks.

I'm not suggesting that spending any time on pretty details is useless. I have been known to spend hours making Happy Birthday bunting or a holiday countdown calendar (and then I post pictures on my blog!). I just think it's important for us to make informed decisions about why we're spending times on certain details. Do they bring us intrinsic joy or do they simply bring us external affirmation from strangers on the internet?

It's a question worth taking the time to ask!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Splitting Up the Holidays as a Married Couple

Reader Question: I'm curious - how do you negotiate holiday/family time between you and Matt? I hope that isn't too personal to ask! I'm just wondering - if I chose to spend thanksgiving at home instead of with his family (or if he chose to spend it at home instead of with my family), I think there would be a lot of hurt feelings! I'd love to hear about how you navigate what can be a sticky situation!

Ah, yes, the difficulties that can come from merging your life with another person!

Matt and I live in Texas, while his family lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and mine lives in Tampa, Florida. We've had to negotiate a family visitation plan that meets both of our [often conflicting] needs.

There are a lot of questions to consider when coming up with a family holiday plan that works for both of you.
  • How do you make time to build relationships with each others' families?
  • How do you balance time between extended families and the new little seedling of a family that you are growing with your partner?
  • How do you honor a partner's potential desire to spend holidays with friends and not just family?
  • How do you honor a partner's potential desire to spend time traveling to new places rather than just visiting family?
  • How do you honor a partner's potential desire to visit family frequently throughout the year?

For Matt and me, the answers usually involve lots of conversation and compromise.

I am the partner who loves my family and talks with them on the phone weekly but would rather spend my vacation time traveling with friends to new and exotic locations. Whenever spring break, summer vacation, or Thanksgiving rolls around, I like to hop in the car or jump on a plane and explore somewhere new.

Matt is the partner who wants to spend as much time as possible visiting his family in Indiana.

How do we balance both of our needs? Well, for Christmas, we visit BOTH our families and my best friend. Yes, it's a whirlwind of a trip, and it can be exhausting, but we make it work. Matt's vacation starts at 5:00pm on December 23. We jump in the car (with our dog in tow) and drive halfway to Florida. The next day, we drive the rest of the way and arrive at my family's house in time for Christmas Eve. We spend three nights with my family and then hop on a plane (leaving Hoss with his grandparents and uncles) to spend three nights with Matt's family. When we return to Florida, we drive two hours to spend two nights with my best friend for New Year's.

Since Christmas is the one time of the year that I always visit my family, the Thanksgiving-at-one-family and Christmas-at-the-other-family option doesn't work for us. Additionally, Matt couldn't bear to not see his family at Christmas AND Thanksgiving. Since Christmas and Thanksgiving are so close to each other, he understands that it doesn't make sense to expect me to go with him to Indiana for Thanksgiving. He goes alone, while I spend Thanksgiving doing something interesting with my best friend (although sometimes I multi-task and drag my best friend up to Indiana with me!).

As for the rest of the year, Matt is free to travel to Indiana on weekends whenever he wants to. He usually goes about four times a year (in addition to holidays). I sometimes go with him, if it's for a special event (wedding, funeral, family party, etc.). When his family visits us in Houston, I always spend quality time with them.

I can usually get Matt to travel somewhere new with me for spring break and our two-week summer vacation.

However, all of this has to get constantly renegotiated, depending on new circumstances that arise. Once we have a baby in February, for example, we might have to make adjustments to our plans, depending on what feels right.

Like with all major issues in relationships, finding solutions requires honest conversation, mutual respect, understanding, and compromise. It's never easy, but trying to work through these issues in a healthy way is definitely worth the trouble!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Collecting & Developing Ideas: Shooting Range Wedding

I received an e-mail from a kindred spirit who is planning a wedding in San Diego. She and her partner are trying to work within a $2,500 budget. Here's what she says about the search for a venue:

We had settled on one place that required little decorating but was $1200 PLUS they required the beverages be professionally catered.

