March 27, 2010


(Sources: Photo 1, Photo 2)

Deciding whether to serve cake or cupcakes at the reception has not been easy. Originally we thought we would have a small tier cake and a couple sheet cakes, but then I decided it might be cheaper and easier to serve cupcakes and make them ourselves. However, I started to have my doubts. Cupcake stands can be pretty expensive, even cardboard ones on eBay, and baking enough for around 130 people would take some time. Maybe hiring a pro to bake a cake for us wouldn't be such a bad idea, especially since we already have family members handling the rest of the food.

Finally, I asked Nathan, "Cake or cupcakes?"
He paused, put on his thinking face, exhaled deeply, then said, "Cupcakes."

We feel that cupcakes have several advantages, including:
1. No one is stuck cutting at the cake table.
2. We can have as many flavors as we want.
3. There's no need for a fork.
4. They require much less assembly and decorating.
5. Neither of us have actually seen cupcakes at a wedding, so even though it's becoming more common, it might be new for some of our guests too.

For some reason, my mind was still stuck on thinking that we need to have at least a small cake no matter which option we chose so that we could cut it, but Nathan doesn't see the point. Once I thought about it, I realized that there really isn't one other than the fact that it's a tradition. People might expect it, but it shouldn't ruin their day if we don't cut the cake. We could always cut a cupcake.

Do you think the bride and groom cutting the cake is an important tradition?

March 24, 2010

Are you a grownup?


I was taking Nenya for a walk one day last weekend when a little girl came running towards us asking if she could pet her. I knelt down to get Nenya to relax, and she rolled onto her back and let the girl rub her belly. After we stood back up, she asked,

"Are you a grownup?"
"I suppose you could say that," I answered.
"Huh? Are you a grownup, or are you a teenager?"
"Well, I'm 23 and I have a job, so I guess you could call me a grownup."
She thought about this for a moment before deciding, "You're a teenager."
"Oh, okay, that's good to know."
"But you're a young adult!"

It was a funny experience, but it made me realize that I really don't feel like a "grownup." Ten, even five years ago, I would have thought that at age 23 with a real job and a fiance I would feel like a grownup, but I really don't. Maybe getting married and living with my husband will make a difference, but I'm not sure that it will. Maybe I'll feel like a grownup when I have a baby, maybe when my first child starts school...but maybe not. I kind of wish I'd asked that girl what would make me a grownup.

Do you feel like a grownup? At what point did you start to feel that way?

March 22, 2010

You put THAT on the registry?!

I'm not sure what is really considered a "normal" wedding registry these days. With the average age for a first marriage on the rise, many people are living on their own before marrying. Nathan and I are both currently living alone in apartments, and we each have skillets and pans, dishes and glasses, tables and chairs... The only thing we will really need once we're married is a queen size bed and some bedding.

We couldn't exactly ask ourselves "Do we absolutely need this?" when creating our registry or it would have only a handful of items on it. What did we ask? As it turns out, Nathan and I asked ourselves (and each other) different questions. My thinking was along the lines of "Would someone actually buy this?" while Nathan's was "Would we use this regularly?" Some examples...

Nathan was baffled when he looked at our registry online and saw this leaf platter. How often would we actually use it?

Then I realized that Nathan had made his own addition as well...

A Nikon D300 S. Who would buy that for us?

But don't get me wrong, putting together didn't cause us any real conflict; for the most part we just laughed at each other. Plus, there were quite a few items we agreed on.

I think we've talked about getting a Wii pretty much the entire time we've been dating. We haven't been able to buy one yet since we've had other priorities, so it was a registry must.

Our registry is currently about 40% items related to camping and outdoor activities, including a couple of these sleeping bags. We're really excited about going camping together, so we need the gear to do it.

We've also picked out some kitchen items that we would definitely use if we had them.

I'm pretty excited about making some real waffles with this waffle maker.

Nathan would love to grill chicken on this huge George Foreman grill.

I'm excited to see what everyone ends up choosing for us!

March 21, 2010

A Problem and a Solution

I had a bit of a wedding panic attack yesterday. Something that I hadn't considered to be an issue suddenly convinced me that having a wedding at the venue we've booked wasn't even a possibility, and I immediately began looking for other locations.

The source of the problem was this:

There's a picnic shelter right behind where we plan on having the ceremony (you can see it in the distance), and it is going to be rented for a company picnic at the same time we're having our wedding. I hadn't considered it a problem before since it's far enough away that you really wouldn't be able to see or hear anyone over there. But while working on the map to put in our invitation, I looked at the satellite image and realized that there isn't any sort of parking lot over by the picnic shelter. Were all of the limited parking spaces going to be full before our wedding even had begun?

