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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Moments of Romance

Yesterday I was hanging out with my best friend. She's actually the bride in the photo that is this blog's banner. We did lots of things, but we had a discussion about when she first met her husband. Was there something there already or did it develop overtime? She said played 'Whatever It Is' by the Zac Brown band and says it was like that.
My mom's story with my dad is cute. She saw him across the room and her jaw dropped and she said 'WHO is THAT?' (And my dad fell for her when she was cleaning the floor's at their mutual workplace, dancing around with the broom singing 'The wonderful thing about Tiggers...')
I've been thinking about these kind of romantic things lately. I scanned my parents wedding photos into the computer two days ago and that made me all sentimental too.
I just feel like reflecting on romance. Not the stupid hollywood kind, but real life. Something in me feels like a shy girl thinking about it, filled with hope.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playing with My Wedding.

Hello All. Just to clarify, this is the same person who created this blog, but I'm posting under another account because I wanted to consolidate multiple blogs.

So, as I've admitted before, I'm not engaged. But my boyfriend and I are those 'you know when you know' kind of people. And we know. We're going to get married. So, slightly obsessive, analytical, future-minded, starry-eyed me, I think about the details. And my boyfriend is totally okay with that, and it actually pleases him. I discuss this stuff with him. So this is not a case of the desperate, naive girlfriend fantasizing about a wedding. This is more the case of a very imaginative (and crafty) girl playing around with ideas and possibilities. We're not engaged for a couple reasons, but none of them have to do with either of us not being sure the other is the 'one'.

And I've been very wedding minded lately. So here are some of my ideas about my own future wedding to Ryan, which aren't really plans because hey, I'm not engaged. It's all up to be changed. But I figure writing here about them will help me organize my thoughts. And again, it's definitely going to be a low budget affair, not only because neither Ryan or I are rich, but because I also think the price tags on most weddings these days is ridiculous.

One interesting thing about me and Ryan is that we've decided on having two weddings. This is not set in stone, but seems the most practical. Ryan lives in India, and should all go as we'd like it to, he'll move here and we'd get legally married here. But as the cost of living in India is sooo much lower (which is part of the reason we'd live here--I have debts and would have to work a full time job JUST to cover them in India) it's SEVERAL months salary to fly to the USA. We can't really ask that of any of his loved ones, and yet we don't want to marry without any of them. So we'd do a non-legal marriage ceremony there (because it's easier, legally, for him to come over as my fiance then as my husband since we're hoping to live in the USA) as well as a reception. Then we'd fly here and have the legal ceremony and a reception for my family and friends. So I get the joy (and burden) of planning two weddings to the same man in a very short period of time. Awesome.

At this time I'm kind of leaving the India wedding up in the air because, unlike Ryan, I'm the totally think ahead kind of person (he likes to think ahead too, he just doesn't as much. lol). And I am not in India to plan any of that kind of stuff. And I don't know how things are done, what resources are available, locations, etc. None of that. So what I figure is I'll focus on the US one now, since really I don't have any need to focus on either one. Then when we are engaged, I can say 'all right, it's just as easy to print out invitations for both weddings here, but it's too hard to transport centerpieces, so I'll have to find some for there' or whatever it ends up being.

Also, while BOTH wedding would be ours, I suspect and even want the India wedding to be more Ryan and the USA wedding to be more mine, because it'll be our opportunity to show that to our guests.

So here's what I'm thinking as of now... and this will change. That's half the fun, the playing around with ideas and changing them:

Pre-wedding stuff:
Invites- self designed and printed. Simple, elegant, on BRIGHT blue cardstock. Nothing complicated, just inkjet printing on cardstock. RSVP will be to a website, as to save postage and trees.


Ceremony stuff:
My gown: I get to have two! I am all about 'the moment' when Ryan gets to see me, and I'd hate for the second moment he'd already seen me in my finery. Now, because Ryan can totally see this blog even after we're engaged I doubt I'll share my wedding dresses until post wedding, but right now I'm thinking the classic kind of gown I've always dreamed of for one of them. But with that, I'll wear classically Indian accessories like these:
Veil Example
Jewelry Example 1, Example 2, Example 3
The second dress will be a white sari, all decorated in gold or silver thread, maybe beading. But it will be over a petticoat and corset, giving me a classic Western silhouette, and with classically Western accessories, like a tiara and pearl necklace.

