Big Wedding, Small Budget

Ethics vs Finances

I’ve talked before on the blog about spending money in a meaningful way. For us, that means supporting independent artists and vendors as much as we can. My engagement ring came from Etsy; probably my jewelry and some other things for the wedding will as well. Our caterer is a local restaurant owner; our invitations will come from an independent designer.

But the title of this blog is Big Wedding, Small Budget for a reason. We are also trying to throw this wedding in the most economical way possible. And sometimes, our finances and our ethics have trouble playing well together. Sometimes, they are in direct conflict.

For example: our invitations. We are planning to buy a digital file of a printable invitation, and then have it printed. We could use a local, independent print shop, or we could save a ton of money by going with an online printer.

Another example: our tableware. We could rent actual dishes, silverware, and glasses, cutting down on the amount of trash. But we could also spend less money on nice disposable that we wouldn’t have to clean and return afterward.

One last example: my dress, which I did not buy on Etsy or from a local boutique. Instead, I bought it from a big chain bridal store. They had the most dresses in my size and my price range, so I went for it.

Each of these choices has caused me to re-examine my ethics, to prioritize. It’s impossible to do everything just the way we want. But that’s true for everyone’s wedding, I think, whether they are concerned with budget, or ethics, or neither. It’s just part of planning a wedding.

So I’ve decided to approach these decisions the same way I approach eating meat. I’m not a total vegetarian; I do eat meat, but sparingly, for several reasons. Cutting back on the amount of meat I eat is better than not cutting back at all. It’s better (and more realistic) than saying, “Eff it. If I’m not going to give up meat, I may as well eat it all the time.” I don’t have to have an all or nothing approach to planning the wedding. It’s ok for me to use local or independent vendors when I can, and to save money or choose convenience where I need to.

After all, that’s a reflection of my life in general, right? I do what I can, when I can, and I don’t beat myself up about the rest. If I want a wedding that is a reflection of how we live, then this is it.

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Invitations, Take Two

Well, it seems that the time is coming up soon for us to think about ordering invitations. Even though I’m pretty sure about the design we want, it’s so fun to look around and see what’s out there! As opposed to the last post I wrote on invitations, these are not ones I am necessarily considering. But I love them anyway…

Stinkerpants designs

This is an example of a custom-designed invitation from Stinkerpants. They will literally create an invitation based on you and your life, with hand drawn pictures of you, on a background of your choice. And you can even include your pets like this couple did! Since our house has been such an important thing in our relationship, I would love to have an invitation with us in the living room (or maybe in front of the house) with Asha, Buttercup, and Consemilla. How cute would that be?

Royal Steamline

This invitation is so not us and so not our wedding, but I effing love it. It reminds me of the Haunted Mansion. I love the grittiness of the picture, I love the font, and I really love how evocative it is. If we were a more goth-y couple, or having a Halloween wedding, I would totally do this.

Sweetheart Shout Out

I think these are so cute. Yes, they are totally gendered; yes, they are totally heteronormative. But I’m in a heterosexual relationship with a fiancé who got down on one knee to propose, so who cares? I love how modern these are, and truthfully, their mood matches what we’re looking for at our wedding. Fun, lighthearted celebration. Plus, look at how excited the stick figure on the right is. How can you not feel excited when you see that?

Set Apart Designs 85

I love the wording on this invitation. It gives so much information? And I think it’s worded in a really fun way. Who doesn’t want fun and frivolity at a wedding? The mix of fonts is pretty, and I’m totally in love with the “under the magnolia tree” line. It really puts a picture in my mind. But I am also very easily overwhelmed visually, and it’s hard for me to read this invitation with skipping my eyes all around the page.

Inviting Moments

This is called the “cute owl” invitation, and it really is cute. I like the colors, and I really like the font. I love how the owls are on the address of the postcard RSVP and the return address label. The designer has really thought of everything! It’s simple but it definitely has personality.

Mallory Hope Design

I am absolutely in love with this invitation. It’s beautiful and elegant. I adore the touch of color (you can choose the color when ordering) and the grey background. I’m really into grey lately. This does not look like a printable invitation at all.

So, there you have it. Invitations that are not meant for our wedding. But they are meant for someone’s wedding, and why not have something pretty to look at on a dreary (in Florida, anyway) Monday?

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In case you didn’t already know this about me, I am an extremely competitive person. Mostly with myself, but sometimes with other people too. However, for most of my life I have been able to restrain my competitive tendencies to video games, board games, trivia, etc. I have never really been competitive about things like school grades, salaries, homes, or other indicators of social standings. To be honest, I’ve never really understood why other people’s accomplishments or material accumulations would reflect on mine at all. I don’t need to beat them at relationships; I just really want to beat them at Mario Kart.

In the world of weddings, though, it’s so easy to be competitive. Or at least, it’s so easy to compare your wedding to others’. Then I guess the choice to be competitive or not is up to you. But if you’re doing a lot of internet wedding browsing, as I am, you are inundated with pictures of others’ weddings, along with all the details of their beautiful favors, personal vows, gorgeous photography, and gourmet, local, sustainable food.

