• Posts Tagged ‘wedding’

    Re-appropriating My Wedding Dress

    by  • September 24, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Sexy wedding dress

    Save money by possibly ruining your wedding dress.

    When my husband and I got married last year, I knew I would have to come to terms with spending unreasonable sums of money on things that would be ridiculous and unavoidable one-use items. Flowers, rented chairs, a veil – these were all things that would be employed for exactly one day, cost lots of money, and then be out of commission. And for the most part, I managed to quell my nagging guilt over spending what I’d deem “stupid” money (maybe with the exception of the rental chairs – I will never get over those).

    But when it came to my dress, I had a hard time dealing with the concept of purchasing an item of clothing whose cost-per-wear would be almost a thousand dollars. I’ve mentioned that I try to stretch my clothing dollar as far as it will go – mending nice boots, cleaning coats, etc. While I’ll spend what some people might see as too much money on an item of clothing, I do so with the intention of making that dollar stretch.

    You don’t have that option with a traditional wedding dress. It’s long, it’s white, and it probably has some complicated detailing that makes it appropriate for exactly one event in your lifetime. It is also often unavoidably expensive. So after the wedding, having thrown it back into its nice packaging, I found myself contemplating what I could do with it. I could save it for my daughter, but the thought of lugging it around from move to move until I hypothetically have a female child who will hypothetically be the same size as I am who will hypothetically wear it one day in her hypothetical wedding was far too distant to appeal to me. I could try to sell it, but I could tell my mother was slightly disappointed that I would consider it (she’s much less frugal/practical/grossly un-emotional than I am), and besides, many of the venues where you can sell your dress already had my make and model several times over. I could clean it and save it for posterity, but the fee for cleaning a wedding dress is absurd, and I would still encounter the “lugging a cumbersome item of clothing around for all time” problem.

    And then, while doing some online shopping for a formal I had to attend with my husband, it occurred to me that I could possibly produce a very nice formal dress without spending much time frustrated online or in a mall. It was hanging in my closet, and would just require a few alterations. My dress is fairly simple – no poof, no tulle, just a sheath-like jersey silk. I’ve seen short, colorful versions of it sold by the same designer online, and I like them. I could hem and dye my wedding dress! It was the perfect plan, which would either turn out great or horribly!

    I found a dressmaker at the recommendation of a friend, after many tailors I called said they wouldn’t touch a wedding dress (despite my assurances that I’m not attached to it, and knew it might not work out). She works out of an incredibly beat-up store front, and seemed game to try it if I was. Five minutes after putting it on for the first time in a year, she’d hacked away at the bottom, left me with some fabric for testing dye, and promised to have it ready in two weeks. I picked it up, shipped it off to the dyer I’d found online with the knowledge that this would either be wonderful or terrible, and waited for the results.

    I’m pleased to report that it worked. I now have an almost-new dress hanging in my closet, ready to be worn to weddings and formal events until I start to form holes in the material. The total cost was $40 for the alterations, and $75 for the dying (this was not something I was willing to attempt on my own, although it might have worked). I’ve therefore dropped slightly less money on this project than I would have on a new dress, and it comes with the satisfaction that I’m getting some use out of an otherwise one-use item (and one that I like very much – that’s why it was purchased in the first place). I also plan to respond to any compliments I receive while wearing it with an incredibly smug, “THANKS, IT’S MY WEDDING DRESS, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?”

    Have you managed to re-appropriate any items you thought were for one-use only? Would you ever attempt something like this with your wedding dress?

    image: glaizawood

    How We Spent Money on Our Wedding, Or Not

    by  • May 1, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Wedding Cake

    There Is No Price Too High for Delicious Cake

    Image: Cat

    When I was younger, I never dreamed about my perfect wedding. Rather, I spent my adolescence imagining the day I could become a reclusive editor in New York City, living in my fabulous apartment with my multitude of cats, free from the limiting requirements of “marriage” and “other people.” So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself engaged rather young (for people of my generation/education level/geographic area), and confronted with the reality that no, we could not just go to city hall, because my husband has lots of family that would like to see us get married and eat cake.

