Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Ugh, MOLD!

One of my biggest annoyances right now is where I live.  My husband is working on a Ph.D currently so we're renting a 1,000 sq foot townhouse. Overall, it's really not a bad place for us to live; it has plenty of space for the two of us plus our fur babies, and it's in pretty good community. However, it is only a rental and it has all the problems of a rental, #1 right now being that our cheap, single-pane windows let in too much moisture and then accumulate mold around the window frame. We thought we had the problem taken care of once the heat and humidity of the summer was done, but after noticing that our allergies were getting worse, we checked and sure enough there was mold around every single window in our house! Luckily some Clorox spray cleaned it right up, but until we can afford to move someplace better, or buy our own house I guess I'll be fighting a weekly battle to keep our house mold-free.

Country House
Anyways, my current frustration with the cheap construction of this rental made me really consider what I want in my dream home.  Even though
buying the house of our dreams is many years away, my husband and I have come up with a few ideas for what we definitely want when we can afford it.

  1. We kind of want a dome home because of its energy saving capacity. If not a dome home, we also like craftsman style houses and farmhouses.  Whatever type of house we end up with doesn't have to be big, but we definitely want it to be well built with durable, energy efficient materials.  We are doing fine with our 1000 square feet now, but once we have kids that might be a little bit cramped so we are thinking something around 1700-2000 square feet. Big enough to have breathing room, but not excessive.  
  2. I want a neutral color scheme for the walls so I can easily change out the decorations and mix up accent colors. I especially love smoky light gray colors and warm, airy beiges. My current top choices are Smoke Embers, Aganthus Green, and Winter White, all by Benjamin Moore.  
  3. I NEED to live in a more rural area so I can have some chickens and ducks. Ideally, we would have a ton of "lawn" space, but not a lot of grass because I plan on devoting much of my yard space to edible perennials and native fruit and nut trees.  
Well, that's all the dreaming I have time for now.  Hopefully this post inspires you to dream about your dream home. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fake it, baby!

Nope, I'm not talking about your wedding night (get your minds out of the gutters), but a few handy products that can definitely help you simplify and save on your wedding or special occasion beauty routine.

Broadway Nails Real Life
Did you ever play around with fake nails when you were in junior high or high school? My friends and I did on several occasions but we always bought the cheapest, most outrageous nails we could find.  However, if you do some searching, you can find very realistic, professional looking nails that are much cheaper than the cost of a salon manicure.  I really wish I had considered using false nails for my wedding instead of shelling out $30 for a manicure that wasn't all that impressive anyways. Over the summer I had boudoir pictures done as an anniversary present for my husband and decided to take a chance and wear false nails.  I was nervous that they wouldn't stay on, or that they would look obviously fake, but they look amazing in the pictures! A quick search on amazon turns up hundreds of results for fake nails that are a far cry from the fake and juvenile looking ones I was accustomed to seeing.  Particularly good brands that I have found are Fing'rs, Kiss, and Broadway, but there are others as well.  You can easily get a gorgeous manicure for $6-$10 by using false nails, instead of the $30+ that a salon manicure costs.
Kiss Custom Fit

Obviously, you want to purchase your false nails well ahead of time to do a trial wear so you can see how they look in person and how well they stay on.  The Fingr's false nails that I used came with glue stickers, but I constantly felt like they were coming loose and had to obsessively check to make sure they were still on. The nails themselves looked awesome, but I would recommend using liquid nail glue as opposed to stickers. Also, you can buy some pretty crazy nail designs, but I would definitely stick with a classic french manicure or solid, subtle color to avoid looking like a wannabe teenager prom-queen.

Now, to ensure that your false nails look as good as possible you want to follow a few basic steps:
Fing'rs Duo-tone

  1. Choose a false nail style that is a subtle color and a short to medium length.
  2.  Before applying glue, check to ensure that each false nail fits the width of your natural nail bed. Nails that are slightly larger than your nail bed may be painful to wear, but they will look okay. False nails that are smaller than your natural nails will look obviously fake. 
  3. Gently push back your cuticles with a clean orange (cuticle) stick.
  4. Swipe each of your natural nails with nail polish remover and let dry before applying nail glue. This will remove excess oils and ensure a good tight bond between your nail and the false nail.  
  5. Gently file any unnatural looking bits of plastic off the false nails.  
  6. Be sure to bring extra nail glue in your bridal emergency bag, just in case! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seasonal Wedding Tips

Pre-decorated church
Christmas Tree Kiss
The holidays are approaching and now is a GREAT time of year to get married.  Not only do most religious venues and public spaces have holiday decorations up, but a there is a chance that many of your family members will have extra days off work so you could potentially save money by having your wedding on a less popular day of the week, such as a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  The prominence of greenery and decorations in churches and public areas means that you won't have to spend money on ceremony decoration, and could quite possibly save on reception decor as well! Seriously, how amazingly romantic are pictures of newlyweds kissing in front of a softly lit pine tree!?