Then the idea came from my fiancee's parents (retired San Diego Police Department) to have the reception at the hall at the shooting range. Yes, the shooting range. The place is at the right price (free), plus we would have no time restrictions, and we can bring our own alcohol. Now I want to make the best of it and come up with creative ideas for decorating the place and incorporate a little bit of the shooting range theme in to it.

And she would like our help coming up with ideas! I'm psyched to help out; this wedding sounds like it will be so meaningful, memorable, and downright fun!

I know from personal experience that trying to find a wedding venue in a popular city can be a NIGHTMARE. There are typically Wedding Industrial Complex predators everywhere, waiting to get signed contracts from their most recent prey. I don't mean to sound overly dramatic because clearly not every wedding venue is evil, but so often the word "wedding" means that everything has to be more expensive. Once a venue starts requiring that you use their alcohol or their catering services, the costs can skyrocket.

And the truth is, there are very few MUSTS associated with planning a wedding. Aside from marrying someone you want to be with for the rest of your life, there really are no rules. You don't have to wear white if you don't want to (or even a dress, for that matter). You don't have to dance. You don't have to wear a garter. You don't have to have flowers (unless, of course, you want to!).

Although you may get a strange look (or two or three) when you try to explain any unconventional choices that you and your partner make for your wedding, going your own way can be absolutely worth it. You can craft an experience that feels more authentic and more fun.

So, without further ado, let me try to brainstorm some ideas for the shooting range theme:
  • First, I think the invitations and wedsite (if you have those things) are an excellent way to introduce the theme early. I think a clever phrase and a cute picture could work together perfectly. Something like, "We're aiming for a lifetime of love and happiness. Please join us as we celebrate our marriage." Or "We're gunning to get married. Please join in the fun!" You could weave shooting references throughout the invitation and wedsite with phrases like, "You only get one shot; we hope you're able to join us for this special day!" I also think it would be fun to play with the theme in the attire section of your wedsite by saying something like, "Bullet-proof vests not required."
  • In terms of decoration, targets come to mind. You could make target place mats for centerpieces by gluing together concentric circles on a circular base of cardstock. Perhaps you could make paper bunting of circular targets and string it all around the room.

Those are my ideas for now, but hopefully more people will take a shot (cheesy pun, intended) at coming up with additional ideas in the comments!

Please share your ideas!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Gift Idea: Framed Love Letter

While browsing my favorite antique shop, I came across a yellow frame that really appealed to me. I snatched it up for a couple of bucks and then started thinking about what to do with it. When I realized that the frame is 8.5 x 11, I decided that it would be really sweet to frame letters to our baby.

I've already been writing letters about once a month throughout my pregnancy, and it's something I would like to continue throughout his childhood (kind of like a free-form baby book). I realized I could frame the most current letter in the yellow frame. Whenever I write him a new one, I can take out the old one, add it to his living, growing scrapbook, and then frame the most recent letter. Voila!

Then I realized that this idea could also be applied to your beloved partners. What a nice holiday gift! A framed love letter with the promise of more love letters to come throughout the years....

Ooh, this could also be incorporated into a wedding ceremony. You could read each other framed loved letters and then promise to continue to write new ones throughout your marriage.

Just an idea!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Postcard from Our Wedding

Matt's dear grandfather recently passed away of cancer, and I was looking through all 2,000 of the photographs our friends and family uploaded from our wedding in an attempt to find the perfect picture to print out for Matt's dad.

While I was sifting through everything (you can read more about how we got so many photos here), I found this photo from our Welcome Picnic. Our Welcome Picnic was such a fun event. As people started to arrive on Friday night (most of our guests were traveling from out of town), they joined us for an evening of sandwiches (we did a make-your-own-sandwich bar), watermelon, chips, pickles, board games, a swing dancing lesson, hot-tubbing, volleyball/Frisbee/football, and just hanging out to chat. It was such a casual way to ease ourselves into our wedding weekend. It also gave us more time to mingle and chat with all of our nearest and dearest.

In this photo, my two cousins and my brother were sitting on the couch together. I randomly decided to lay across their laps, and then Matt came along and added to the pile. So fun!

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