His attire: He likes tuxes, so I think that's what he should wear. His groomsmen can wear the same.

Bridesmaids: Apparently custom made saris are only like $20, so I think that's the direction we should go. I think it'd be cute to alternate those with David's Bridal dresses in a similarThe color scheme for the less adventurous.

Location/Ceremony itself: In the USA, I'd get married at my church, which is an Episocopal Church. In the Episcopal Church we use a liturgy, so there's not much you have to do to personalize it, it's classic and awesome. We'd just select some readings and stuff. I am considering a 'ring warming' though, having just read about that (the rings get passed out amongst the guests and they pray over them). Don't know if that would work, and won't until I'm actually engaged and meet with my priest.
In India, Ryan's church doesn't own a building, but only rents it on Sundays. So we'd probably get married elsewhere, since it'd cost a lot to rent it for our own use on the day we get married there, but again we don't have to worry about our officiant, we'd just use his pastor. Probably we'd get married at the reception site. In this ceremony we'd probably do the 'write your own vows' thing. Which is weird to me, because I'd always thought if I did that it would mean I wouldn't get the Book of Common Prayer wedding I wanted, but in this case I'd get to do both. Very cool.

Post Ceremony, Pre-Reception:
So here's what I'm thinking. After the ceremony, while the photographer is taking pictures, the guests go to what some might call a 'cocktail' hour. But instead of cocktails, there would be cookies. :) Ryan and I have a total cookie thing going on (in our relationship). It's a inside joke and I call him 'Cookie man'. So I figure I'd have a table set up with dozens of cookies of various type, and each guest would get a cellophane bag or something and could go collect some (or eat them right then). Meanwhile we'd have this awesome thing that my best friend Tabitha had her wedding, where the guests write notes for the couple and put them in a box to be opened at their first anniversary. So there'd be a station set up for that. Then I'd like there to be a tv with our Indian wedding being shown, so anyone who wants can watch that (but they wouldn't have to if they're all ceremony-ed out, as my BCP ceremony is likely to take over an hour, since I want to do communion). And I'd also like to have a sort of photo booth, but have it be a camcorder set up where guests can leave well wishes to be put on a wedding video (which is important to Ryan). So that should be enough to entertain people for 45 minutes or so, so we can take pics and be the first to arrive at the reception site...

Reception:
... where we serve them the food! We'll put on aprons and serve them the food when they get there. It'll be buffet meets receiving line. This will be our way of reflecting Christ, and serving our guests. After the last of them has gotten their food, we'll get ours. Then we'll eat, and they'll be toasting and dancing and such.
Before the wedding, I want to email our guests and ask them for song suggestions and we'll have an 'ipod' style reception where we have a pre-made playlists of our and our guests favorite songs. It'll be totally awesome!
I don't know if the food will be diy or not. Depends on price and lots of stuff. So does if we have alcohol, but if we do, we'll not have any hard liquor. I'm for having wine/beer kind of stuff, or at least a toast and punch, but since we'll be on a limited budget, many of the reception sites I've looked at are no alcohol places.
What I want in reception site is one large room, with room enough for tables, buffet and dancing. Indoors. And around here, that is HARD to find without paying an arm and leg for. Might end up using the church gym.

Decor:
So I'm painting vases. Already started that. And for flowers, I think I'm totally going with these:
Wood Roses
I also think I'm going to have black and white photos of me and Ryan blown up and mounted on foam board. And I'd want more kind of cool stuff, but not sure what. Depends on the location and it's limitations and I really don't know that yet.
Well, as far as the church goes, my church is pretty enough I don't feel a need to fancy it up.
And I think my bouquet would be those wood roses, and I would like my bridesmaid to enter with hymnals, open, with a single (apparently wooden) flower lying in the middle. Very elegant to me.

All right, that's most of my ideas at this time. We'd print our own programs, transport would not be rented (maybe borrowed from someone, but if we use our own car, that's cool too lol).

My top budget is $5000, but I think we may not even be able to come up with that, so we'll see.

