Archive for the ‘The Dress’ Category

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
White Knot donation       10                   10
Gifts                               40                  41

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

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)

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

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)

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

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

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!

Read Full Post »

One thing I will always remember about our wedding was how EFFING HOT it was! I couldn’t be more grateful though because there was a threat of rain, and hot thick sticky air is better than rain any wedding day. I tried to encourage people to dress comfortably, but several men had long pants or shirts on, and I just wanted to hand them a pair of scissors to remedy the situation. I was pretty steamy in my slip and long dress myself, and Mike kept his pants and long-sleeved shirt on the whole time. But, again, thankful for the heat given the alternative!

Anyway, while we were busy with photos, the rest of the crew was enjoying themselves. Everyone was eating and drinking and chatting. They were entertaining themselves with our homemade cootie catchers and pinwheels…

…and enjoying our candy-licious favors and decor.

(Although, we had a hard time getting rid of the candy favors. What the! Those things were awesome. Eventually someone walked around and handed the damn things out. Same thing happened recently at my sister’s wedding. My advice to future brides: favors are a waste of time and money.)

They were also busy at the photo booth, which I already talked about. And then! Then! We busted out the pinata. Aw yeah. Mike’s brother Brian helped the dads hang it up.

While we waited for the photographer to stop screwing around (kidding!), we screwed around a little bit.

Then we took a few swings together. In place of a first dance, we did a first pinata whack.

Then we turned it over to the kids who were, oh my gosh, SO excited they could hardly wait their turn.

Once all the little ones had a few swings, I looked to the adults. Brian was the first to volunteer, and turns out, the last.

With one whack, he sent that thing flying off the tree. And the kids, of course, went crazy. I have to admit, it was kind of crappy candy, cheap stuff from the bulk section, but they didn’t care. It’s CANDY and it’s FLYING EVERYWHERE!

Speaking of kids, I’m so glad we kept the kid quota small. It wasn’t a vicious thing, but kids tend to dominate a party. All the kids at the wedding were “my” kids, my family. So instead of being overwhelming, it was family. It was fun. And it was just the right amount of people in general. I am so so so glad we didn’t let the guest list get out of control. I hear all the time that peoples’ guest lists get away from them, but we managed to always keep it reined in, and all I can say is PHEW!

On that same note, I pointed out to someone recently that Mike and I managed to have exactly the wedding we said we were going to have. We always stayed true to our vision, and we weren’t influenced by any internal or external forces. The wedding we pictured a year ago is the wedding we had on June 12. I’m really proud that we weren’t sucked into the wedding industry—we didn’t go over our budget, we didn’t enlarge our guest list, we didn’t get caught up in unnecessary details. I don’t think that’s always easy to do, so kudos to us babe!

(I love this picture and don’t know where else to put it, so here is as good as any place.)

Like they all say, the whole thing went pretty fast, but honestly, not too fast. From start to finish, it was only about 8 hours of our lives. A work day. That’s it. So of course it’s going to go fast, especially given all the work you put into it. But we made a point to pause and soak it all in several times, and that helped us to slow down and enjoy it. We watched it all happen, but we also participated fully. That’s the way to do it.

Luckily my sister, the officiant, was on top of things, otherwise we may never have made it official. She called us into the house at one point to sign the marriage license.

I had my sister Andrea sign as my witness (Emily signed hers, and I signed Emily’s. Kelli had a friend sign for her.), and Mike asked his mom.

As soon as we had gotten all the shots we wanted, I ran off to change. I was actually in my dress for many hours when all was said and done, but I was ready to get out of it. It was HOT! And I really had no problem with this. I got my fifty bucks worth, and then I changed into a short green sundress and flip flops.

Actually the flip flops replaced my gorgeous boudoir slippers almost right away.

I’m in the green, and the rest of the feet belong to my mom and sisters. Can you guess who’s who?

Next I’m going to tell you about the after party!

Read Full Post »

I’ve told the story of how I found and purchased my dress already.

And I even mentioned that I was worried I wouldn’t actually fit into it the day of the wedding—I hadn’t tried it on in months, and I didn’t want to bother getting it altered. If I managed to maintain my weight, it would be fine, but I wasn’t sure I did that (as I made zero effort to do so). I figured if it didn’t fit, I’d just improvise and wear a sundress, but of course I was hoping it would.

Fortunately, when I tried it on the Friday before, it zipped up just fine.

