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3 Ways To Stay Organized During The Planning Process + Freebie!

PC pixabay.com

PC pixabay.com

One of the issues I've faced during the planning process of some of my projects is what I call "Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome". This is what happens when you spend all of the months leading up to the Big Day waiting for the last few weeks to do what you didn't realize you could've done ahead of time. It's not purposeful procrastination--just learning the hard way that you could've done something differently to make your life about a thousand times easier. 

Don't do that. Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome (UEHS) is a terrible curse to be avoided when at all possible. To help you out, I've listed some things that I personally do to avoid last minute crazes, and I'm also giving you access to a free downloadable to help you keep track of the To-Do's leading up to the Big Day.

PC thesuburbanmom.com

PC thesuburbanmom.com

1) Devote an entire calendar to your event. 

This allows you to connect your To-Do's to a visual time-line that puts itself in the context of real time. The freebie mentioned in the headline is an Excel Spreadsheet I made for this exact purpose! It includes an edit-friendly calendar starting from September 2016, lasting through December 2017, with a large area available for notes to be made pertaining to due dates, specific tasks, and vendors. (Check the end of the post for more details.)

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PC thehuffingtonpost.com

2) Plan backwards.

What needs to be done the day of the event? What about the day before? Treat this like a pyramid--the day-of tasks are the very top, resting on a foundation of the tasks done the day before. Those things rely on things done the week before, and the month before, etc. This will force you to understand what things must be done in a specific order, and why. From there, you can figure out when you can most efficiently complete certain tasks.

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PC vertex42.com

3) Stay ahead of schedule.

If you're down to 6 months before your event, you should be working on those things as well as the things you'll need to do during the next month. Keep in mind that this requires you to understand the productivity rates and accuracy of you and the people responsible for completing the tasks on your lists. So if you or another person responsible tend to put things off or work slowly, compensate by working ahead. This will enable you to avoid the much dreaded Unexpected Eleventh Hour Syndrome!

Want this freebie? All you need to do is fill out my Contact page and ask me to send it to you! You'll find a downloadable version in your inbox shortly!

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How To Handle Your Mother-In-Law During Wedding Planning

I see you over there--hiding behind the couch with your glass of wine feverishly sipping, hoping that your mother-in-law won't leave the kitchen before you can down the glass...hoping that her opinion of how your wedding should be planned will quiet as you do so...

Just kidding. But seriously.

Handling your mother-in-law (MIL) during the planning process can be a tricky thing, and like most tricky things, you need some tools for the job. As simple as they seem, the five suggestions listed below can be very helpful tools for you to use as you navigate your relationship with your new MIL--as well as other relationships close to you. 

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PC theodyssyonline.com

1) Stand firm.

Just like you know you're not going to take all of the advice and every suggestion you receive from friends and family during your engagement, be willing to stand up for your own opinion when your MIL tries to convince you that orange, blue, and white are much better wedding colors than your purple, green and grey. Keep in mind that by remaining enthusiastic about your own ideas, rather than hesitant to tell her and everyone else that you don't like their ideas, you're much less likely to deal with conflict.

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PC bostonvoyager.com

2) Communicate.

Is your MIL hurting your feelings by pushing too hard? Do you think you've accidentally offended her by shooting down her ideas? These are things that should be communicated in a mature conversation that can start something like this, "MIL, do you think we could sit down and talk about some things involving our relationship? I want to include you in my wedding planning, but I think we might have hurt each others' feelings, and I want to clear things up." Try hard to understand why she wants to be so involved in your wedding planning. Ask yourself: is she really acting this way because she's a control freak who wants to redo her own wedding vicariously through you? Is she trying to ruin your wedding because she's furious you're stealing her child from her? Maybe not. Maybe her desire to be involved stems from an emotional need to feel needed, helpful, loved, important, or included. Maybe she sees wedding planning as a chance to bond with you. Having a conversation about how she feels and how you feel is a good opportunity to be transparent and compassionate with one another in an effort to strengthen your relationship. 

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PC theknot.com

3) Keep her involved.

This doesn't mean she gets to choose your dress and the reception decor...just keep her busy. Give her things to put together--DIY favors, invitations, photo-booth props...anything you've already designed and simply need done can be handed to her to execute, giving her the feeling that she's involved and needed, without giving her too much control. 

