Tag Archives: wedding

Weekly Eating – 10/22/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Wow, weddings always go by in a flash don’t they?! The weekend in Chicago was a ton of fun, food, and fast paced sightseeing. The boy had never been, so of course we had to hit Millennium Park to see the Bean, the Chicago River, the Magnificent Mile, and Navy Pier.

Chicago downtown Millennium Park

The town was lovely, as was the church and the wedding itself. The reception was at a cool glassblowing studio, where they had some live demonstrations going on! The food was divine, as expected, and we danced the night away. No joke, I had 24K+ steps Saturday! Of course, I’m sure I negated that with the obligatory deep dish pizza.

Chicago deep dish pizza

In the airport, we ate at a cafe that had a brilliant device: you press the button to order, or get a check. I think that is just the smartest thing. No more getting interrupted every two seconds when you don’t want anything, and waiting around trying to flag someone down when you do.

restaurant button

Also of note, I’ve got baby beets, radishes, collards, and wheat popping up all over! Fingers crossed I actually get something edible before Jan/Feb freezes it all.

seedlings sprouting

Monday:

Breakfast – Berry oatmeal with chia and walnuts

berry oatmeal

Lunch – Leftover bayou chicken pasta I’d pulled from the freezer

Dinner – pasta, because when you’re exhausted from traveling and the fridge is empty, you don’t want to go to a store. And a box of pasta plus a jar of sauce is as easy as comfort food gets.

desperation pasta

Tuesday:

Breakfast – berry & kefir smoothie

berry smoothie

Lunch – leftover defrosted veggie burgers with hummus, sauerkraut and avocado

veggie burgers

Dinner – the Butternut Squash Risotto that lit up Twitter. Yes, it really is as delicious as it looks, and you should go make some. Now.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage

Wednesday:

Breakfast – ham egg and cheese breakfast bagel sandwich; I found these bagel thins in the freezer too. Can you sense a theme? Oncoming winter always prompts a drive for freezer clean out for some reason.

bagel sandwich

Lunch – Leftover Thai sweet potato and carrot soup over rice, with a small chunk of leftover brisket

leftover mishmash

Dinner – Thawed pork chops with cranberry sauce, sweet potato and carrot casserole, and green beans. Basically Thanksgiving prep for taste buds. Eaten by a fire, as all fall meals should be.

Thanksgiving dinner practice by the fire

Second dinner – So uh, we went out to meet up with a friend for a beer. And we chatted and had a great time catching up. Then as we were about to leave we got on the topic of sushi (which, you should know by now, I freaking LOVE). And of course I perked up like, we can has sushi now?!? And the boy. said. yes. !!! I don’t care that I had dinner and it’s 8:40pm and they close soon. We goin! And, we went. And it was glorious. #sorrynotsorry

second dinner sushi

Thursday:

Breakfast – PBJ toast, which, I ended up not eating until the way home from work later bc I was still kinda full… weird…

Lunch – leftover risotto! and homemade soda.

butternut squash risotto

Dinner – Burritos! Always satisfying.

burritos

Friday:

Breakfast – sad bowl of cocoa puffs…

Lunch – I forgot to pack a lunch, so I dipped into my emergency food drawer at work for canned soup.

emergency work lunch drawer

Dinner – “Make Room In The Fridge Dal”, that gives the Angry Leftovers Man heart palpitations. It was super good though.

leftovers dal

The Weekend

Saturday is the big Halloween party! I haven’t thrown a good holiday party in a long time, and I finally know enough people in NC to pack the house, so I’m pretty excited about it. Been decorating, cleaning, planning, and cooking all week.

Halloween decoration

There will be a bonfire outside, lights all around the porch, games set up inside and outside, and creepy music on YouTube. I’m making a couple dips and a veggie tray, and people are bringing all kinds of goodies too. But the real highlight will be the Trick or Treat shots!

trick or treat shots

Food Total: $64.43 + 28.05 = $92.48

Weekly Produce Box and a trip to ALDI for last minute party foods. We were also down to our last container of coffee, which is a good reason for all out panic. I picked up some cute fall scented candles as well, because we will have a housewarming to go to soon!

Crescent roll dough was on sale, which if I get motivated and have enough time Saturday morning, I’ll turn into cute dough ‘fingers’ with marinara ‘blood’ dipping sauce. I also picked up tortillas in anticipation of a taco night next (next) weekend.

