Big Wedding, Small Budget

Wedding Rings – Women’s

I’ve really been going back and forth about the wedding ring I want*. I was planning to get a plain palladium white gold band from the same artist who made my engagement ring, thinking that I would wear both rings on the same hand. I had a blue topaz ring I wore for about 10 years on my right hand, and I was not giving that up.

Then, heartbreakingly, I lost my blue topaz ring. And it has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I could still get the matching ring, and get another pretty ring for my right hand (I’ve been eyeing this one). Or, I could get an independent wedding ring. There are so many beautiful ones out there!

*It’s important to note that Jewish weddings require an unbroken gold band. In my family, we all get married with my great-grandmother’s ring, then wear our own afterwards. So, I don’t need to worry about that. Also, while I appreciate the sentiment of an unbroken eternal circle of love, I also like the symbolism of an imperfect ring, because love, and relationships, are imperfect.

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These rings are both from Turtle Love Committee. I grouped them together because aesthetically, they’re pretty similar. I like the shape and texture of both; like I noted above, I appreciate the symbolism of a handmade, imperfect, textured ring. Life is not always smooth, perfect, and easy, and I think these rings reflect that. Plus, they’re really pretty.


I had to include this ring; it’s so fun! I love that it has a sense of humor. But, it’s a little too flat for me; I tend to like rounded bands better. Also, I don’t know that it would be instantly recognizable as a wedding ring, and if I’m wearing a ring on its own, I’d like it to have that quality.


I think this ring is elegant and simple while still being interesting and different. It comes in different metals; I would definitely get white gold or sterling silver.


This ring also has that imperfect thing going on. I like the rose gold more than I expected, even though it does come in yellow and white. It might be too flat, but the width is about right.


I’m really interested in the idea of a wood wedding ring. First, I love mahogany. Second, all of the rings from this shop come from salvaged or found wood, so it’s eco-friendly. It’s the perfect shape and I think it would look beautiful next to my skin. It’s warm and organic. The only thing I’m worried about it the durability. I don’t want to have to worry about a ring I’m going to wear every single day; I’m just not that careful.

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Save the dates are a relatively modern invention, I think. It’s easy to write them off as yet another unnecessary thing the WIC tells us we must have. I’m pretty sure save the dates didn’t exist when my parents got married. On the other hand, though, I don’t think families and friends were quite as spread out 34 years ago. When I looked over our guest list, literally 90% were from out of town (I love having Excel do math for me). 80% were from out of state. So, save the dates seem pretty necessary and helpful for our guests.

Besides, I love stationery, and I love looking at invitations and pretty paper online. There is just so much out there! And it’s not just paper. Sure, there are save the date postcards. But there are also magnets, comic books (yes, really), and videos.

Wow. Isn’t it enough work to plan a wedding without having the added pressure of making these unbelievable, unique, unforgettable save the dates? Yes, yes it is. Plus, with such a big invite list, there is no way we are going to boxes of homemade cookies with our wedding date on them. So we’ve decided to go with email save the dates. As much as this may be a technical breach of etiquette (not something that really bothers me), it works for us for several reasons:

  1. Keeping it simple seems to be the only wedding theme idea I can stick with.
  2. Just the thought of addressing and stuffing all of those envelopes twice (for save the dates and invitations) makes me want to take a nap.
  3. It will save us a significant amount of money on printing and postage.
  4. It is way more eco-friendly.

Luckily, there are apparently other people making the same choice, and there are several places on the internet where you can choose, personalize, and send out email save the dates. Of course, I’ve looked at them all: Paperless Post, Punchbowl, Evite, Cocodot, and Pingg.

Even though I know some people like to stick save the dates on their fridge, I would personally appreciate getting one I can stick in my starred folder, you know? And lest you think we’re total heathens, we will be sending out paper invitations (more on those later). For now, we’re going with the easy so we can put our time, money, and effort into making the wedding more fun!

I leave you with the following: a save the date I would never send out, for many reasons. However, I would love to get this in the mail. These are actual cookies, people. Could someone I know make this happen, please???



