Wedding Planning on a Budget Part I

Planning a wedding can be the most joyous and stressful days, weeks, months, (and for some even years) of your life. Though I’ve spent years watching Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and loving all things bridal, I knew that I would not be one of those brides spending $10,000+ on their wedding. At the end of the day, as long as I get to marry my best friend, that’s all that matters. I set a budget and in my mind said that I did not want to go over $5,000. For one day, any more than that is just ridiculous. With just under 250 days til “I do!” this is what we’ve managed to do so far.

Location:

My fiancé and I live an hour apart. However, we met at the University of Valley Forge. The campus sits on what was a military hospital complex. The hospital’s chapel is one of my favorite buildings on campus. It is on the small side and intimate. It has beautiful stained glass and wood pews. With the two of us being students, we got a bit of a “break” on the cost of using the facility of under $200.

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Apparently fire halls are a “Pennsylvania thing,” but I don’t mind. With our relative closeness to Philadelphia, the cost of going renting a ballroom or something is astronomical. The majority of places STARTED at $2,500 just to rent. Another had a $10,000 minimum….yeah. Not about it. One of our local fire departments has a really nice hall. They gutted and renovated within the last 2 years. There is a great wall of windows with plenty of natural light, a gorgeous kitchen, large, nice bathrooms, and a room large enough to eat and dance! The cost…under $600. On top of that, we will be able to get into the facility the afternoon before to set up at no extra cost.

Decorations:

I love flowers. I have found a great joy in gardening in the last few years. When picking flowers for the wedding, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted- carnations. I love carnations. I especially love clusters of white carnations. They smell nice, they are hardy and last, and they dry beautifully. The cost of all of our bouquets, corsages, boutonnières, wristlets, and extra flowers for the ceremony and reception…under $600.

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Though we are having a December wedding, I have been trying to avoid Christmas, snowflakes, and super stereotypical stuff. Our colors are blues and grays. Not silver. Gray. My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years and one of my bridesmaids hit a mother load of dirt-cheap small vases. We will use the collections for the flowers. At the end of the Christmas season last year, I was able to stock up on pinecones with the help of my bridesmaids. They are even the cinnamon scented ones! I will be stringing these and using them for both the ceremony and as table décor to go around the blue vases.

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I am guilty of being a Pinaholic. I found a great idea on Pinterest to use larger jingle bells to slip the place-cards into the criss-cross of the bell. Oriental Trade has large quantities of jingle bells in a multitude of sizes. They will be used for both the cards and general decoration. Again, thus far, decorations have been less than $250.

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Stationary:

I have an addiction. Between Target One Spot and Michael’s dollar section, I have a serious collection of “Thank Yous,” and general note cards. Instead of ordering one set of thank you cards, I have been collecting them from Target and Michaels. I like variety. I want to be able to give our guests more personal and individual cards. Most come in packs of 6 or 8 and are under $1.50. I’ve spent less than $25 on my thank you cards.

Vista Print is also AMAZING! True story. Their cost is AMAZING because they are a printing company, not necessarily a “stationary,” or “wedding company.” They have a large selection of invites, save the dates, programs, etc. What I really like about them is that they have “sets.” If you find an invite that you like, there is a really good chance that there are save-the-dates, RSVP cards, thank you cards, and other goodies that match your stationary. Along with all of the options, you have the ability to change, add, take away, and personalize just about everything. I was able to create my save-the-dates and bridal shower invites to be a post cards. After using a discount code, for bridal shower invites, save-the-dates, invitations, and a few RSVP cards, we paid less than $150; and that includes tax and shipping. *Information such as names, dates, locations, wedding website have been white-out for safety purposes, but they are included!*

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Another money saving tip is to purchase a self-inking address stamp. Vistaprint gives you the option of having your return address added to the back flap of your envelopes, at an additional fee. For our 80 invitations, it would have been an additional $35 to add this feature. Instead, we paid $12 for a stamp that we’ll be able to use well beyond the wedding. Invites, save-the-dates, and shower invites all came with basic, white, envelopes at no extra cost.

Stamps:

When making my budget and decisions, I didn’t even think about stamps until my mother reminded me that in order to mail things, you usually have to put a stamp on them! The cost of stamps was more than all of our stationary combined. This fact alone led to a few other decisions. Regular stamps are .49 each. Postcard stamps are .35 each. To save a few cents, we decided to send our save-the-dates and bridal shower invites as postcards. I literally just Googled “stamps,” and came across the website Zazzle.com. They have a ton of great products, but I LOVED their stamps. They have very cute, love/wedding themed stamps OR you can personalize them. Our engagement photos were amazing, so of COURSE I had to use them. Our post card stamps have one picture, and our invitation stamps have another. There was NO EXTRA COST for having our picture added to the stamp. Stamps come in sheets of 20, so we have a few extra of each, but I’m really not upset. I love that we have them to do fun craft things with later…. Zazzle does also offer coupons and discounts. I believe I was able to get 17.68% off of my order (I only know because it very specifically told me), and paid less than $180 for 200 PERSONALIZED stamps.

