Wedding Planning on a Budget Part II

In my first part of this “series” I went over our basic wedding decisions. I discussed venue, some decorations, stationary and stamps. You can find all the good stuff HERE. I’m going to share a few more things that have come up and expenses that creep in.

DJ:

I love music. Ethan loves music. I sing. I dance. I wiggle. He hums. And kinda has rhythm. And plays a few instruments. I would have a dance party in the corner if I needed too. But a DJ does more than just play music at a wedding, at least, a good one does more than that. We started our search for a DJ, and it’s not easy. You start out with recommendations from others. “The DJ at my cousin’s nephew’s wedding was great! They rave about him. Let me get you their number!” You smile, grin, take the number and stuff it in the back of your wedding planner. You look online. And you find people that are $2,000+, they seem fun, but well…you can tell they just won’t really “work.” And then, your mom goes “hey, we know a guy DUH!” Not only do we know him, but after having done work for the school I attended, I know he’s good. I knew he was REALLY good when I got on his website and he had a questionnaire with really, really, good questions. Everything from who is in our wedding party, special dances and what songs we’d like, what kind of music we want played, what we absolutely do NOT want played, the list goes on. He is a DJ but also an MC. WINNING! And on top of that, he is AFFORDABLE! It’s in the name Affordable Music DJs.

Photography:

This may be one of the most important elements of your wedding. Seriously, you are going to be stuck looking at these pictures for all eternity. Nothing is worse than paying a boat load of money for bad pictures, poorly edited pictures, or a photographer who doesn’t get any of the shots you wanted them too. Photography is not cheap. Your friend might have a camera and say they are a “photographer,” but, call me a snob (maybe it’s because I’m a teacher), I put stock in an education, and I am THRILLED that our photographer not only has a degree in digital media/photography or that she is budget conscious/friendly, but that she is also a friend and did our engagement pictures. You can take a look at some of those HERE. I have no fear that she will do an amazing job because she already knocked it out of the park for those, and she knows what we want.

*Side note idea* Create a private Pinterest board just for you and your photographer if they’re into that kind of thing. I went through and found pictures and poses that I would like to do for our wedding. Giving them a visual and idea to go off of other than “um…you’ve done this before, I trust you,” will help give them a legitimate direction and make sure that you have an idea of what you are looking for as well.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.08.14 AM.pngFood:

I feel like this is one of the more stressful ordeals to go through when planning a wedding. I’ve been to a number of weddings, and there always seem to be fads over the years as well. I tend to have a bit of a selfish mind frame. This is our wedding. You are our guests, and we’re glad that you can come, but at the end of the day, it’s ours. Not yours. I’m not going to kill myself to have 18 different options because you may not be in the “mood” for chicken, allergic to everything under the sun, or have a billion food allergies (unless it’s serious like you start flopping on the floor if you get near a peanut).

We are having an early ceremony and lunch reception for a number of reasons. Everything from we have people traveling from out of town and I don’t want them to have to NEED to stay the night, to I want to not be dead and enjoy my wedding night. There are 3. food positives to this scenario.

1. It’s lunch so there’s not as much pressure to have a fancy sit-down dinner or something.

2. No alcohol. I have nothing against it, I’m not a staunch alcohol is the worst thing ever, but really. If you can’t have fun at a wedding without it, you shouldn’t be there; and if you REALLY want to drink at 1 in the afternoon before driving home there are bigger issues. It’s just something that due to the time of day, we are easily able to skip….and save hundreds of dollars in the process by doing.

3. Lunch food in general tends to be a bit lighter and more fun. So we are doing pizza. Yes. You read that right. Pizza. We are having a pizza lunch reception. We are offering 3 varieties- Pepperoni, Hawaiian, and Margarita (fancy cheese pizza).  When people RSVP they will be able to chose their flavor so that we have an idea of how many of each we’ll need. We are also having salad and some sides. My parents are not 100% on the pizza band wagon so they will have some small/extra “options” for their own sanity. But it will be less than $500 to have pizza for about 150 people.