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PC keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

4) Compromise.

When wedding planning, it's important to see the bigger picture: your relationship with your MIL is going to exist after the wedding. Preferably not in shambles. With this in mind, it's worth mentioning that some sacrifices may need to be made for the betterment of your family relationships. Sometimes, even after having conversations about how you feel, you and your MIL will not see eye-to-eye; to ensure that minimal resentment exists post-wedding, it might be necessary to let her make some decisions.

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PC advancedcounseling.info

5) Seek counseling.

Of course, bringing a family counselor in is a risky business, depending on family dynamics and skeletons-in-the-closet. It's certainly something to ask permission of involved family members before taking action toward it, and finding a professional neutral third-party is key. It has the potential to go both ways, though. Sometimes family counseling in the midst of wedding-planning is a good idea, and can improve relationships and communication. Sometimes, however, it can be seen as an offensive rout, so be considerate and wary if you pursue this. 

Do you have a recommendation on how to handle MIL's? Leave it in the comments down below!

 

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Three Things to Remember When Wedding Planning Gets Tough

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PC pinterest.com

The wedding industry is one not just of weddings, but of (very loud) opinions. Certainly the abundance of strong opinions is not a quality isolated only to the wedding industry, but it is one that I, and presumably others too, were surprised to find when first poking our heads through the industry's door. It would appear that--pretty often--the romantic, carefree feelings associated with wedding bells are not as present as the tricky guest-list etiquette, pressure to follow new wedding trends, and family's eager vendor suggestions seem to be. Wedding planning easily becomes expensive, overwhelming, and even conflicted very quickly... I get it. But hey--it doesn't have to be that way!

This post is written in with deep empathy, and with the hope that the following three suggestions will empower and encourage those who feel cornered by wedding planning complications.

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PC prezi.com

1) Expect and embrace that there will be conflict.

Be ready for it. Everyone has an opinion, and there will be so many of them that are so diverse that even the most people-pleasing bride will have to choose between some. That's okay--let me repeat myself on this one--conflict is normal, and should not surprise you. Not everyone's tastes or experiences match yours, nor should they; and while you now know that after reading this, keep in mind that not everyone consciously registers that wedding ideals differ. Furthermore, remember that many people consciously have no idea what kind of pressure or expectations their opinions may put on those around them. Do give people the benefit of the doubt here.

Here's how you deal with it: don't let it pressure you. Take it in stride. Definitely don't try to appease others wishes by letting them design your wedding for you; be gracious, but be firm. Be willing to say when necessary, "That's a really lovely idea! Actually, my fiance[e] and I were thinking we'd do [different idea] instead. Here, let me show you a picture!" 

At the same time, keep in mind that these are relationships that will exist post-wedding, so it's not worth it to permanently cut ties over something as temporary as cupcake flavors or reception playlists. Should a relational issue come up that is not solvable with a bit of insistence, consider compromising for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes you'll have opportunities to meet halfway. For instance, let's say your cousin is allergic to chocolate, but your fiance[e]'s favorite cake flavor is chocolate. So serve chocolate cake in most of your cake layers, but have one layer in a flavor you know your cousin prefers. This compromise is a great way to show how much you appreciate your cousin and want him to enjoy the wedding as much as you do. 

Compromise is key, but you can't bend every time your new mother-in-law insists upon having something her way, because this relational pattern is bound to continue post-wedding. And post-wedding, the issues being insisted upon will likely be more important, and you may have an even greater difference of opinions on them. (For instance, parenting.) All things considered, perhaps establishing during wedding planning the kind of steadfastness you will need later on will improve your relationships for the long-haul. Handling delicate issues with this in mind will also put disagreements over things like cupcake flavors in perspective. 

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PC goodhousekeeping.co.uk

2) Forget about following trends.

Do you like the recent wedding trends? If so, go ahead and do them all! But if you don't, then please, please don't have a trendy wedding if it isn't you. This wedding you're planning should be the ultimate expression of who you and your special somebody are. Just because naked cakes like the one pictured above have been trending for the last couple of years doesn't mean you too must have one. Get the cake you want. This cake is for you, not Pinterest. Having a trendy wedding can get expensive fast, especially if your decor becomes competitive with magazine pictures--or the wedding your sister had last summer. Be mindful about why you make your wedding decisions and ask yourself the following questions:

1) "For whom/why am I making this decision?"

