Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ways to Save Money When Planning your Wedding

Last night I checked into the blog and was shocked to see it had been viewed 81,000 times! I have shared a fair amount about different projects and aspects of planning my wedding, but there is always more to write about. After sharing the blog on Facebook a friend from college reached out and asked for ways to save when planning a wedding. So of course my wheels start turning and I am suddenly up at 4am not able to sleep thinking of a new blog post to write. 

These are tips I have learned from planning my wedding, watching some bridal TV shows, reading, and talking to other people who have planned weddings.

The most important thing to keep in mind is know what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice. If you want to celebrate with family and friends and aren't much of a dancer maybe you forgo a longer reception and DJ to save money on the venue and music. 

12 Things to think about when trying to Save for the Big Day

1) Budget- The number one thing is to know who is paying and how you will be paying for your wedding. Create a budget and stick to it.

2) Flowers- You may find it fun to save money and make your own arrangements and centerpieces. Things you have to keep in mind when going this route is it could be stressful since you only have the day before and day of to make them. Some flowers won't last very long, especially in heat. You have to find a place to get the flowers (either a nursery, flower shop, a friend or neighbors garden or order them online), find enough people to help arrange the flowers, and figure out transporting the flowers to the venue. I love arranging flowers, but was not about to add it to my to-do list the day before I say I do! So I decided to shop around to find a florist. The best way to save money is to meet with 3-4 florists and compare prices (keeping in mind their ratings, reviews, etc.) Booking a florist ahead of time will save money as well. During peak wedding season prices will go up. You may have your heart set on specific flowers, but flowers that are in season will cost less. Maybe pick 1-2 favorite flowers and then choose flowers that are in season that go with your color scheme. You can also save money by using the same flowers at the ceremony site as the reception site (you just have to coordinate who will get the flowers to their right spot.)

3) Time of Year- Most people know late spring and early fall tend to be more expensive. Winter months are typically cheaper. Some people know the exact date they want to get married, and some might decided to choose based on venue availability or what the weather will be. If you are looking to save a little money, maybe choose an off season month. Just keep in mind that you want to accommodate guests and their busy schedules.

4) Day of the Week and Time- Saturday is the most popular day to get married. If you aren't dead set on getting married on a Saturday, consider a Friday or Sunday wedding. Some people also choose an earlier wedding such as a brunch to save money. Most venues will host 2 events in one day so if you are willing to do an earlier time, you could really save some money.

5) Save the Dates- Save the dates can be a fun way to announce your wedding date, but they can also save you money if you don't use them. Think of a fun alternative to letting people know your upcoming wedding date. I'm not suggesting you do what Anne Hathaway did in Bride Wars (typing a quick email with a bunch of spelling mistakes and hitting send before proof reading!) If you really want to send out that cute engagement photo and guarantee a spot on your friends' fridge, you could make your own in publisher and print at a local print shop or create them on a website like shutterfly and wait for a great coupon. Often times shutterfly or snapfish will send out 50% off or coupons around holidays like Fathers day, and Valentines day. If you want to wait for a coupon, just make sure you have the save the date ready to go because the coupon may only be good for 1 day and you don't want to rush to get it made. Another thought is to send them out with Christmas Cards, or hand deliver to a few people that live close by to save money on stamps. You could only send them to out of town guests who you know will need to plan ahead with work and travel schedules.

6) Food- Going into planning our wedding we thought for sure we would have a buffet. We thought it would allow our guests to choose what they want right there in the moment. When meeting with the caterer we learned that it is slightly more expensive to do buffet style and here's why: The caterer does not know how much each guest will want to eat, if they will come back for seconds or even thirds. They don't know which dish will be most popular, so they have to over prepare a little of everything. So we decided to go with plate service and have our guests tell us what they wanted ahead of time to save a few bucks! We also saved a few hundered dollars, by eliminating the cheese and veggie spread during cocktail hour, and chose just to have butlered hors d'oeuvres.