So on Saturday I wasn’t worried at all. After hair and makeup were done, I hung out in my pajamas for awhile. I mingled with the guests that had shown up early, and took care of some last minute details. But mostly I just waited and relaxed. At one point I was sitting on the couch in a tank top and capris with immaculate hair and makeup, thinking, “I’m about to get married. Cool.”

My sisters kept telling me I should get in my dress, but I wanted to wait. It was a hot and humid day, and I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the ceremony, so waiting to don a slip and long dress was key. Finally around 3pm, they pulled me into a bedroom to get dressed.

(Yes that’s me in my slip and bra. Hey, Erica posted it on her blog, so I figured I could, too.)

I really could not be more happy with how my dress looked. Everything came together perfectly – the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the dress. I loved it all, which I think is important on your wedding day when, inevitably, you’re the center of attention. You want to feel good. And I did.

My favorite thing about the dress is that it is so very me. Even my grandpa, a man in his 70s whom I’ve never heard comment on anything to do with fashion, said that he loved my dress and thought it fit my personality perfectly. Standard wedding gowns are gorgeous, no doubt, but the strapless-white-poofy thing is just not me. This dress? So me.

And the shoes! Oh the shoes. I thought I’d go with something bright and funky, but when I saw these 1950s boudoir slippers on Etsy, I know they were meant for this dress.

Like I mentioned, Mike’s get-ready routine was much simpler, and he got dressed even before I did. He wore dark brown pants with an orange and white gingham-print shirt. During the ceremony he wore a sand-colored jacket, which he removed for the reception. He also wore sandals. We had decided he’d wear brown Skechers, but on the way to Dad’s Saturday morning, we realized we forgot them. Rather than turn around, we decided his Birkenstock sandals were just fine.

(Ceremony look.)

(Reception look.)

After we were both fully ensembled (word?), we walked around the house and yard greeting guests. We meant for this whole thing to be very casual and comfortable, so I didn’t hide out pre-ceremony. Both Mike and I chatted with people and fielded compliments (people are so sweet when you’re getting married). Once it appeared everyone had arrived, we decided to get started.

And that is where I’ll start my next post about the ceremony itself.

(All photos, except the first one and last two, by Photography by Arika Reed.)

Read Full Post »

The other day someone said to me that they picked out their particular wedding dress because they wanted to look beautiful—breathtaking even—for their soon-to-be-husband on their wedding day. That was the key: be stunning for the man you’re marrying. I get that, but it surprised me to realize that such an idea never really crossed my mind when I planned my wedding-day look. Oops.

I wanted a dress and a look that made me feel good, and that expressed my style and my personality. Minimizing cost was another goal, of course. Obviously I wanted to be beautiful. Who wants to look homely on their wedding day? But looking beautiful for Mike was not the goal. I know he thinks I’m beautiful, and so I suppose I knew he’d think I was beautiful that day, too, and that’s a good feeling.

But I didn’t buy a dress that I thought would drop his jaw. I didn’t hide from him so his first glimpse of me at the ceremony would be stunning. “I want to blow his mind. I want to be beautiful for him” never occurred to me. I don’t feel guilty about that, but I wonder if I should.

Should I?

Did you want to “be beautiful for him”? Did that cross your mind?

Read Full Post »

I took the Friday before the wedding off, but Mike had to work in the morning. While he did that, I went grocery shopping with Des, my stepmom. We bought WAY too much food, as Mike has already detailed. By the time we got back to the house, Mike arrived with a bunch of borrowed chairs, trash bins and the ice cream machine! Slowly others in my family started showing up, and we banded together to set up the yard and the garage. We also made tissue paper poms and paper pinwheels.

I was pretty chill and relaxed on Friday. I got a little testy a few times when I was trying to “manage the work,” if you will, and others were distracted by, what I considered at the time, less important things. I tend to get like that though on any given day. I like people to FOCUS! (I yell that a lot) and get things done before they run off in a million directions. I pulled the “this is MY day!” card a couple times, but only as a joke.

(Setting up chairs.)

(Setting up tents… just in case.)

Somewhere in there we ordered pizza for everyone. A très chic rehearsal dinner if I do say myself. After all the setup, we ran through the ceremony with my sister, the minister. It was a relatively short ceremony, but we arranged and wrote the whole thing (except for a very sweet part Emily wrote), so it was special to us.

(This photo is completely unedited. It really was that green and bright in the yard!)