2) "Is that what is best, or is there a cheaper/easier/better/different way to do it?"

3) "Does it match my and my fiance's personal tastes?"

4) "Will I look back and wish I had made a different decision?"

Move forward based on those answers, keeping potential conflict in consideration, and knowing that the more bells and whistles you throw in based on what's trending, the more expensive things will become. 

PC brides.com

PC brides.com

3) Remember your guests.

I used to feel strongly that wedding decisions ought to be made based solely on the tastes of the marrying couple--that is until I started to read Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette. Early on in the book it expresses the opinion that the wedding reception is a celebration of the happy couple's marriage as well as their valued relationships with all of the guests. This idea struck me as very balancing, since I see a lot of complaints online about how couples have poorly hosted their guests, who--on some occasions--have traveled, booked hotel rooms, and taken time off of work to make it to the wedding. It seems appropriate to thank them for their investment in the couple. 

Before I go on, I want to clarify what I'm NOT saying: 

1) "Weddings are all about the guests."

2) "The bride and groom have to spend a lot of money on their guests."

We clear? So here's what I AM saying:

A reception is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to thank their guests for their involvement in their lives by hosting a reception designed in part to pamper their guests.

Try not to think of the wedding in terms of money. Or heads in a banquet hall. Try to think of it in terms of an party with your dearest friends and family--even when price tags tempt you to think otherwise. You absolutely don't have to choose the most expensive food options or fancy dance-floor lights in order to communicate your sincerity, either.

When creating your budget, it's important to figure out what you and your fiance[e]'s priorities are. You each can list out your top five priorities, and then each come up with two ways through which you can treat your guests in a way that says "thank you" for their support and involvement in your lives. From there, compare lists and see where your priorities match. Try to consolidate both lists to one smaller one listing 5-6 of your top priorities, and do the same with your guest thank you list. The things on those lists are your big ticket items, and the things you choose to treat your guests with are where you can focus your attention without spending every penny you have. 

For instance, instead of spending money on food, an expensive cake and dessert table, alcohol, a DJ, entertainment, and a massive dance floor setup, choosing to treat your guests mainly to a great dinner and a generous consumption bar will make for happy, comfortable guests. They won't mind a smaller cake and dance-floor as long as their bellies are well taken care of. HINT: drinks make for a cheerful crowd that will happily dance anywhere. 

 

Obviously, there are other tough issues that come up with wedding planning that these three points don't cover. But these three suggestions do have the potential to minimize stress and drama during the planning process. By being ready to handle conflict, being focused on designing the wedding you want--regardless of what the magazines say,--and keeping your guests' happiness in mind, you'll be well on your way to planning a wedding that has something in it for everyone. 

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Battling the Budget Part 3: Wedding Hacks

This week's post is the last one in my three-part budgeting series! This week, I will be covering several budget-friendly wedding hacks that are sure to please your wallet as well as your guests. I'm a big believer in "smarter, not harder", and I feel that these hacks represent that well. Keep in mind these are only 11 of the infinite ideas brilliant minds have invented overtime. Let's get to it!

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PC www.brides.com

1) turn wedding programs into fans for outdoor weddings in warm weather. This will make your programs more interesting, and will give guests some relief on a particularly hot day.

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PC audioworks.in

2) Before calling up rental companies, contact a few locations such as churches, hotels, theaters, etc. asking to rent their chairs and tables while they're not in use. These venues will likely be happy to make a profit by loaning out an otherwise unused product.

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PC chicvintagebrides.com

3) Consider having your bridesmaids rent their dresses, based on the unlikelihood of them ever wearing them again. This can easily save them money, but should be an option discussed with everyone involved before making a decision; it's their money being spent, after all. Some bridesmaids might be sentimental and want to have a dress to keep after the wedding is over. Bridesmaid dresses can be rented from stores like www.vowtobechic.com.

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PC stylecaster.com

4) Instead of using a sticker or handwriting your address on thank you cards, get a personal stamp with your married names and home address engraved in it to save time post-wedding. This can also jazz up the envelopes, and who says you can't use this stamp to address every single letter mailed out from now on?