7) Drinks- Some venues have a bar service and you are required to use them. Often times there will be an up charge for top shelf liquor. When creating your menu and signing contracts make sure you read the fine print and don't sign that guests can request top shelf brands. Some places won't have bar service and you will have to provide the drinks. This is where you can save money by having just wine and beer and 1 or 2 signature cocktails. You can buy beer and wine in bulk, shop ahead of time and buy things when they are on sale or when there are coupons, and buy less expensive brands. Honestly, there is one thing that kills a party: no drinks or a cash bar. However, you know your guests the best, if you aren't going to have that type of crowd you can go the route of a cash bar (or 2 tokens for drinks then pay cash) or no alcoholic drinks to save money. Just remember- you are trying to have the time of your life and show your guests a good time!

8) Bridal Party- Bridal party size can affect your price. Yes, typically the bridesmaids will pay for their own dress, jewelry and shoes, and the groomsmen will pay for the rental of their tux or buy their own suit. But keep in mind the bigger the bridal party size, the larger the transportation vehicle (limo, party bus) you have to rent (cha-ching $$$ more money you are spending.) The bigger the bridal party size, the more gifts you are buying (cha-ching $$$ more money you are spending.) The bigger the bridal party size, more bouquets and more boutonnieres you are buying (cha-ching $$$ more money you are spending.) Identify who you want by your side during that day and make sure it's a number you are able to handle.

9) Asking your bridal party- A modern trend is the way people are asking their friends and family to be in their wedding. If you want to save money on your wedding (just ask!) You don't need to send a personalized bottle of wine with other gifts. You can also think of cheaper and creative alternative ways to invite them into your bridal party.

10) Wedding Dress- When I watch say yes to the dress my jaw drops half the time because people's budgets are out of this world! They are willing to spend $10,000-20,000 just on the dress!! I don't know about you, but I had a budget and stuck to it. Yes, this is the most important dress you will wear in your life and you want it to be everything you ever imagined, but don't break the bank! Shop at trunk shows, opt for a more simple gown and add a nice beaded belt, avoid custom alterations, keep an eye out for bridal shop sales, buy a gown from another bride (some people might have bought a gown and changed their mind and are now trying to sell their gown online,) buy a floor sample or rent your dress. Don't try on a dress that is out of your budget- because if you love it, chances are you will talk yourself into it. Go shopping with people you trust and know won't talk you into something you can't afford.

11) Time- When trying to save money on your wedding, time is a big factor. If you are rushed with planning you may be forced to choose the last venue, florist, etc. available and may not have the choice on saving. When you have more time, you can be on the lookout for sales and coupons.

12) Guest List- The bigger the guest list, the more money you will be spending (meals can cost upwards of $85-100 a plate!) As a couple write out who you want included in your big day and try to agree on a number that is reasonable. Chances are you don't need to invite your second cousins best friend and her boyfriend.

Hope those are helpful to you!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thank You Postcard

A personalized thank you note that your guests will absolutely LOVE and can hang on the refrigerator for months!  

Front of Thank You Postcard
 The first step to the thank you postcard is buying the wooden letters, paint, paintbrush, and ribbon from Michael's or AC Moore.  Don't forget these stores always have coupons, so wait until you get a good one to buy the supplies! I chose light blue paint because our wedding colors were blue, white and silver. I also knew the blue would be a good contrast against my dress and Matt's tux.  Think about which of your wedding colors would look best, and if you are indecisive.... go with white! Once the letters are painted and have dried you can use super glue or a staple gun to attach them to the ribbon.  Each letter should be about 1 inch apart.  Leave about 1-2 feet at the end of the Thank You so you and your hubby can hold it easily during pictures.  This project is similar to the DIY Wooden Letters.

Once the project is complete, Add it to your list of things to bring with you on your wedding day.  I left them at the front door of my parents house (where we got ready). When we were leaving for the church, I grabbed them and had them in the limo, ready to use after the ceremony.

