Big Wedding, Small Budget


Last Sunday night I stopped for a minute and thought, “Wow. A month from now the wedding will be over.” It took my breath away for a second. All this work, all this planning, all this time, and in a month, we will be back to real life.

My first reaction was, “What will I do with myself?” This wedding has taken up pretty much all of my time, especially for the past few (and the next couple of) weeks. Then I remembered my old life, where I put my clothes away, spent time at the dog park, and played Skyrim for hours. Oh yeah—I like real life! Whew.

Even with that realization, though, I felt sad. It really hit me how fleeting the wedding day is. No matter how much preparation you do, the whole thing still just lasts one day. One day to celebrate with loved one gathered from far and wide. One day to focus completely on your relationship. One day to throw an amazing party and dance up a storm. And then it’s all over.

I’ve heard many, many people tell me that your wedding day goes by in a blur. I think the prevailing wisdom is that you won’t really remember the day in detail. And truthfully, I’m ok with that. What I’m not ok with is forgetting how the day feels. I’m absolutely determined to remember that. I’m planning to force myself to stop for a moment, several times throughout the wedding to take a breath, look around, center myself, and remember exactly how I’m feeling, the good and bad. Because the truth is that this one fleeting day has taken a lot of work, and I want to make sure that the day, or at least the memory of it, lasts as long as I can make it.

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Planning Update—One Month Left!

Oh my god, you guys. Yesterday was one month exactly until the wedding. I really can’t believe it! It’s hard to believe that exactly one month from today, it will all be over. I can really feel now how the wedding is just one fleeting day that flies by. Whew.

We’ve now reached the point in the do-it-yourself wedding with all the doing. All of those little details on my to-do list are now due, or overdue, as the case may be. Always the listmaker, I now not only have the checklist on The Knot, I also have another, more detailed list on Word. And, to top it all off, I’ve started keeping a daily checklist on my phone of wedding stuff that needs to get done. This is crazy, guys.

Anyway, this is my last monthly planning update. So, it will be the longest and most complicated. Here’s what I’ve gotten done (more or less) since the last one:

  • Order guest book: This is done! Just waiting for it to come in the mail.
  • Schedule vendor meetings: I’ve now met with the videographer and venue. I have a meeting scheduled for this week with the DJ. All that is left is to meet with the caterer and fill out the info sheet for the photographer.
  • Have my first dress fitting: The second fitting is this week!
  • Buy bridal party gifts: They are sitting in wedding storage, AKA our spare room, as we speak. I love them!
  • Shopping day: This was extremely satisfying, even though it didn’t happen all at once like I had planned.
  • Finish planning open house: I haven’t finished planning so much as turned it over completely to my parents. It felt great to let go of it.
  • Make table numbers: I’ve created them all; they just need to be printed. I’ve got to find a place where I can print 5×7 cards.

There is probably too much still left to do to list here, but I’ll try my best to condense it down. Here’s most of what has to get done before the wedding:

  • Buy stuff: Tablecloths, plates, cups, drinks, centerpiece supplies, table number holders, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of right now.
  • Finalize details with vendors: Go over the small details with the caterer and day of coordinator and create a ceremony guide for the photographer and videographer.
  • Make a floor plan and assign seating: Also, the escort cards need to be filled out.
  • Print the programs and table numbers.
  • Get the welcome bags ready: I have to buy the supplies and bags and create and print the inserts.
  • Order the flowers: And buy bouquet-making supplies.
  • Get the marriage license: While we’re at the county clerk’s office, make sure that everything is set for Ilana to officiate.
  • Make a day-of schedule.
  • Wedding Beauty: Finalize makeup, get my hair cut, make a waxing appointment, and figure out details for nails that weekend.
  • Every other small detail that is too tedious to list here.

I’m confident I can do this. Of course, I still need to pay bills, go grocery shopping, make dinner, and not suck at my job in the meantime. Plus, I have to take some continuing ed classes for my social work license renewal before the wedding. Procrastination will always come back to bite you later, kids. Take it from me.