Dairy $9.24 Staples $22.89 Fruit/Veg $11.23 Extras $21.07
cream cheese 2.37 Coffee 4.79 vine ripe tomatoes 1.89 cake mix – for work party 1.7
berry kefir 3 6.87 Cooking spray 2 2.98 romaine 1.99 Graham crackers 1.25
crescent roll dough 1.78 celery 0.89 Marshmallows (s’mores) 0.89
Dipper chips 0.89 3pk bell peppers 1.99 Fancy choc bars 2 3.98
tortillas x2 3.28 butternut squash 1.57 Jello (shots…) 0.7
100% fruit juice x2 5.18 seedless cucumber 0.99 Mason jar candles 2 9.98
Red blend wine 3.99 pineapple 0.99 taco mix seasoning 0.29
bananas 0.92
Tax 2.28

 

And then my Harvest Box contained: Avocado XL green (1), Apple Cider (1), Green Beans, Fall Glo Tangerines (4), Garden Cucumber (1), Red New Potatoes, White Sweet Corn (3), Sweet Onion (1), Fuji Apples (4).

the Produce Box Harvest Box

So we are very well stocked up, and if I can contain myself and stay away from stores, I shouldn’t have to grocery shop at all next week!

Lessons Learned

Guyyyyyys. Avoiding plastic is SO hard. Especially when throwing a party, with many people you barely know. On the one hand, most of the things I already had (forks, plates, water bottles) and will do my best not to purchase more of in the future. I want to overall move more towards smaller dinner party style, with real plates and cups and silverware.

But plastic food packaging too. My beloved ALDI, the purveyor of low prices, why must you use so much plastic? I feel like we could get an additional savings if you just sold me peppers naked, as nature grows them.

Another lesson? A stocked freezer is so amazing. Especially when you get back from a trip and do not have the energy to go to the store for food. But also, you should look in there routinely and make sure to actually eat the stuff. I think it’s time for a big purge, a la my January pantry and freezer challenge.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – Wedding & Hurricane Edition

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Whoa buddy, what a crazy few weeks! Just as we were recovering from the hurricane of Brofest, where 6 grown men lived in my 3 bedroom house for a week and I fed them all, actual hurricane Florence blew into town, on the eve of my brother’s wedding!

On Sunday, we finally had a quiet, empty house. We did I don’t remember how many loads of laundry, and not much else. The plan was to spend Monday and Tuesday figuring out a cleaning service to deep clean, before flying to Ohio on Friday for the wedding. Well, turned out we spent Monday and Tuesday totally rearranging our plans, and driving to Ohio!

We got the travel alerts on Tuesday morning saying flights were very likely to be cancelled, and there were no penalties for rescheduling or cancelling flights if we did so now. So we talked it out quickly over email and a phone chat, and decided to take advantage of that deal.

I was quite proud of myself over the weekend for making a really nice travel lunch for myself, since Tuesday’s are crazy days at work now. I also re-used the plastic packaging from the Starbuck’s I ended up buying last Tuesday due to craziness, which eases my guilt just a little bit.

weekly eating hurricane edition

Then we also had our planned puppy sitter back out at the last minute, which worked because we were now forced to drive rather than fly. Now the pups could come with! So we were resigned to doing the drive we swore we’d never do again. In looking ahead at the weather, and the fact that many things were already closing or preparing to close by Wednesday, we made the call to just get the F outta dodge.

I’m very lucky my workplace was supportive of anyone who wanted to ‘evacuate’ and we could choose to work from home. Hubs already works remotely, so as long as we had internet we could still get things done and get a paycheck.

This was my first experience firsthand of how people react to impending disaster. I kid you not when I say that I had to go to three gas stations on Tuesday before I found one that still had gas. And it was completely out of regular, I had to buy premium at $2.99/gallon at that. After waiting in line for like 15 minutes.

weekly eating hurricane edition

There were lines to get into the ABC store parking lot (the only places in the state to buy liquor. People have their priorities straight…).

A friend I called said they had already gone to 4 grocery stores in the area and no one had any water left. The storm was planned to hit on Friday night. This was Tuesday at 4pm.

I got home to a madhouse of activity. Washer, dryer, and dish washer are going. There are still piles of random things all over the house, the refrigetrator needed gone through to freeze or toss anything perishable, and on top of it all we are now frantically packing to run away from a hurricane and into a wedding weekend that just got unexpectedly doubled in length.