I had given my photographer David a heads up that we were going to be doing this.  Giving your photographer a heads up of any special pictures you want taken is a good idea for a couple reasons.  One, so you have another person to remember to take these pictures.  Two, they can help you figure out a good background for the pictures.  

David was so gracious and gave us the picture earlier than the other pictures so we could order them. Remember you want to get your Thank You notes in the mail as soon as possible (2-6 weeks after your wedding day.)

So I had the front of the postcard, but was unsure of what to do for the back.  I went to google and searched "back of postcard" and found a blank picture of the back of a postcard. I saved it to my computer to use. 
Back of Thank You Postcard

I had never made or ordered postcards before so I didn't know what company to use.  Once again, google came to my rescue (love their searches!)  I googled "print postcards" and tons of companies came up. I believe I used It was super easy. I uploaded the picture of us with the thank you banner and the postcard back picture. Then went through their simple ordering process.  They were shipped within 2 weeks.  During those 2 weeks, I made sure to pick up fun stamps at the post office. 
Send Thank You Notes out within 2-6 weeks

Hope you go the personalized thank you note route, guests really do love them!!

What to do with your flowers, decorations, extra cake when the wedding is over

As a bride, you can spend endless hours creating your perfect wedding.  From planning the flower arrangements with your florist, to watering ivy twice a week for 10+ weeks leading up until the wedding, to choosing the perfect cake flavor.  After all of your hard work has gone into these small details that add up to your perfect day, you have one more thing to take care of. 

Where will the extra stuff go when the day is over?

At the end of the wedding, you don't want to be stuck with 10 flower arrangements. Most couples take a honeymoon, so why have 10 flower arrangements die in your apartment, while you are soaking in the sun in the Caribbean?  Give the flower arrangements away!! It can be hard to choose which 10 people will get the centerpiece/arrangement, so set it up in a way that won't hurt anyone's feelings.  Have the DJ announce towards the end of the reception that the person who traveled the farthest at the table gets the centerpiece.  

We also had 8 ivy pots from our church (that also were at the reception; my Aunt's brought them over after the ceremony).  My grandma asked to take one back to her house and I couldn't say no! My favorite part about giving these away are seeing them when I visit people's houses. Recently my parents visited my grandma. My mom called me to tell me the ivy pot is still going strong and my grandma loves showing people so she can say it's from her granddaughters wedding!  Sure puts a huge smile on my face. Share the love. Here is the link to the DIY Ivy Pot

If you choose to leave your flower arrangement at the church, you can coordinate to have the program the next day say "dedicated to so and so church in honor of the newly weds!"

Just remember people love fresh flowers, so it won't be hard to coordinate this, just don't forget this detail while planning!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

60 Pictures to take on your Wedding Day

Your wedding day is one of the most special days in your life.  You want every detail, every special moment, and every special person that took part in your wedding captured so you can look at your wedding album, and remember it perfectly.  Here is a list of 60 pictures that my photographer captured. Hopefully this helps you prepare for your big day.  Look it over, print the checklist at the bottom, and bring it with you when you meet with your photographer.

1.     Bride's Bouquet/Bridesmaids Bouquets
Wedding Band on open hymnal
2.       Bride's Shoes and Jewelry
3.       The Rings
4.       Bride and Bridesmaids with their hair and make-up done before you get into their dresses
5.       Bride getting ready- putting on your dress, shoes and jewelry on
6.       Groom and groomsmen getting ready
7.       Having fun with your bridesmaids using a mirror.  
We bought a nice mirror at Marshall's Home Goods, used it for pictures, and returned it (guess it didn't go with our home decor ;-) )
8.       With your siblings at your parents house. 
We climbed up onto the big rock we played on growing up. Talk about memories!
9.       Getting into the limo.
10.   Girls in the limo on the way to the ceremony.
11.   Walking into the church
The Best Man covering the Groom's eyes while the Bride enters the Church!!
When we pulled up to the church the limo driver pulled up to the side door. I'm not sure how we forgot to let Matt know to stay clear of the hallway near the parlor 20 minutes before the ceremony, but we did..We walked up to the church, opened the side door, walked in, and there is Matt and his brother putting on their boutonnieres!  Without even thinking my famous last words before getting married to Matt were "douchebag!" The groom should not see the bride before the ceremony! Matt's brother quickly covered his eyes with our Marriage License.
12.   Bridesmaids in the parlor
13.   Bride and her parents in parlor
14.   Bride with her Dad before walking down the aisle
15.   The church (all decorated, before guests there)
16.   Pastor leading the ceremony
17.   Readers
18.   Singers/Piano player
19.   Saying Vows/Putting on the rings
Have to capture the first kiss as husband & wife!!