Well, Nathan called the lady who manages both locations, and it turns out that (unlike at other parts of the park), you can actually park on the grass! She's had 200 cars parked along the drive before. Phew!

Once we'd solved that issue, Nathan and I decided to take a trip out to the park to plan where we are going to set up the food, gift table, and everything else.

Some of the seating for the reception is inside an old house, and the rest will be outside under a tent. I'm REALLY hoping it doesn't rain on our wedding day. I tell people that it's "not allowed," but Nathan and I did work on various rain scenarios while we were out there.

We took some measurements of the rooms to get an idea of how many tables we could fit in each one. Nathan kept saying that he wasn't going to put it in Visio but...

He couldn't resist, not that I expected him too. He's just awesometastical like that.

I felt much better after we did some more planning and got a better picture of how it's all going to work. I can't say we have it all under control since some things are beyond are control, but at least we don't have to find a new venue with only three months before our wedding.

March 17, 2010

My Wedding Planning Tools

With so much information about wedding planning online, I haven't felt the need to buy any wedding magazines or books. I've looked through wedding magazines in the store, but I never found any that were spectacular enough to buy.

I did consider buying one wedding planning book, The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss. It has 500 pages, excellent reviews, beautifully designed pages, and is only $23.10 on Amazon. 

So what stopped me from buying it? According to one review on Amazon, "the author specifically states that weddings of around $5,000 can not be done and look good. This is a good book if you are going extravagant, but not if you are looking for simple."

Oh. Never mind.

I actually ended up not buying any wedding books at all. However, my future mother-in-law found this book and gave it to me before I was even officially engaged:

Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget by Denise Fields and Alan Fields

 The book is now in its 9th edition, but the one I read is actually the 4th edition, from 1998. Although some aspects are laughably dated (like the "Brides in Cyberspace: What's on the web?" sections with mile-long URL's), it still has good information. Each chapter focuses on a particular topic, such as cakes, flowers, and catering, and lists shopping strategies, questions to ask, money saving secrets, pitfalls to avoid, myths, and more. Some of the sections I kind of skipped through since we didn't really do a lot of shopping for our invitations, officiant, or videographer, but I would still recommend it to any brides who want to get to most value out of their small budgets.

My biggest wedding planning tool has probably been my flash drive, which I use to store inspiration photos, my guest list spreadsheet, the files for my invitations, and all my other digital files. But to keep track of my receipts, contracts, and notes, I use this Five Star notebook:

I used this notebook in college, but not nearly as much as I use it now.

It has tabbed sections, which I've labeled Vendor Info, Expenses, Contracts, Guest Info, and Notes. In retrospect, these probably weren't the best division since I could have easily put the one contract I have so far under vendor info. I think I may change Contracts to Premarital Counseling so that those notes separated from my other random notes.

The Vendor Info tab has pockets on it, which I use to keep track of business cards and brochures. The Expenses pockets are where I keep my invoices and receipts.

 (Can you guess what Nathan and I each did on this page?)

The style is similar to a three-ring binder, but the cover and rings are both soft, allowing the cover to fold around and stay flat like a notebook.

Although big wedding planning books and binders may be useful, there are less pretty and less expensive alternatives.

March 10, 2010

What's the point?

The average wedding in America costs $20,000. What really scares me about this is that I know there are people like us with much smaller budgets, so there have to be people on the other end of the spectrum spending much more in order to balance out that average.

(Check out this infographic for more statistics)

You may have realized this by now, but an extravagant wedding just isn't for me. Even if I had $20,000 to spend, I can't imagine spending it all on one day. Rebecca Adams, director of the Family and Child Program at Ball State University, says, "People may spend $20,000 to $30,000 planning a wedding, but they will bark or resist premarital counseling or something that might make their marriage last." (Source)


What's the point of investing all of this money towards the ceremony and reception when you don't invest any time towards creating a strong foundation for your marriage? Nathan and I will have at least 5 sessions of premarital counseling before our wedding. I'm not saying that any couple that doesn't go through premarital counseling is doomed to divorce, but I can't imagine going into a marriage without at least having some serious discussions with each other about every aspect of your future together.

No matter her the budget is, I think any bride can get caught up in the planning process and forget the true purpose of the wedding, so I've really tried my best not to do that. Sometimes I feel like wedding planning is my only hobby these days. I enjoy it, but I enjoy spending time with Nathan even more. I try my best to focus the majority of my time on building a stronger relationship with him and becoming a good wife. 

Our guests probably won't think that our wedding is the fanciest that they've ever attended, but hopefully they'll appreciate all the work that we've put into it. And more than anything, I want them to see that we're committed to each other and to putting in the work it takes to have a healthy marriage.

The fancy dress, the decorations, the food - as much as I'm looking forward to it, all I want is to be able to spend every day with the man I love. (And his dog too.)