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that gets snow in December it is almost guaranteed that your pictures will have a magical winter background! Your accessories and bridal party colors will absolutely pop against the glistening, white background of snow. It might be a little bit cold during the pictures but I think the end results are totally worth it!
Snowy Wedding Backdrop

A few more ideas to consider when planning for a holiday wedding is that it does get dark earlier in November and December, so it may be a good idea to have an early afternoon wedding in order to have the best light for any outdoor photography.  With an earlier wedding you could also potentially save money by having a lighter reception with an array of hors d'oevres and drinks instead of  full sit down meal.  Of course you would want to provide enough food so that your guests aren't starving by the end, but serving several types of appetizers also keeps the mood of the reception light and festive.

Hopefully this inspired some of you seasonal brides-to-be and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you may celebrate!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

WW#6- Casual Beachy Style

Last week I took a reader poll to decide what theme to use next and it was a tie between a beach theme and a hot pink theme. I've been in a beachy mood since it still feels like summer in my part of the country, so I decided to use the beach theme with a casual twist.  I don't think a formal beach wedding is appropriate because my mental image of a beach is fun and casual, plus you have to worry about all the sand so a big formal wedding on the beach just seems silly.

Casual Chiffon Dress
I thought a light and flowing, shorter length dress with no train would be the best option for a beach bride so she doesn't have to worry about her dress dragging in the sand and can stay relatively cool if the weather is hot. I really like the look of this knee length dress* to fit the casual style I was going for, but a breezy chiffon dress with an asymmetrical/high-low hemline would be equally lovely.   I would keep the bride's accessories minimal and fun; maybe some chunky costume jewelry and a large flower clip for her hair.  For her hairstyle I would continue the casual look with either a messy low updo, or just keep her hair down and wavy.  Of course the bride's shoes would be white flip flops because trying to walk on the beach in high heels sounds dangerous, not to mention unfitting for the casual look of this wedding.  I want to keep the bouquet simple, so a medium sized cluster of purple and white flowers completes the bride's look.

Strappy Chiffon Bridesmaid
The color scheme for this wedding is inspired by the natural colors of the beach.  To add a bit of a unique touch, I chose the main color to be a light purple lilac or lavender color instead of the usual baby blue or coral.  The accent colors would be sandy neutrals and creams.  This breezy chiffon bridesmaid dress from David's Bridal is absolutely perfect and looks like it would be comfortable too! I would style the bridesmaids similarly to the bride with a casually messy hairstyle, simple jewelry, and non-heeled sandals, as well as small bouquets.

I want to keep the wedding decor clean and natural looking.  A gigantic, elaborate cake and centerpieces would not fit the style at all.  This clean white cake from Lisa's Cakes in Lebanon, OH is absolutely beautiful (and probably delicious, too! Lisa made my wedding cake and it was A-MAZ-ING).  Another good cake option would be a long and low rectangular tiered cake with a simple white buttercream frosting design.  To decorate the reception tables, I would just use small clusters of candles and then spread rose petals around that.  Recorded classical music would add just a touch of elegance while still maintaining a casual tone.

*This wedding dress is from another online store and is provided only as inspiration for the style I wanted to showcase. As always, I do not recommend buying a gown online, especially when it is made and shipped from overseas and you have no way to see it in person or try it on before purchase. Any links provided in the text of this post are also provided solely for your information and are not part of any affiliate program.

Monday, September 30, 2013

WW#5 Modest Autumn

Hello everyone! I am very excited about this weekly wedding theme! Why? Well, first of all, it celebrates autumn, which is truly my favorite season (and getting near my wedding anniversary!), and secondly, it was very much an invigorating challenge.  I chose a modest theme because I wanted to do something that was quite different for me and I was inspired by the number of conservative people I know who are recently engaged.  Now, modesty means different things to different people so I'm not claiming that this post is a definitive, catch-all style guide for modesty.  My ideas of modesty are rather general; covered from the shoulders to below the knees. To some people this may be more modest and to others it is definitely less modest. I know some people think modest dress means absolutely nothing form-fitting, and some people also believe that contrasting buttons or seams are immodest.  Hopefully this post fits a happy medium and will give you plenty of ideas that can be modified to your own tastes and views of modesty.

