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Archive for August, 2010

When we first got engaged, Mike and I determined our budget to be $2,000. My dad and stepmom provided all of the beverages and most of the food, and a few others contributed food as well. We borrowed as much as we could, and bought cheap on everything else. We also decided to include our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower in that budget, so we had to get creative about how to keep our estimated budget at $2,000. In the end, our total estimated budget was $1,985 but our total expenditures were only $1,488.63. Pretty damn good I’d say!

Throughout the last year we’ve detailed how we saved money on everything from my dress to decorations to invitations. But here’s how the budget actually broke down:

Item                          Proposed      Actual
MISC
White Knot donation       10                   10
Gifts                               40                  41

PRE-WEDDING
Save-the-date                  0                    0              (electronic)
Invitations (+postage)   75                  56.3         (design & printing by friend)
Marriage license             20                  23

BRIDE
Dress                             50                   50             (vintage from Etsy)
Alterations                     0                      0             (fixed a small tear myself)
Shoes                           40                    40             (vintage from Etsy)
Hair piece                      25                      0              (gift from friend)
Jewelry                          0                      0              (borrowed from mom)
Makeup                         0                      0              (did it myself)
Hair                               0                      0              (done by my sister)
Mani/pedi                     0                     0               (did it myself)
Bra/underwear              0                     25             (bought slip)

Something to carry      30                     0              (decided against it)

GROOM
Pants                              0                     0              (wore pre-owned pants)
Shirt                             50                   25              (JCPenney)
Shoes                             0                     0               (wore pre-owned shoes)
Jacket                         100                 100             (JCPenney)

CEREMONY
Chairs                            0                     0             (borrowed folding chairs)
Location                        0                     0             (at my dad’s)
Officiant                        0                     0             (my sister officiated)
Photographer               375                 375             (hired a friend)
Wedding bands            350                355             (Rogers & Hollands)
Love Letter Box               0                    0             (hand made by my dad)
Unity Quilt                    30                  34.53        (for back fabric and tie string)

RECEPTION
Decorations                 150                133.11
Food                            100                 20              (we had a lot donated)
Beverages                     20                   0               (for water we didn’t buy)
Tables                          150                   0               (borrowed instead of rented)
Chairs                             0                   0
Plates/cups/cutlery        75                 41.25          (all plastic and paper)
Music                              0                   0               (used an iPod and iHome)
Favors                          75                  91
Photo booth                 50                   0

SHOWER
Room rental                 50                  0                (used Mike’s mom’s work)
Food                           50                36.35           (had a lot donated)
Decorations                 20                20.85
Invitations (+postage) 30               25.84            (Snapfish)
Thank you cards            0                 0                  (used some I had on hand)
Postage                        10                 7.84

POST-WEDDING
Thank you cards            0                 0                   (used some I had on hand)
Postage                       20               15.4

TOTAL                    1,985       1,488.63

(Sorry if that’s a big effing mess – I’m too lazy to figure out how to make a table.)

We kept track of all of this in a Google Doc. On one sheet, everytime we bought something we wrote it in and categorized it (decorations, food, favors, etc). Then when everything was purchased in a category, we added up the total and put it in the second sheet that had our master budget. Using some Excel-like magic, Google added everything up for us as we went.

A wedding for under $2,000? Actually, under $1,500! I can live with that. Especially because it was an incredibly awesome wedding!

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In May of 2009 Shannon and I moved in together. We had a happy year of cohabitation before our wedding. The worst part about our year lease was the commute Shannon took on when she started a new job in December. Suddenly she was in the car for two and a half hours a day…torture if you know how Shannon feels about driving. After much discussion, it was agreed that, when our lease was up and I was done with school, we would move to a little town along the highway, half-way in between our places of employment.

Then things got interesting.

First, we discovered that small towns are not rental-friendly. There were three apartment complexes to choose from, only one of which suited our needs. There were a whopping grand total of 4 apartments/houses for rent in town, none of which were right for us. There was a mobile home park a couple miles outside of town, but the only unit available for rent was approximately 17 feet from the highway. Not exactly quiet.

