Big Wedding, Small Budget

Wedding Planning on the Internet

How did people plan weddings before the internet? The internet is where I’ve found our venue, our photographer, and our invitations. The internet is where I’ve learned about the whole range of weddings, from super traditional black-tie to super offbeat steampunk cosplay. The internet has allowed me to write this blog, it’s allowed me to collaborate and get help from other women planning weddings around the country. It’s definitely made things easier in so many ways.

But. As with all things on the internet, it’s not all good. I think that seeing so many weddings online, presented without their flaws, without their mishaps, creates a kind of competition that didn’t exist as much before. I mean, I’m not a competitive person when it comes to stuff like this (with pretty much anything else, it’s a different story). But even if I were competitive with my wedding, I would have a hard time finding very much to compare it to. My friends’ and family members’ weddings have all be pretty spread out. But with everything on the internet, I could compare my wedding not only to my friends, but to strangers as well.

Also, there is just so much wedding stuff on the internet that it’s easy to get wrapped up in the wedding bubble. What did I do before there were pictures upon pictures upon pictures of weddings to look at? Oh yeah, I had other interests. Interests I’m rediscovering now that I’m taking a break from planning (and the Olympics definitely help with that). It’s easy to feel like everyone is talking about weddings all the time. And they are, as long as the only websites I’m looking at are wedding blogs.

The internet has added a lot of pressure, I think. There’s all this pressure to have your wedding exactly reflect you as a couple and your quirky interests. Pressure to make things handmade and personal. Pressure to have a unique wedding, and this is where I think the internet severely misleads us. Chances are, the guests at our wedding are not spending every afternoon looking at pictures of Mason jar centerpieces, wacky photo booths, and brides wearing cowboy boots. So even though trends may seem overdone, that is only in Wedding World. From the real world, where everyone else lives, those trendy features probably seem pretty unique and personal.

It’s an interesting process, planning a wedding. For me at least, it seems to involve a lot of sifting through the external expectations, pressures, and insecurities to get down to what I really want. I might be naïve, but it seems like that might have been easier without the internet. On the other hand, I love seeing other people’s weddings and getting ideas from it. And sites like Offbeat Bride have enabled me to let go of others’ expectations for our wedding.

I guess internet wedding planning is like anything else, right? Try to keep the good, let go of the bad, and remember: your life is your life. You don’t have to compete with anyone else.

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I’m on vacation this week in Jupiter (Florida), so no new blog post, but I’ll be back soon! Hope you all are having a great week!

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Yesterday was my birthday. And it was great! I had a nice, lazy morning, lunch with my parents. Then I picked up Emily from camp and introduced her to the fun that is Center Stage. At night, Steve and Emily took me out to a fancy dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. It was an embarrassment of riches, to say the least. And the celebrating isn’t over yet!

I went to bed thinking about what my life would be like at my next birthday. I’ll be married (mutter superstitious phrases under your breath here). I’ll be a wife. I’ll be a stepmother. Sometimes, it seems like my life will be totally different. Other times, it seems like it will be just the same. I’ll still be me, right? I mean, I did get a video game for my birthday last night.

I’m really looking forward to my 34th year. I’ll be a Maid of Honor for the first time. I’ll welcome friends’ and cousins’ new babies into our lives. I’ll be presenting at a conference for work again (and hopefully more than one). I’ll be taking on new responsibilities and challenges in my career. I’ll finish planning this wedding, my largest project to date. And then, I’ll get married!

It’s a lot for one year. There’s a lot of doing to do, and a lot of growing to do. But I’m up for the challenge, and ready to get started!


Wedding Planning Can Be Fun

So far, I’ve really enjoyed planning. Sure, there were some tense moments. Like when I was sure we would never find a venue we could afford that was outdoors and could work for 250 people. Or maybe right in the beginning, when I was totally overwhelmed with budget questions, venue questions, caterer questions, and guest list questions and just not sure where to start. But other than that, it’s been a pretty smooth ride. Which led me to ask…am I doing something wrong?

Everyone talks about wedding planning as being really stressful. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not naïve; I understand that eventually, I will be staring down the barrel of a monstrously long to-do list, with tedious tasks and a million decisions to be made. I know things will get really busy when it gets closer; the lull I’m experiencing now is not to be expected to last for the next 8 months.