This is going to make the post a little bit longer than usual, but I want to start out with some tips on what NOT to look for in modest wedding apparel.  It is in no way my intention to offend anyone with this section; I just want to show that there are plenty of stylish, beautiful modest wedding dresses out there and that you don't have to settle for a plain, boring, short-sleeved satin A-line dress.  Some people may think that a very plain wedding dress is fine because it allows the bride's natural beauty to shine, but that clearly isn't always the case.  This type of dress is hardly flattering on anyone because of where the bodice and skirt meet.  Instead of framing the bride's face, the high, unadorned neckline actually detracts from her beauty, and the plain sleeves make it look no better than wearing a plain white Hanes tshirt with  matching white skirt.  Understandably, some religions find this style of dress to be the only appropriate wedding apparel for a bride, so I am not criticizing brides whose case that may be. However, if you have a choice and are not convicted by your religious beliefs to wear this type of old-order Mennonite looking dress, then you have a world of gorgeous and flattering modest options available! One last word here, if this is the type of dress you want, don't be afraid to dress it up a little bit. Add a decorative belt, sash, or pin! Also, lace looks beautiful on almost any style of dress so consider using it instead of satin, or as an overlay.

First of all, depending on how modest you want your dress to be, you can choose from several sleeve and neckline variations. One way to combine visual interest and modesty is to choose a dress with an embellished neckline. I personally like the illusion neckline trend, and it can be very modest if the illusion material has spaced lace or appliques. You can also look for dresses that have lace or scalloped edges; a scoop neck dress with lace edging is super stylish currently! Cap sleeves, flutter sleeves, and longer length sleeves are all good options to personalize your modest look according to your personal style.
Modest Neckline Options
Now, onto the fun stuff- a beautiful modest autumn wedding!
For this wedding, I chose to go with a lacy 1/2-3/4 sleeve dress.  As I stated before, there are plenty of modest sleeve options but I thought that a longer sleeved dress would be seasonally appropriate as the weather in September and October can be chilly (as I learned the hard way when I about froze doing pictures outside at my late October wedding).  As a side note, I completely sympathize with brides who are trying to find a modest dress that fits their comfort level.  It took me a very long time to find the right dress(es) for this post based on what look I wanted. I knew I wanted a dress with sleeves, but I also wanted to avoid the overdone Kate Middleton dress style. Additionally, it is apparently now popular to pair 3/4 sleeves with knee-length dresses now, and fit and flare dresses are also popular; neither look is something I would be comfortable wearing and neither of which I wanted to use in this wedding.  I eventually found two dresses to use; one is a fit and flare but I really like how it looks, and the other has a looser fit.  I chose to include a second dress option because some brides may feel that the form-fitting look of a fit and flare style is not modest. 
Modest Satin and Lace
Justin Alexander Signature

*A note about the second dress: This dress is sold on Etsy and I personally would be hesitant to buy this dress because you have absolutely no guarantee that it will be of acceptable quality. I am including it because I like how it looks, but this should not be taken as an endorsement of the dress itself or the seller of the dress. 

To keep the bride's overall look simple and elegant, and in order to not overshadow such a gorgeous dress, I chose to pair the dress with simple peep-toe low heels and a long veil with no other hair adornments. Delicate jewelry and  natural, radiant, dewy makeup completes the look.  The bride's bouquet would be shades of cream, orange, red, and yellow, to reflect the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.  These colors would also really pop against the background of the bridesmaids' green dresses.  

Finding a stylish and attractive bridesmaid dress was even more difficult than finding the bride's dress.  Part of this is my fault because I had a set style and color in mind (yes, this goes against my #1 wedding planning rule of flexibility, oops!)  I wanted the main colors to be green and gold to reflect the bounty of the harvest season, with accents of fall's reds and oranges.  I was looking for a mossy or olive green bridesmaid dress but could not find any to my satisfaction.  Finally, I found this simple yet sophisticated dark green dress listed as a mother-of-the-bride dress.  It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but dressed up with a soft gold sash it would be perfect! Add nude or gold low pumps and the bridesmaids perfectly complement the bride. 

Wedding S'mores Bar

Finally, I imagine that the setting of the wedding itself would be someplace woodsy and charming.  If not performed in a church, perhaps the ceremony would take place outdoors in a woodland clearing in front of a small cabin.  The reception could be either in a lodge or covered pavilion, or just outdoors in the same clearing with tables set up underneath a large awning.  Live music is a must have to set the mood for both ceremony and reception.  Instead of a full dinner being served, there would be a wide array of hors d'oeuvres to encourage guests to mingle.  Along with the traditional wedding cake, dessert would be a s'mores bar offering many varieties of chocolate and specialty marshmallows. I know some people choose to have a firepit to roast marshmallows during an outdoor reception, but I prefer small sterno flames to avoid guests having to deal with their clothes smelling like wood smoke.  