    I’m not big on having feelings in public, or spending money, or having people look at me unless I’m doing something very funny or charming, so the whole idea of a wedding was slightly abhorrent to me from the get-go. My own issues aside, my then-fiance and I knew that we wanted to keep a strict budget (graduate school stipend and non-profit salary for the win). Luckily, he is from an area of the country that is infinitely cheaper than our current city, which made the planning process a whole lot simpler. Once we had a public park reserved and the save-the-dates in the mail/email, we got into the nitty-gritty details, and that’s when I found out just how ridiculous the whole process can be. Take, for instance, this scene from a local rental company we visited:

    Abby: Hello! We are getting married, and will need some chairs for the ceremony. What are the cheapest chairs you have?
    Rental Store Employee (RSE): These are our white wooden chairs.
    Abby: Yes, but are these the cheapest chairs you have?
    RSE: These are our white plastic chairs.
    Abby’s Internal Monologue: DID I STUTTER?
    Abby: Yes, but WHAT ARE YOUR CHEAPEST, UGLIEST, CHEAPEST CHAIRS?
    RSE: Well, these are our cheapest chairs. They’re brown.
    Abby: We’ll take them!

    And even those were far, far more money than I wanted to spend on plastic chairs that people would be using for all of ten minutes. To the point that my husband and I had a legitimate argument where I told him that we only needed ten or so chairs for the older folks who would need a place to sit, and he made the (correct) point that if we were asking people to travel to this inconvenient rural location for our wedding, at the very least we could provide them with a place to sit, and could I please stop being so miserably cheap about these things?

    At this point, almost a year out, there are things I wish I’d done differently. We kept to our budget, and had a really nice little wedding, if I do say so myself. But my stingy tendencies did, I think, get in the way of enjoying certain things. For instance, I was very strict about not purchasing anything for other events. And do you know what? I regret not splurging a bit on a nice new dress for my bridal shower, or that fancy clutch for my wedding. These are purchases that wouldn’t have broken me, and would have added some frivolity to an event that I otherwise imbued with a sense of obligation and financial stress. You might notice a pattern emerging in my behavior – I tend to be strict to the point of purposeless unhappiness in certain financial areas. While our wedding was lovely, I could have loosened the reigns on my spending, and it would have been fine.

    Have you had to juggle the budgetary delight that is planning a wedding?

    Sizing Up Engagement Rings

    by  • July 10, 2009 • Tagged:   • Comments

    I heard an interesting discussion the other day. A couple is planning to get engaged, and they have agreed to choose the engagement ring together. They both have lucrative careers ahead of them, but are currently in school. The school tuition is being financed by their parents. They set a budget for the ring, and found two options that fall within that budget. One ring is smaller and better quality, and the other is larger and poorer in quality (although not noticeably so). The woman wants the larger, flashier ring. The man is worried that the larger ring may appear to be too flashy and expensive in the eyes of his parents (who are, again, paying for his tuition) and therefore he is uncomfortable with that ring. He would prefer to select the smaller ring to avoid upsetting his parents.

    Who do you think should have precedence in choosing the size of an engagement ring? The woman, who will wear it (hopefully) forever? Or the man, who will (in this scenario, anyway) pay for it?

    What to Do if You Can’t Afford to Attend A Wedding

    by  • October 24, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    The economy is in a slump, and wedding attendance is seriously hurting. Traditionally, brides planned on 10% to 20% of their guests declining the invitation. Today that the average is more like 40% to 60%. It can be sad for a bride and groom not to have their friends and family in attendance, so what can you do if you’re one of those guests who has to decline because you can’t afford to attend?

