• Guest post: OTT weddings and cutting costs

    Today’s post is part of a Yakezie blog swap on the topic of weddings! You can read my post over at Fiscal Phoenix.

    Before we cut our cable, I enjoyed watching Say Yes to the Dress.I was continually fascinated by the women who would spend $10,000 to $20,000 on a dress. True, the dresses were often gorgeous “princess” dresses with elaborate detailing and beading and a gorgeous train. Yet, I could never imagine dropping so much money on a dress I would wear one time for one day. ONE DAY!

    American bride wearing a Contemporary Western ...

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    How We Cut Costs for Our Wedding

    When I got married 10 years ago, I just happened to fall in love with a wedding dress that cost a little over $100. After alterations, the final price tag was just a bit over $200.

    Because I come from a very large family (my dad was the youngest of 10 kids and my mom was the second youngest of 9 kids and I have over 40 cousins on my mom’s side alone), my husband and I knew we would have to keep things simple to be able to afford to invite over 250 guests. In the end, my husband and I made all of the table decorations, made our own flower arrangements and did much of the other prep work ourselves such as wrapping the silverware in a napkin with a bow around it and even making our own arch to walk through when we entered the reception.

    My aunt made our wedding cake, my cousin was the D.J., and my uncle took the wedding video. We had a hot buffet of food we had made the night before the wedding. Our wedding was DIY, and we only spent $6,000 for 250 guests. That price is not just for the reception, but for every single wedding expense.

    What I loved about our wedding was that there was no residual effect. We didn’t have to put any of the wedding expenses on credit. We weren’t still paying for our wedding years or months after it happened. What I disliked about our wedding was that we did so much ourselves, we were exhausted when it was over!

    Over the Top Weddings

    I have attended plenty of weddings where the bride and groom dropped a great deal of money and were paying the wedding off for several years. What I noticed about these weddings is that they had a lot of little things that people didn’t want.

    My friend had a wedding where they gave out flower bulbs so people could plant them and remember the wedding. This is a nice idea, but in reality, most people probably didn’t want plant bulbs, so they didn’t plant them. To me, that was wasted money. While the napkins that have the couple’s names and wedding date embossed on them are pretty to look at, at the end of the day, they are just napkins. People aren’t going to bring them home and cherish them; they are going to use them to wipe food off the corner of their mouth.

    I may not be the best person to ask about these issues because I am a bit of a minimalist when it comes to parties and decorating. However, considering fights about money are the number one cause of divorce and couples tend to fight more when they are saddled in debt, starting a marriage in debt because you had an expensive, over the top wedding doesn’t seem like the smartest relationship choice.

    Melissa blogs at Fiscal Phoenix and Mom’s Plans where she writes about finances, getting out of debt, food and family.

  • Wedding planning: Individualism vs traditionalism

    Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

    Image by epSos.de via Flickr

    I knew when Rachel Hills announced her intention to start a wedding planning series on her blog that it was going to be good.

    I couldn’t have anticipated just how good it would be.

    See here? She admits to fully intending to penning a post about how she would be handling typical wedding traditions – and outlining which ones they’d be skipping. But did she? No. And why not?

    Because it feels like justifying.

    Planning a somewhat non-traditional wedding, she says, has made her more sympathetic to traditional brides.

    After all, it’s a hell of a lot easier. The path of least resistance. The way is already more or less laid out for you.

    Tradition is so deeply ingrained. I’m totally happy to answer questions about my choices – the few that I’ve made, seeing as I’ve barely dipped a pinky toe into the planning waters to date – but at the same time, a small part of me feels like simply screaming “BECAUSE I WANT TO!”  They just don’t seem like a big deal to me.

    Isn’t that what it comes down to? Planning an event that has personal meaning to you? Why I might choose to skip flowers – because I’ve never cared for them, they’re fussy, and make me sneeze. Why I will probably skip a live band – because I know exactly what songs I want played, and unless our drummer friend volunteers his band to cover our playlist, which runs from Clapton to Queen to Buble to Elton to Kylie to MJ to JT (and I doubt any band could do the entire list justice), I’m more than happy to run an iPod.

    But yes, it feels like each ‘different’ choice must be defended.