Hopefully you all enjoyed this little foray into modest wedding planning as much as I did.  For more inspiration, please visit my Pinterest board Modest Autumn Wedding! Also, I'm running out of ideas for new themes so please leave a comment with what you want me to cover next. Happy wedding planning <3

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WW#4- Red and Black Romance

elegant wedding

Once again I find myself apologizing for a huge delay between posts. I'm having health issues again and to top that off my computer is not working quite properly :(

Anyways, my inspiration for this weekly wedding is the classic red and black theme that many brides seem to favor.  Honestly, it is not one of my favorite themes, but I think I can find a way to make it work. To really make this theme stand out and not look tired or overdone, the colors need to be crisp and clean.  No ivories or off-whites here please.  I think a crisp, bright white dress accented by vivid red or crimson is the way to go here.

I really like this dress from JC Penney with its bright satiny white fabric.  I'm not sure if this dress is in-stock anymore, but online it is still listed as costing less than $100! At that price, I would be slightly concerned about the fabric quality, but most of the reviews are generally positive and I myself have bought other formal and semi-formal dresses at JC Penney without problems.  To keep the look more formal the bridesmaids dresses have a bit of a ruffled collar and would be paired with black shoes.  Of course, the bride gets to have a little bit of fun so red shoes perfect! These ones listed cost $50 from DSW.  The bouquets should be elegant but simple; red roses from Globalrose or 50flowers, maybe accented with lilly of the valley or baby's breath and some green ferns.

Black and White Romance AccessoriesIn keeping with an elegant look, the bride would wear a mid-length or longer veil, dramatic makeup and statement jewelry.  I also think the bride should wear her hair down or in a low updo to balance out the rest of her ensemble and prevent it from looking too stiff and ultra-formal.

The decorations of the ceremony and reception could be any myriad of styles, depending on what style the couple wants.  Personally, I would use a lot of candles and soft lighting, with sleek and tall centerpieces. Good music for this style would be classic strings, either live or recorded.  Perhaps some Tchaikovsky or Mozart.

That's all for this post and I apologize if it's not quite up to my usual quality. For more black and red inspiration, check out my Pinterest, and please leave me any comments or questions you may have, as well as suggestions for future themes!  

Disclaimer: As always, I only provide links for your benefit and they are not monetarily beneficial to me.  I am not affiliated in any way with any of the companies mentioned and provide these posts solely for your information and entertainment.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Few Things

Re-reading my old posts, I realized that I forgot some key information.  I gave you tips on how to find a good photographer on a budget, but I never mentioned what to do with the pictures!  Most independent photographers can offer prints through their preferred lab, which is usually a 3rd party and not actually done by the photographer.  I recommend getting at least a few pictures professionally developed through a photo lab because the quality is MUCH better than from "discount" photo printing sites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish.  I just used Shutterfly to get my prints because I didn't want to spend any extra money and was a bit disappointed with the quality.

However, I definitely recommend using a cheaper service to do any small 4x6 prints you might want because at that size the quality difference will be negligible and having the best quality prints isn't quite as important for pictures that are just going in an album.  Another great thing about Shutterfly is that they partner with a lot of bridal companies, such as David's Bridal and theknot.com, to offer you special deals after your wedding.  I managed to get two free Shutterfly photobooks because I was registered on The Knot website and filled out some evaluations of my wedding vendors, and because I bought my dress from David's Bridal.  These books made great presents for my parents and my in-laws and didn't cost me a thing!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Wedding #3- Burlap and Pink

Hello again! For the third installation of my weekly wedding series, I decided to go with a country princess theme.  Now, this theme is inspired by my best friend in the world, so I tried to keep in mind my friend's preferences and modest budget.  I love the soft, feminine style of the bride's dress and the hint of pink really makes it stand out. The style of this wedding is right on the border of casual and chic, so complementary bridesmaid dresses really work well here.  I think a convertible wrap dress is perfect for this early summer wedding.  There are a ton of different convertible dresses out there and they pretty much all can be worn in one of at least 5 different ways.  I really like the style pictured here, but instructions for wearing the dress in a different style can be found at http://www.dessy.com/wrap-dress/instructions.aspx.