In the midst of our difficult decision amongst all of our two choices, Shannon got a glimmer of hope from her boss, suggesting that she might get to work in town instead of commuting. We were cautiously excited. We already lived in the city we wanted to eventually settle down in, so this transfer would have allowed us to move on without moving out. Unfortunately, our lease was still ending, and well before any final decisions would be made.

Since our apartment complex was apparently aligned with the devil, they offered to extend our lease month-to-month for a very reasonable $500/month fee, also known as almost doubling our rent on an apartment that was way too small for us. After much deliberation, we decided to wait and see on the job and, in the meantime, rent my Mom’s basement for a couple months. This would get us through the wedding and honeymoon, and into Shan’s new fiscal year.

And then Shannon found a job she was interested in, in another different city. If we moved, and then Shannon got this new job, she’d have been driving over an hour again, and I’d have been driving 45 minutes on top of it. So, we held off again. As much as my Mom loved having us home, we were getting the itch to get back into our own place and get settled.

Finally, with Shannon’s job placement stable, we went back to the original plan, and narrowed the choice from two to one, deciding to apply for a 2-bedroom apartment. We got approved, and are planning to move Labor Day weekend.

With the plans firmly in place, I anticipate a major life change sometime in the next week. Wish us luck!

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Friday was our last day in VA, and really, it was just a morning. We got up earlier than we had all week, packed up our stuff, straightened up the cabin and headed out. We were in search of breakfast, which proved to be a real challenge, but once we located some pastries, we hit the road. Our plan was to drive all the way back to Michigan on Friday and stop about two hours from home. And so we did. It was a long day, but it went pretty smoothly until we were 45 minutes from our destination. Then all hell broke lose in the form of a hail storm. But we had been driving all day and we were so close, so I kept driving and we only nearly died a few times.

The hotel we stayed at was a shit hole, but it was a place to sleep. And we spent several hours the next day at the local zoo, which just happened to showcase its giraffes and one’s ability to pet and feed them.

If you don’t know yet, one of my nicknames for Mike is the Giraffe, and the whole giraffe thing has sort of become a running joke in our relationship. We walked through the whole zoo, but this part was definitely the highlight.

I know that zoo animal photos are incredibly boring, but that’s all I’ve got from this last stretch of our honeymoon, so here you go.

And the best looking animals of all…

Before we left the zoo, we strolled through the gift shop and were total suckers for this little guy:

I’m not usually a sucker for stuffed animals, but we got it in our heads that we’d save this one and give it to a future child of ours. A little momento from their parents’ early days. We named it Luray after the town in VA that was our honeymoon spot. Isn’t that just so… cheesy! Yeah, but who cares.

After the zoo we drove home and fell into piles on the floor. Our honeymoon was amazing and I’m so glad we did it, but like with any trip, we were exhausted when it was over. But! So worth it.

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Wednesday, our second full day in VA, the plan was to spend the day exploring Shenandoah National Park. The first thing that went wrong with this plan is that we couldn’t find our National Park pass before leaving home and so we had to pay the entrance fee. The second thing that went wrong is that everything, no I’m not kidding, EVERYTHING looked like this:

Look I’ll show you more.

Fog fog everywhere. We thought maybe the sun would burn it away eventually, but it never cleared up even a little. We paid to look at this shit. I know there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather, but what a disappointment huh? And even if the fog had cleared, half the pullouts were closed with this explanation:

I was really excited to see Shenandoah, so the whole thing was a real bummer. Then ass we were driving away from the diner where we ate lunch, someone pulled up beside us and yelled, “You’re almost on the rim! Front passenger!”

Mother fucker, we had a flat. A really flat flat. Luckily there was a service station next to the diner, so we filled it with air, but the whole thing was too precarious. We drove about 100 yards and decided it wasn’t safe, so we turned around and called AAA.