    • Send your R.s.v.p. as soon as you know you can’t attend. This allows the couple to possibly invite someone else who didn’t fit into the original list, or to make arrangements with their vendors for a reduced price.
    • Tell the real reason why you can’t attend. Saying, “I really wish I could come, but finances don’t permit me to travel right now” is a lot kinder than lying, “I can’t come, I’m going to a flea market that weekend.” (yes, this was a response we received)
    • Send a card before the wedding. In it you can mention that you are sad to miss the big day, but that you’ll be thinking of them and wishing them well. There’s no need to include a gift, just the kind thought is plenty.
    • Send an email the day before the wedding, wishing them luck and sunshine. This shows that you remembered the day.
    • After the wedding, ask if you can see their photos or video. It shows you care and genuinely wish you could have been there.

    Have you used any of these tips when you couldn’t attend a wedding? Has anyone done these things when they couldn’t attend your wedding? Let us know!

    Holy Wedding Spending

    by  • September 9, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Our wedding is coming up soon. You know what that means?

    VENDOR PAYMENTS. WOO.

    If there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud, it is that we’re actually going to have money left in our bank accounts. No debt for us, no sir!

    It’s open bar, people. Drink up and get our money’s worth.

    It’s Kind of Weird to Put a $20 Bill in Your RSVP Envelope

    by  • August 25, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Dear Uncle Ray,

    I received your R.s.v.p. for our wedding today and I’m sorry you will not be able to attend. I also received the $20 bill you stuck in the envelope. Without a note of explanation, I can only assume that this is a wedding gift and hope you didn’t accidentally put your phone bill payment in the wrong envelope. Financial times are tough and I appreciate your kindness, and you’ll definitely get a thank you note from us.

    Still, it’s kind of weird to put a $20 bill in your R.s.v.p. envelope. I’m just sayin’.

    Love,
    Her

    It’s Kind of Weird to RSVP For An Extra Dinner

    by  • August 22, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Dear Mike & Christine,

    I received your R.s.v.p. for our wedding today and am thrilled that you plan to attend. However, I can’t help but notice that you selected three entrees for the two of you. I don’t think you’re planning to bring an uninvited guest (or at least, you did not indicate so on the guest total), so I can only assume that you are planning to work up quite an appetite. We can’t wait to see you burn those calories on the dance floor!

    It’s just kind of weird that you’re planning on eating two dinners. Just sayin’.

    Love,
    Her

    Shower Gifts, Oh My!

    by  • August 18, 2008 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Recently Him’s mother and my bridesmaids hosted a bridal shower for me. It was really lovely and was attended primarily by family friends of Him’s mother. These women are very close and I’ve gotten to know several of them well over the years. All the same, I was completely floored by the lavish gifts they presented me with. We were very careful to register for lots of items in a variety of prices, expecting to receive the smaller items (kitchen utensils, cutting boards, etc) as shower gifts. But we received only two of the affordable items. The rest were very expensive pieces like crystal, china, and kitchen appliances. I would guess that the average gift we received was well over $100. I’ve been a guest at many showers and usually spend $35-$60 on a shower gift, depending on how well I know the bride. Now I’m wondering if I’ve been a Scrooge all this time! Either way, I’m hopeful that my gifts have shown the brides as much love as the gifts we received.

    How much do you typically spend of a shower gift?

    Stupid Prioritization

    by  • August 1, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    This weekend, Lollapalooza descends upon the city of Chicago for another 3-days of festival goodness.

    And for the first time in 4 years, we’re not going. Something about saving money for a wedding and honeymoon or something like that.

    In fact, we’ve been to no summer music festivals this summer.

    Le sigh. To have everything would be to go into debt. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?

    The Big Dreams Savings Fund

    by  • July 22, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    This weekend we received our first cash wedding gift ($50). As we sat down to write a thank you note, we considered what to do with the cash. If we deposited it into our regular account, it would be gone almost immediately; probably spent on something frivolous and forgettable. So our first thought was to designate a separate account just for wedding gifts. But what to do with this account? Save up for our first home? Plan an anniversary vacation?