Besides the short convertible dress I chose to use here, there are several other lengths to choose from.  All of these styles would look great for a country chic wedding, and the sea pink color perfectly complements the whisper of pink in the bride's dress! An added bonus is that these dresses are made of soft jersey material, which looks incredibly comfortable and doesn't wrinkly as easily as other fabrics! The only drawback that I can foresee with these dresses is that many of the styles have an open back, necessitating the use of an uncomfortable backless bra, or buying the company's matching bandeau ($30) to wear under the dress.  Cowboy boots set off the country theme, with the bridesmaids wearing brown high heeled boots and the bride wearing pink and brown boots. Light colored eyeshadow really makes the bride's blue eyes pop. To enhance the princess part of the theme, the bride would wear a simple crystal flower tiara from Icing paired with an elbow length veil.
The bridal bouquet would be made up of soft pink peonies, cream roses, baby's breath and ferns as greenery.  The bridal party would carry smaller versions of the same bouquet, minus the roses. Each bouquet would be wrapped in a soft tan burlap, with the bride's bouquet pinned by an antique brooch. In keeping with the country theme, the music would be a recorded selection of country love songs and classical wedding music played on acoustic guitar.  To add variety and keep costs down, instead of one large wedding cake there would be a dessert bar consisting of various fruit pies and buttercream cupcakes.  

For more burlap and pink inspiration, check out my weekly wedding #3 board on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/elwoodme/weekly-wedding-3/


Sponsored Links:

Globalrose - Perfect for every occassion

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekly Wedding #2- Blue Christmas/Winter Wonderland

My apologies for the long delay since my last weekly wedding post.  I've been under the weather and miserable in the nearly 100 degree weather.  Anyways, I'm ready to jump back into fantasy wedding planning with a cool blue and silver winter wedding.  I want this wedding to be elegant and timeless, but also simple and understated.  No huge princess ballgowns here, just classic beauty that takes inspiration from ice and snow in the outdoor landscape.  

DB Galina Signature $700
I love the one shoulder design of this dress! It's more unique than the run of the mill strapless wedding dresses (nothing against strapless, I wore one for my wedding, I just wanted a more unique look here).  The fabric of this dress looks elegant and the hint of sparkle is perfect for the winter wonderland inspiration.  I would pair this dress with some simple but elegant crystal jewelry, a polished low updo, and blue shoes to match the blue of her bouquet and bridesmaids dresses.   
Once again, I think a mixture of bridesmaids dresses in different styles but the same color and fabric looks more natural and stylish than having each woman in the same dress.  It allows each bridesmaid to find a dress that fits her the best and I think will end up looking less "dated" in photographs.  

Satin Cowl Neck $140
Each bridesmaid would wear simple crystal jewelry and silver shoes.  To add a bit of continuity throughout the wedding party, all the bridesmaids could wear matching jewelry and shoes.  These dresses are all from the same line at David's Bridal in satin and the color is marine.  

Bridal Party Shoes $46
Strapless Satin DB $100

Satin V-Neck $80
   For music, a local university string quartet would provide a beautiful ambiance for  a reasonable price, and would play an array of classical pieces for the prelude, ceremony, cocktail hour.  The bridal party bouquets would be a small to medium sized bundle of blue and white flowers, while the bride herself would have a slightly larger and more complex bouquet interspersed with glittering brooches.  

* I realize that the spacing on this post is weird, and I apologize for that.  I may try doing picture collages instead of the individual item pictures in the future, and then just list the links separately.  For the sake of saving space, check out the rest of my ideas for this wedding at http://pinterest.com/elwoodme/weekly-wedding-2/ .  As always, any links provided are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate program.  Hope you enjoyed this post and the ideas as much as I did, and please comment and let me know what wedding theme you want to see on future weekly wedding posts! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Wedding #1- Boho Eclectic

For the first weekly wedding theme I've chosen an eclectic bohemian feel.  This bride is grounded in simplicity and loves to relax and have fun.  She probably plays guitar or drums in a local indie band.

Recycled Slip Dress- Etsy $430
For this bride's dress, I've chosen something that is elegant and beautiful without being fussy.  After perusing many vintage and bohemian style options, I decided the best dress for this bride would be a custom made dress from Etsy.  This dress is made by Etsy seller ktjean from recycled vintage slips in ivory and soft white.  This bride also wishes to maintain a little bit of modesty so she would pair it with a matching bolero jacket as styled in the photograph.

To match the relaxed vibe of the bride's dress, her bridesmaids would wear summery floral sundresses in complementary (but not matching!) prints and colors. By only dictating the style and pattern/color scheme, each bridesmaid is able to choose a dress that she truly likes and will be able to wear multiple times.  The soft blues and purples of these four dresses complement each other without looking too matchy or clashing
Nine West Serious- $40 (sale)
Bridesmaids dresses from left to right:
Beauty in Bloom- Modcloth $53
Lace in the Sun- Modcloth $53
Bohemian Maxi- ecrater $20
Meadow Maze- Modcloth $60

Rocket Dog SHELL $35

To accesorize, the bride would maintain her theme of simplicity and wear these cream and tan thong sandals while her bridesmaids would wear similar black leather thong sandals with blue beading.  Each women would wear their hair down or in a loosely braided style with natural looking make-up.  The bride would forego the traditional veil in favor of a more earthy looking headband.