We threw a bunch of things in bags, hustled it all out to the car, and hit the road by 7.

The drive was fine at first but we started getting a little worn out by 10. We had on and off rain, with a good hour of intense downpour on a windy country road, and plenty of traffic. By 11, we decided that stopping around midnight to rest might be a good call, and finish the drive early in the a.m. in time to log in to work.

First hotel we call: sorry no rooms.

Second: all booked. Third: no rooms.

No rooms at the inns.

Any of them.

All the way through West Virginia, and Virginia, and by the time we got to the Ohio border we only had 2 more hours left to go, it was 1 am, and we said screw it let’s just get there.

People are crazy, y’all.

Anywho, then we were finally in Ohio and beyond exhausted. I got almost 4 hours of sleep. I tried.

Luckily we stayed with my sister who is wonderful beyond belief. We both managed to get actual work done, but didn’t really get off the couch all day. I did buy some groceries to fill her pantry and cooked a nice dinner of Bayou Chicken Pasta for them to say thank you.

weekly eating hurricane edition weekly eating hurricane edition

Thursday we were a little more refreshed after a full night’s sleep. We decided to finish the 3-more-hours drive to my parent’s place where we were staying for wedding weekend because we had taken Friday off. I wanted to show hubs a little of my hometown, and it would be nice to sleep in and already be there to start the day.

Before we left, I cooked a 100% vegan meal to balance out the dairy and carb heavy dinner from yesterday 🙂

weekly eating hurricane editionweekly eating hurricane edition

Friday I took the boy to Mill Creek Park, a gem in the middle of Youngstown. It was approved in 1891, and covers over 4400 acres of hiking and biking trails, ponds and streams and waterfalls, and gorgeous greenery.

weekly eating hurricane edition weekly eating hurricane edition

We had lunch at Fellows Riverside Garden cafe, overlooking the lake. It was lovely, and their bagel & lox was divine.

weekly eating hurricane edition

My parents took us out Friday to a vegetarian place that they have repeatedly raved about called the Courthouse Inn & Restaurant. It’s by a couple who live (lived?) in NYC and have a very… unique sense of style. I can’t say I didn’t like it though. And the food was divine. The cauliflower legit tasted like wings, they had the best red wine I’ve ever tasted, and the sweet and spice sauce was delish. The stir fry over forbidden black rice was everything I wanted. And the carrot cake for dessert! Oh mama.

weekly eating hurricane edition

We also got to try a flight of wine at a local winery Sundog Cellars.

weekly eating hurricane edition

At my parent’s, it was pretty much just scavenge and find things to eat. But among the many meals that were “on the house”, so to speak, were the amazing rehearsal dinner that included a 16 oz ribeye steak and the cutest dirt cake of all time (the theme was fishing, because deep sea fishing is the couple’s favorite thing to do)

weekly eating hurricane edition weekly eating hurricane edition

and the wedding buffet itself was BBQ put on by Barry Dyngles, “Authentic Southern BBQ” lol. It was all good, but the brisket! Outta this world. I wish I’d had thirds.

weekly eating hurricane edition

And of course, it just wouldn’t be a Youngstown wedding without a cookie table. Cookie buffet really. Like, over the top a lot of cookies.

weekly eating hurricane edition

On the road, I had snagged a few sandwiches from a platter that were left over, so we just snacked and drank coffee. It was worrisome seeing all the signs reporting roads closed and to “limit travel in North Carolina”. Evidently there was a tornado and also flash flooding Monday morning!

But it was all fine, and we made it home safely. The boy and I had very different ideas of what qualifies as “comfort food” when we got home haha: Supreme frozen pizza, vs all the veggies stir fry.

weekly eating hurricane edition

The rest of the week was a bit of a blur, with oatmeal frequently the breakfast of choice since it’s easy and I had some peaches to use up in the refrigerator.

weekly eating hurricane edition

Wednesday the boy wanted to get creative and cook together, so we decided to have a make-your-own-sushi night. He got the rice started and thawed some seaweed salad, salmon & shrimp and when I got home I pulled out the nori sheets and we had fun mixing and matching and rolling.

weekly eating hurricane edition weekly eating hurricane edition

It provided about 10 rolls total, which was plenty for dinner and lunch the next day for me too.