I definitely want a photographer, but again, we'll see.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What Really Matters

So I started posting stuff about mason jars yesterday, but I didn't feel inspired. Not that mason jars aren't awesome. But it wasn't the right time or something, so I let it go.

Then today I found out something big. One of my good friends, who is pregnant, is going to have to be induced next week. She's only 8 months pregnant.  If she doesn't, the baby will die. I won't go into the details, since she's a friend and I don't want to air it all out on as public a venue as the internet.  But it really brought me back to what is important.

'Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters.' I got that from Mission Year, a Christian organization, but it's really what Jesus taught. I was coming home tonight from Bible Study, where my friend told me this about her and her baby, and I thought about this blog and it hit me that that's why I couldn't talk about mason jars yesterday. Mason jars are an awesome thing at weddings, and maybe someday I'll talk about that, but they really don't matter.

Dresses don't matter. Food doesn't matter. Centerpieces, invitations, these don't matter.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these things. But it's love that matters. And not just 'oh, what a wonderful feeling love' but 'I will stick by you when you're withering away from cancer, or lose your job, or get fat or thin or ugly. I will laugh with you when it's raining and hold your hand when the sun is shining. I will make you a priority, all the days of my life.' That is what love is. Not just between a couple, but between friends or family. That is what is of value. Always.


When I was engaged in the past, I remember getting so irritated with brides on wedding forums who would say to every frustrated, stressed bride, 'Well if at the end of the day you and your fiance are married, that's all that matters.' I was irritated not because it was inaccurate, but because they never said it in a spirit of love, but instead in a spirit of 'Oh, get over it already!' And that's not how I want this to come across.

I'm saying it's okay to spend energy on picking out flowers or shoes. It's okay to debate over and over about the importance of the invitation font. It's okay.

But just don't let the details make you forget what really matters. I really want the wedding. I want everyone to come. I want there to be food and dancing and me in a lovely dress. But I also know that if it doesn't happen, it's not what REALLY matters. Sometimes I DO get so caught up in the details that I lose touch. I let a minor disappointment ruin things. And I don't want that to happen to me. Or to you.

So take a moment and breathe. Think of the ones you love. Remember them, remember what really matters.

And if you pray, please pray for my friend, her baby, and her husband. Thanks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Most Common Budget Wedding Tips

Okay, so there are tons of websites out there that give you tips to save money on your wedding. Unfortunately, the majority of them give the same advice over and over. Why? Because they are the most practical, typical suggestions and they WILL save you money. However, maybe these aren't an option or you've done them and you need more ideas.

My best friend in the gown she found at a thrift store

I hope this blog will help on more ideas. But since these tips DO save you money, I will list a bunch of common ones. This list is not exhaustive, but it is the common ones. I have sorted them by topic.

General Savings:
  • Cut your guest list. Every guest adds to your overall cost, so the more you can trim this, the more you will save. It's not just the per plate fee you save, but on favors, invites, programs, etc. And if you can get yourself down to a smaller bracket, it might cost less or open up less expensive venues as an option.
  • Don't have your wedding on Saturday night. Having it Saturday morning, or Friday or Sunday will save you tons. Having it on a weekday will save you even more.
  • Have your wedding in January, February, or March.  (With the exception of Valentine's Day). This is the off season for wedding venues. April, December, November, and possibly October can also be cheaper than the other months, depending on your region.
Decor (flowers, etc):
  • DIY: many things, most especially flower arrangements, centerpieces, invitations, and programs can be made by yourself.
  • DIT (Do it Together): get your friends and family together to help you. Whether is taking advantage of something someone does (Cousin Sue is great at photography), someone has (your best friend owns a white garden arch you can borrow), or are willing to do with you (your relatives might get together and make all the food!), this can save you a lot.
  • Select flowers that are in-season or use artificial flowers.
  • Hit dollar stores and Walmart, especially for favors, thank you notes, and candles.
  • If you're getting married in a church, it is often suggested to have a wedding near a holiday, where the church will already be decorated.
Paper stuff (invites, etc):
  • DIY: Lots of places, like Walmart, Michael's, and Target sell kits for making invites, you just print them out on your own computer. Or you can get blank cardstock and start from a blank slate. This works not just for invites, but programs, place cards, table numbers, etc.
  • Eliminate programs, inner envelopes, and blotter paper, unless you REALLY feel they are necessary (for me, programs are a necessity!).
  • Avoid square invitations, which ALWAYS cost more because they can't go through the post office's normal sorting machine.
  • Many modern couples are asking for RSVPs by phone or internet. It not only saves money, it saves trees. If you have older relatives who wouldn't approve or be able to navigate a website, consider printing off reply cards for them, and letting other guests use a website.