Satin Flowers Headband- Icing $12.50
As for flowers the bridal party would carry bouquets of succulents and greens wrapped with ivory ribbon and tied with vintage charms or small lockets with photographs of the bride and individual bridesmaid.  
The music would be recorded selections of the bride and groom's favorite modern love songs played by the Vitamin String Quartet.  
Image by Rae Leytham via Elizabeth Anne Designs
*FYI: All links in the above post are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate or sponsorship program*

Friday, June 28, 2013

Budget Wedding Finale- Music!

Last but not least, I want to cover some different options for saving money on the music at your ceremony.  There are really two routes to go depending on your budget and how formal you plan for the ceremony to be.  The first route, which I would recommend for a ceremony music budget of a few hundred dollars, would be to contact the music department of any nearby colleges or universities and see if any students would be interested in playing at your wedding for a small fee.  By hiring music students, you can be assured that they will be competent and professional, because I think nearly every (if not ALL) college music programs require auditions and several performances each semester.

Many music programs even have requisite small groups that perform together all semester and you could possibly hire the entire group if it was in your budget.   As long as your wedding doesn't fall on the same day as any university performances, it should be fairly easy to find a music student to hire. I mean, really, what college student isn't looking to make extra money?  You could hire a student of virtually whatever instrument or vocal range you desired  It would most likely be cheaper to hire soloists, though, because I would assume that most students want to be paid individually instead of splitting a lump sum; because of this I think it would be best to hire a pianist or cellist or violinist instead of say, a trumpet player. After asking a few of my friends who were music performance majors in college, I came to the general conclusion that most would be happy being paid anywhere from $50-$150 per person to play at your ceremony.  I paid over $500 for a professional pianist, so you can see that hiring a student is significantly less expensive.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks to hiring a student musician. First of all, college students aren't always 100% the most dependable people so make sure that you thoroughly and completely explain all of your expectations about their responsibilities. Remember, besides the ceremony, most musicians need to be at the rehearsal as well. Have a legal contract drawn up if you have any doubts whatsoever about your musician.  Secondly, a student musician may have a more limited repertoire than a seasoned professional.  They should be able to handle any wedding standards and several classical pieces as long as you let them know many months in advance what pieces you want played, but don't expect them to be able to transpose and arrange a Ke$ha song.   Also remember that these young musicians are working very hard to succeed in their field, so please treat them with courtesy and respect. Don't be too much of a cheapskate when deciding on a price with them, because it does take a lot of time and effort to prepare for a performance, even if it is only a handful of pieces for a wedding ceremony.  And PLEASE don't forget to tip them if they go above and beyond everything you expected!

The second option, which is definitely the cheapest and what I would recommend for a less formal wedding, is to play recorded music from a cd or mp3 player. You can find a good wedding cd online for less than
The Knot Collection of Wedding Music
$20, and it will sound perfect every time (as long as you have a good working sound system).  Another advantage to this option is that you usually have greater variety and individuality than with hiring a musician.  You can literally find a string or piano version of every popular wedding song.  If you want Taylor Swift performed by a string quartet, you can find that! You can also mix up the instrumentation of your ceremony if you want to.  Personally, I think the flow is better if the instrumentation is the same all the way through, but if you want to go from piano to string quartet to guitar, you can do that.  Also, thanks to the wonderful internet age and mp3 downloads, you can pick exactly what songs you want and in what order you want them played instead of being stuck to the track listing on a cd.
VSQ Modern Wedding Vol. II

Classical Wedding Music on Amazon.com
Now, the drawbacks to using recorded music are pretty straightforward. You have to make sure your venue has a compatible sound system, and that you will be allowed to use it.  Most churches and indoor event spaces have sound systems that you can play a cd through or hook up to an mp3 player, so this shouldn't be a problem if you're having an indoor wedding.  However, if your wedding is outdoors you may have to rent a sound system, and that could end up costing more than it would to hire live musicians.  Of course, if your wedding ceremony is in the same space as your reception and you hired a DJ for the reception, they may be
able to handle the ceremony for an additional small fee. That brings me to another possible problem with using recorded music: you need to have someone you trust to play the right piece at the right time and who is technologically competent enough to work the sound system.  Also, it wouldn't hurt to have an emergency back-up sound system or other plan in case the one you are using fails (as technology and electronics frequently do).