Drinks will be water, soda, and a hot chocolate/coffee table. We will make the giant pot things of coffee, and put the hot chocolate in crock pots. Marshmallows, chocolate dipped spoons, mini candy canes, whipped cream, sauces, 3 basic cream flavors, mini chocolate chips, and coconut will be provided to add to the hot drinks. We found awesome disposable mugs from Sam’s Club for a very reasonable price.0009838260822_A.jpgAgain, something super fun that will cost under $200 to do for our guests.

The Restaurant Store is AMAZING! I’m sorry if you don’t have one near you, or you’ve never heard of it. Because it’s the bomb.com. The items we can’t get from SAMs club, we are getting from here, like nice, disposable plates that we can buy by the case for under $100. Buying in bulk is a great, quick, easy way to save money and have plenty of what you need!

 

Favors:

Originally my mother and I thought of this brilliant idea to do jars of jam. But we don’t buy jam, we make it ourselves. And then we started thinking about the fact that we’d have to get about 150 little jam jars. If you haven’t ever made jam yourself let me tell you….it takes a LOT of fruit to make it happen. I mean, a TON! Even with having a strawberry patch in our backyard, there’s no way in the world we’d grow enough. Oh yeah, and it takes a TON of sugar. The logistics and reality of that cute favor hit us pretty quickly. We decided to make it the bridal shower favor instead and start from scratch for the wedding.

We found heart and snowflake shaped cookie cutters from Oriental trade. I love to bake. Everyone knows it. I have a particular affinity for sugar cookies. The cutters come on a card, have a sugar cookie recipe on the inside, and a personalization spot on the front. They’re about $9 a dozen.

They’re cute, but they’re a bit plain. My plan is to use blue water color on the left and right edges to make them a bit more personal and pretty. They come out to cost just a bit more than $1 each.

Hand-Me-Downs:

Weddings are beautiful. Weddings hopefully, only happen once for you. You have one day to make this happen. ONE DAY. Which is why spending an astronomical amount just makes my skin crawl. The average wedding is about $20k. That’s a down payment on a house. That’s a car. That’s a really really really nice vacation to Europe for like a month. It makes my head spin. And at the end of the day, it is only ONE day. The most important part of that day is marrying your best friend and love of your life. Who cares if you use hand me down goodies from other friends or even strangers who used them before you?

My future sister-in-law got married last September. They bought good quality white table cloths and cloth napkins. We have to pick up a few extra but that is a large chunk of money we are saving by borrowing them. The center pieces will pop on the white. We’re using blue ribbon and jingle bells to tie the napkins, that will later be used for our jingle bell send-off.

I was in a wedding in Nebraska last weekend. Her mother spent good money and got a very nice quality isle runner. She sold it to me for $30. There are a few faint step marks that I’ll wipe off with a damp cloth. I’m getting paint markers and am going to write/calligraphy on a Bible verse Ethan and I picked out.

My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years. We pick them up at Goodwill, yard sales, or even get them as gifts when friends and family see them at yard sales and Goodwill. We’ve spent anywhere for $5 to $0.50 on vases and glasses (with the exception of the blue wine bottles because we had to drink the wine first). Each center piece with the flowers, pine cones, jingle bells, and blue glass will easily cost less than $5 a table.

In Conclusion:

As an English teacher, that ending makes my skin crawl, but it works here. You’ll notice throughout the post that most of the products I’m using, I’m getting through people I know. This does not mean that I am getting discounts. I’m paying the same amount other people would pay for the same services and goods. But it does two things. I can rest assured knowing that the people I am relying on to make our day special will make it happen. I trust them. I would also much rather give my business and money to local people who I know and trust. I spent a lot of time shopping around and looking for decent quality, good prices, and coupons. I’m buying “plain” items and making them personal and our own. Personalization is key. Adding a monogram, adding a picture, adding an aspect that is obviously hand crafted/done, instantly makes things seem more expensive and nicer than something just bought off of a shelf and given.

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The (Book) Struggle is Real

It’s mid February. I’ve gotten close to 30 new books since New Years. My wall-length bookshelves that house both my books and my mug collection are laden. The books are progressively kicking the mugs out-of-the-way. That is a problem all unto itself. But there’s another issue. I. Have. A. Major. Problem.