The thing is, though, I like making decisions. I like having incredibly detailed to do lists and checking things off. I kind of like tedious tasks (I know, I know). For example, I’m looking forward to spending a couple of hours on the internet researching alcohol distributors, making a decision, and making the purchase. One more thing off the list!

This is precisely why I’m the captain of this wedding planning ship. Project management seems to be right up my alley. Also, I have a secret weapon. Anything I don’t care about that isn’t totally necessary will not be happening at the wedding. I refuse to spend one minute thinking about what the chairs will look like or debating the colors of the tablecloths. I don’t care about, nor do I want to spend money on, favors, so guess what? We will not be having favors (this could be a post in and of itself).

So, no, I don’t think I’m doing it wrong. In fact, I think I might be doing this wedding planning thing exactly right. I’m spending time and money on things I care about, things that make me excited. And I’m determined to keep wedding planning as fun and as easy as it can be. That way, even when I’m in the midst of planning hell, I can look back on the process as a whole and still feel the joy.

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Wedding Rings – Men’s

The current lull in wedding planning has enabled me to spend some serious time online window shopping. Today, I decided to look at men’s wedding rings. Who knew there were so many interesting ones out there? I used Ariel’s roundup in Offbeat Bride as my inspiration, and here’s what I found.

Spexton at Etsy

Let’s start with one of the more traditional rings. This ring has the inlay-type design that I seem to be obsessed with lately. I like the symbolism of the “bumps in the road” texture, too.

Amazon Curated Collection

I love the color in this ring. It looks like it glows! But I’m not in love with the way the inlay in set in a groove; I would like it to be more flush with the rest of the ring. I also wonder if it would just attract dirt?

Amazon Curated Collection

This inlay is more flush with the ring, although not completely smooth. I love the idea of leather—it’s so unique! This one just doesn’t “feel” quite like Steve, though.

TWG Sales at Amazon

This ring is made of Tungsten Carbide. I love how masculine it is, and how it’s pretty traditional, except for the twist of it being black.

Peora at Amazon

This ring is really interesting. I like the design; it’s fun to look it. It looks like it should spin or something, though, and it doesn’t. But it’s still a great ring, The mix of colors and textures is really appealing.

Jewelry by Johan at Etsy

This might be my favorite one so far. I’ve mentioned before that I loved wood rings, but I think having the wood as an inlay might make it more durable. And the colors of the titanium and wood together look beautiful.

Last but not least, I have to show you this ring that came up when I was searching for men’s wedding bands:


I’m just as big a Lord of the Rings fan as anyone, but why would you want the Ring of Power for your wedding ring? Simply put, it’s evil.

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A Terrible Way to Spend a lot of Money

“Indie” weddings seem to have become pretty popular lately, at least in the blog-o-sphere. But, what started out as people doing their own thing, deciding what they want for themselves in their weddings has quickly become a “style.” The “BIC” (blog-industrial complex) can, at times, be as pressure-inducing as the WIC. Anyone who, like me, spends too much time reading wedding blogs can easily fall prey to feeling like their wedding must be rustic, quirky, and beautiful, with antique typewriters, mason jars, old keys, and lots of bunting. And if you’re not crafty? If you don’t have a keen eye for fabulous finds in antique shops? Well, of course, there are companies happy to create the look for you! And with that, I bring you the $180.00 balloon. Seriously.

Geronimo balloon set from BHLDN

Ok, I lied. The 180 dollars actually buys you two balloons.

Granted, these balloons are quite large. And they do have pretty tails. But 180 dollars???? This just goes beyond any rational thought, at least in my world. The thing is, I don’t have a problem with spending money to have pretty things at your wedding, if that’s what you want. I don’t have a problem with choosing a theme (even if it rustic chic) and decorating with that in mind. But I do have a problem with companies that co-opt a homegrown, handmade aesthetic while charging WAY too much.

Also, I understand that my wedding will probably cost more than any other party I throw. But that doesn’t mean that I’m willing to pay more for specific things just because they’re for my wedding. Even though that’s the philosophy that the WIC operates by. A wedding is once in a lifetime event, right? So spend once in a lifetime money on everything? The WIC says yes. I say no.