One last thing: the reception music. I know some people try to save money by just hooking up an ipod to the venue's speakers, but that is really quite tacky and should only be done if you have an absolute shoestring budget and literally can't find the money anywhere to hire a DJ or band.  Of course, if you are going for a casual party feel for your reception, this may be acceptable, but I do recommend at least attempting to find a low cost DJ to hire.  And... if your wedding is in or close to a city/town with a college or university (notice a theme here?) you may be lucky enough to find a talented student DJ who will work for much less than a professional DJ company.  I know I went to a mid-size university (~16000 undergrad) and there were several well known student DJs who often played the local dance clubs.

This post brings me to the end of my planned series of tips, but soon I will be starting a weekly wedding series where I plan a new and unique mock wedding each week and post my ideas and rough estimate of prices!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Budget Wedding Photography

 I have to say that photography is pretty essential to wedding planning because you are going to want to have amazing pictures to capture your big day and remember it for years to come.

Since photography is so important, I'll start with some tips to to help you find an amazing photographer at a great price.  This is one area that you really don't want to skimp on and just have a family member or friend do (unless they are a professional photographer).  I'm not saying you can't get good photos done by a hobbyist or amateur, but for your wedding you really don't want to take any chances with the quality of your photography.  If you are lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area or somewhere with a local university, my first recommendation is to try and find a "young professional" photographer.  This is going to be someone that is either still a student, or very new in the field, but still has had proper training and education in photography.  You can usually get a good price from these young professionals because they don't have years of experience and are often are still trying to build their portfolios. Try using social media or online advertising to search for photographers, or post a notice in the art building of your local university.

"Experienced" professional photographers often charge $1000+ for wedding packages, but if you go with a young professional you will probably pay around half that depending on how many hours they will be photographing.  Similarly, you can use social media or other platforms to find an experienced "hobbyist" to act as photographer.  Ideally, this person will have been photographing weddings and events as a hobby for many years, but usually doesn't have the classroom training of a professional.  If you choose either a young professional or an experienced hobbyist, make sure you check out their portfolio and previous work to ensure that you will be getting a good end product.  Also, talk to them at length to get a good idea of their style and what ideas they have/will they work with your ideas.  You might find a good, low cost photographer who has a lot of technical skill but can only shoot dated and cliched poses.

For some examples of what to look for in a good young professional, check out the following links:
Elysian Fields Photography- NW OHIO
Polyrhythm Photography- Dayton/Cinci Area

Additionally, you may want to look into hiring a videographer to cover the ceremony and/or the early parts of the reception, ie: first dance, cake cutting, father daughter dance, bouquet toss, etc...
I only suggest this because I do regret not hiring a videographer because honestly, I don't remember a lot of my wedding day.  I was nervous and the whole day went by so fast that it is a blur in my mind.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, but check out the links for some awesome wedding photography and ideas. I promise I'll post more in my next posts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Devil in the Details- Budget Wedding Stationary

I think I'll wrap up this series of budget wedding idea posts with some tips to save money on all the little things.  The small details of a wedding can quickly add up, especially if you are inviting a large number of guests or want to add  personal touches to a lot of things.  As with everything before, I can't stress flexibility enough.  If you have your heart set on some exact, particular detail, you will probably end up paying more than if you keep a general idea of what you want and find the best deals on whatever goes with your idea.  Also, if you have a lot of time to plan and work on things yourself, you will definitely save a TON of money.

Since invitations are pretty vital to every wedding, I'll start with some ideas to save money on stationary.  Many people choose to send save-the-dates ahead of actual invitations, but this really isn't necessary.  You can cut down on costs by skipping this step and relying on word of mouth to let your friends and family keep their calendars open for your wedding day.  I haven't really found save the date cards for any cheaper than $0.80 per card, plus tax and the additional cost of envelopes and stamps.  I really do think that you will be fine with just sending invitations, but if you absolutely have to send save-the-dates, keep them small and simple to save on mailing costs, or DIY.
Michaels Elegant Swirls Invitations

As for the invitations themselves, DIY is going to be your best bet if you are looking for classy and elegant stationary at a budget price.  I used a BRIDES® invitation kit from Michaels, printed and assembled them myself, and they turned out absolutely gorgeous! If you pay extra, you could also order your invitations from www.Michaels.com, but I preferred the DIY method because it allowed me more control over exactly how my invitations looked.
When you buy the kit in a store, the packaging will have a website from which you can download the proper format for the invitations to use in your word processing program.  This is a good starting place to ensure that the wording on your invitations is formatted and spaced properly on the paper.