When I’m alone with the internet, I have no problem looking at weddings that bear no resemblance to our wedding or what I want. The problem comes in with all these “indie” weddings. Perusing the indie blogs means that I’m constantly confronted with handmade favors from Etsy, lovingly crafted escort cards, bouquets made with flowers that the couple started growing a year before in their backyard, personal vows, gorgeous photography, and beautiful china that the bride and her mom spent the past two years scouting from thrift stores. Think I’m kidding or exaggerating? I’m not. And my mind automatically starts comparing these “blog-worthy” weddings to my own.

In real life, I have several friends getting married this year. They are all having weddings that are quite different from each other, and quite different from mine. But in real life, it’s a little harder to avoid comparisons. My wedding is just so different. It’s less fancy. Just as our wedding will be missing so much of the indie-blog touches, it will also be missing quite a lot of the typical wedding accoutrements.

Complicating this issue is that brides are often judged on their weddings way more than grooms. Although of course, grooms tend to be more involved in the wedding these days, I still think that there is a lot more pressure on brides to have a beautiful wedding and reflect that image of perfection. No one expects grooms to be perfect anyway; they just expect them to be dragged reluctantly to the altar. This is a subject for another post that I’ll probably write when it makes me feel less angry.

Media and mainstream society pit women against each other constantly. The message that we get, both subliminally and overtly, is that we’re always in competition with other women, whether they are our best friends or strangers. We are told that other women’s looks, partners, careers, and families directly reflect on whether our own are good enough. Whether this has evolutionary origins doesn’t matter. It is really no longer relevant in our society and I hate when women I know buy into it.

The truth is, my friends’ weddings are perfect for them. They will be beautiful and fun and I can’t wait to be a part of them. Just as their grades in college didn’t reflect on mine, their weddings don’t reflect on mine either. There is no reason why, as women, we can’t look at and attend others’ weddings and just enjoy them. Sharing a special time in our lives with those we love is a privilege, and a great opportunity, not a chance to show them up.


Leave of Absence

Hi everyone. Wow, it’s been a while. When I started this blog, I committed (to myself) to posting twice a week, on a somewhat regular schedule. And I kept it up for a long time. Then, summer happened. And now it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted. So, here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Steve’s daughter spent the summer with us. Or, most of it anyway. We had a great time, and writing blog posts just didn’t hold a candle to hanging out with the coolest 10 year old I know. We had so much fun, and tried to soak it all up, especially during the last few weeks of her visit.
  • I got the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for PS3 for my birthday from Emily and Steve. Wow, that game is amazing. It has sucked up all, and I mean all, of my down time since I started playing. I’m a little bit worried about the effect it will have on my wedding planning, or life in general, now that I’m getting back into the school year. But it’s worth it.
  • Emily and I (and sometimes Steve) gave up two weeks of our lives to watching hours upon hours of the Olympics. Anyone else out there an Olympics junkie?

So, as you can see, we had a whole lot of nothing going on this summer. It was great to spend so much time just relaxing and having fun without thinking too much about the to do list. Notice how there is nothing about the wedding up there? Exactly. As I wrote here, having a long engagement has led to some lulls in planning. I know now, as the wedding starts to get closer (7 months!), I’ll actually need to start planning again soon.

I’m starting by getting back into planning. Regular posting will resume here as of now. I’ve missed it, and you!

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A Very Long Engagement

When Steve first proposed, we thought we’d get married in October. A ten month engagement sounded perfect. Enough time to plan, not enough time to stress or drag things out. The weather here is usually beautiful in October, especially at the end of the month. It’s one of my favorite times of year.

Then, the process began of actually choosing a date. We realized quickly that October wouldn’t work for Steve’s family, who are coming from England. They needed to come during a longer school holiday so their kids (Steve’s nieces and nephew) could attend. Also, I am the maid of honor in a wedding in September, the Jewish High Holidays are later that month (2 weeks in a row), and then we will be going to New Jersey for Thanksgiving in November. So getting married in October would have made the fall really, really hectic. And I didn’t think I would really be able to take off work very much before or after the wedding, which is a major buzzkill.

So, we decided on a date in March which happens to fall both during the school holidays in England and during my Spring Break. I’ll be off for the whole week after the wedding. And March is another gorgeous time here. I told myself a 15 month engagement wasn’t really that long. Don’t people usually take about a year and half these days? Ours would be less than that. And it would give us plenty of time to get things done. Anyway, it didn’t matter. March 24 was the date and I was just going to have to deal with having a longer engagement than I originally wanted.

In some ways, the long engagement has been great. When it took us a little while to find a venue, I didn’t have to panic. We had plenty of time. We ended up booking the caterer and venue more than a year out, which just felt like bonus time. Extra points! And it is nice to not have to be doing wedding stuff all the time. Also, more time to plan means more time to save money, which has been really helpful.

But. 15 months is a looooong time. I haven’t done anything wedding related in months. It’s been nice to have a break, but pretty unnecessary. People want to ask me how wedding planning is going, and don’t get me wrong—I love talking about it, but there’s just not that much to say. I worry that I don’t come across as excited enough, but how excited can I be for an event that we’ve been talking about for 7 months and is still 8 months away?

Like any other wedding decision, there is no one right answer when it comes to how long of an engagement to have. I’m glad we made the decision that we did; the date we picked is pretty much perfect and works for us, which is the most important thing. I just wish it would come a little sooner!

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