    There are many possibilities and we haven’t exactly mapped out our future just yet. We logged in to ING Direct so that we could create a sub-account and not open an entirely new account. Him suggested we name the account the “The Big Dreams” fund. We’ll save all our wedding gifts there, and someday when we have a really important purchase to make, we’ll use the cash for that. This way we’ll have something wonderful to remind us of our wedding and the kindness of our friends and family.

    What did you do with your cash wedding gifts?

    The Dollar Dance

    by  • June 26, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    One of the most controversial wedding traditions is the Dollar Dance (also called the Money Dance). Expected in some cultures and regions, abhorred in others, the Dollar Dance is a dance where guests line up and give a dollar to the bride or groom in exchange for a dance. Though each couple only dances for a few moments, the dance can go on for a while until everyone has had a turn. One nice aspect of this is that the bride and groom have the opportunity to personally thank each guest for coming and chat for a moment with them. However, it can also be seen as a tacky way to extort more money from guests who have already spent quite a bit on transportation, lodging, and a wedding gift. We made the decision to have the Dollar Dance because it is expected in Him’s culture. Unfortunately, my family will probably be offended. In turn, Him is offended that my family will be offended. Sheesh! To qualm everyone’s emotions, we are going to put a note at each table explaining what the Dollar Dance is and that it is a cultural tradition for Him’s family.

    Have you ever had to negotiate a tricky financial landscape between families?

    Now That’s A Bad Idea

    by  • May 21, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Yes, we’re spending a lot of money on our wedding and honeymoon.

    But we’re not borrowing any money to pay for your wedding and honeymoon. We’ll even have a sizable amount of cash left over after everything is said and done.

    For the love of <insert deity>, please do not borrow money for your wedding or honeymoon. That’s right Prosper, I’m looking at you.

    Brides Beware: Renting Can Cost As Much As Buying

    by  • March 5, 2008 • Tagged:   • Comments

    When planning a wedding, caterers will often encourage the couple to rent many of the necessary items such as plates, glassware, linens, etc (when the venue does not already provide them). They typically rent those items from a third-party rental company, pad the fee with a markup, and may even receive a kick-back from the rental agency. Still, many couples choose to go this route, believing that it is always cheaper to rent than to buy. This is simply not true! For a couple willing to do some legwork, it is often possible to purchase these items wholesale, secondhand, or on clearance, then resell them and recoup some of the cost. The cost (even ignoring any proceeds from selling them afterward) can sometimes be less than renting. Here are some examples from our own wedding:

    Charger plates: Purchased secondhand for $1.50 each. Quoted $8.00 to rent similar item. Will sell them afterwards for $1.50 each. Total cost: FREE.

    Satin table linens: Purchased secondhand for $400 (less than the previous bride paid for the fabric she used to make them). Quoted $600 to rent similar item. Will sell them afterwards for $400. Total cost: FREE.

    Tall vases for centerpieces: Will purchase on sale for $8.00 each. Quoted $24 to rent similar item. Will sell them for $5.00 each afterwards. Total savings vs. renting: $45.

    If you are planning to purchase items rather than rent them, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure you have room to store them until the big day. The savings might not be worth the hassle if you have to store boxes in your shower for 8 months! Second, make sure you have a way to transport them. These items can be bulky or heavy and might also be fragile. Finally, if you are planning to resell them, it’s not a good idea to advertise them for sale until after the big day. Things can be broken or lost, or even taken home by guests. It would be unfair to promise your leftovers to another bride and then end up with less than you expected.

    Unexpected Wedding Bonus

    by  • January 11, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    The place where we’re having our reception has a list of 15 caterers or so authorized to serve food there. Since we’ve had an extended engagement, we’ve had the chance to speak with all of them. They range in price from pretty ridiculous to absolutely ridiculous.

    Of course since they are catering our wedding, we have to evaluate their food. Therefore, that means going to tastings! Since they want to impress us, they usually put on a good demo, offering to us the equivalent of a full 5 course meal. To get our business, they make the food much more palatable than what will be served at the actual reception; quite a boon to us. Do this 15 times, and we’ve saved a few bucks on groceries.