Glue pad for rubber stamps
If the tone of your wedding is more casual, you could also just buy some nice cardstock and ribbon to design and print your own invitations.  If you are good at arts and crafts and have ample time, you could dress up your plain cardstock invitations with a pretty stamped design; all you would need are stamps and a quality ink.  Most arts and crafts stores also carry clear glue "ink" that can be covered with glitter after being stamped on paper.  Another good way to dress up simpler invitations is to add a raised monogram using a custom embosser.  Most of these handy little stamping tools cost around $50-$75 and can be used on ALL of your wedding stationary (invitations, envelopes, response cards, thank you's, etc) as well as on paper favor bags and even napkins!
Weddingpaperdivas.com Spring Monogram

Wedding programs are also rather important, but the same money-saving ideas from your invitations can also be applied to your programs.  Most stores like Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, etc..., carry DIY program kits. These are usually plain and simple but can be embellished with ribbons and charms, glitter, scalloped edges, and fancy fonts.  Again, you can start from scratch and DIY using all of your own supplies, but please please please at the very least use a good ivory or white cardstock and NOT plain computer paper (that just looks tacky and cheap).
Hopefully these ideas help you; please comment with any questions you have or if you have another good idea to save money on wedding stationary! Next up, music and photography ideas, then possibly some sample/mock budget weddings! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Budget Weddings: The DRESS!!

When I got engaged, the first thing I started thinking about was my wedding dress. I think I went dress shopping a week after he popped the question, ha!.  Clearly, finding a beautiful dress is super important when planning your big day. Dress shopping can be an amazingly fun time, or it can be a stressful nightmare (or a little bit of both :p ).  Luckily, I knew what general style and material I wanted so I wasn't completely overwhelmed when I got to the dress store.  I was still nervous however, especially because television shows like TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" and "I Found the Gown"  love to show overly dramatic and demanding brides-to-be and their opinionated families.  I was working on a limited, just-graduated-college budget so I was also worried about finding THE DRESS within my price range.

My David's Bridal dress! ©Polyrhythm Photography

Taffeta Ball Gown from David's Bridal
My budget was a big factor in determining where I shopped for my dress.  I was afraid of visiting a big city bridal boutique because I didn't think I would find anything that would fit my budget. It's great if you have the budget to buy a $1500+ dress, but frankly I think that if is really ridiculous and wasteful to spend more than that on a dress you'll only wear once or twice (the wedding and possibly formal portaits).  That being said, I'm still a little bit embarrassed to admit that I bought my dress at David's Bridal.  I had went in with the preconceived notion that David's Bridal dresses were tacky, cheaply made, and looked "budget".  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with what I found! Yes, there were the ubiquitous cheap $99 satin dresses that I had imagined, but there were also some incredibly gorgeous gowns (including Vera Wang and other designers!)  The sales people were also helpful and offered tons of suggestions based on what I told them I had in mind.  Really, the only problem I had from start to finish was that they didn't take my measurements before ordering the dress and only went on how the sample fit, so I had to order a bigger size once my dress came in and I realized it was too tight in the bust.  So, ladies, if you buy your gown from DB, insist that they take your measurements!  I should also mention that my gorgeous lace gown (above) only cost about $850 total with the alterations I had done (taking in the waist and adding a bustle.)
David's Bridal One Shoulder Tulle

A few of my friends are planning their weddings, and I definitely recommended that they at least look at DB before they make any decisions.  It really is a good, quality budget bridal store.

Of course, there are a lot of other options for finding a great wedding dress.  I had no idea, but some department stores have a bridal selection! Depending on the store, you might be able to find your dress for a lower price than at a bridal boutique or DB (some also have more expensive dresses, though.)  For example, did you know that JC Penney (JCP) offers wedding dresses!?  Their selection isn't very large, but you still might be able to find the perfect dress for you or your bridesmaids there and manage to stay within your budget.  

JCP Strapless Beaded Wedding Gown
Another really budget friendly option is to buy your dress from a consignment store or thrift store.  It may take a lot more time and effort, but this is almost always going to be your least expensive option.  Bonus: You are also being eco-friendly by reusing a dress instead of buying new! 

Flaunt by Mori Lee - Prom
I have also heard a few people mention buying a white prom dress to wear as a wedding dress because they usually cost less than a "real" wedding gown, but I really don't know if I like this idea for the simple fact that most prom dresses look juvenile because that's how they are SUPPOSED to look. They are designed for high school girls and usually don't look elegant or classy enough to wear as a wedding dress.  
One last word of advice, whatever you do, please don't order your dress from the internet! I'll admit that you can get designer style dresses for incredibly cheap, but you are taking a HUGE gamble by ordering from a (usually) foreign company online.  You have no idea if the dress will arrive as described or what its condition, quality, or fit will be.  My cousin ordered her dress online at the last minute and when she received it, it was GRAY/SILVER and not white!! Talk about panic... just do yourselves a favor and save a little bit of stress by buying from a reputable store and trying on the dress in person.  Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.