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PC moncheribridals.com

5) Keep floating flowers buoyant by sticking the stems through small disks of bubble wrap! I personally think this is brilliant. Floating flowers and floating candles can compliment each other very well, and can create an incredibly economic centerpiece--even when used sparingly. 

PC brit.co

PC brit.co

6) If your wedding theme is any variation of rustic, consider using a "well-loved" ladder as a shelving unit for your cocktail station. You're very likely to already be in possession of such a one, or know someone who might be willing to lend it for the occasion. 

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PC megany.loveitsomuch.com

7) Make your table centerpieces double as wedding favors. This works if: your wedding favors directly correlate with your wedding theme, they are particularly nice to look at, and when you allow these favors to be displayed with some variation. Displaying succulents, for example, at different heights--with the help of candle stands or upside-down mason jars (hello vintage)--can make things a bit more exciting. Be sure to place as many favors on each table as there are guests seated, and indicate with a sign or a name tag that they are for guests to take home afterwards. 

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PC agardenpartyllc.com

8) Make bridesmaids bouquets double as table centerpieces. This works best when your number of tables correlates with your number of bridesmaids, although it's also possible to use bouquets for every other table, and have something else (lanterns, medleys of candles, etc.) on the rest. The bride's bouquet can also be used to decorate the cake table, or one of the wedding party tables, along with the maid of honor's bouquet. All of these bouquets are likely to be put down during the reception, (save, perhaps, for the bouquet toss, if a throwaway is not used), so why not put them to good use? They'll be sitting in fresh water ready to be taken home until the reception is over.

PC brit.co

PC brit.co

9) Again with the rustic tones, consider a palette photo booth backdrop. This is also a brilliant way to hide an ugly area in your outdoor venue. Palettes are often left on curbs or behind stores to be recycled. Make sure these palettes are hosed down and sanded before displaying them, since they'll likely be touched by guests, and may be dirty and splinter-prone when you find them. Consider staining the wood as well, to add a more finished look.

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PC alowcountrywedding.com

10) Speaking of hiding ugly or boring areas at your venue--consider  a thick backdrop of balloons! This is an affordable, beautiful option for spiffing up boring corners of a room.

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PC thebrokeassbride.com

11) Spray-paint various dishes in your wedding colors to create cohesion for decorations while things vary in size and design. This makes shopping for those decorative details an optimum level of EASY, since the color and medium of items doesn't matter! You'll paint those babies to perfection. The Broke-ass Bride has a tutorial here

 

That's it for this series! But it's definitely not the end of my thoughts on budgeting. In fact, I blog so much on how to manage wedding and event expenses that's it's worth subscribing if that's the only thing that interests you here.

Remember to post questions or other budget-friendly tips below!

 

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Battling the Budget Part 2: Inexpensive Alternatives

Nothing ruins wedding vibes like price-tags that say "no." In the same way, price-tags that scream "YES!" can really make a difference in the planning process, which is why I love my job. I have kind of an obsession with finding good prices and using creativity to come up with lovely alternatives to things such as standard wedding fare. (Don't believe me? I once developed a month-long meal-plan for myself that priced out everything with recipes, shopping lists, and all organic ingredients for three square meals a day with a budget of $100.) 

In the previous blog-post, I pinpointed the five common large expenses that nearly all weddings struggle to escape. In this blogpost, I'm going to return to those same five things and and share my ideas on how to avoid the price-tag with some creativity and extra thought. Ready to learn how to keep your wallet from emptying?

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PC Venuesafari.com

1. Ways to Save Money on Your Venue(s)

a) Just rent out ONE venue. Think about it: renting one area at a ceremony location costs, say $1,000. Later on, you decide you want to rent a second area at that same location for the reception as well. However, instead of that second area also costing $1,000, it costs $500, because you've already rented another part of the venue. So you're at $1,500. Now, let's suppose you rented a second location instead of an extension of the first location. Is that second location going to cost just $500? Probably not, because many venues have a minimum rental requirement, or they simply charge a higher minimum for rental of any area at their venue. So it's likely that the second venue will also cost around $1,000. So now you're at $2,000, instead of the $1,500, for the SAME purpose! Renting two different venues is also a lot more trouble, because sometimes you have to take into account the transportation of your guests, which might also come out of your pocket. 

b) Get hitched on a weekday. Most weddings are on Saturdays or Sundays because it's most convenient for guests to attend. However, because of their popularity, venues generally hike up the prices of venues on weekends, a lot like how airfares are three to four times the price on holiday weekends. They do it because they can. On weekdays, however, very few venues get weddings booked, so their prices generally go down. If your guests can get off work a few hours early, consider having your wedding on a weekday, such as Monday, to save some bank.

c) Have your wedding at a private venue, such as a friend's property or large house. This can save you thousands of dollars, and often does not compromise the quality of the location. It really does pay to know certain people!

