New Look...

... Same great taste!

Thought I'd do something a little closer to a wedding color :)

Ring the Bell for a Fond Farewell...

I have been excited for this idea since I first saw it on Style Me Pretty. As guests file out of the ceremony, they will be encouraged to grab a bell and line up to greet us. Each bell will have a tag that says "Ring the Bell for a Fond Farewell."

Of course, being budget conscious was VERY important for this project. Hand bells run around $5 each. However, there are many wholesale websites that offer these bells for cheaper. Price Wise Favors has these bells for $1.66 each if you order over 96, but this still leaves you with a $166 for 100 guests. That was more than I was willing to part with while staying on a budget. I found a great alternative at American Bridal. I bought 192 of these bells for $39.60! They will ring us off to the reception while still remaining budget-friendly.

I am so excited to start preparing these bells! I think it is a super cute, and unique way to send off the bride and groom. No bird seed or bubbles for us!

Don't Fear Enlisting Friends!

You all know the guy: he plugs a "name drop" in every conversation, stretching the subject to fit in his you-know-who-I-know opportunity. But, knowing the right people does not always mean the president of Intel. Sometimes, the best people to know are family and friends with skills in areas you are lacking.

As you can see from this blog, I am dedicated to doing as many projects by hand as I can. The driving force behind this goal is saving as many pennies as possible! At the end of the night, folks, all that will matter is that you are married to your best friend, your soul mate. What won't matter are the Swarovski crystals you spent a small fortune adorning your centerpieces with, that ended up ignored when the dancin' got started.

To this end, I have been recruiting as many of my friends and family as possible. My sister (who is an AMAZING seamstress) has agreed to bustle my dress. Most bridal salons charge a flat rate of $200 for this service. Many brides just factor this cost into the cost of their dress, without considering who they know that might be willing to provide the service for nothing (or, as I plan for my sister, a bottle of wine). In addition, we have talked about adding some buttons to the back of the dress to smooth the look of the zipper.

I was also able to drastically reduce the cost of a DJ by using a friend. The average DJ runs around $800 for 4-6 hours of service. This seemed expensive, and that cost doesn't include travel and a hotel for out-of-town companies. In fact, many couples spend upwards of $1200 to have some directed tunes at their reception. A friend of mine I met through YoungLife (awesome, awesome, awesome youth outreach program) happens to work for a DJ in EO, and has done a couple weddings solo. I had planned to try to use this company (I do wish to shop local as much as possible), and hoped WS would be able to do my reception. After asking him about pricing, he told me their flat rate for 4 hours was $700 with additional cost for time after that, as well as cost for travel and a hotel. Although steep, I had planned for this to be the case. I was shocked when he went on to tell me that he would charge me only $600, no travel, and no hotel if I could find him somewhere to stay! Additionally, he would stay until the party fizzled for no additional cost!

John Lennon got it right: "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Floral Centerpieces

As I have continually stated, I am trying to keep my wedding within a modest budget. One of the best ways I have found to do this with the reception decorations is DIY. Additionally, staying away from multiple flowers and heavy arrangements can save you a ton! I just discovered that 200 tulips in shades of white and purple will only cost me around $130 if I order them through Albertsons!

My centerpieces are going to be two single vases with a single stem submerged in water. A candle will float on the water, and marbles will disguise the base of the flower. This is going to be a great way to save money, but it could end up more expensive if I am not cautious. Below is an example of this type of centerpiece.

Each vase can kill you if you are purchasing them at $3 or more a piece. Many run closer to $5 each. The dollar store vases didn't run in the right size, but that would definitely be an option. My next place to look? IKEA!! The vases in the size I wanted (even beautifully frosted around the base) ran about $8 each- far more than I hoped since I needed to buy about 30! I did, however, find a budget friendly alternative: drinking glasses.

Ikea has a "beer glass" that has straight sides and is about 8 inches tall. This would be perfect for my arrangements! And, at $6.99 for a half dozen, these glasses fit perfectly into my budget goals! These glasses are going to work perfectly; I am very excited to get started experimenting with the centerpieces!

Budget Savvy Wine Labels

I am so excited about my new budget-friendly find for the reception! To save money on the alcohol, I will be purchasing 2 Buck Chuck (Charles Schwab) wine- honestly, who doesn't love this stuff!? To personalize the bottles, I have been scouring the internet for water-proof wine labels. I have found them! I will be ordering a dozen of the purple for the white wine, and two dozen of the champagne colored for the red and blush wine.