weekly eating hurricane edition

Since I was on an Asian food kick, I also whipped up some quick  soup for lunch the next day with miso, veg broth, cilantro, hot red peppers, and enoki mushrooms. I ate that with the rest of the seaweed salad.

weekly eating hurricane edition

And of course on Thursday I went to the Durham Co-op dinner, which was sausage and peppers and onions. I met up with some friends, and met some new ones. I also got some cans of pumpkin pie filling on sale for an idea I have for next week’s Food Swap items…

weekly eating hurricane edition

And finally we ran out of almond milk, so I soaked some almonds overnight and made my first batch of homemade almond milk! So easy and so delicious. I think I’m going to try making my own more often so I can stop buying the plastic lined boxes. Plus you can customize the taste a little too, with salt, sugar, or vanilla. I need to find something to bake with the pulp now.

weekly eating hurricane edition

 

Food Total: uhhh, way too much

I usually keep travel and “entertainment” and groceries separate, but this trip kind of smushed everything together. We had some meals at my parents house (which obviously we didn’t pay for) and a lot of meals out provided (for rehearsal dinner and the actual wedding) but we also went out a few times, and I bought groceries twice for my sister to thank her for letting us stay with them.

Plus there’s the several coffees and sports drinks along the way to keep us awake and happy for ~20 hours in a car that I consider worth the cost in exchange for not dying or fighting.

Lessons Learned

Sometimes life can throw you curves. No matter how much you plan or think you’re ready, you just never know. We had to totally overhaul our plans and roll with it when the hurricane came to town. Luckily we were refunded for the flights, or this would be a very expensive surprise. As it stands, we did the best we could with limited time. Much of what was in the fridge could be frozen, so we didn’t waste too much. And yes we spent more than we likely would have otherwise, but life happens.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

How to Have a Gorgeous Destination Wedding For $10,000: Part 1

 

This is my personal story and lessons I learned from planning a simple yet meaningful destination wedding for <50 people. If you are dating, recently engaged, or even just dreaming of a fabulous wedding that doesn’t leave your bank account empty, pour yourself a warm beverage, get comfy, and prepare yourself to fill an “idea board” on Pinterest.

The Story

Boy meets girl*. They become friends. Really good friends.

Girl realizes she likes boy, and tells him so.

Boy realizes he likes girl too, and asks her on a first date: laser tag.

Over the next 3 years, they move in together, move across the country, change careers a few times, and adopt a pair of puppies. They both realize that this is a match made in heaven, and the real deal, and The One, Mr. and Mrs. Right, and whatever other saying you want to use.

This is forever.

Boy and Girl then realize:

  • we are super poor right now
  • we don’t want to be poor forever
  • we want to get married
  • we don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day
  • our families live in at least 7 states, 1000s of miles apart
  • eloping is not the route we want to go
  • we want to have an epic week long party
  • did I mention not wanting to be poor forever?

Sooooooo what do we do?

Do we get married in his home town, and piss off all her relatives who have to travel? Do we get married in her hometown and piss off all his relatives who have to travel? Do a city hall ceremony in CT, with 2 seperate parties later?

Nah man, let’s just have our whole immediate family and best of friends all go on vacation together.

And then also, get hitched!

Destination Weddings

When you think of a destination wedding, you probably think of a white sand beach, with the bride in flip flops or bare feet. A tropical location with hibiscus flowers and drinks poured in coconuts and pineapples. An all-inclusive resort.

And a five-digit bill at the end of the weekend.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

A destination wedding at its simplest is just that: A wedding, at a destination. Typically, a destination which is neither of the couple’s hometown.

When you are considering a destination wedding, make sure you take into account all the different factors.

Have an honest conversation about your priorities, including: your budget, whether any family members will be contributing to the cost, who you want to invite, what you want your day to look and feel like, and if there are any meaningful places to you.

Even though some people still think “Talking about money is tacky,” (LOLOLOL), you need to get right the hell over that.

There is literally nothing more important than talking about your money, because no one cares about your money and your financial future like you do. And if you don’t trust your chosen life partner enough to talk this over, y’all are in deep doo-doo from the get-go.

So put on the big girl panties, and start throwing out real numbers. Realistic numbers.

 

Our Priorities: location in the mountains, housing for the wedding party, relaxed vacation-like vibe, keeping it frugal
Our budget: $10,000

 

Now, I won’t be mean and wait until the very end of the article to tell you (spoilers!) we basically hit our budget. Yes, we hosted a 6-day, 5-night wedding weekend in the mountains of Tennessee for $10K.

