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Archive for August, 2009

There’s something in the air. Not only did I recently get engaged, but two of my sisters did as well (another got married earlier this month). Count it, that’s three weddings in my family next year.

With all the marriage mayhem, Mike and I know ours is just another wedding, and we’re ok with. Of course we want it to be special for us, but we understand that this isn’t (and never was) going to be as big of a deal to anyone else. People are excited for us and want to help make it special, and we love them for that, but we are preparing ourselves to fully take on the expense and the planning of this wedding. Which, of course, means we’re on a BIG TIME budget.

$2,000

That’s what we’re working with.

Whoa. It was hard to actually type that number. I hesitate to put it here on the world wide web because then I’m accountable to all you internet folk for how well we stay within it. But putting it out there might also help us do just that – stay within that budget. At first glance, to us, it seemed like plenty. But when we started breaking down the costs line-by-line, we realized just how little that number is when you’re basically throwing a rockin’ party for everyone you love.

With no regard for the budget, we just started putting down estimated costs and ended up well above this number. After guffawing at each other for a few days, we slowly started to scale back until our proposed line-item budget dropped below $2,000. Barely. And now it’s simply a matter of sticking to it. Easy peasy right? …. Right?

I know this is our day and you only do it once (hopefully) and we deserve to have something wonderful, but frankly, for us, all the bells and whistles and sparkly accoutrements? They’re just not worth it. We want to have a fun, beautiful, meaningful and memorable day, we really do. We just have to do it for no more than $2,000. No problem! [nervous laughter]

Here’s to trying!

(Stay tuned for further details on our budget and how we hope plan to make it happen.)

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That is an intentional emphasis on the S. Plural. That’s because Mike and I both have engagement rings. This wasn’t a big feminist In Your Face to the outdated tradition of women-only engagement rings (ok maybe a little); it was just something we both felt strongly about. For us an engagement ring shows the intention to get married, and since we are both intending to marry, we both wear these symbolic rings.

Personally, I’m not a big ring person. I usually find a cute ring, wear it for a month or two, then get sick of it, go ringless for a long time, find another cute ring, wear it, etc. And once I’m married I imagine I’ll wear my wedding band solo most of the time. So the engagement ring was a chance for me to get a gorgeous piece of jewelry that I could wear when I feel like it. All this to say that I wanted to pick my own ring out. None of this Surprise Me! stuff. I wanted something I could love not just for it’s symbolism but also because it’s frickin’ awesome.

Mike, on the other hand, was willing to let me surprise him. He’ll be getting a new ring when we marry, one that he’ll pick out, so this was a chance for him to see what I could come up with. After the wedding, he’ll have two rings to pick from each day, and options are nice, right?

Mike’s Ring:

It’s a titanium ring with black walnut inlay, hand-crafted by robandlean on etsy. I picked titanium because it’s light-weight and figured that would be good for someone who has never worn a ring before. I picked black walnut because it’s native to Michigan and has a darker coloring. We measured his finger using a sizer from robandlean, and I ordered him a 12. But when the ring came in, it was a bit snug. It fit the base of his finger fine, but it was very difficult to get over his knuckle. Though robandlean can’t resize these inlay rings, they were able to expand it by about half a size (at no extra charge), which means it now fits great. Unfortunately it meant sending the ring back and waiting for a couple weeks, which is only bad because by that point we were eager to show off our new accessories!

Mike’s ring: $150.

Shan’s ring:

I had several ideas about what I might want this ring to look like, but most importantly I didn’t want it to cost a lot. At some point before we were engaged, I decided I wanted a pale green gemstone, and I was leaning toward a green sapphire or peridot. Then one day I discovered the green amethyst and fell in love. There was no turning back, I knew that’s what I wanted. Then it was a matter of the setting. One day while doing research for a friend’s wedding, I found my perfect ring. Unfortunately the image had zero information attached to it. I had no idea where this ring came from or how to find it.

