Big Wedding, Small Budget

Spring Break

I’m on Spring Break from school this week (yay!), so I will also be taking a short break from blogging. Never fear, I’ll be back next week with more posts. See you then!


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Negative One

Just about one year to go! (I’m cheating a little, since our real -1 anniversary is on Saturday, but you get the idea.)

The one year mark has made the planning that much more real, that much more urgent. I’ve felt like the past few months were bonus time; whatever we had done, we were ahead of the game. But now, we’re on an actual timeline. Now, things need to get done. I know this doesn’t really make sense since we were originally planning on an engagement of less than a year, but whatever. March 24, 2012 seems to be flipping a switch in my head.

So, where are we in the planning? Let’s see:

  • We have a venue.
  • We have a caterer.
  • I have a dress.
  • We have found an invitation that we like and I’ve done some research on the printing method we’ll use.
  • We have a pretty solid idea for the centerpieces.

It doesn’t seem like that much when it’s listed out, but I think we’re in really good shape. Remember, that was all bonus time!

I’m hoping to get lots of the detail-y stuff, like accessories and research/pricing (centerpieces, tableware, etc.) out of the way over the summer so that I won’t be overloaded when school starts. The fall will be a really busy time for me with school starting, additional supervisory responsibilities at my job, being an MOH in my friend’s wedding (Hi, Ali!), the High Holy Days, and Thanksgiving. I’m definitely trying to pace myself so that I don’t have too much on my plate. Since I won’t be working full time over the summer, it seems like the perfect time for the nitty-gritty stuff.

With that in mind, I have a few big projects I would like to get done over the next month or so (by May at the latest). They are:

  • Choose and set up a wed-site (pun intended).
  • Finalize guest lists and gather all of the email and postal addresses.
  • Set up hotel blocks.
  • Choose and email save-the-dates.
  • Make some bridal party decisions.
  • Choose and book a photographer.

So, some biggies. But having this short planning vacation has helped a lot. I feel refreshed and ready to get some things done. Keeping my timeline in mind and knowing that I don’t have to get everything done in the next month is really helping me avoid feeling overwhelmed. Setting parameters in my planning has been so valuable, and definitely a good lesson for the future.

I’m feeling really excited about this spring’s projects. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing the fruits of our labor soon!


Succulent Centerpieces

I love succulents. Something about the muted, neutral colors and the interesting, modern shapes really appeals to me, even though with flowers I generally like strong colors better. I’m not sure that succulent centerpieces would really work for our wedding, but in a different venue, I think they would be absolutely beautiful. And they’re definitely reusable, whether you keep them for your own house or give them away at the end of the reception. Here are some examples:

I’ve also been seeing some beautiful pictures of succulent bouquets. Stay tuned!

top left, top right, bottom right, bottom left

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Wedding Dress Shopping – What I Learned

Wedding dress shopping was surprising in so many ways. I learned way more about myself and this wedding planning process than I had expected.

  • I never expected to have that feeling they always talk about when you find a wedding dress. I know not everyone has it. I told myself not to expect. But I totally did. I actually got a little choked up once I made the decision, although I recovered myself quickly. I am an emotional person, but I didn’t ever think I would get emotional about the traditional things. I’ll for sure be adjusting my expectations for the wedding day, planning to surprise myself, as contradictory as that sounds.
  • Sometimes the experience is more important than the cost. I hadn’t planned to buy a dress that day. I thought that if I found one I liked, I would shop online and see if I could find it cheaper. Frugality is the name of the game, after all. I knew I would be going back the next week to show it to Emily, so I’d have another chance to purchase. But when the time came, all of that went out the window. I loved finding my dress, and actually purchasing it completed the process and took a big item off of the to-do list. Also, my consultant was fabulous and she deserved the commission. So, my money-saving plan disappeared, and I went with the emotion of the moment. I should note that I was only able to do this because I stuck to my planned budget while looking. So I knew that even if I bought the dress in the store, I was able to afford it. And it was totally worth doing it this way.
  • “Perfect is the enemy of good.” I started out this wedding planning process with a few rules for myself. One was that I had to squash my perfectionist tendencies. If we found something we liked and it was within budget, than the search was over. There is no reason to waste time looking for the absolute best option in everything. All I would do was drive myself crazy. Good rule, right? But I doubted my ability to follow it. There was definitely a moment during shopping that I thought, “Well, maybe I should go to some other stores and see if I can find something better.” But I loved my dress! Why look anywhere else? Luckily, I was able to push that thought away and remember my advice to myself. Choosing the dress made me happy and relieved, and preserved the experience as a positive one. I’ll have to remember this lesson when we start looking for photographers.
  • There is a place for tradition in my heart. Even though this wedding is offbeat-lite, untraditional to most of the people reading this blog, that doesn’t mean that everything has to be untraditional. I ended up with a dress that is way more wedding-y than what I expected, and that quality was one of the reasons I chose it. In a different, casual atmosphere, it will be nice to have some touches of tradition, something to ground us and our guests to the wedding experience. It’s not just a family reunion, after all, even if that is the general vibe we’re going for. The truth is that while I may be fairly radical in my beliefs, I connect to tradition throughout my life. Getting married is traditional in and of itself. It connects us to the generations before, to the families around us. That is super meaningful to me, and it’s one of the reasons I believe in marriage equality so fervently. Having some traditional touches, including the dress, honors that part of myself that has been fairly quiet throughout this process so far.
  • The people in my life are AWESOME. My friends and my mom were so supportive at the store. The ones I told over about the dress over phone and text were just as excited and happy for me. It’s always nice to have a reminder of how lucky I am. It makes me even more excited to celebrate with those I love around me next March.
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Wedding Dress Shopping – The Recap

I hate dress shopping. Any kind of dress shopping. Having to pick out a cocktail dress for a wedding or bar mitzvah involves anxiety as well as many visits to many stores in many places. My poor friends and mother who have accompanied me on these trips have had to deal with my insane pickiness, my refusal to come out of the dressing room to show anyone the clothes, and my overall grouchy and pessimistic mood while shopping. So I have no idea why my friends Proma and Mandy, and my mom, agreed to go wedding dress shopping. Proma came all the way from Pittsburgh! And they actually seemed excited! Wow.