Thus far, we have stayed well within our budget. There is still plenty of time to use it, and I’m sure after we finalize food, a larger chunk will be eaten. DIY and cost effective don’t have to look cheap. By adding personalization, little details, and thought, you can find great products to make your day special.

Stay tuned for future posts and wedding DIYs. Follow me on instagram @brunetteswithbrains to keep up with the latest posts and news!

Darling Disney Bridal Shower

Christian college kid problems- everyone gets married. I made it almost 4 and one half whole years before finally being invited to a wedding from school. One of the perks, or downfalls, of being a commuter; depending on how you look at it. This, is a feat, matched by few in the world of CCKs. Not only was I finally invited to a wedding, but I was asked to be IN the wedding! This meant helping to plan a bridal shower. When the bride’s MOH contacted us, she shared that she was thinking of a Disney Princess theme. The bride LOVES Disney. I was asked what I would like to be in charge of: food, decorations, games etc. I couldn’t help myself, I HAD to pick decorations.

Then came the realization- how do I plan a Disney Princess themed bridal shower and NOT make it look like a 5 years olds birthday party. Well. I love Disney. I work at a craft store. Pinterest is my best friend. And I have an inability to not over plan things. It was actually relatively easy to come up with ideas that were more allusions to the theme than “HI I’M A DISNEY PRINCESS PARTY!”

The Bride’s favorite princess is Belle. Her grandmother collects tea cups and tea pots, so this was a no brainer. 11998796_10207471794378131_676422762_n

I used a yellow table-cloth, red tulle, and a tea-pot. I happen to own a copy of “The Story of King Arthur and His Knights,” the book Belle reads to Beast in the movie. I also own 2 sets of Beauty and the Beast figurines from when I was Belle in our school musical. The rose is a tall, skinny, glass hurricane with a single silk rose petal and silk rose, submerged in water; to look like the enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast.

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I gave each table a theme, and this one was Jasmine. I tried to stick with the more “classic” princesses since they were more well-known. I cut blue tulle into diamonds and layered them into a star. I also had small sticker jewels that I placed around as well. The other bridesmaids/family had the jars that I used in the center.

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Originally I was going to buy a fake white pumpkin and glitter it myself, but I found this super cute silver sequins one. You can’t have a Cinderella table without one! I used a light blue table cloth and light blue tulle. I again used the sticker jewels as well as sticker pearls. I picked up the blue crown at JoAnns. Coincidentally, the shower favors were little plastic “glass slippers” with baggies of mints. I couldn’t have planned that any better with this table.

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I’m not going to lie, I kinda think this might have been my favorite table. The purple table-cloth and green tulle sea shell lend itself to none other than the Little Mermaid. I used a smaller glass bowl and filled it with decorative blue/green stones, sea shells and water. I placed a few around the bowl along with “thingamabobs,” AKA- forks.

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Hi ho! Hi ho! Snow White was too much fun. A blue table-cloth and yellow tulle were my base. I pulled apples from the bride’s back yard and simply glittered them with red glitter. I got an unfinished little bird house for under $1 and painted it to match Snow White’s colors. I had the Doc sitting on a shelf in my room. There was no way to do this table scape without mirrors, so small mirrors were placed around the center as well.

I had been at a bridal shower earlier in the summer and loved the idea of giving guests the opportunity to write notes of well wishes, date ideas, advice, etc for the bride and groom. This table was the first idea I had when planning the shower. 11998437_10207471795178151_886444668_nThis was the well wishes table. It was just a small round table with a blue table-cloth with a lace overlay. I got a 18×18 canvas and painted on “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” I then used a clear glitter paint over the entire thing to add some sparkle and whimsy. Guests wrote down their notes on index cards and placed them in the vase.

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For the gift table, the mother of the bride had bought a picture frame as a gift, we used a blue expo marker to write “gifts,” and covered the table in a white table-cloth. This table didn’t need much more decoration than that- the gifts took care of decorating.

BONUS- I made the punch, and it was SO super easy. I’m sorry, I don’t have a picture to go with it.

Ingredients:

1 bottle Sprite

1 bottle of raspberry lemonade

105

 

 

 

 

 

1 pint fresh raspberries frozen, or 2 cups frozen raspberries

  1. Chill all ingredients before mixing
  2. Pour sprite/lemonade in a bowl
  3. Add frozen raspberries

That’s it. Super easy. Super yummy. Everyone loved it and thought it had been some super complicated recipe….NOPE!

 

Terra Cotta Pot Pen Holder

There is a battle going on in my brain. I am preparing to enter the world of student teaching. I have a bajillion things going on in my brain and so many questions. What should I bring? Can I bring decorative things? Should I bring my own pens, pencils and markers? Am I going to look crazy walking into school with an entire cardboard box of unit binders? Can I be too organized? What should I wear the first day of school? Do I have enough grading stickers? Are my pens going to be as useful as I think they’re going to be?