Summary

  • Total cost: $10,004.15
  • Location: Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Venue: 10 bedroom log cabin
  • Season: Spring (May) of 2016
  • Wedding party: 8 + 4 parents + wedding couple = 14
  • Guests total: 45 (including the wedding party)

 

Below I’m going to break down each area of a typical wedding celebration, and walk you through how we went about finding the right balance. We wanted an experience that stayed true to who we are as a couple, and I highly recommend you do the same.

It is a wonderful day and age we live in now, where you don’t have to stand on tradition if it isn’t something that fits with your values and desires.

Just because someone in your family did a first dance, but you are terrified of dancing in public, don’t feel like you have to do one.

And so what if your best friend had a ten tier, 6 flavor cake that cost more than your car. If you hate cake and way prefer pie, definitely go for the pie, girl!

The point of a  wedding, at the end of the day, is to celeberate the joining of two people’s lives. You are agreeing to be there to love and support one another, no matter what crazy things life throws at you. That is a unique and beautiful thing.

It is definitely NOT a carte blanche to become Bridezilla about every little detail, but yes, the day should be about you as individuals and as a couple, and to hell with anyone else’s expectations.

Location

We started the search for the right place by deciding that we were not location bound, but that we wanted to stay within the US.

Since our families were scattered all over Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Tennessee, Iowa, and Chicago, and we were currently living in Connecticut, all we knew was that there was no right or wrong answer!

People were going to be traveling regardless, and we knew we weren’t attached to CT (and their silly high prices for everything).

We both love the ocean and the mountains. As our time in Colorado showed us, the mountains are pretty much our favorite place, and guaranteed to be gorgeous no matter the weather. So we wanted to go somewhere in the mountains. That narrows down a few states.

We also knew we wanted a spring wedding, so we needed a place that would be tolerably warm in May, so likely the lower states.

Look at that perfection. Seriously. The Smoky Mountains are breathtaking.

Honest to God, we started with AirBnB and VRBO. We wanted to be able to provide a location large enough that the wedding party did not need housing. This would save everyone in the party the cost of a hotel room for the week/weekend.

We simply searched for places that could accomodate a minimum of ten, no maximum, and went from there. Options included lavish mansions in Las Vegas, oceanfront mansions in California and all along New England, a castle or two, beautiful antebellum homes throughout the South, and log cabins in several different states.

From there we narrowed by price, starting with a pretty wide band and then winnowing down into our more comfortable range. We also wanted a long celebration, not just one day, so the cost was considerably higher for nearly a full week. If you do only one day or one weekend, you can probably knock off another grand or two.

Honestly, the huge place for a whole week makes up almost 75% of the money we spent.

You could quite easily get that down to 1-2K for a shorter duration or a smaller place. But rolling the ceremony, reception, and whole weekend into one space is what we wanted, and we were willing to pay for it.

Given the price-to-value ratio of how many people a place could sleep, what level of luxury it offered, and the prices, a large log cabin in the Tennessee/Kentucky/Virginia area hit all our requirements.

After weeks of looking and pros and cons, we narrowed it to two cabins. My parents so generously offered to cover this part of the weekend. My mom was really the major factor here, basically stepping in as my de facto wedding planner.

She called them each and asked what kind of deal they would give us. One place let us adjust the dates, added one extra free night for just us to stay after everyone else left, and threw in a pre-holiday discount (it was right around Memorial weekend), so we went with a 10 bedroom cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Guest list

This one might merit some input from family, if they are very invested in your celebration. We just knew that we wanted to keep it on the short side.

We agreed to “immediate family” only. What hubby didn’t know at the time, is that my admittedly very small family is still nonetheless very close, so essentially my whole family is my immediate family.

When we drew up the list, it was pretty clear who was on the “must invite” list, we were lucky that way. We ended up with about 50 people, of whom roughly 45 showed up. This was on the higher end of comfortable for us and the size cabin we had.

Paper: Save the Date, Invitations, RSVPs

We chose our date a little less than a year in advance, because we knew that people were going to have to travel. People need time to plan, book flights, arrange cars/hotels, etc. Therefore it made sense to send “Save the Date” cards.

I knew I wanted to try my hand at making all our own paper goods, because 1) I enjoy crafting 2) I hate spending money and 3) We had a small enough list of those we were inviting that it wasn’t totally overwhelming.