20.   The Kiss
The Bride's parents reaction is priceless!

21.   The guests reaction/crowd during ceremony
22.   The couple after the vows leaving the ceremony
Artsy Picture of Bride and Groom (could be cool to print on a canvas and hang in your house)
23.   The send off after the ceremony
24.   Formal shot of Bride and Groom with the Groom's family
25.   Formal shot of Bride and Groom with the Bride's family
26.   Bride's extended family
27.   Groom's extended family
28.   Bride and Groom in front of the church
29.  Bride and Groom doing a dip kiss
Bride & Groom walking
30.   Picture of Bride and Groom walking away into a beautiful life (we were walking down a tree lined road)
31.   Thank you card
32.   Bride with the bridesmaids
33.   Bride with the groomsmen
34.   Groom with groomsmen
Black & White: Groom with Groomsmen
35.   Groom with bridesmaids
Bridal Party Jump Shot- Photographer shouts 1, 2, 3 and everyone jumps on 3!
36.   Bride and Groom with entire bridal party - serious
37.   Bride and Groom with entire bridal party - silly, jumping, etc.

Bridal Party in Church (photographer is standing in the balcony)

38.   Entire bridal party toasting with champagne or drinks
39.   The bride having her dress bustled
40.   Bride and MOH
41.   Parents of Bride and parents of Groom getting introduced
Time to celebrate and drink!!
42.   Each bridesmaids and groomsmen being introduced
43.   The Bride and Groom being introduced
44.   First dance
45.   Father daughter dance
46.   Mother son dance
47.   MOH giving her toast
48.   Best Man giving his toast
49.   Cutting the cake
50.   Feeding cake (or shoving!)
51.   Group shots with your group from High School
(I am so glad we had our photographer take a picture of our swimming friends, little did we know it would be our last time together as a group because our dear friend Chris passed away a year after the wedding) Take a serious and silly picture
'Feeding' each other cake
52.   Group shots with your group from College
53.   Throwing your bouquet or giving it away
54.   The place cards
55.   The gifts (card holder, presents, and party favors)
56.   The reception room before guests arrive (centerpieces)
57.   The guest book (maybe while someone is signing)
58.   Candid shots of cocktail hour
59.   Candid shots of dancing

60.   Send off after the reception

Printable checklist [Right click, save image, paste into a word document, and print]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

7 Beauty Tips for the Bride

Tip # 1: Get a spray tan 3-4 days before the wedding day.
I had a lady come to my house. She had a spray tan tent and it only cost 40$. A spray tan is a good way to go if you aren't a fan of tanning beds/booths.  If you are getting married in the summer and think I will just lay out the week of the wedding! Guess what, it won't happen (not being a debby downer, just realistic. It will either rain, be cloudy or you will be busy doing last minute things for the big day!) A spray tan won't take care of major tan lines, but it will even out a tiny tan line (I got a sun burn in 3 months before the wedding and still had a light line from my bathing suit) 
It gave me a bridal glow!

Tip # 2:  Wear a button down shirt when you are getting ready so your hair and makeup don't get messed up when you go to put your wedding dress on.
Button down shirt getting ready is a must!

Tip # 3: Apply waterproof mascara over your other mascara so when you cry your makeup doesn't run.