But seriously, they were SO slow (Can you blame them? They were coming to the middle of a national park!), so my man stepped in.

Pretty soon we were back on the road and we headed straight back to town where we found a tire store. The dude there patched it up for only $10 and I’ve been driving on it ever since! All the way home from VA, and back and forth on my hour plus long commute each day. Knock on wood. Wow, I so just screwed myself.

Our hot air balloon ride had been rescheduled for that night, but when we called to check, they said it was too foggy but we’d definitely be able to go Thursday night because it was supposed to clear up. So we had dinner in town that evening, then hung out at the cabin all night doing pretty much what we did the night before: hot tub, books, DVDs (we brought a season of Angel), etc.

Thursday we had no plans until our balloon right in the evening. We considered trying Shenandoah again, but we were skeptical. We took it as a sign that we should just chill for a day. So we did! We explored the woods and pond behind the cabin…

…took pointless pictures of each other…

…read some books…

…and laid out in the sun.

[Inappropriate sunbathing photo withheld.]

Eventually we got restless, so we ventured into town. We visited an antique shop and thrift store where we bought several fun gifts for a few key people who helped with the wedding.

(These were not the gifts.)

I also bought a mirror for myself that I plan to paint black. And then I made Mike carry it across town to our car.

I also bought this antique necklace that I love!

When we got back to the cabin, guess what, the balloon ride was canceled for the third day in a row. It was a serious disappointment because we were so excited about it. But we, yet again, chilled at the cabin and took it easy all night. Our last night in our little hideaway paradise. But we had some fun on the way home, too, just to extend the fantasy world where work doesn’t exist a little longer.

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Ahh the honeymoon. Let me just say this: take a honeymoon. Do it. No don’t argue with me, just do it. Mike and I didn’t do anything super special – we just rented a cabin and chilled. We made a few excursion-type plans, but almost all of them failed. That wasn’t the point though. The point is that we took a week to acknowledge this big thing we just did. The moment, the second we got home, we had to get right back into our routines, but that honeymoon week got to be something different. Before this week we were unmarried, after this week we were married. Marriage honestly feels no different than co-habitating (apparently not a word) in a committed relationship, so that week away together really helped us to feel like we had done something special.

Anyway! Enough with the lecture. Let me tell you about our honeymoon. We left off in our luxurious king-sized bed in our super cheap suite. I forgot to mention that before we went to bed, we filled out a room-service card so breakfast was delivered to our room in the morning. Room service is a treat we don’t usually indulge in, but hell, honeymoon right?

After breakfast we stopped at home to grab our honeymoon stuff and switch cars and we were off. Mike and I are good road trip partners so we decided to go somewhere far enough from home to feel “away” but close enough to drive. Sunday night we stopped in a small Pennsylvanian town for the night, and we got to our cabin in Virginia Monday afternoon. I’d tell you about this place, but we loved it so much and we want to go back someday, and we don’t want the prices to become outrageous, so we need to keep it a secret. Ok not really, it’s the Peach Orchard Hideaway in Luray, VA.

But we really did love it. And we really do want to go back – maybe for an anniversary, or maybe with “the kids” someday. After we checked in (at a cute little store run by the cabin owners), we bought some groceries and settled in. We totally relaxed, made dinner, watched some DVDs, read and hit the hot tub. Oh yes, private hot tub.

Tuesday was the only day when our excursion plans actually worked out. Well, part of them did. We had planned to visit the Luray Caverns, then go on a hot air balloon ride. The balloon ride was postponed due to weather, but the caverns were a success. It’s like this huge underground cave with all kinds of amazing geological wonders. Or something. It was pretty cool. And we got headsets!

We ate some really fancy (nope) lunch, and hit the car museum that was part of our caverns admission ticket.

We were also interested in visiting a Civil War museum, so we drove to a little town 20 minutes away to check one out.