Venues:
  • Choose a cheap or free venue: a relatives house, some parks, and some church halls could be free.
  • Many of the tips under 'general' apply to venues.
A friend's wedding that took place in a church hall
Dresses/Attire:
  • Shop sample sizes, if you are one, and the internet for your dress. Pre-owned-wedding-dresses.com is a good resource for, well, pre-owned wedding dresses. Another site is lilywedding.com.  Ebay is another classic, and not only for dresses. And, of course, craigslist.com. You can also shop thrift stores, consignment shops, and check your newspaper.
  • Get a white bridesmaid's dress instead of a wedding gown. Many are just as lovely for a fraction of the cost.
  • Use a relative's gown, or rent one, since you're only wearing it for one day anyway.
Transportation:
  • Borrow a friend's nice vehicle or seriously, just use your own car. Who says you need a limo, really?
Music/Photography/Videos:
  • Have an 'ipod' wedding, where you hook up an ipod or mp3 player with a pre-selected playlist to a stereo system instead of hiring a DJ or band.
  • Look for students! Musicians or photographers in school can be just as talented, but will charge less than the pros.
  • Ask a talented family member or friend. Just be sure sure they will do a good job, since the photos and video will be the record of the event for years to come. Be sure to ask something like this diplomatically, as many a family member has felt more like hired help and resented it. Yet others may be overjoyed to be able to help.
  • Ask around to see if anyone knows someone trying to break-in to the photography market. Every photographer needs a portfolio, but they don't just start with one. My best friend actually got her wedding photography for free this way!
  • MAKE SURE you understand the terms of a photography agreement. It won't save you money if your photographer's fee is small, but you can only buy photos from them at astronomical rates. Try to find one that will give you a CD or DVD of your photos with the rights to print them yourself. You can also try to hire them for less hours (let an amateur get pictures of the pre-wedding stuff, for example, or do the cake cutting at the beginning so you can send them home after the first dance) since photographers often charge by the hour. If they offer an album, for example, sometimes you can get the price lowered if you don't want one. 
 
Cake mentioned below from Sam's Club (figurines were added later)
Food/Alcohol/Cake:
  • Consider breakfast or lunch. Or just have cake and punch!
  • Do potluck or hors d'oeuvres.
  • Get your cake at a grocery store or Sam's Club. My best friend got her wedding cake that served 50 people for $36 at Sam's Club. Publix wedding cakes have more variety, and start at around $50. Another option is to just get a white cake and decorate it yourself with flowers or ribbons. Also, many couples get a small, fancy wedding cake for the cake cutting, but serve a sheet cake to most of their guests.
  • Don't have an open bar. In some circles, it is okay to have a cash bar (in some it's a major faux pas, so ask your friends and family).  A common option is only serving wine and beer (much cheaper than liquor), and some couples choose to only have a champagne toast.  And if you and your fiance don't drink, consider a dry wedding.

An Introduction

So I started toying with creating a wedding blog  after reading A Practical Wedding, a wonderful blog. I'd thought of starting a website in the past, but I hadn't really thought of a blog. But now that I was introduced to that, I thought 'I could do it that way'.