Is this my dress? Nope!

I was a bundle of nerves in the days leading up to the big shopping trip. I was mostly anxious, but also surprisingly excited. In classic Barbra form, I had done A TON of research beforehand. I spent hours upon hours looking at wedding dresses online. Once I had narrowed the search down to David’s Bridal (dresses in my budget AND my size? Score!), I visited their website several times a week, adding dresses to my favorites, then going through them again and again. I scoured the photo reviews to see how the dresses looked on actual people. I searched Google Images with style numbers. I read countless reviews and shopping recaps on The Tribe. I took dresses off the list. I put them back on. I removed all of the taffeta dresses. At the last minute, I added a few that were totally different from the others, just on a whim.

Did I add this one? Um, no.

As we pulled up to David’s, we saw people lined up outside. I thought I had avoided the crazy crowds by making the first appointment of the day, but apparently this is a normal occurrence on weekends. Wait—maybe all of the terrible stories I heard about shopping there were going to come true? I was instantly convinced I would have a terrible consultant who wouldn’t pay any attention to me. I would try on dresses that looked and felt awful, and they would push me to buy something when I really liked NOTHING. S**t. But then, I met my consultant. She seemed really nice and already had my list of favorites printed out. I started to feel better. Deep breath.

Will I be wearing this at my wedding? Do you know me?

As soon as I came out in the first dress, all of my anxiety went away. It fit! I liked it! It was flattering! My mom cried (sorry, Mom)! Even though this wasn’t the dress, it was ok. I tried on more dresses. We liked them all. I realized that I would be finding a dress that day. This was actually going to happen.

Can you picture me in this dress? No? Good.

In the end, I found myself torn between two dresses. I switched between them a few times. Yes, I was one of those girls. I chose the dress that made me feel the prettiest and happiest. It was nothing like what I had pictured for my wedding. It was nothing like the other dresses I tried on. But I love it. And with a few days’ reflection time, I know I chose the right one.

Is this the dress I chose? Nope, that remains a mystery.

So, after years of saying I couldn’t picture myself in a dress, after a lifetime of hating dress shopping, I found a wedding dress. After visiting one store, one time. Wedding miracles really do happen, I guess.

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Marriage Equality

I’ve been trying to write about marriage equality lately, without much success. I think it’s important to write about, especially as I get ready to participate in an institution that is not available to everyone. I think it’s important to examine what I think about marriage in society when there are so many people fighting for the right to marry.

So, then, why am I getting tripped up in trying to write about it?

The truth it, I find it totally disheartening that I even have to address it. I feel ashamed that it is 2012 and I live in a state with an amendment stating that marriage is only between a man and a woman. It makes me so angry that we still have legislated inequality in this country.

Rick Santorum is a serious candidate for President of the United States of America and that makes me want to scream.

There are hopeful signs. Washington and Maryland are legalizing marriage equality. A bill passed the New Jersey legislature, even though it was vetoed by the governor. Proposition 8 was just declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. And by the way, do you know who the two lawyers fighting Prop 8 are? David Boies, who represented Gore in Bush v. Gore 2000, and Ted Olson, who represented Bush. They are working together for civil rights. Olson said in an interview recently that their true mission is not just to defeat Prop 8, but to convince the American people that marriage equality is the right way to go.

So, things are changing. But they’re not changing quickly enough.

I’ve never considered being one of those people who chooses to wait to get married until everyone can. Personally, that doesn’t feel like the right way for me to fight. But, I will continue to speak out in favor of civil rights for everyone. I will use my vote, my mind, and my voice to stand up for equality.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” When all couples, gay or straight, can be married, my marriage will be made stronger. When all families can be recognized officially by society, my family will be that much better off.

from: The International Business Times via Reuters. According to the article, this couple had been together for 51 years before they were finally able to get married.

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Wedding Planning Update…or not

Things I have gotten done in the past few weeks of wedding planning:

Absolutely nothing.

I have accomplished nothing. I have not booked a photographer, I have not made a website, I have not found save-the-dates. I have not actually planned anything.

And that’s ok. Although I love crossing things off of my to do list, I have found that sometimes, the best way for me to handle wedding planning is to not allow myself to plan.

Let me explain. Our wedding is not for another year+. We have a venue and a caterer. So, truthfully, nothing else needs to be done right now. And I’ve been working to hold myself to that.

For example, I’ve decided that April is a realistic time to try to book a photographer. We have several friends/Emily in town this month, so meetings are just not going happen. April still gives us almost a full year. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself surfing the web, searching for affordable photographers. But—I didn’t need to be doing that. So, I stopped. And now, I am not allowed to even look for photographers until April.

The same thing with the website. I am not allowed to start working on it until I’m on spring break. It doesn’t need to be done any time before that, so it won’t be. Simple as that.

This approach may seem counterintuitive and maybe inefficient, but it is working beautifully for me. It has allowed me to spend time looking at wedding prettiness, following my blogs, reading and contributing to the Tribe, all without the pressure of decisions. The to do list has been put away in favor of a one thing at a time approach. The sleepless nights have pretty much stopped. That overwhelming feeling is dissipating.

There will be a time where wedding planning will have to be my number one priority. This is not that time. It took a lot of work to recognize that, but, man, does it feel good.