Big Wedding, Small Budget

Control Freak

Confession: I am a control freak. This is probably not much of a surprise for anyone who knows me. I don’t think I really try to control other people’s lives, but when it comes to my own, I like to be in charge. I like to plan things. I like to figure out all of the details ahead of time. I’m not a roll-with-the-punches kind of girl. Instead, I like to know just how everything is going to go.

That’s part of the reason why I’ve enjoyed planning the wedding so far. I’ve never been in charge of a project this big, and it’s great! It’s right up my alley.

The thing is, though, that I can’t be in charge of everything about the wedding. Specifically, when it comes to pre-wedding events like the shower and bachelorette party, I’m not in charge at all.

At first, I thought this would be extremely difficult. It did feel weird, I have to admit, to hand over a guest list for the shower and then…nothing. There was nothing to figure out, nothing to do. It was a strange feeling getting an invitation to my shower. I mean, the last time a party was thrown for me, without my involvement, was a surprise birthday party when I turned 17. And that was in 1996.

Plans are being made and I’m not a part of it. I’m expected to show up on the day and time, without having any idea what to expect. I don’t know who will be there, what we’ll be doing, or how the day will go.

And you know what? It feels great. I have not had a hard time letting go. It’s probably because there is still so much wedding planning to do. But seriously, I am super excited about the fact that I get to go to a party without having to do anything to plan it! Although it’s still a little bit of a crazy feeling to think that people are coming together to plan something just for me, that really has nothing to do with not having control. That’s more about me being used to doing things for other people.

The truth is, I just feel lucky. Lucky that I have people who want to throw me a shower at all. Lucky that they are people I trust plan an awesome and fun shindig. Lucky that I have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy what is sure to be a wonderful day. And the anticipation, the not-knowing, the loss of control is part of what is making it so much fun.

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Four Months to Go!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I spent it up north with my family in New Jersey. There was lots of talk about weddings, since one of my best friends and my cousin are both getting married next year also. It’s so interesting to hear what everyone is doing, especially when they are planning completely different weddings from mine.

While I was away, we hit the four month mark. Now, the planning lull is definitely over. I need to get these wheels in motion so we can start getting stuff done. When I think about all the different tasks on my to-do list, it’s pretty overwhelming, but I’m trying hard to stick to my schedule in order to keep everything manageable. I didn’t get everything from my October checklist done, so I really need to work harder to stay on top of things. I did get some exciting tasks completed, though! I ordered the invitations and they are sitting in a box in my house right now! I made most of the decision on dessert (see below for more). Also, as a bonus, I bought half of the wine for the wedding! We’re getting our red wine from a local winery that was having a special at their fall festival, so I scored a sweet deal. We just have to remember not to drink it before March 24!

Here’s what’s on the list for this month. As you can see, there are some leftovers from my last planning update:

  • Finish collecting and verifying addresses for the invitations: I did not even start doing this last month. And since we sent save-the-dates by email, I have quite a few addresses to collect. I really need to start gathering those and have Steve get his this week. There’s really no reason to put this off, and I’d like to check it off of my list, even though we’re not mailing invitations for more than another month.
  • Figure out and order/print return addresses: I’ve ruled out using a stamp (since I can never do it neatly) or printed envelopes (not worth the money). I still need to decide if we’re going to write the return addresses by hand, order labels, or print them ourselves. My mom will be addressing the envelopes, so it’s really up to her. Hopefully, in the next week, we’ll be starting to experiment and we can make a decision then.
  • Finish deciding and booking dessert: We’ve decided on a dessert. And I’m not revealing it here, but it will not be cake. I’ve already been in contact with the vendor we’re going to use, so I need to finalize that booking. And we also need to decide if we’re going to do a cake cutting with a small cake for tradition’s sake. Feedback?
  • Start writing the ceremony: I can’t believe I haven’t started this yet! I think it’s kind of like writing a paper; it’s hard to start, but once I do, it will go quickly. Even though we have plenty of time before the wedding, this is not something I want to be working on at the last minute. Plus, I’m assuming we will go through several drafts before it’s finished.
  • Plan wedding weekend events: We are planning on having an open house at our home the day before the wedding, and also having a no-host afterparty at a local bar after the reception. I need to start (and finalize) the details and add the events to our website. I want to have them on there before invitations go out, so this has got to get done this month.
  • Decide on flower (or not) for the wedding party and research prices: Right now, I’m actually starting to lean toward flowers for the wedding party (more on this next week), mostly for convenience’s sake. I think I know what I want to do, but I need to make a final decision, research online prices, and figure out the logistics of how this is going to work, whether we go with flowers or something else.