    As Rachel puts it:

    This is weird, because in the process of actually planning a wedding, none of these issues have worried me in the slightest. Feel like my name is integral to my identity? Keep it. Don’t like the whole “here comes to the bride, isn’t she beautiful” thing? Walk down the aisle with Mr Musings to keep the attention evenly divided. Like white? Wear a white dress. Prefer not to imply a woman’s greatest achievement in life is getting hitched? Don’t do a bouquet toss. Don’t like arbitrary gender divisions? Have a mixed gender bridal party and hen’s do/bachelorette.

    Creepily enough, everything she cites there applies to me as well.

    It’s not as if I’m shunning everything traditional. It’s not like I’m having a picnic in the middle of the woods and exchanging rings we smithed ourselves and arriving on Ducatis. I actually do want to wear white, because it looks good on me. I do want to say the normal vows. (I think writing your own vows is one of those things that sounds like a good idea in theory. Then you get older. And you realise that you’re really not that shithot of a writer, and that everything has already been said before, and either you try for something super mushy but original (in which I would fail on the delivery) or something funny (I promise to love and cherish you even though you are a raging bitch if one minute overdue for a meal and have terrible morning breath) that just sounds silly on such an occasion.) But I don’t want to be given away, to do a father-daughter dance, to wear a plain ring, heck, to be obliged to do any dancing at all.

    It’s a weird place to occupy, this grey zone.

    Married/engaged peeps. Did you go the fully traditional route? How did you let your personality shine through? Or did you say feck it all and let’s elope (and how did that work out?)

  • Tuesday Tunes: The soundtrack

    As in the soundtrack for our eventual wedding. Yep.

    You are privileged indeed.

    First off, I want to walk down the aisle to Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, just as the brass starts.

    I know, I know. There are so many great versions. The original…the Muse version… the Heath Ledger version, which is especially close to my heart. I see him and Julia Stiles in that movie – one of the first I ever saw at the cinema – as a precursor to Jessica and Marcus in the Sloppy Firsts series (how good would they have been to play the characters in a film adaptation?). In turn, I see Jessica and Marcus as having so many parallels to me and T for a host of reasons.

    So I told him this. To which he responded: “Why can’t you just be NORMAL?”

    I thought you knew who you were marrying, boy.

    I was never going to go for Here Comes the Bride, was I? (It’s a bit overdone…) Fun fact: in our early semi-courtship, for some reason, I found myself humming that tune quite frequently when we were together. I still have no idea why.

    Also to feature, though in what order I haven’t given any thought to yet:

    Spandeau Ballet – True
    Mudvayne – Happy
    Kylie Minogue – Love at First Sight
    Aerosmith – Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing
    Th’ Dudes – Be Mine Tonight
    Eric Clapton – Layla
    Queen – Crazy Little Thing
    Train – Drops of Jupiter
    Jason Mraz – Lucky
    Heart – Crazy on You
    Elton – Tiny Dancer
    Elton – Your Song
    Michael Buble – Everything
    Stevie Wonder – Isn’t She Lovely
    Lionel Richie – Hello?
    Lionel Richie – All Night Long
    Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
    Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
    Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
    Beatles – Twist and Shout
    U2 – The Sweetest Thing
    Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
    Vanessa Williams – Saved the Best for Last
    Goodshirt – Sophie
    Whitney Houston – How Will I Know
    Janis Joplin – Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart
    Damien Rice – Cannonball
    Michael Jackson – You Rock My World
    Paramore – The Only Exception
    Savage Garden – Truly, Madly, Deeply
    Powderfinger – My Happiness
    Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart
    Seal – Kiss from a Rose
    Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting
    Foo Fighters – Everlong
    Guns n Roses – Sweet Child O’Mine
    JT – My Love
    JT – Love Stoned
    Elton – The Way You Look Tonight

    Also (and no, this is not a pisstake; I grew up in the age of boybands)

    NSYNC – It’s Gonna Be Me. Hell yes.

    (Full playlist here. Another privilege – my YouTube account, for what that’s worth, which isn’t a whole lot.)

  • A long overdue wedding update

    Wedding Photography

    Image via Wikipedia

    Every once in a while – a little more frequently these days – I bring up wedding talk with the boy. He’s always more enthusiastic than me to get started. Now that I am off shifts and weekends, I said we can *casually* start scouting for locations. I anticipate finding the right venue will take some time (it doesn’t have to be in Auckland, either), particularly as we are budget-conscious.