Tip # 4: Buy the lip gloss your makeup artist uses so you can reapply before pictures.
Last minute fixes before walking down the aisle

Tip # 5: Don't wash your hair the day of the wedding. Most stylists recommend you wash your hair the day before.

Tip #6: Carry extra bobby pins in your purse. That way you can quickly fix your hair and get right back to the party.

Tip # 7: Don't forget to put on deodorant! Your nerves will make you sweat a little more than normal, don't be a smelly bride! 
I knew I had applied deodorant after I showered in the morning, but when we got in the limo, I freaked and said "oh my gosh, I don't remember if I put deodorant on after I put my dress on!" Luckily Mandy (Matt's sister and a bridesmaid) said "I have some!" So of course I put it on in the limo, while driving to the church. I think 3 other bridesmaids applied as well; Laughing the whole time!!
Don't want sweat stains!

Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY Wooden Letters

I can't tell you how many times my mom and I drove by the church picturing my big day.  Most churches and venues have gorgeous landscaping and aesthetic value, but dressing it up makes it uniquely personalized.  I remember going to a wedding at our church, just to see what the church looks like when a wedding is going on.  We drive up, look at each other and think are we at a funeral or a wedding? Now ask yourself, do you want your guests saying that?
  • You don't need an invitation to go to a church ceremony.  It's a worship service and most churches have an open door policy.  I recommend going to at least 1 wedding at your church to you can figure out how you want to decorate the church. (Please don't use this as advice for every church, check their website, bulletin or ask).  Also, dress up for the occasion, don't wear jeans.  You will stick out like a sore thumb!
DIY Wooden Letters

I bought our initials (2 each for the front and back of the door, that way if the doors are open or closed you can see the letters) (A for Amanda and M for Matt) and 2 inch light blue ribbon at Michaels and borrowed my dad's staple gun for the project. You could also use a hot glue gun to attach the letters to the ribbon.

Step 1: Sand the wood (optional, the wood may be smooth enough to paint)
Step 2: Paint the wooden letters ( I noticed foam brushes worked best )
Step 3: Figure out how long the ribbon should be ( since most churches don't allow nails or pins we draped the ribbon over the top of the door )
Step 4: Cut the ribbon
Step 5: Staple or hot glue the letters to the ribbon
Step 6: Bring the decoration to the church, hang and boom, you have a beautiful personalized church door!
DIY Wooden Letter Decoration

Pre-Wedding Girls Day

     Visiting with out of town guests and extended family on your wedding day can be hard.  It is a busy day. Aside from hugging everyone and thanking them for being there, there isn't much time to 'catch up' with people you haven't seen in 6 months or sometimes more. You struggle with knowing they spent a lot of money and time to be there for you, and knowing you will be busy getting ready, saying vows, getting pictures taken, eating, and dancing. So how do you catch up with these wonderful people you dearly love?

     Luckily weddings aren't just one day, it's a whole weekend. Think about it, there is the day before where you are prepping/decorating, and having the rehearsal dinner.  The day of the wedding you get ready, have the wedding ceremony, wedding reception, and typically an after party at the hotel bar.  Then the day after you have a brunch with all the out of town guests and extended family.

Pew Bows
Decorations at the front of the church
     The day before my wedding we had a girls day. About a month before I emailed my mom, sister, grandmothers, Matt's mom, his sister, his grandmothers, my aunts, cousins and the bridesmaids, and gave them the plan. I knew they all wouldn't be able to make it, but the important part is that everyone knew what was going on, and they felt included (which was important to me.) Keep in mind to invite close friends that aren't in your wedding, but who are traveling, to events like these.  My good friend Danielle was flying in so I made sure to invite her to lunch and nails. You want people traveling to feel welcome, enjoy their time, and look back and say 'that was a great wedding! I am so glad I went!'

Girl's Day Schedule:

French Manicure
Decorating the church from 9:30am-11:30am

Lunch at 12:00pm

Nails at 1:30pm

Not only did this allow me to spend time with family and friends, but the mani/pedi gave me a chance to relax, which is important on such a busy/exhausting/exhilarating weekend.