I found these on one of my new favorite websites Etsy. The labels are $9.99 for one dozen, so to beautifully cover all of my wine I will be spending a mere $30!

A Forgotten Element

In telling the stories of my planning journey, I have left out one of my favorites.

SL, as I have mentioned, works out of town for three weeks at a time. During this time, his days start around 4:30 am because he has to leave the apartment by 6 am. Due to the early rising time, we usually say our goodnights by nine o'clock each night.

Although he has supported all of my decisions whole-heartedly (especially the decision to spend as little as possible), he was slow to make too many suggestions. The day after he proposed, he had to return to work, so I drove him to the airport. While in the car, I made a comment geared toward wedding planning to which his response was "whatever you want is fine with me, this is your day."

This comment was shortly followed by a myriad of suggestions focusing around what he has and hasn't liked at all of the previous weddings he's been to: "I really liked the chorizos * had after we had all been drinking for a while," "I didn't really like the food at * wedding, I think I'd rather have a full meal: meat and potatoes with a salad bar," "I really liked the way the tables were set up..." etc.

I just grinned and listened to all of these ideas he had that, he informed me, he hadn't really been thinking about; they were just thoughts. Haha. I believe I caught my fiance getting excited about the planning! Who knew guys paid that much attention at weddings!?

After he had been back at work for a few days, we said our goodnights per usual. About an hour and a half later I get a text that said, "a bundt cake on every table might be nice. or not, just a thought."

My first reaction is "bundt cake! really?" Soon, I moved towards more surprise that this short text meant that SL had been laying awake for an hour and a half thinking about our wedding (at least long enough to formulate that thought)! Yes, ladies, I have truly found the perfect man. As I thought about the text, I thought "bundt cake, why not!?"

So, my friends, do not be surprised if sitting in the middle of each table is a perfectly baked bundt cake. And, yes, SL has volunteered to make each and every one of these scrumptious desserts (he's an amazing cook- his chocolate lava cake thing is to die for). He even mentioned that a lazy susan might make frosting the cakes easier. Sigh... I'll be hard pressed to ever love him more than that moment.

First Try...

Here is my first true attempt at making my own inspiration board. These are all pictures I have clipped to save as ideas for decor, cakes, etc.

An Inspiration Board for Purple and Champagne

Here is an inspiration board I found on the internet that shows the color scheme I am picturing for the wedding. I am building my own as well... I'll post it when I finish it.


We are down to three dress options. I think I may go with allowing each to decide which one they like and have multiple styles, but who knows. Here are my choices (picture them all in the color of the first one- I couldn't get the picture to copy in the right color for the others), feel free to comment about which one you like best! My sisters (and hopefully a couple other BMs will try some on this weekend and we can narrow it down even further). Here are the links to the styles if you would like to look at them in the right color (lapis) the last one doesn't show the color online, I'd have to ask in a store: Style 1, Style 2, Style 3

I think any of the three would look cute with the sandals. If I do multiple styles, I may limit it to one of the two strapless and the other dress, that way there is some consistency. I am excited to see how they look on the girls!

The Sandals are Official!!!

So, my girls all loved the sandals! I am so excited to have this unique aspect incorporated into my wedding! The programs at the ceremony will probably have the story of these amazing sandals on the back, so everyone will know what my girls' feet represent. Plus, how awesome is it that these are flats and won't need to be shed to tear up the dance floor later that night!? (Do all of the exclamation points tell you how pumped I am for this?)

Here are the ribbon colors (the purple will be the color I am going to wear, the champagne will be for the girls):

I have decided to pay for the bridesmaids dresses, and the girls are buying their own sandals. However, one of the best parts about these shoes are that they don't break the bank! Due to popular demand, these sandals can be special ordered for weddings from the company, and I have been in contact with Liz from Sseco Designs to get them made- they should be very reasonably priced! Additionally, these are shoes that the girls will wear again, unlike your typical dyed pump.