Planning Update – May

My mind is preoccupied with the small details right now. Planning has definitely started back up again! Since my last update, I have not gotten as much done as I’ve hoped, but now that things have calmed down, I’m jumping right back in. Here’s what I’m currently working on:

  • Save-the-Dates: We are definitely doing email save-the-dates. I think I’ve chosen the design we’ll use, and I’m itching to send them out! But first, a few other things need to happen:
  • Hotel Blocks: This is a little complicated. Our venue is about an hour away from home, in the middle of nowhere. But any other wedding weekend events (I’m not sure what those will be yet) will be happening at or close to our house. So right now, I’m thinking about getting one block closer to the venue, and a couple other blocks close to home. Before I can figure anything out, though, I need to go visit some hotels and check them out. Hopefully, that will be happening next weekend (right, Mom?). I definitely want to get this done before we send out the save-the-dates so our guests can start thinking about their travel (I know I’m not the only one who likes to plan ahead).
  • Website: I finally started working on this, and it’s almost done. It has to be finished before the save-the-dates go out, because I know it’s the first place people will go.
  • Guest List: Of course, this is the most important, and most difficult step. We’re still working on finalizing the list (this seems to be a never-ending process) and we’re collecting email addresses and postal addresses. There’s a team working on this (AKA my parents, Steve, and me), so it’s not totally under my control. But hopefully it will be done soon.

So. There are a couple of balls in the air right now. I’m super excited about sending the save-the-dates, which is the culmination of all of the other work. But it also makes me a little anxious. Because once those goes out, the wedding is really happening.

“I’m just so nervous. You know? And I’m also very excited. I’m nervous and I’m excited.” (Ten points to the one who can identify that quote!)


The Aspiration Effect

Have you been on Pinterest? It’s pretty addicting, and fun to look at pages and pages of pretty things. It’s a great resource for recipes, design, housewares, and, of course, weddings. I spend as much time looking at beautiful weddings on Pinterest as I do looking at beautiful wedding blogs. I mean, both qualify as “wedding inspiration,” right? That’s the prevailing wisdom, anyway. Except, I disagree. I think the recent boom of “lifestyle” websites, especially wedding sites, have much more to do with aspiration than inspiration. And lately, it has really been making me uncomfortable.

Back in the olden days (you know, like a couple of years ago), I think that brides looked mainly to magazines for inspiration. And with magazines, you pretty much know what you’re getting. We all understand that models, already having won the genetic lottery, are then photoshopped to a level of completely unattainable perfection. We know that the pretty pictures of tablescapes, catering, and flowers were taken at photo shoots, made for the express purpose of looking perfect. Those brides in the photos with perfect hair, perfect makeup, and the perfect outfit? Well, it’s easy to be perfect when you haven’t spent hours crying, laughing, and dancing with your friends and family.

Now we look to the internet for inspiration, mostly from blogs and Pinterest. And here, the lines blur. Thankfully, there are some sites like A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride that only feature real weddings, not photo shoots. But most wedding blogs include both, and it’s not always easy to tell what you’re seeing. So, especially on “indie” blogs, we’re presented with rustic chic, crafty, weddings that are perfect, and clearly expensive while pretending they’re not. The result for lots of people (I think) is not simple inspiration. It’s not even simple admiration. It’s aspiration. It’s feeling like your wedding has be beautiful and crafty and full of meaningful, quirky, personal details. And if it’s not, if it’s just a wedding, than it is not good enough.

I believe that the “aspiration effect” comes into play all over the “lifestyle” sphere on the web. I know Pinterest is full of home projects, cute food, and perfect hairstyles. There are definitely times where I have to take a step back from it, usually when I start to wonder who the people are that pull those things off and why can’t I be one of them? But I think those of us planning weddings are particularly vulnerable.