No doubt, I will be busy this month. But that is actually probably a good thing because it will make the time fly by. Before we know it, the day will be here, and I’ll be someone’s wife. Now, to go take some deep breaths before I hyperventilate…

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Pretty, Pretty Princess

Lately, I’ve been spending some time figuring out beauty stuff for the wedding. I’ve been trying to suss out how to handle my hair, since I’ve started wearing it naturally instead of straightening it. So I’ve been experimenting with lots of new products. I’ve been scouting out salons for manicures, brows, etc, and making appointments. And I’ve been trying to nail down the makeup situation.

I am someone who wears makeup every day, but it’s very minimal and takes me all of five minutes. The only time I’ve ever worn foundation was when I had my makeup done for another wedding. But what I hear from everyone is that I really should wear foundation on the wedding day, because, you know, the pictures—they last forever and don’t I want to look good in them? So I spent the day yesterday makeup shopping at expensive department store counters with some (more experienced) friends. I walked away, thankfully, with a ton of samples, and the decision made that I would, indeed wear foundation to the wedding. And that entails blush/bronzer and powder—a whole host of things that I wasn’t planning on using. But, you know, I do want to look nice at the wedding, and I do want to look good in the pictures. So there you go.

The pressure to look absolutely perfect at your wedding is incredible. A bride is supposed to be the thinnest she’s ever been, with a perfectly made up face and coiffed hair, sprayed to within an inch of its life. It doesn’t matter what you usually look like; rules for a bride are completely different. For example, I’ve been told that it doesn’t matter if I hate wearing my hair up; this is my wedding and wearing it down just would not be good enough. Now granted, this advice came from strangers and/or acquaintances (why are they giving me wedding advice anyway?), but I think it reflects the general expectation for brides.

I’ve had a hard time balancing bridal expectations with my own comfort level and values. I do think that a wedding is a special day, with a special dress (at least for me). So, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up my face and hair as well. And buying and shopping for makeup has been super fun; I’ve always liked makeup, so I’ve enjoyed indulging myself with nicer products than what I would usually buy. I will wear more makeup and more hair spray at the wedding then I normally would. But at the end of the day (both literally and figuratively), I want to look like myself. Just a dressier version of myself.

I would never want to look at the pictures later on and feel like I was unrecognizable. How I look should reflect the fact that I am entering into this marriage as my whole self, flaws and all. It should also reflect that this is a special occasion, not just an ordinary day. That’s what I want to think about as I plan my look; I want to leave behind the expectations of the bride as pretty, pretty princess.


Marriage Rules

One thing that’s been interesting during this engagement period is how much more aware I’ve become about the cultural conversation around marriage. I’m sure you’ve all heard the comments and stories, too. Once you’re married, it seems, wives become impossible-to-please nags, husbands become dumb, clueless jerks, and no one has sex anymore. According to, well, the world in general, the minute the ring is on my finger no one can be happy anymore. A baby immediately follows and we slip into the proscribed gender roles immediately. Then that’s it. It’s just us forever, with him bemoaning the lack of opportunity to be with everyone else and with me bemoaning the lack of attention from my husband.

Ew. Just, ew. If this is what we really thought marriage is, we certainly wouldn’t be signing up. The thing is we (and everyone else) can make our marriage whatever we want. We could have a marriage exactly like the one I described above. We could stop hanging out with all of our friends and only hang out with each other. We could only travel together. We could stop using the singular and only say, “we” or “us.”

That kind of marriage might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for us. I assume we’ll have a marriage where we remain fairly independent, as we’re both happier that way. We definitely will continue to travel alone; we both enjoy the treat of having the house all to ourselves sometimes. We’ll remain on totally different work and sleep schedules; it’s a necessity for our jobs and we also both like the measure of independence it gives us.

Our marriage can look any way we want it to. Internally, we can structure it with whatever rules and norms we choose. And I think the cultural conversation can be very damaging, especially to those of us who want to have a less traditional kind of marriage. It only makes room for one thing. And setting those kinds of expectations stops couples from working to create the best marriage for them. It’s not easy to question and evaluate the worth of established cultural norms. But it’s almost always worth it.