Pre-reception ideas

SL is set on having his first sight of me at the moment I stand at the end of the isle, headed down to become his wife. I cannot argue with this since he seems very adamant about the importance of this one aspect of our wedding. Understandably, I have been a bit concerned about what to do with our guests while they wait for us to arrive at the reception. I found these little cheese and cracker trays at the 101 DIY projects page and think they would be a great way to start! This, coupled with the wine and beer, should get the party started while our guests await our arrival.


One of the best ways to save money is to do as much myself as possible. I have been searching for fun ideas for some projects and ran across this website: 101 DIY Projects and Ideas. I am super excited to try out some of these ideas! Stay tuned to see the results.

Budget Dresses

My wedding dress. I feel secure in SL not venturing to look through this blog, so I will post some pictures of the dresses I tried on and the dress I bought.

Most brides would agree that the dress seems to steal the show, and this fact makes it stand as one of the single most important items on the wedding list. My budget for the dress (including tailoring) and accessories was $1500. I figured I could get just about anything I wanted at this price, and that more would be somewhat extravagant and unnecessary; especially since I am working on being frugal. That being said, I was hoping to find a one-of-a-kind dress that not everyone had been married in; nothing taken from the "Capri Marie" by Maggie Sottero, but I wanted something different!

My first dress shopping experience was at a wonderful little bridal boutique in Western Oregon. I tried on about ten dresses and narrowed my choices down to 3 (all by Maggie Sottero): Carrie, Milana, Vienna. The latter was my favorite, but was verging on my price limit at $1300 without accessories or alterations. Still, I loved the lace and beading detail.

I just recently headed down to San Francisco to visit my friend from college and my cousin. My cousin, conveniently enough, works at the Priscilla of Boston downtown. I knew these dresses would be out of my price range, but she said model dresses can sell from $500!

The first shop we wandered in to was a boutique downtown. The saleswoman had a spot available to show me some dresses, so we jumped on the opportunity. I told her my budget, and she grabbed some styles. (*NOTE: when telling your price point, slightly reduce your maximum amount. The representative automatically brings styles "around" your price, none seem to be below your highest price. So, help yourself out, and let the higher prices still be in your price range by dropping what you tell the representative. This way, you won't be disappointed by falling in love with a dress you can't afford.)

Right away I told the consultant my goal for a unique dress and she brought me her favorite style. She informed me that she had never seen anyone buy this particular dress, but that it was far and away her favorite style. This dress was stunning, but much out of my price range: $2863. I loved the floral detail and vintage feel of the dress, but wasn't willing to part with that much of my budget.

The next dress shop we went to sold dresses that had previously been displayed in boutiques around the city. These dresses were selling for up to 80% of the retail price! While some dresses were rough with use, others seemed like new. Of the dresses I tried on, I liked (actually LOVED) only one; a Rosa Clara design. This dress, like the one above, had many unique aspects: vertical detail in the skirt, polka dots on the bodice, dropped waist. This dress actually had the potential to be "the one." Until, that is, I saw the price: $2300. I was getting pretty discouraged. Granted, this dress was discounted from a retail price of $5160, but it still exceed my budget. Additionally, it was going to need to be hemmed and altered; all more cost.

As I said, I was very discouraged. I knew that many of my friends had found their dream dresses within a budget, I was wondering where mine would be! My friend, A, had a different idea: go to a cheaper bridal shop to prove that I needed to spend the higher amount to get a unique, well-made dress.

This is why we headed back across town to the David's Bridal in San Francisco. Our theory was two-fold a) it would validate the necessity for spending more money when I didn't find something I loved at DB's prices b) if I DID find something, I could head back to the DB in my area and buy the dress closer to home. I ended up wrong on both hypotheses!

I tried on all of the "typical" princess-type dresses, and, no surprise, I did not like them. I told the consultant I was looking for something unique and she brought out this dress: (just kidding, you have to wait until the wedding pictures to see this! What if SL DOES get on here and snoop!?) Let's just say, it is perfectly unique and fits me like a glove- no tailoring necessary. My sister is able to do the bustle and any alterations that may arise before the wedding in 8 months. The best part was that this dress cost only $950; high for DB dresses, but under budget, even with a veil and shoes.

Ok, so I found the perfect dress! I asked the consultant to look up a couple of the stores in my area to see if they carried the same dress. She came back with a half smirk, and informed me that the dress I had fallen in love with was a preview dress- not on the market. The dress was only available in that store in San Francisco and a store in Colorado. I would not be able to buy the dress anywhere else!