Wow; that is a lot! I really need to get on this stuff. Luckily, I will be in town for this whole month, hopefully without too much going on. Holidays eat up a lot of time, and we have Emily coming for winter break (plus some exciting wedding related stuff!), so I need to finish this list by December 24. By then, we’ll be in the double digit countdown, which is incredibly hard to believe!

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Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone is celebrating with loved ones. I’m in New Jersey with Steve and my extended family on our annual pilgrimage. I’ll be back with more wedding content next week!

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Wedding Themes

Colors and themes are something all over the wedding world, from the Knot to Offbeat Bride. For more traditional weddings, the theme might be Old Hollywood. For the more offbeat, it might be Civil War or fairy themed. Just please, don’t have a Hunger Games themed wedding, for god’s sake.

For people really interested in styling their wedding, I guess a theme is helpful. It gives you a central idea to build around. It helps narrow down the millions of choices out there. And if you and your partner have a very specific hobby or passionate interest, it makes sense to share that with your guests.

Our theme is (drumroll, please)….getting married.

Yes, you heard right. The truth is, we don’t really have a theme. And sometimes this worries me. I mean, I tell people we’re having a picnic wedding, but does a normal picnic include a DJ and Italian food? No, I think not. I tell them we’re getting married on a farm, evoking images of rustic barn weddings. And we’re really not rustic. I mean, there will be no burlap or cowboy boots (at least, I won’t be wearing them).

Our website is totally different than our save-the-date, which is totally different than our invitation, which will probably be totally different than our place cards, program, and table numbers (which will not match each other). The wedding world tells me this will confuse our guests. Not having a unifying theme will be disruptive and jarring.

Sorry, but I have a little more faith in our guests than that. They know they’re coming to a wedding. What is there to be confused about? I mean, the décor in our house does not have a unifying theme (nor do all the paint colors flow together), yet somehow, people are still able to find the kitchen.

Our wedding is not a styled event. It will probably not be on the pages of a magazine (though I’d love for it to be in Offbeat Bride!). It’s a wedding. It’s an exchange of marriage vows followed by a party filled with some cool stuff that I’ve found, things that I think are pretty or fun. Hopefully, our guests will be too involved in celebrating to worry about the escort cards not matching the invitations, anyway.

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Bouquet Alternatives – Felt and Button

In my never-ending search for bouquet alternative, I have come across a lot of felt and button bouquets. There have been some really interesting examples. Generally, I love the colors and the organic, handmade feel of a felt bouquet. Plus, it would be a great keepsake after the wedding!

I’m not sure I’m crafty enough to make felt bouquets for the wedding, but they’re definitely worth looking at. Sources are listed below. Enjoy!

top left, top center, top right, bottom right, bottom center, bottom left

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Bridesmaid “Duties”

I think I’ve probably mentioned this before on the blog, but Steve and I will not be having a traditional wedding party. Instead, our families will be walking down the aisle and standing up at the chuppah with us. But I still wanted to involve my friends in some way, especially for the fun parts like the bachelorette, getting ready beforehand, and taking pictures.

You might wonder why I’m involving friends (as non-bridesmaid bridesmaids) if they won’t be walking down the aisle? Good question. First, it’s an excuse to spend some extra time with my closest friends, most of whom live far away. I’m especially looking forward to hanging out and getting ready together the morning of the wedding; it’s usually my favorite part when I’m in the bridal party. Second, I have always valued my close friendships, and I tend to go to my friends often to discuss things, process my feelings, and get honest feedback. I don’t think I’ve ever made a major decision without at least talking it through with a friend; that’s just how I naturally operate. I don’t really keep my cards close to the vest. So I can’t imagine getting married without having my friends be an integral part of it. And third, with such a big guest list, I wanted some closeness with my inner circle on the day of the wedding. All of our guests are important, but I wanted to intimate feel, and having some kind of bridal party helps with that.