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Seating Charts

One thing we’ve been really conscious of while planning this wedding is wanting to treat our guests well. We are super aware of the fact that everyone will be traveling just to celebrate with us (as I’ve mentioned, the venue is out of the way for even local guests) and we want to make everyone as comfortable and happy as possible. This has come up a few times so far.

First, it came up when choosing a date and time. We wanted a date when Steve’s family would be able to attend and when I would be able to have at least a couple of days off. Conservative Jews (of which I am one) don’t get married on a Saturday until after Shabbat ends, and even though our marriage will not really be recognized by Conservative Judaism (that’s another post for another time), I just wouldn’t feel right getting married on a Saturday. So, we chose lunchtime on Sunday, assuming that anyone who really needs to get back to work on Monday will be able to go home that night.

Our guests’ comfort came up again when finding a caterer. With our budget being small, finding catering we could afford for so many people was a daunting task. As I’ve mentioned, our caterer came through and helped us make it happen. But there was a point where we were considering a smaller meal of sandwiches. Neither of us felt quite right about that. Even though we understand that people are not coming to the wedding for the food, we both felt strongly about serving people a hot meal, especially when they’ve traveled to get there.

When choosing the hotel for our block discount, I definitely looked for somewhere that offered breakfast, because I know how much that adds to the convenience factor (even though the hotel is right behind First Watch…just saying). We also wanted somewhere family-friendly since there will be so many babies and kids attending.

And now, I’ve been thinking about whether or not to do table assignments. Originally, I planned to do free-for-all seating. I figured that it made more sense given the casual picnic atmosphere that we aiming for. It felt more informal, and I liked the idea of people just mingling around. Plus, it was one more task I could delete off the old to-do list, right?

Wrong. My family quickly set me straight. I was shocked that they actually all agreed that we should have assigned seating; we rarely all agree on anything without some debate, so I figured I should listen. They pointed out that if we were going to have anything structured during lunch (toasts, first dance, etc), then we should make lunch more structured by having people sit down. They could mingle after they ate. And who walks around visiting people with a plate full of (delicious) pasta, anyway?

Also, I realized that there are a handful of people we’re inviting who don’t really know anyone else. And it really is kinder to those guests to seat them at a table where we know people will be outgoing and friendly. Of course, we could ask some friends to just keep an eye out for them, but I think I would be worrying about that when I should be enjoying myself. So having assigned seating is really better for those individual guests and for me.

What it comes down to is that for such a big, diverse group as we’ll have, having assigned seating is more thoughtful. It releases guests from that momentary hectic-ness of trying to get seats with their friends and family. It ensures that individual guests will have people to talk to. And it also will give us the opportunity to introduce friends and family from the different parts of our lives. Sharing a meal with strangers, breaking bread, can turn you into friends. It can really help bring our two sides together.

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Now that our save the dates have gone out, it’s time to start thinking about invitations. Even though we did email save the dates, we’ll be doing paper invitations (with online RSVPs). I love getting mail, and doesn’t everyone? So, paper it is.

There are so many awesome invitation options out there. Here’s some I’ve found that I really like so far (sources listed below, as always):

Cadence Paige Design at Minted

I think this invitation is so different than the traditional. I love how colorful it is, and there’s so much to look at. Plus, I think it’s super festive. Doesn’t this just make you think the wedding will be really fun?

Hello Tenfold

This invitation is really pretty, and it does match the sort of garden/picnic setting we’ll be having. I also really like the font that is used for the names.

Paper Dahlia at Minted

This also matched the garden/picnic setting. And I like the grass, because the whole wedding will take place on beautiful lawns, but it’s a little too plain for me. Not festive enough.

E.M. Papers

This is a printable wedding invitation. Basically, you buy the digital image and then either print it at home or get it printed yourself. It’s definitely an economical idea. And love, joy, and happiness? How could you set the mood any better?

Alethea and Ruth at Minted

This invitation is probably a little too tropical for us, but it’s really beautiful. And the lady beetles are a nice touch! (Who ever would have thought that I’d always be on the lookout for ways to include bugs?)

Bumble Ink at Minted

I love this invitation because even though our wedding is not technically a destination wedding, most of our guests are from out of town and we are inviting people from all over the world. So this would definitely match that!

As you can see, and probably not surprisingly, we aren’t really looking at traditional white-on-white engraved invitations. I think the invite sets the scene for the wedding, so I want people to expect a fun time!

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