Weddings are, and have been for a while and across many cultures, a chance for the family to display their wealth, their social standing, and their daughter (historically). Even in this age of brides and grooms paying for weddings themselves, or of both families chipping in, the desire to show off remains. Sometimes, it’s about showing off how wealthy you are. Sometimes, it’s about showing off how talented and crafty you are. Sometimes, it’s about showing off how offbeat and quirky you are. As a bride (or as a couple), you are on display at your wedding more than probably at any other time in your adult life. It’s easy to feel like you have control of what people think.

The truth is, though, we don’t have control. And I think it’s important to really examine what we want people to think and why. If I’m having a “budget” wedding, why don’t I want people to know that? Why should my biggest worry be people thinking I’m cheap or can’t afford all of the trappings of a traditional wedding? Why can’t I just be honest and have an honest wedding, with two imperfect people getting married and creating an imperfect family? I don’t want to put on a show at my wedding. I don’t want to present us as any different than we really are. We’re not rich. I’m a tightwad thrifty. We’re an informal, friendly, casual couple. We don’t stand for a lot of ceremony.

Let me give you an example. I bought a wedding dress. And I’m about to break one of the core wedding rules (big surprise) and tell you something about it: it was cheap. It really didn’t cost that much, for a wedding dress at least. And as I tried it on, I thought to myself, “It definitely looks like it cost more. No one will know it was so cheap.”

But what if they did? Why shouldn’t everyone know? I’m not saying I need to broadcast it from the rooftops, but I also don’t need to pretend it was more expensive. Because a $3000 wedding gown wouldn’t be me. A black tie wedding wouldn’t be me. A $50,000 reception wouldn’t be me. Not only do I not care if everyone knows that, but I really hope they do. I try to live my life honestly, and I wouldn’t want my wedding to be any different.

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Dessert Options – Cupcakes

If you’re not going to have a wedding cake, the first alternative that most people mention is cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? They are delicious, easy to serve, and you could get them in a wide variety of flavors. I don’t love the typical “cupcake cake” presentation; visually, it just doesn’t appeal to me. But a table full of interesting looking cupcakes sounds awesome! And seriously, with cupcakes, interesting is the name of the game. Check these out:


Margarita cupcakes??? Sign me up…these sound delicious!


I think these are really cute, and they would great with the backdrop of our venue. They might be kind of hard to eat, though.


These totally remind me of the spin art we use to do as kids. I love it! But I’m not sure how feasible it would be for so many people, and it doesn’t really match anything else.


Pac Man cupcakes. These need no description.


So, I don’t love these, but I do love the idea of having insect cupcakes, or really insect anything, just as a nod to Steve’s profession.


I like these so much better! They are really cute, and look delicious. Plus, insects.


The truth is, if I did cupcakes at the wedding, it would probably look more like this. A table full of delicious, colorful cupcakes. Yum.

Hungry yet?

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I had a pretty concrete timeline in my head of what I wanted to get done when. The big things were already out of the way. I knew when I wanted to have our website done, when I wanted to send the save-the-dates. I wasn’t being crazy, I swear! I’m just organized.

And then, the spring happened. Life happened. Things got in the way. Family things. Friend things. I worked a lot and had major career challenges and achievements (more on that later). It has been a super busy couple of months, with not as much free time as I’m used to. And I also have been unusually emotionally spent, which means that I have spent the free time I do have vegging out instead of being productive.

My blog reader is incredibly backed up. I’ve barely looked at Pinterest unless I’m using it for the blog. I haven’t seen any hotels for our block, nor do I have a good idea of what we’re doing. I finally signed up for a website but haven’t made it yet. We don’t have a finished guest list. We haven’t sent our save-the-dates.

And you know what? It’s ok. So what if my self-imposed deadline for the list above was Spring Break (a month ago)? This stuff will get done. So what if it’s a bit late? The important people know the date already and really, does anyone need to book a hotel room a full year in advance? No.

The truth is, I’ve shocked myself with my nonchalance regarding the to-do list. Anyone who knows me knows that I am perhaps the least flexible person alive. I make plans. I stick to them. And I become really unhappy when things don’t go according to plan. I know when I want to get things done and I do it, no matter what it takes. I am a strict and unkind taskmaster, at least to myself.