I would not recommend DIY with a guest list over 50!

The invitations were all hand-made, with the help of one of my indefatiguable friends. I looked through ideas online and settled on a simple design with a ribbon tying two small rings together, in our colors of purple and blue.

A good friend at work was kind enough to volunteer some of her crafting supplies (a paper cutter, hole punch, scissors, etc) and her time to help me put them all together. We cut, glued, and tied for hours.

DIY wedding invitations and RSVP

All told, the paper, glue, ribbon, envelopes, and rings cost about $100 for about 50 invitations, save the dates, and RSVP cards. Stamps were another $20 or so; I was lucky to also already have a stash from before.

Depending on the number of guests, your costs might be more or less. Many people nowadays are also opting to go paperless, for money-saving and/or environmental reasons.

Wedding events

My mom really loves me and wanted to throw an engagement party/wedding shower, but I turned it down.

The reasons were multiple:

  • The same people who would come would also come to the wedding and after-wedding-reception
  • I don’t like the idea of multiple large gifts being expected of people
  • It was in February in Ohio and she wanted us to drive there
  • I just don’t like those kinds of events, the waste, & attention
  • We had been living together for a few years already at this point, there wasn’t much left for a “household” that we needed

So no engagement party or wedding shower.

For pre-wedding events, I did end up having 2 bachelorette parties. As mentioned we were living in CT at the time. We had only been there a little over a year, so I didn’t know too many people outside of work friends.

But these work friends were amazing people, and decided I needed a party. We planned a great day of winery-hopping (there were three relatively close together) followed by a downtown New Haven bar crawl. I didn’t pay for a thing, and I’m told it was a lot of fun! 😉

Then we also had a smaller, quieter party in TN with the wonderful ladies of the bridal party: my sister, my cousin, my best friend from grad school, and my sister in law. We are all such laid back women that we opted to just hang out at the cabin and drink wine and play games!

The guys went out in downtown Pigeon Forge at the same time to do their thing, then we all met back at the cabin for general merriment.

I wore dresses I had already owned, no special clothing, shoes, or accessories were purchased by me for these events. Some of my friends did go all out and got me a “Bachelorette” tiara and light up sash, which was quite fun to wear.

bachelorette party swag

2 days prior to the Big Day, the boy and I went downtown together to get the marriage license, which was $41. This was the easiest part of getting married! And our officiant very kindly took care of signing and mailing it afterwards to complete the ‘make it official’ part.

The rehearsal was quick since we were holding the ceremony at the cabin, and it was to be very short and simple. We all just lined up in order of who we were walking in with, and practiced processing in, standing, and then walking out 2-3 times.

The rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding was covered by my wonderful in-laws, and was held at a restaurant downtown.

We had a great time sitting and talking, our two sides of the family and closest friends getting to know each other better and make memories. A few toasts and speeches were made, but there was nothing “official” about it and no pressure. It is also much easier to sit everyone at one long table and actually hear each other talk when there are about 20 of you.

Apparel & Beautifying

Everyone knows the big white dress is an important part of the day.

But honestly even that is up for discussion now. I toyed with the idea of a non-white dress, like a pale peach or champagne. I tried on dozens of dresses in all different styles, at every boutique within driving distance.

And while I loved the look of the mermaid, the A line, the curve hugging slinky kinds, the puffy ones with huge trains… they just weren’t me. I felt uncomfortable, like I couldn’t walk or dance or sit.

Then I tried on a shorter ‘tea length’ dress, and (I’m told) my face and eyes lit up and I couldn’t stop smiling. Clearly, 3/4 length dresses are my thing. The swirliness of the skirt and lightness overall felt so right; I knew I would have a short wedding dress.

Tea length bridal gown
My face hurt from smiling so big all day! This exactly captures my love of this style of dress.

But, as I only planned to wear it for a few hours, and probably not pass it on to anyone, I didn’t see a point in paying several hundreds of dollars. Those boutique dresses were just to try different styles, no way was I walking out with a 4-digit charge on my credit card.

The Dress was purchased at the end of season, online, and was the last one they had, in my size. The total was just over $100. Turns out it fit like it was made for me, so no altering was required!

My shoes were purchased on sale from Payless, with a coupon, and the jewelry was borrowed from my sister. I got a crinoline online to make the skirt poofier, for less than $10. And there was no veil; I just didn’t like how they look on me, and didn’t want to do the whole ‘guy uncovers your face’ thing.