    Other things decided by me so far:

    • My ring will be a ruby ring, which I will wear on my right hand.
    • My bridal party will either consist of his two nieces (which means I’ll be able to pay for their dresses, and pick whatever colour I want) and possibly my best girlfriend as maid of honour (which is a maybe) – or just my dudes. My three best guy friends have always been there for me. And while I love the idea of girltalk and getting ready together, I am also aware I’m not really one of those females, and will need that alone time before spending an entire day in the limelight surrounded by people. My guys can always be there for company if I need it. Did I mention one of them bought me this cute notebook for wedding brainstorming?
    • There will be no train, veil or high heels involved. There will be shoulder straps and pure white (no cream or off-white). I will probably need to start looking at dresses sometime soon – I want to ask T’s mum to make it, but I’m still going to need to try on some and get inspiration.
    • I want it all in one place to reduce hassle/logistics, so the venue will probably not be a church

    Now, food could be a battle. T has thrown in the idea of a hangi-type feast –  roast pig in the backyard, etc, which is a bit too bogan for my tastes. Um, and I don’t even like pork much (plus I have vego friends).

    I kind of like the idea of an all-dessert menu (which he has both embraced and poured cold water on, on two separate occasions).

    We’re also contemplating self-catering, depending on how small the guest list is and what we actually want to serve. I guess that decision will be made a lot further down the track.

    As to dates? For me, the honeymoon comes straight after the wedding – not negotiable – so our date is going to depend on the destination, essentially. I think we want to do Italy and Greece, either in spring or autumn (which would be the opposite season here.) I like the idea of the double bonus: getting married in off season, and travelling in the off season. Let’s say we get married in April or May – that’s not peak wedding season anymore to my knowledge, and it’s not peak tourist season in Europe either. And no, I don’t mean next year. I’m not insane.

    What am I missing at this (very nascent) stage, guys? Any helpful sage words?

  • Another engagement post. Yup.


    I had a wee giggle when some of you said you’d never had your engagement photo/announcement in the paper. Maybe it’s an American thing, or maybe I read the wrong papers, but I’ve never seen one with pictures! Or do you mean in the social pages, or something? The thought never crossed my mind. No, these would be purely for me. We have very few photos of us as a couple, let alone decent ones (offhand, I can only think of two I like. And we’ve been together more than five years).

    I would really like some nice pro or semi-pro ones, even if they’re only done on my little dSLR (T’s sister and her partner had his sister shoot their family when she came for a visit from the States, and all the pictures look beautiful. It’s funny what someone who knows their way around a dSLR can achieve.) But that can probably wait till we start scouting for a wedding photographer.

    I have my ring back, and I’m actually wearing it. None of the big name jewellers would even touch it. Staff would look sideways at the three-piece bridge, slide it onto the sizing horn, silently count the number of sizes it would have to lose, and shake their heads. But Carats, a boutique, indie place where they handcraft everything, took it on. Just as I was about to give up and wear it round my neck! The guys were lovely and it only cost me $500 – I highly recommend them! (T darkly said that it was probably so cheap as they would get a fair bit of gold out of the band – yes, the new band he paid to have put on his grandmother’s ring – because the difference between the original and the resized version was literally half the length of the sizing horn. I was scared to count the number of sizes in between.)

    But for a girl who hardly ever wears any jewellery, putting a ring on every day and taking it off at night is weird. (I think we all know what happens to women who wear theirs 24/7 – they get them cut off their fingers on their deathbed.) It also feels a bit unbalanced. Perhaps I need another ring…? One for either my index finger on the same hand, or else the same finger on the other hand. I’m thinking a ruby ring…my favourite colour, the colour of love, my birthstone. Although from the scouting I’ve done, this will be harder to find than I thought. I like understated jewellery. Yet, everything these days is so blingy, so sparkly, so OTT. ESPECIALLY coloured gems. All coloured rings are tacky, tacky, tacky! I just want a simple, silver band with a little plain ruby on top. Nice and subtle.

    But there’s no rush; after all, I have a lot to save for. And for those who wanted to see it, I’ve uploaded some photos to Facebook.