Airlines allow one carry-on, wedding dresses count!

Total Wedding Cost: $1550

A quick, important interjection

My friend Amanda so graciously got me stuck reading wedding blogs. To say I have become addicted to them is an understatement. I am especially drawn to the blogs that encourage and suggest budget saving solutions for planning your big day. One such blog, The Budget Savvy Bride, posted unique bridal footwear I wanted to share with you here. I have been searching for a unique touch to my wedding, and I think these sandals are fabulous.

Sseco Designs has partnered with a school in Kampala, Uganda to provide an income to girls transitioning from secondary school to a university. Uganda mandates a nine month period between the two stages in school to allow students to raise money for tuition. The problem is that girls are rarely given jobs during this time. The website gives a full background on the company and its mission. The money from these sandals will move the students from making sandals to becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Click on the link above and check it out!

They encourage brides to email the company to inquire about special ordering for weddings! I sent out an email tonight to ask about what is available; my bridesmaids may just be sporting these sandals... stay tuned!

Where, oh where, is the party at?

Although the ceremony sight is usually the first thing on the list to decide on and book (love The Knot for month-by-month checklists!), I happened to look into reception sights first. In my little town there are only a few options for a reception: someone's house, the church, Community Center, an old grange building, the old armory, and a local hotel. I also had to consider that I had budgeted $1000 for renting the sight (also a convenient tool on The Knot).

A personal residence was out because that is a lot of stress for that household; especially since this could not be done at either of my parents' houses. It would inevitably be up to other close friend or family member, and I want these folks to have fun not worry all day about the state of their home/ property! As far as a budget is concerned, having a personal residence for a reception can get expensive. May whether is hard to predict, so a tent would be a must. In addition, you have to rent (or purchase) the tables and chairs, linens, and other staples of many other rentable sights.

The church was out merely due to size, as was the grange building and hotel. Past receptions held at these sights emphasized the need for more space in mid- to large-sized weddings (guest list is not secured as of yet, but we're getting there- it has been impossible to get lists from my parents and future in-laws. If anyone has suggestions for assuaging this issue, post as a comment below).

We are left with the Community Center (CC) and the old armory building, now fondly known as the "Event Center" (EC). The decision between these two venues was difficult. The CC would cost $175 up front for the whole day of the event, with the option to pay another $100 for each additional day needed to set up and tear down. We wanted a day for each. The total initial outlay would come to $375. The draw here was that a) it fell far below my budget b) the deposit for the kitchen would be returned if no damage was incurred, putting the actual cost at $300 for the three days! Of course, this price point makes this venue almost impossible to turn down, but there were a few drawbacks. It would take a multitude of decorations to turn this senior-center-by-day into a reception-by-night. More decorations means more money, and it may eliminate the savings for booking the sight. In the end, even with the decorations, I felt it would still scream "senior center cafeteria!" Although not completely eliminated, the CC was now in the "if we have to" pile. I knew I could make it work, I was just worried about the logistics of making it work.

From the minute I called the coordinator for the EC, I knew this was the place I wanted. I hadn't even seen it yet! She had so much enthusiasm and ideas; it was refreshing to know someone else might be excited for my wedding. She showed me the sight. The first thing I noticed was the character it had without any decorations. It also had a large room you could use for getting ready, or for a quick pep-talk from the MOH if needed. The kitchen (twice the size of the CC) is included in the rental fee, and there are two very large bathrooms right off the main reception room. Getting to the price, it quickly became apparent it would be more than the CC, but I may have already been sold. The rental for the day of the event was $300 with a $100 additional cost to serve alcohol. For each day added (either before or after) the cost to rent the building would only be $100. Originally, I thought the day of the event and a day to tear down would be sufficient: $500. My mother, told me to spend the extra to eliminate the stress of having to coordinate someone to set up the day of the wedding. So, the final cost of renting the EC would be $600.

Days of deliberating passed; I love pro/con lists. The final decision fell on the EC for several reasons: a) still $400 below budget b) much less required decorating= more savings c) larger, more accommodating space d) friendlier management (important since you may be dealing with them frequently in the planning process) e) less restrictions on decorations and food service and, most importantly, f) I felt more comfortable at the EC.

Total cost of wedding: $600