    Sure this is probably all a wash in the end, but it is nice to get some “free” food.

    Ten Financial Considerations For Newlyweds

    by  • January 8, 2008 • Tagged: , , , ,  • Comments

    Somehow sometime during this long engagement of ours I was signed up to receive the “Groom’s News” in my email inbox a few times a week. Along with cheerfully telling my how many days until the upcoming wedding and trying to sell me often unneeded high end trinkets and vacations, it points to articles that may be useful to newlyweds. In today’s issue was this gem: Ten Financial Considerations For Newlyweds. Let’s discuss, shall we?

    1. From the beginning, save 15 – 20% of your income. By combining households, you should reduce your expenses a lot which should allow you to save. You should save to build your cash reserves, in your 401k plans and in a mutual fund.

    This is a great tip to start off with. We’re currently saving about 10% of our gross income, and after the wedding we’re likely to increase that. It will be a balancing act with paying off student loans, though.

    2. Rather than simply keeping two checkbooks like before you were married, pool your money into one checkbook and one savings account or money market.

    We’ve spoken about how the joint checking account is working for us. We also have an allowance system to give us a little more freedom in making “guilt-free” purchases.

    3. Change all of the beneficiaries on life insurance plans, retirement and other plans at work, and IRAs to your new spouse.

    A nice reminder. We don’t have life insurance, but we do have retirement accounts and bank accounts we’ll have to check.

    4. Decide how debts accumulated by each individual prior to the marriage (i.e. student loans) will be handled.

    Since we’ve been living together and have had our finances combined for a while now, we’ve been living the “everything is ours” way of things – even debt – for a while now.

    5. Work together on budgeting and tracking expenditures.

    We’ve made efforts to budget in the past – this year we’ve implemented a new system that closely resembles the 60% solution. We’ll detail that in a later post.

    6. Discuss your approaches to handling money — is one person a spender and one a saver? Create some ground rules on handling any differences.

    Haha, it’s more like “He’s a spender, she’s a spender.” I mean, uh, we love to save money.

    7. If both incomes are needed to pay expenses, be sure to have adequate life insurance.

    We’re definitely going to have to look at adequate life insurance after we get hitched.

    8. Be sure to let each other know where important documents are kept.

    More importantly, we need to get a safety deposit box to keep all that stuff. That’s been on our to-do list for the past 2 years.

    9. Consolidate your credit cards to avoid having double the number of credit cards needed.

    Not sure if I agree with this one. We believe that we both should have individual credit. We’ve even opened some duplicate credit cards in order to take advantage of rewards.

    10. Make a list of upcoming purchases together and prioritize them. You should decide jointly how to spend your money now.

    Of course, communication is key. Her probably wouldn’t like it if I just came home with a 52″ plasma screen TV, and I don’t quite know how I’d react if she brought home a couple pairs of Manolo Blahniks.

    This list actually wasn’t that bad. It will serve as a good reminder of things to-do after we’re married.

    How The Rising Cost of Gold Affected Us

    by  • December 17, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    goldring.jpg
    photo: CaroWallis1

    Last year around this time, Her and I went to the place where I purchased her engagement ring to shop for my wedding band. We ended up both liking a simple yet classic, plain, polished wedding band. The price for getting it in platinum was ~$800; the price for the same ring in white gold was ~$250. There was little discernible difference between the two metals except for the price, so we thought that we’d go with white gold. Since we knew that the wedding was more than a year away, we decided that we wouldn’t purchase anything that day and would give ourselves time to mull over the choice for a while.

    That while turned out to be another year. This past weekend, Her and I went back to the same jewelry store, spoke with the salesperson, and looked at the same simple yet classic, plain, polished wedding band. Except that this time, the price for the wedding band in white gold increased to $450. We finally decided to purchase it.

    I’ve read headlines about the rising price of gold and whether to invest in it, but never really paid attention. I was pretty blindsided that the rising prices of gold would affect us in this part of our life. The salesperson was all too familiar with this and the daily fluctuations of the price of gold; she said that we wouldn’t have to pay the difference if the price of gold rose even more during the period it took for them to order the ring.