According to the web, though, my reasons are all wrong. I’m supposed to choose bridesmaids so they can help me with the wedding. You know, so they can come over to help me put together the DIY stuff, help me shop for the best bargains, address envelopes, and set up and clean up the day of. You might guess that this line of thinking comes from the WIC, but I’ve actually seen it more in the indie blog circles, probably because those brides are more likely to go heavy on the DIY. I’ve seen forums where women are struggling with whether or not to ask a long-distance friend to be a bridesmaid, because she won’t really be able to help out. Or wondering if she should add an in town friend to the list, so she can be there for the shopping and the craft parties.

This is ridiculous. Look, I’ve been in quite a few weddings, and some of my best memories are of running around, helping out, making sure that everything was perfect and easy for the bride. But that was never expected. That was something I was happy to do. And I never felt like it was the reason that I was asked to be a bridesmaid. It’s just something you do for your friends.

I feel pretty strongly that this is my wedding, my (our) responsibility, my list of things to get done. I don’t expect anyone else to be as committed to it or as excited about it as we are. I have a hard enough time accepting help from people that offer (that will probably be the subject of another post). I would never expect it. Of course, I will probably need help with a few things on the day of the wedding. I will for sure be looking to my bridesmaids for hair and makeup help, since I am completely inept in those areas. I might need some running-around help, some help gathering gifts at the end, or someone to give us a ride back to the hotel at the end of the night. But I didn’t choose my (non) bridesmaids based on who I thought could help, or who would available to work the hardest. I chose my nearest and dearest, the people I want surrounding me on my wedding day.

**For further reading, check out this post at Offbeat Bride.

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Vows

Now that I’m starting to think concretely about our ceremony, I’ve arrive at the question of vows. Namely, do we do them at all? And if so, what kind of vows would we use?

As I’ve mentioned before, we plan to use the structure of a Jewish ceremony as our base. A traditional Jewish ceremony doesn’t actually include any vows. It does include a declaration that the groom (and bride in an egalitarian ceremony) make when they exchange rings. But there are not promises, no stating of “I do” or “I will.”

Surprisingly, those words have become important to me. I guess it’s indicative of my assimilation into American culture. But I’ve always thought that the point of a more public wedding ceremony, for me at least, was to promise things to each other in front of our community. And saying, “I do” makes it feel like a wedding to me. Also, neither Steve nor I speak Hebrew, so it feels important to me to declare something in English, which we both obviously understand. Thirdly, I really want to include some English wedding tradition in the ceremony to represent Steve’s background. And lastly, without thinking about it, I wrote the invitation wording to say “as they exchange marriage vows,” so clearly, the vows are important to me on a subconscious level.

So, it looks like we will be doing some form of English vows. The second question to consider is that of writing our own vs. using established tradition vows. I have been to weddings of each kind. Vows that the bride and groom have written themselves add an intimacy and personal touch to the ceremony that is incomparable. They are touching and romantic. They give the wedding guest a window into the relationship that everyone is celebrating that day.

Traditional vows, on the other hand express the fact that, by getting married, the couple is joining in an established institution, with all the weight and support of history. Established vows that come from the bride and/or groom’s culture have personal meaning. And I think that in an intercultural wedding, using vows and traditions from each culture help initiate the other person into that culture. They also help bring the two sides of the new family together, where each is represented.

As you can see, there are definite advantages to each. So I think it really comes down to personal preference. The truth is, Steve and I (especially Steve) are fairly private people. Neither of us is particularly comfortable with confessing all of our most intimate feelings in front of a large crowd, even a large crowd made up of our friends and families. Also, the traditional English wedding vows (which, of course we would modify somewhat) sound like something straight out of the movies to this Jewish American girl!

In case it hasn’t become clear by now, it looks like we will be including some semi-traditional English vows into the ceremony, probably to then be followed by the Jewish exchanging of rings. I think it’s the perfect way to represent both of our backgrounds while still staying true to our beliefs. This is shaping up to be a truly intercultural ceremony.

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November 6

Tomorrow is Election Day. Regardless of your political beliefs, I hope all of the American citizens here will vote. Voting is our chance to make our voice heard, to participate in our democracy. I’ve always been disheartened by the low turnout in the US on Election Day. Let’s not take that right for granted.