So once I was clothed, we had to figure out the rest of the party.

We decided to let the guys wear a suit they already had (black, with a white dress shirt to keep it super simple) and the girls could wear any dress they chose as long as it was approximately knee-length, and a shade of grey to go with our colors.

This way everyone gets to wear something they love and look and feel good in, and almost all of them didn’t even have to buy anything new for the event.

**It will always be appreciated if you take others’ budgets into consideration!!**

I’m so glad the mismatched-but-same-color-palette thing is a trend, because it looked amazing on my girls! They even magically chose half silky and half lace (2 each) so it looked almost planned anyways.

We like it and wanna put a ring on it!

Let it be known, that you do not HAVE to have wedding bands, or engagement rings either. This is a personal decision for each person and each couple. No judgment here. A piece of jewelry cannot summarize your feelings for your person. Obviously, not having wedding bands will save you this expense completely.

But, we did want that outer symbol of our commitment to each other. I also wanted a simple band I could still wear when I didn’t want to wear my larger bling and tempt fate. Our wedding bands were bought online, in tungsten, because it is so durable.

I simply did a few minutes’ of research on different metal types and price compared across a few companies. The boy picked his favorite, and we clicked “order”.  We even sprung for the extra few dollars to engrave the wedding date inside the matching bands.

engraved wedding bands

Mine was a super slim 2 mm and hubs had a larger size with rounded edges. We both love how comfortable they are to wear, except when playing video games for long periods of time.  😉

Though I was of the opinion that we could do our own hair and makeup thank you very much, on the day of the wedding, the girls did all go to the salon together to get our hair done in matching styles, and I even got upgraded to makeup as well.

Which is probably for the best, as I don’t use makeup and would likely not have worn any otherwise!

The salon we used did a fantastic job, I loved the curls and braids! And the makeup was enough without making me look like a whole different person. It was also extremely reasonably priced (the girls were sweet and chipped in to cover my cost).

Officiant

The cost for this was $0 because hubs’ cousin is a pastor!

He has done TONS of weddings, so he was not at all nervous, and was very well prepared. His words were beautiful and heartfelt, and he brought a special perspective to the ceremony since he had such close lifelong knowledge of the groom.

If that sounds like a nice idea, but no one in the family currently is “of the cloth”, you can have a family member or close friend become ordained quite easily online.

For example, my brother, who recently got engaged, has two close male friends. He wanted to involve them both, but wanted only one best man. One of them is very religious already, so it was an easy choice to ask that he become ordained and perform the service, while the other stood as best man.

This way, both are integral to the process and close to my brother on his special day. And he doesn’t need to pay a pastor either!

Ceremony

We kept the ceremony short and sweet, since neither of us is particularly religious. If you have a faith you grew up in or live in now, there may be traditions you keep.

There was no rental fee, because we had the ceremony in the cabin we had already rented. If you choose to use a church or other venue, there may be a location fee.

We had our sisters do a short reading on love, and we did have a “unity” thing, because “you have to make it at least symbolic of joining your lives”. This did seem like a legitimate suggestion, so we thought long and hard about what we could do that would be actually meaningful to us.

There are all kinds of ideas out there on the interwebs if you just search. We debated a few different ideas including candles, building things, breaking things, planting things, and then the idea of a sand sculpture made something click.

But instead of sand, we wanted to use spices!

(Because I’m the Budget Epicurean, duh)

So we created a mixture of garlic powder and salt, to “spice up our lives together”.  🙂

 

 

 

*Intermission*

In the interest of pausing this novel and giving you all a chance to catch your breath, I’ll cut this article off and continue in Part 2.

Be sure to come back and catch How To Have a Gorgeous Destination Wedding for $10,000: Part 2. It has all the goodies on food, drinks, gifts, and the all-important final reveal of the numbers!

 

*Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to alienate readers who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgender, transexual, or polyamorous. This is also not meant to imply or insinuate that any- or every-one should enter into a legally binding marriage. I am also not saying that a wedding celebration/party is required to have a meaningful and lasting marriage.

 

Let’s hear all your thoughts in the comments!

Did you do something unique at your wedding? Are you planning to do something creative? Just head to the nearest Justice Of the Peace? Did you go whole hog on a big white wedding and black tie reception?