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PC theweddingspecialists.net

2. Ways to Save Money on Catering

a) Plan your wedding around a lighter meal, such as brunch or lunch. Serving coffee, fruit salad, muffins, and deviled eggs for a light brunch is much more cost-effective than almost any dinner will be. Even a lunch of fruit, veggies, and tea sandwiches is cheaper than the dinner plates that most caterers will offer for evening meals. Including a brunch or lunch will change a wedding schedule around entirely though, and will only work if your vision includes a day wedding. 

b) Have a Potluck Wedding. This is more styled toward country weddings, or small church weddings where this kind of meal is common. It can certainly save a lot of money, though. 

c) Have the family provide the meal. This is similar to a potluck wedding, but it puts the provisional responsibility on the bride and groom's family members instead of on the guests. It is best suited for more intimate weddings, and is very convenient for weddings located at a house. 

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PC romanticdecorationnow.blogspot.com

3. Ways to Save Money on Guest Seating and Details

a) Move those chairs! When you have a ceremony as well as a sit-down dinner, you need twice the amount of chairs--unless you MOVE the ceremony chairs during the cocktail hour to the banquet hall! This can cut your chair bill IN HALF, and won't be noticed if your guests are distracted during cocktail hour.

b) If it is appropriate, consider paper napkins and plates, and plastic cutlery. Especially if your meal is potluck style, this won't be surprising or distasteful, and will save money the caterer or venue would otherwise charge for dish usage. It also eliminates the possibility of paying for damaged dishes, which is almost guaranteed to happen at least a couple of times at a wedding.  

c) Consider DIY wedding favors, such as cute baggies of Jordan almonds, prettily-packaged flower seeds with a reference to "growing love", tiny jars of homemade seasoned salt, infused olive oil, jam, or honey, servings of wedding cake, boxed truffles or bonbons, miniature s'mores kits, or homemade bath salts. Pinterest has about a million ideas!

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PC britishschoolalex.org

4. Ways to Save on Your Wedding Gown

a) Make your own wedding gown (if you know how to sew), or hire a friend or relative who knows how to sew. This gives you complete control over how you want it to look, but is a very time-consuming process. My mom did this, and saved plenty of money on the labor and alteration costs that she instead did herself. Fabric will be your largest cost--and it WILL cost something. But only a couple hundred dollars, as opposed to the thousand or so you'd pay otherwise.

b) Alter your wedding gown to fit you and your tastes. Whether it's your mother's gown or one you found at a thrift-shop, altering a gown allows you to keep the parts of it you love and jazz up the areas you're not so excited about. It's a money-saving, much less overwhelming process than creating a whole dress out of nothing but fabric yardage can be. 

c) Find a used wedding gown. Online stores such as www.preownedweddingdresses.com have dresses in all sizes, styles, and price-ranges that have been cherished by brides already, yet are still in tiptop condition. They are marked down considerably, and are a very lovely option that won't compromise your tastes at all. 

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PC portlandweddinglounge.com

5. Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

a) Replace a DJ with an iTunes playlist. You can make this yourself, hook it up to a speaker and have your wedding party members tweak it from time to time during the night. Have someone from the wedding party MC the evening instead of hiring a DJ to do this for you. 

b) Ask a friend who DJ's on the side to DJ as your wedding gift, or offer to pay him a fee. Be tactful about this, as you don't want to insult your friend or his side-business. If his business is too big, this might not be a good option. However, if he is a close friend and is invited to the wedding anyway, he may volunteer to DJ, or offer it as a wedding gift anyway. If you do pay an amature to do it, it is very likely that he won't charge commercial prices. 

 

No matter what your wedding budget is, at least a few of these fifteen suggestions can be applied to your wedding to free up money that can be put toward the most important details so that you get the day you've already imagined.

Have a money-saving tip of your own? Post a comment below!

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