By 'it' I mean actually help brides on a budget with ideas and stuff. Now, I don't mean a wedding that has a budget--only the insanely rich don't do budgets of some kind. I mean a wedding of around $5K or less. If you live in an urban area, 10K and less would probably count.  And of course, some ideas might help people with larger budgets. But the focus is on less expensive, more valuable weddings.

photo by Aleksandr Kutsayev

It seems to me when the WIC (Wedding Industrial Complex) approaches the subject of budget weddings, they mean less than $50K. Which is ridiculous. Now, I'm not trying to judge or condemn anyone who spends more than $10K. It's just I'm sick of looking at wedding sites for budget brides which have a budget of three times more than I could possibly spend and they're like 'we barely/didn't do it'. It's discouraging. And when I find inexpensive wedding sites that have real inexpensive weddings, they are often for only like 30 people, or take place on a Friday or Sunday, or something. Those are legitimate ways to save money, of course. And I will be referring to them. Of course, like Meg of A Practical Wedding, I do NOT want this blog to be about money alone, but about value. But more on that later.

What about the bride that wants to have a wedding on a Saturday with like 100 guests? Is she doomed to going beyond her budget?

I say not necessarily. And I want to make a resource for those brides, as well as the others.
Now, unlike other people out there, I'm not engaged or married. You might go, 'then what do you know?' Well, I've been engaged before. And I've helped out friends and families with their weddings. And my younger sister actually just got engaged a week ago. That's what prompted me to look at wedding sites again with fervor, which I hadn't done for two years, since I was planning a wedding that never happened.
And with the recession, also, I realized the number of brides in the category I described above has probably doubled.

So... here I am. I thought about not starting this blog until I was engaged, in some future date, but thinking about those brides who might NEED a blog like this made me realize that since I have ideas, and love researching and sharing ideas, and just really have a desire to help people get a 'practical' start to their lives, why not start now? And, on the plus side for me, when I do get around to having a wedding, I'll already have all this organized, and plus I hope many awesome brides out there will comment and contribute.


Me, at my home.

Just to tell you a little about me, my name is Pamela Monahan and I am 24. I do have a boyfriend, Ryan, who is AMAZING, but we've only been together a little while, and I told him we had to be together for at least a year before we'd get engaged. He knows I like to think about marriage and weddings (he does too actually, well at least the marriage part) so me having this blog won't pressure him or anything. He'll probably enjoy reading it and even post occasionally.

I live in Spartanburg county, South Carolina, which is not an urban area. I actually live in a rural area, and Spartanburg, the city, only has a population of 39,673, though it's estimated the city's urbanized population is more like 250,000. (I am also near Greenville, Greer, and Simpsonville.) NOT that is is a local blog, per se, but I want to tell you where I am, since it effects a lot.  Most of the most useful blogs I have found are located NOWHERE NEAR me, so maybe other local brides are having the same problem. I am not, however, southern since I and my entire family are originally from New Jersey. Still, this is for brides nationwide, perhaps internationally. Ryan actually lives in Gurgaon, India.

My family is one of the main reason I like weddings and marriage things. My parents will have been married for 30 years in a month and a half. Happily, I should add. They still greet each other with a kiss. My grandparents that are still living, my mom's parents, have been married for 55 years. My parents four siblings are all married, ranging from I think 25 years to ten years or so?  My dad's sister has been married for 36 years. My dad's brother is the only one not married, but he's a widower, and currently has been in a relationship for about a decade now.  My older sister has been married for four years, and as I said above my younger sister just got engaged.  I've also got two happily married first cousins (most of my cousins are younger than me, so I'm sure that number will raise as time goes on).

In addition, I have many friends who are married of different generations, ranging from 36 years to 2 years.  I believe in marriage and it is affirmed all around me.

However, I have noticed that unfortunately, especially in our generation, many people have have given up hope when it comes to marriage. It is said that half of my generation has divorced parents. So if there is so few cases of divorce in my family (only two cases), how much more there must be in other families to come to average like that? (To give you hope though, it is a fact that the rate of divorce is actually in decline!)
So my primary focus in this blog is the budget issue-- that inexpensive doesn't mean tacky, though it doesn't mean airbrushed WIC 'wedding porn' either.  Just like a beautiful woman doesn't equal a fashion model. But my secondary focus is the sanctity of marriage, upholding what is important, without belittling anyone's desire to have a beautiful wedding.

On that note, please look at my preliminary rules. I'm sure these will change since this is the first post, but I've been on too many catty bridal sites not to start with some sort of order in place. Comments are encouraged, desired, and enjoyed... but anything rude, disrespectful, etc will be deleted promptly.
Please enjoy this blog and feel at home here. :)