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Mini Bachelorette Weekend

I can’t lie; it’s been rough in wedding world lately. Although I’ve mostly enjoyed things, the process has just not been fun lately. In fact, I didn’t write a post at all last Thursday because I really couldn’t think of anything positive to say. As with any wedding, there is so much to do, and some things have been happening which definitely left me struggling a little bit emotionally. So, what better to do than have a mini-bachelorette celebration with two of my closest friends? This was a bright spot, for sure!

With so many of my close friends living out of state, it just became way too hard to plan a wedding related party that would take place over a weekend prior to the wedding. So the plan quickly changed to getting together the Friday night before the wedding. I am still super excited about this, and the chance to get all my friends together makes me almost happier than I can handle. But anyway, for now, my friends Mandy and Ali planned an amazing weekend for us.

Mandy and Ali kept the whole thing a total surprise for me, and truthfully, I did not even guess what we were going to do. This was a big stretch for me, not knowing anything, especially since I’m usually the organizer. So I practiced letting go; and maybe I grew a little as a person in the process? Actually, letting go of this was way easier than I ever expected, mostly because I completely trusted my friends to plan something awesome.

Ok, I’m sure at this point, you’re dying to know what we did, right? Or, if you’re on Facebook, you probably already know, but still…

We went drinking around the world at Epcot!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, half of Epcot Center consists of the World Showcase, where there are 11 different country pavilions. Drinking around the world traditionally means that you go in a circle, stopping at each country to have a drink there. Just to give you an idea, we drank glacier shots, schnapps, margaritas, sake, and much, much more. We had such a good time! We got silly with crazy ears, purple hair, tattoos, and a flashing bride-to-be pin. We stayed in an awesome hotel and went out for a great dinner afterwards. As a self-proclaimed Disney expert (having worked there and lived here for a long time), it was so cool to see the park from a different perspective and find all of these nooks and crannies that we never knew existed!

Seriously, guys, I have the best friends ever. It is a strange, but wonderful feeling, to have other people doing things just for me. This whole process has left me feeling really loved, and having a reminder of that, especially this weekend, was exactly what I needed. I leave you with a picture of the three of us, decked out in our bachelorette gear (please forgive the camera phone, nighttime quality).

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Is it March 24th yet?

Things are a bit stressful in wedding world today. It’s starting to feel like do-or-die time on several projects I’ve been putting off. I forgot to do a fairly major wedding related task this weekend while I was busy having a life. I’ve been watching the RSVPs come in, which has been a roller coaster of extreme proportions (feeling excited people are coming/sad others aren’t coming/sad that the numbers will be smaller than we expected/relieved that the numbers will be smaller than we expected/stressed because c’mon people, RSVP already! all at the same time is exhausting). I have a couple of things I have not been able to take care of because there is no way to actually predict the final numbers. I’m waiting to hear back from a few vendors to set up final meetings. And the to-do list keeps growing.

So now, I think I’m starting to understand that feeling people get at the end, where they just want it to be done already. I hadn’t gotten to that point yet in all the planning; I had been enjoying myself. But now, most of the decisions are done (at least, the decisions that have any substance), and it’s just a question of doing things. And that’s where the wedding has started to feel like another job, of course just when my real job has gotten super busy.

So, I get it. As the wedding gets closer, and I get more excited, I also have been feeling more and more ready to just get to the actual day. To just get married already. To stop having to get things done, stop worrying about what the weather is going to be like, stop wondering who is coming. I just want to order the guest book and the table linens and meet with the caterer and be done. Be ready to celebrate.

But all is not lost, of course. Each check on the to-do list feels great; each time I finish something I get a little more excited. I have a mini-bachelorette this weekend which I am super excited about. And I know that time will fly by until the wedding.

This feels a lot like the end of the semester in college. I remember how we all used to freak out about finals and papers and packing; we would say to each other, “I just don’t know how I’m going to get it all done!” And someone would always respond, “But you will. You will get it all done because you have to. So don’t worry about how.” Wise advice from my Brandeis days that I will be carrying forward for the next seven weeks.

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