Well, now that you’ve seen a glimpse of the crazy in my brain: I bought myself pens, pencils, white board markers and good ole crayolas. I have my Groot,  Dumbledoore, and Flyers Gnome packed. I’m wearing an apple dress, yes it’s a thing. I DO have a box of 3 ring binders full of unit plans. I do have labeled binder clips that go with my matching accordion binder/file folder set. I have over 2,000 A+, Great Job!, 100% and apple stickers. My Ink Joy Pens are FREAKING AWESOME.

Walking around Michaels I wanted to bring something to store all of those pens, pencils, and markers that I had bought myself. I came across the terra cotta pot section. I found one on the small side, but it’s not very squat, it’s a bit on the tall and thin side, AKA, writing utensil sized. I stood staring at it for a moment as I thought about my pile of acrylic paints at home and how I could paint it and put it on my desk for myself. BOOM. With my coupon, I paid under $2 for the pot and the rest I already had sitting at home.

  1. I painted the entire pot a single color. I LOVE pink.   
  2. Using different sized widths of wash tape, I created a geometric spider web.     
  3. I then painted within the shapes randomly.       
  4. After allowing the paint to dry, I went through and painted some sparkle here and there. Life needs a little glitz.
  5. I was going to leave the inside but the terra cotta didn’t match so I went with a purple.   
  6. I went back through and touched up color here and there that had dried uneven etc and allowed it to dry. 
  7. I removed the washi tapes from all around the pot. I was left with a pretty neato pot as it was, but I can’t leave well enough alone. 
  8. Using a Sharpi, on the side that will face the class I am going to write,  “Miss Swenda.” On the side that will face me I will do “Called Equipped Prepared.” It has become my motivation, my mantra, and my constant reminder that if God has Called me, He has Equipped me, and He will  Prepare me. So when the days get tough, when nobody does their homework, when they’re too busy on their phones to listen, when I am swamped with grading and sleep deprived, I will be able to look up and remember that God has put me in this position for a purpose and with His strength I will be successful.

I now have a super cute, totally personalized, motivational and all around awesome piece to hold my junk! This would make a perfect teacher gift, and even with buying a few paints, it can easily cost under $10 to do a few of these guys! I plan on making another one for my binder clip collection!    

    

 

And So It Begins

Tonight, I sat down with my measly little washi tape collection and began filling in some of my planner! 😀 Before I begin, I would like to say that I am a SENIOR and have one last round of field experience before I enter into the world of student teaching. I am using the month view to keep track of my every-day stuff. Classes, office hours, work, nannying, work outs, payments, pay days etc are all visible on my month view. Once I get into student teaching I won’t have as much personal stuff in the monthly view because I won’t have classes!

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I am awaiting my school’s website to update so that I can put in my personal assignments. THAT will be the biggest task when they come through. I went through and started finding birthdays, end of quarters, college breaks, special dates, wedding countdown, and high school dates. Keeping track of high school in-service days, and “holidays” as well as my own breaks is interesting. Thanksgiving is the only break that actually kind of lines up with the high school I am doing my field experience and student teaching at.

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August is a bit more on the sparse side being that school hasn’t started for ANYBODY yet. The best part of August is pre-planning my tomato sauce making day with my new mason jar washi tape! It’s so stinking cute and absolutely PERFECT! I like to plan my sauce days as far in advance as I can because sauce making day takes ALL DAY LONG. Especially this year with double the number of plants we had last year! This also helps me remember WHEN I made the different batches. They’ll last for a few years in the jars but I just like to keep track of when and how much I make. 🙂 I am also using my library stickers to help me remember when my library books are due, not just when I will be in the library with my high school students.

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I am using my washi tape in the month view to block out my schedule. Monday and Friday I am nannying so they get the fun colored strip. The pink zigzag denotes when I will be at the high school for field experience. I LOVE my cooperating teacher. She is the kind of teacher that when I jokingly said I would teach the Romeo and Juliet unit to the freshmen said “Ok. If you want to do it sure. I’ll just fill in on days when you’re not here.” I taught a whole unit in my first field experience. Basically, SHE’S AWESOME! Highlight of my week for sure! The yellow tape denotes my classes. Thankfully I only have those Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester. The blue is for my work out time after classes. EW. I am super excited to rock my EC bands to workout in though! I left space in-between to write in my office hours. I am a professors assistant at school. The man is a genius and teaches Theology, Philosophy, Fine Arts and a few other classes that make my brain hurt. I left space to the right of my tape for any extra notes or things that pop up. I am also taking online classes this semester. The blue stripes on Monday and Wednesday are dedicated online class time and homework time. Saturday and Sunday are empty so I can write in my work schedule for my retail job. Yay….

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One of my super friends picked me up a few packs of Sharpies last week when they had the “glitch” for the packs at $1.50. She ended up getting them for $1.05 because she had some extra coupon. In the meantime my mommy let me borrow her stash to write on my tape. They just show up a bit more vibrant and better than the EC markers. I still love them for regular writing in the planner and am stoked to use them for grading! The stickers are also definitely removable and adjustable. THANK GOODNESS!

It’s not a stupendous as some other EC planners out there, but baby steps right!?

For more info on my planner check out The Package. To get your own planner and get $10 off use this referral URL.