But I’ve been working hard for the last year or so at being kinder and more compassionate to myself, at treating myself the way I treat others. And I really thought I was failing (yes, I appreciate the irony in this statement). Apparently, though, I’m not. I’ve given myself a break. I’m fairly relaxed about it.

At the beginning of the engagement, I thought, “Wow, I’ve really got to keep a close eye on myself.” I know how I can get with a big project to plan. I can be obsessed with details and perfection, anxious and self-critical. I succumb to the stress, and what event is more stressful to plan than a wedding? So this was a potential minefield.

I’ve been able to avoid those mines so far. I hope I continue to do so. I think the engagement period is important for so many reasons to us as a couple, but I didn’t realize how much I would learn about myself, how much I would be challenged, and how much I could change. I’ll have to remember this moment of flexibility in the future when challenges arrive, and luckily, I’ll have the strength of this experience to draw on.

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I had a great post planned for today, insightful discussion regarding things I’ve learned about myself during this planning process. But it got sidelined today by some happy news: Steve’s family booked their flights!

I’ve been operating all along with the premise that not everyone whom we want to be at our wedding will be able to come. Some people might have other obligations, for others it might be too expensive, and a (hopefully) select few might just not want to come. And that’s ok. But of course, deep down, I’ve got my list of must-haves, and of course Steve’s family was on it. Unfortunately, there was also the chance that they wouldn’t be able to make it, seeing as how they live in England and all. And Steve’s sister and brother-in-law have three kids, so it’s quite a journey to make.

But! They called yesterday to tell us that they found a good deal and wanted to book it. So, they’re officially coming!

And this news has made everything seem so much more real and exciting. It’s so much easier to picture the wedding and how things will go now. We can make concrete plans for things I was holding off on. I can actually imagine walking down the aisle.

Most of all, it means that I will have more people to help me get everything ready in the days before the wedding.

Psych! Actually, it means that we will really have our two families coming together on the wedding day. And that is what I’ve been hoping for all along.

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Jewelry Ideas – Stud Earrings

Sigh. I love window shopping. Even online. It’s amazing how satisfied I feel just to look at pretty things. Of course, it helps that I will be buying some of those things eventually.

I’ve talked before about how much I love jewelry, and how excited I am to buy new jewelry for the wedding. So far, my window shopping has been mostly focused on necklaces; I think that a necklace will probably be my statement piece.

But! I will still be wearing earrings. Most likely, they will be smaller and simpler so as not to compete with my necklace. But I would still like them to be pretty, and it would be great if I could find earrings that I will be happy to wear again.

Looking around for studs led me to these:

Twisted Designs

I think these are pretty, and definitely wearable again, but a little too small for my taste (the Etsy page has more pictures). With so much hair, I like my earrings to be on the large size.


I love these earrings. But I don’t think they are quite right for the wedding. Maybe they would work in another color, but I feel like the black would blend in too much with my hair.


These earrings are really cute, and probably around the right size, although it’s hard to tell for sure. I think they’re fun, and they would probably be just sparkly enough to show under my hair.

Juicy Lucy’s

I think these are so fun! And they are such a good play on the fact that I won’t be wearing diamonds for the wedding (even my engagement ring is not a diamond). Just a little inside joke for myself. It would make me smile on the wedding day for sure.

Noya Silver Jewelry

I’ve always loved butterflies, and so does Steve. These earrings would be a nice nod to his entomology. And pretty; I love brushed silver.

Garnet Girl Designs

These are my absolute favorite, although they cost more than I will probably want to spend. I. Love. Them. They are made by the same artist as my engagement ring (go check her out; her stuff is AWESOME) and they match it exactly. Same stone, same shape, same setting (except these are silver and my ring is palladium white gold). Sigh. These slay me. I will have to own them eventually, whether they’re for the wedding or not.

There are a ton of other earrings out there; I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is one of my favorite wedding-related internet surfing topics, so don’t worry, I’ll be posting plenty more!

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