Disclaimer: I’ll now be talking some partisan politics. Be prepared.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “What do politics have to do with a wedding blog?” Normally, I might agree with you. But when the right of all couples to marry is such a salient issue this year, I can’t plan my wedding and keep quiet about it.

Everyone who reads this blog should already know my stance on marriage equality. I’ve written about it before, and I even chose one of my wedding vendors based on their inclusiveness. Getting married next year has thrown this issue into even clearer focus for me, and I feel compelled to shout to the rooftops about it in this election cycle.

I recognize, through every step of this process, the privilege that Steve and I have as a mixed-gender couple getting married. Although we’ve had a few small struggles due to my choosing intermarriage, they are nothing compared to the couples I’ve heard from who have been rejected from wedding venues due to it being a same-sex wedding. That’s right; they were denied the chance to give a venue their business. Same-sex couples have to worry about telling vendors what kind of wedding it is, about rejection from family, about people choosing not to attend because they don’t agreed with the couples love.

On top of all that, their marriage is not legal. They are not recognized by the federal government, even if they happen to get married in one of the few states that have marriage equality. That means that they will probably have issue with insurance, taxes, hospital visits, divorce, and children, just to name a few. They also are denied legitimacy from the county in which they live.

This is starting to change. People are coming around, choosing to believe in equal rights. The polls show growing support for marriage equality. And I think it’s about time, although I wish it would move a little faster. Having legalized discrimination in this country is absolutely horrifying to those of us who believe all people are equal.

One concrete way to support marriage equality is in your vote. Marriage rights are on the ballot in Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota. If just one of those ballot measures passes, it will be an historic step in the fight for equality. And for those of us who live elsewhere, we can support equal right by supporting candidates (especially for President) who do. Candidates who will not support things like a Constitutional Amendment that restricts rights instead of adding them. Candidates who have (finally) spoken out in favor of marriage equality.

This issue has always been important to me. But now that I’m participating in an institution and being given a privilege denied to so many, I feel even more compelled to fight for the right of all couples to marry. Supporting stronger families helps us all. My marriage rights would mean more if everyone were allowed to have them.

Please note: Not that I get many comments on this blog, but just in case…I welcome discussion, but I will absolutely not tolerate homophobic comments. So, just don’t.

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Non-Diamond Engagement Rings

Even though I am obviously already engaged, I’ve always loved jewelry, and I enjoy admiring other engagement rings (although I am in love with my own). Without getting too much into the politics of it, I’m really glad that non-diamond engagement rings seem to be catching on and becoming more popular. Of course, diamonds are still the default option, but there are so many choices for those of us who want something different. Besides my own, here are some of my favorites:

Turtle Love Committee

This ring is currently out of stock but I had to put it on here anyway, just because I love it so much. This was a top contender for me, for a long time.

OneGarnetGirl via Etsy

Of course, I had to give a shout out to OneGarnetGirl, which I’ve featured on this blog many times. This is the shop where we got my ring. I love all of her stuff; it was really, really hard to pick one. But this sunstone has such a beautiful color, and I think it’s great that it comes from the US.

Cold Picnic via East Side Bride

This is probably the most untraditional ring of the bunch. It’s not immediately recognizable as an engagement ring, which would be a disadvantage to me, but probably a plus to some people. Engagement ring or not, it’s just an awesome piece of jewelry.

StoweGems via Etsy

This ring is not really my style, but I think it’s very pretty, so I decided to include it. I think it would be great for a more renaissance-y bride. I would probably consider it as a band if it didn’t have the stone.

kyleannmetals via Etsy

I love engagement rings that are traditional but have a little twist. And this ring fits that perfectly. I think it looks like an engagement, but with a smooth, beautiful pearl instead of the diamond. Gorgeous.

Bario-Neal

Last but not least, the Knotted Rush ring. I think it’s so cool. Delicate, pretty, and definitely symbolic. Not traditional at all, but awesome, nonetheless.

I decided not to get a diamond engagement ring for a few reasons. I was uncomfortable with the ethics and the artificially inflated prices. I like unique jewelry. I tried on a traditional diamond and it just didn’t feel like me. I saw a picture of my ring online and it was love at first sight. None of this is to say that people who have a diamond are wrong. But for the rest of us, I’m glad that there are so many great options out there!

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