    At the end of the day though, it was a great feeling to be one step closer to being married.

    Wedding Budget Tips From Caterers

    by  • September 21, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    weddingtable.jpg
    photo: churl

    In the last year we have met with many caterers during our wedding planning. Each of them had some cost-saving tips to offer us. I thought it would be fun to compile them and pass them on.

    1. Dress up only the head table
    If you want a fancy look but can’t afford to do every table, do only the head table. You can use inexpensive complementary linens, plates and centerpieces at the guest tables, and splurge on a fancy tablecloth and fancy plates for the head table. That’s the table that will be photographed the most, and dressing it up a bit more will make it look special without adding huge expense.

    2. Pass the champagne
    Renting a champagne flute and buying champagne for every guest is expensive, especially when some people won’t even drink theirs. Instead of placing a flute at each place setting, have a waiter hand them out at the entrance. Not every guest will take one, saving on rentals and liquor.

    3. Cake and coffee buffet
    Even if your meal is plated, you can still save money by doing a dessert buffet with the cake and coffee. Again, not every guest will want dessert and coffee, so you can serve a smaller cake. You can use plastic plates and forks instead of china, saving on rental costs. You also won’t need to rent a sugar/creamer/carafe for every single table.

    4. Use Fancy Linens Sparingly
    Expensive table linen rentals can cost as much as $40 per table cloth. To get the same look for less, use a basic table cloth and a fancy table runner – these cost about $5 each to rent.

    5. Serve Prosecco Instead of Champagne
    Prosecco is a sparkling white wine that runs about half the cost of champagne, but looks just as pretty in the glass.

    Financially Savvy Wedding Gifts

    by  • July 30, 2007 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Do you know a bride and groom who are financially savvy (or who could use some help in this area)? If so, then the Chicago Tribune has some great wedding gift suggestions. Instead of a stock pot, how about blue chip stocks for the happy couple? Or how about giving financial advice along with your marriage advice? A financial book instead of a cookbook? The article even recommends a favorite book of ours, Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach. I think Him and I would be surprised and pleased to receive any of these gifts at our upcoming wedding. What do you think? Would you ever give this kind of wedding gift?

    Downtown Hotel Room Blocks for Wedding Guests Cost a Fortune

    by  • June 29, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    This week I set out to try to arrange a hotel room block for our out-of-town wedding guests. I called many of the nicer hotels in downtown Chicago to ask for information and was shocked by the answers I got. Here we are, sending lots of potential customers to a particular hotel, and the hotels want to thank us…by charging us a fortune in “food and beverage minimums.” Almost all the hotels I spoke with wanted us to sign a contract agreeing to spend a minimum between $500 and $2,000 on a “catered event” at the hotel, just for the privilege of reserving the room block! The managers cheerfully explained that this won’t be a problem of we host our rehearsal dinner or farewell brunch at the hotel. But we already have a special place chosen for each of these events, and it’s not at a hotel. I don’t think I should have to pay a hotel for sending it customers. We decided we’ll just send our guests a list of recommended hotels and their prices and let guests book their own accommodations. They’ll probably be able to find these rooms at cheaper prices online anyway.

    Weddings: I Do = I Debt?

    by  • June 26, 2007 • Tagged:   • Comments

    I took an online survey this week for engaged brides. Question 54 asks how you intend to pay for your wedding. Most of the options involved taking on debt in one way or another. The first option on the list, “Refinance your house” is also probably the worst option on the list. Mortgage debt is secured by your home, so if you are unable to pay it back, you could lose your home. I can’t imagine a scenario where it would make sense to risk the roof over your head to pay for a wedding.

    We decided a long time ago not to incur any debt for our wedding. We had a yard sale to raise some money this summer and we are also saving as much as we can so that can pay cash for everything. We also decided to have a very long engagement (almost 3 years) so that we could have time to save up enough cash and wait for the best deals with vendors.