And that was our most active day of the whole trip. We had cool plans, but as you’ll see, the universe didn’t want us to experience such things. It just wanted us to relax a whole lot. So we listened. More on all that later.

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Asking my friend Erica to photograph our wedding was one of the best decisions we made. She did a spectacular job and we love all the photos she captured. As I’ve said before, we bought her a ticket to Michigan from California (where she moved several months before the wedding), and that was it! $375 and done. Erica had just started Photography by Arika Reed, and we were excited to be her first official wedding. And let me tell you, she worked her ass off! Even when we needed to sit down and take a break, she was darting around with her camera. She caught so many moments that I didn’t even know she was catching! Truly, Erica, you were awesome.

You should head over to her website, and check out the blog post dedicated to our wedding. And if you want to see the whole online gallery, let me know and I’ll get you the password.

I’ve shown off her photos all throughout the recapping of the wedding, but I also wanted to share some of my favorites. The first are from the time she spent with just me and Mike doing the “couple” photos.

First of all, this one is going on the wall (yes I know I showed it already):

Please look at how much this man loves me:

Man we’re cute!

This is from when Mike and I were taking a moment to soak it all in. She caught us:

And come on, just aww!

LOVE this one, too:

And now, here are some of my favorite “detail” shots:

And now a few other photos I’m crazy about…

This is my little Scarlet before she was born:

My little brother Cam is a chatty one!

My Brady Boy:

Me with mom and the sisters:

And here are some of Mike, one with his bro, and one of him being so cute!

Ok really, you should just go check them all out over here.

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By about 8ish, about a third of our guests had left already. The only survivor from Mike’s family was his mom, all of my grandparents and all but one of my aunts/uncles had left, as well as a few friends. But it was about that point that Mike and I got to sit down and enjoy. Sort of. Seemed like every few minutes we were called away for something, but we did get to sit and relax a little.

I gathered up some friends and we had a little pow wow in the yard, talking and laughing. But by a little after 9, most of those people had left, too, and it was down to the precious few, the real troopers. This included my dad, stepmom and their young kids, all but one of my siblings and their kids and spouses, Mike’s mom, my (always true) friend Jessica and her boyfriend, and my dear Aunt Mary.

Our photographer was gone by then, too, so I don’t have any really awesome pictures from this part of the night. Just amateur ones from others’ cameras, like the ones above. This time on the deck was the first time we really chilled. Everyone was drinking and chatting, and we ended up playing some silly games, like “name the movie” and whatnot. It was nice to look around and see the people who were really there for us. These were our peeps.

After it got dark, several other people took off, and the stragglers encouraged us to open our gifts. We were hesitant, because um, awkward. I hate having an audience for such things. But they thought it would be fun, so we played along.

The kids were very eager to deliver the gifts to us from the gift table, so we arranged a little system. They each brought us a gift, one at a time, and then they took the previously opened gift back to the table with them. You’d think they might get bored with this, but gift after shiny gift, they waited their turn.

Only Kyron needed a little extra entertaining at one point, and he took care of that all by himself.

My sister Emily entertained herself, as well, by taking pictures like this one on my camera.

After gifts, we had a feeding frenzy in the kitchen. All of a sudden there were 8 people crowded in there making tacos and sundaes and eating cupcakes. I scarfed down a few tacos myself, and I swear to god those were best tacos I ever had. After a long, tiring and exhilarating day, I could have eaten 15.

Then someone started a bonfire outside. By then it was after 11, and Mike and I were beat. The hardcores in my family were ready to party some more, but we had to peace out around midnight. Even the kids were still awake when we left!

We packed up most of our gifts, but left a big mess at my dad’s house. Thank god my parents were cool about cleaning up after us even after everything they had already done. It was a long drive from the middle of nowhere (dad’s house) to our hotel downtown, but it was worth it. We got a killer deal on a suite at one of the nice hotels in the city, and as soon as we got there, we crashed on the plush king-sized bed.

And that was it. Our wedding day. Pretty fucking awesome if you ask me.

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