10407758_10205732124367468_4671440219716674028_nThis is what happens when I find a cart of free books. It might have been below zero out, I may not have been able to feel my toes or hands and I may have had slobber rolling down my face because I had a Bridge Street Chocolate espresso marshmallow stuffed in my face.

The fact that my local gently used book store has $1 book carts, by 2 get 1 free does NOT help my cause any either. I just keep telling myself….”They’re for my classroom. They’ll help my students. They are helping to build my future.” And by building my “future” I mean, building my future library room…and one day my future office at a university somewhere.

But I have this problem. I have all of these books, and well…thank goodness I’m not blowing my bank account to get them because well….none of them are grabbing my attention.

I’ve been a book-worm for as long as I can remember. I had to start wearing glasses in middle school because as a child I hid under blankets with small, dim, key chain flash lights to read Magic Tree House. My parents were always encouraging my reading habits, reading to me as a child, always getting me at least one book from the cool Scholastic Book Fair at school even though money was tight, and still getting me books for Christmas now as a 22-year-old. To be fair, many of my obnoxious reading habits have come from my father, he’s just a bit better at hiding them. I have a whole pin board that is nothing but books, book lists, and book sayings.

I created a Net Galley account last summer and I LOVE IT! Free books and all I had to do was read them and review them; but so many of them were so bad I couldn’t even finish them. Obviously they didn’t get the best reviews in return. I have made great connections with a few of the authors that I did review and enjoy like Brielle Skye, author of Solitude of a Birdcage. But those connections with both the literature and the authors are so very few and far between.

In the past 2 months, with my massive literary additions I have read 3 of them to completion and even those were a struggle. Why?

For a while I thought, well it’s got to just be the literature. Comparatively to even 10 or 20 years ago, it is SO much easier to have a book published and put out there. eBooks have made becoming an author easier than ever before. This can be a good thing and a bad thing…for obvious reasons. It’s kind of like American Idol. For years friends and family tell someone they are an amazing singer in order to avoid hurt feelings, and these poor people stand up on stage and sound like they are dying, wailing cows. The same happens with writing. People are told that they are great writers, some may have even gone to school for English or writing…but that doesn’t mean that they are good.

My other thought-standards are low. With books like Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey and a multitude of other books being PUBLISHED no wonder there is so much crap out there. I’m not just talking content wise either. Anyone with any kind of English grammar/writing sense can tell you that some of the best-selling books in the last 10 years are some of the most poorly written books they have read in their life. People are not only reading this stuff and enjoying it, but asking for more like there is no problem with any of it. They have no idea that they are reading poor “literature.” The term is being used quite loosely here. They make money, so they continue to be published because people aren’t standing up and saying “STOP WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF!”

Maybe I’m just all read out. I’ve read so many books over the years that it is rare that a book ends differently than I expect. I usually have a solid guess of what is going to happen and how the characters are going to get there about 20 pages in. The excitement of “what is going to happen next,” seems to have disappeared for me. Is this my fault? Have authors gotten together, come up with a story equation, plugged in their own “details” and continue to write the same story with different names? My favorite- Nicholas Sparks. The same story over and over with a few variations, like names, diseases, and occupations. Here is a chart that has been floating around as an example-

summary_imageThis makes me feel better, that maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought I was about this theory.

I think that somewhere in my heart, I know that all of the above reasons are reasons why I am struggling. I also think that they are all contributing factors to what I am now calling “book depression.” This is very different from a Book Hangover– symptoms and other info are included in the linked post. Book depression is a deep sadness, a fear that it is going to be a very long time before you read a good book again. It’s longing for a book that you’re not sure even exists. I want to read something inspiring, something hopeful, something unexpected, something relatable, something real. I want a story with dynamic characters, with a strong plot, with antagonists and protagonists. I want something that doesn’t involve werewolves or vampires or dystopian society. I want a book with proper sentence structure, lacking comma splices, and with bright, vibrant language.

I want to fall in love with words on the pages of the book in my hand. I want to yearn for more and hope there is at least a sequel. I want to read again.