My inspiration ring:

When Mike and I started shopping, we wanted to buy local. We visited two local jewelers and walked out appalled from both. The prices! Even for a non-diamond ring! We just couldn’t do it. So we visited the mall. Ech. We found a ring very similar to what I had in mind, green amethyst and all, for only $200, but the stone was way too huge for my taste. We asked about custom making something similar, and their quote was over $1200. Uh, no thanks.

Next we found a setting I loved, but it was only available in every single gemstone known to man EXCEPT green amethyst. But it was on sale that week so we asked about replacing the stone. No problem, they’ll do it for free. I loved the ring, it was on sale, and I could get the gemstone replaced for free. We took a stroll around the mall to discuss and quickly went back to buy my engagement ring! Then we had to wait four weeks for it come in. Longest. Month. Ever.

Shan’s ring: $430 (with protection plan)

Payment Plan

We didn’t actually need a payment plan for these rings. The total cost was $600 and between the two of us, we had enough saved up to purchase right away. And it really was between the two of us. I would not have been comfortable with Mike unevenly spending a lot of money on a ring for me, and his ring was significantly cheaper. But before we even started shopping, we agreed to split the cost. We anticipated that mine would cost more, but they were equally symbolic and important. So we split the cost down the middle. It’s something that worked and made sense for us.

In the end, for two engagement rings that we both love, we spent $580.

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I think it’s important to come out firmly against doing things because “you’re supposed to.” It’s fine for some aspects of life. Pay your taxes because you’re supposed to. Refrain from speeding or stealing because you’re supposed to. Hell, brush your teeth because you’re supposed to. But don’t propose to your girlfriend because you’re supposed to. Don’t spend 1 month’s salary (or whatever it is) on an engagement ring because you’re supposed to. Don’t create a romantic proposal at a fancy restaurant because you’re supposed to. Do what you want.

I absolutely think that, if it’s what you and your girlfriend/boyfriend want, you should do a traditional proposal with a diamond ring and all the works. But you should want that. No one expects it of you. And if they do, screw ’em. Weddings are personal. Society doesn’t dictate what you should or shouldn’t do to express your love for someone.

Shannon and I want to get married, so we got engaged. We wanted to wear rings to symbolize our commitment to each other, so we went shopping. We wanted to share our lives together (and with you all), so we started this blog to document and commemorate the year that will culminate in our wedding. For us, the typical proposal over dinner with the ring covertly stashed in my pocket wasn’t reality. I would’ve felt silly, and Shannon might have said no, because it’s not the proposal she would’ve wanted. Either that, or I missed a golden opportunity and this blog will finally reveal this to her…and she’ll be pissed. But more likely, we just started talking about our wedding and realized, “holy shit, we’re engaged.” We are doing things the way we want to do them. You might see this theme come up again.

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In many ways, we’re a nontraditional couple. Neither of our roles in the relationship are determined by gender stereotypes. So it was never assumed that Mike would propose to me. If I wanted to marry him, I was fully prepared to do the proposing myself.

This summer we started talking pretty seriously about marriage, and soon we had a potential date set for next year. After doing a faux (and free) engagement photo session with a friend (who was just doing it for practice), and being asked by strangers if we were getting married, we decided to officially consider ourselves engaged. This came well before rings were placed on fingers, but I soon ordered one for Mike, intending to surprise him. It was being hand-crafted though, and before it came, we had started shopping for one for me. Mike wanted to look for himself too, so I had to stop him and admit that he already had one in the mail.

Then we played the waiting game. Mike’s ring finally arrived at the beginning of August, and I put together a simple “proposal” card even though it was of exactly zero surprise to him.

Of course he said yes, and that’s as close to proposing as either of us came. But it turns out the mutual decision method sans proposal was perfect for us. We plan to make decisions about our wedding together and, more importantly, about our life. So it’s only fitting that we’d make this decision together too.

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Months at a time

My name is Shannon. His name is Mike.

We learned of each others’ existence only nine months ago. We met in person only eight months ago. We moved in together three months ago. We started planning our wedding one month ago.

And ten months from now, we plan to be married.

Follow along for the story of how that happens. Oh, and also to hear about other Shan & Mike shenanigans, too.

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