March 9, 2010

Fingertips and shoulders, knees and elbows

After looking at the options on veil lengths, I decided that an elbow length veil would work best for me. I told Nathan this once over dinner and he stared blankly for a moment as he realized I didn't mean that the veil would be the length of my elbow.

I knew I didn't want a long veil, but I also wanted one that would be longer than my hair. Even with my hair curled, it should fall well below my shoulders, so shoulder-length just wouldn't work. The length part was easy to figure out, but the style of the edging took a little more consideration.

A cut edge is just a little too plain for me, so that was out.

I like the look of lace, but I decided it would be too distracting.

The ribbon edge looks really nice, but it was still more edging than I wanted.

My perfect veil?

The unfortunately named rattail edge. The thin cord around the edge emphasizes the contour of the veil without demanding too much attention. However, I wanted one with only one layer of tulle so it would be even less of a focus.

Once I had chosen how I wanted my veil to look, I just had to find one within my budget: $15. No, there isn't supposed to be a zero after that. The veil I tried on at David's Bridal was $189, but I just could not justify spending that much for a piece of tulle. I knew this budget would be possible because Michael's sells kits to make a veil at that price. Granted, you have to sew the comb to the veil, but even an incompetent seamstress (like myself) could probably find someone (like my future mother-in-law) who would be willing to handle that job for free.

But instead of going the DIY route, I decided to try the eBay route first and ended up buying a veil from a seller with excellent feedback for $13.95 including shipping. 

I'll have to see if I made the right decision when it arrives. Meanwhile, I have an extra dollar to allocate to another section of the budget. 

March 4, 2010

Piecing the Centerpieces: Take 2

When we left off, my centerpieces looked like this:


I've looked into all kinds of other options, but I knew I really wanted to get my hands on a berry garland. Michael's and Jo-Ann's didn't have any in the right color, but on a trip to Hobby Lobby tonight I found this:

Not only was it just what I needed, but it was 50% off! Major win! I also got some silk flower petals that were 50% off, along with floating candles for 80% off.

I cut off a small section and put it into the vase in a spiral along the outside edge. Then I took another sections and spiraled it in the opposite direction. After filling the vase with water and placing a candle on top, I had this:



What do you think? Is this an improvement? I personally love my new version, but I think I'll use a slightly longer section of garland next time to fill up a little more space. I've now spent around $27 experimenting on my centerpieces, but the good news is, I probably won't have to spend much more since I'm borrowing the vases. I'm pretty excited to see how it looks when it's all put together.

The Evolution of Our Colors

As you may remember, I originally was set on a particular dark red color for my bridesmaid dresses as well as other elements of the wedding. In a perfect world, the dresses would look like my colorized version of this Ann Taylor dress:


In the real world, finding a dress in the right color as well as in a style that will flatter all three of my bridesmaids (who have about a 10 inch range in height) just wasn't that easy. 


Here is a comparison of my invitation (which is in my ideal color) along with two swatches: David's Bridal's Apple on the left and Aria's Bordeaux on the right. The Bordeaux was a pretty good match, but since Aria only has showrooms in Washington DC, Boston or LA, it wasn't really feasible to order dresses from them. 

I did look at some other bridal salons in town to see if there were any other dresses out there in my perfect color. I found some that I liked, from Alfred Angelo and B2, but I was told dresses from those companies need to be ordered 3-4 months in advance. I told the sales associate, "Well, if it's going to take four months, that's not going to work." She said that "it usually doesn't take four usually takes this is really the perfect time for you to order them, but you'll want to order within the next week." 

I read some online reviews for this salon and found out that dresses have been known to come in much later than expected. I know I said before that you shouldn't base decisions on reviews, but in this case, I couldn't take the chance.

I finally decided to just go with a dress from David's Bridal in  Apple. My dress came in almost 2 months earlier than the date they gave me. Also, my bridesmaids can each save $20 since I bought my dress there.


No, it's not the perfect color, but at the end of the day, who really cares other than me? And besides, colors will vary based on lighting and the other colors they're next to, etc., etc...and the dress itself is really pretty.

So, our colors are now various shades of red, along with black, white, and silver. How did silver come into the mix, you ask? Well, Nathan and I were discussing tuxes one night when he said,

"What color should I wear? We don't really have a secondary color."

We knew he was going to wear a black tux, but I wasn't really sure what color vest and tie he should wear. I decided silver would look nice.


I'll also be incorporating silver into other aspects of the design, possibly including the tablecloths.

It helps to be flexible in the wedding planning process.

March 1, 2010

Ring Glamour Shots

Nathan and I did a photo shoot of my engagement ring over the weekend. Nathan took the photos and set up the lighting, and I chose the settings and did the editing.









I think we make a pretty good team.