Then we practiced my hair. My friend Robin was going to do it for me on the big day, but my sister Andrea wanted to try something. She and I had a similar vision for my hair so she gave it a go. We mostly focused on the front Friday night, and she did a great job. But on Saturday she really made the whole thing stunning. I loved every inch of my hair, and I love that it came together last minute, and I love that someone close to me did it, and I love that it was free!

(This is Friday night. You’ll be able to see some good ones of Saturday later.)

Then, because I hadn’t tried it on in a long time, I made sure I could still fit in my dress. Thank God, it fit. I had kind of decided, if I needed to, I’d just improvise. Wear something else maybe. But I was relieved it fit because I love how it added to the overall look of… well, everything.

Because my dad was playing a small part in the ceremony, we wanted to practice once more when he got home (he took all the kids to a tee ball game and got them out of the house – bless him). So, we rehearsed again!

And then we finished up a few odds and ends and peaced out. It was a really good day-before-the-wedding.

Read Full Post »


As I mentioned before, I’m about 10 pounds heavier now than I was when I purchased my dress over a year ago. I got a bunch of slips and shapewear (I figured out that’s the technical term for “sucky inny thing”) from my friend Robin (who got them all free somehow), but none of it fit quite right. So I went on the hunt for something else.

I already have a strapless bra that I love, so at first I considered something like this that would suck in my thighs, hips and tummy, but as one of the reviewers pointed out, it would be a bitch to try to use the bathroom with those things on! Ruled that out really quickly. I looked at a lot of options, things that sucked in this and emphasized that, but nothing that I felt quite met my needs.

Eventually I gave in and ordered this:

It was on sale for $25. I liked that it shaped from my thighs up through my boobs, but what I didn’t count on was such ill-fitting breast cups! (Yeah I said. Breast cups.) Anyway, they have no padding and that seam through the middle is bumpy and rigid. Unfortunately I can’t find something exactly like this but without the bra part. Plus, I worry that without the bra, the elastic at the top would tend to roll down. I read that happens a lot with shapers that come up to just below the boobs.

So, here was my genius solution: I put on the shaper and removed the straps (the top of my dress is transparent lace), then put my strapless bra ON TOP of it. Oh yeah, it is tres classy, believe me. But it worked. My mid-section was shapely and my boobs looked great. With the dress on, of course. Before the dress I looked like a frickin’ clown.

Read Full Post »

My dress. Oh man. It fit great when I bought it over a year ago, when I was about 10 pounds lighter. When I tried it on again a few months ago, my body fit inside, but I wouldn’t it say it was as flattering as it could be.

This was when I first bought the dress:

And this was a few months ago:

You can see my tummy, butt and hips have grown. (You can also see my black underwear. Oops.) I entered a weight loss competition at work a month ago, but so far I’m only down a couple pounds. Mostly because I’m not trying very hard at all. I like the way I look, and losing weight to fit into a dress is not good motivation for me apparently.

So last night I tried on the dress with (what I intellectually call) a sucky-inny thing to pull in my belly, and a long slip to smooth out my hips (and hide my underwear). Unfortunately I only took pictures on my phone, so I can’t share the results, but it seems to have improved things a little. I think as long as I don’t gain any weight, I’ll at least know that this is a good enough option. Having it altered is a last resort because I think it’ll be difficult to take this material out and maintain the integrity of the dress. Plus I don’t want to spend money on it.

Read Full Post »

My friend Lindsay suggested that we break down the wedding traditions we’ve been detailing in our Wedding Traditions Explained series from our own point of view. We thought it was a good idea, too. So here it is:

Tossing the bouquet and garter
We will not be doing either. In fact, we won’t even be having a bouquet or garter. I might carry something down the aisle, but it will likely not be flowers. So no tossing.

Including bridesmaids and groomsmen
We’re not having either. We decided it was unnecessary and it would save us some time, stress and money to forgo a wedding party altogether.

Giving away the bride
For awhile I thought if anyone was going to walk me down the aisle, it would be both of my parents, not just my dad. But then I decided the whole escorting down the aisle thing was silly. At least for me. Mike and I will be walking in solo and leaving together. Symbolic eh?

Bridal veil
Skipping it. I’ll wear the pretty lace hair adornment that my friend Katie bought me, and that’s it.

Wedding rings
We will have wedding rings. I like the symbolism here. We both had engagement rings, and we’ll both have wedding bands. And we both split the cost on all four.

No final decisions, but I don’t think there will be flowers. Other decorations, yes. Flowers, probably not. No real reason, except we want our decorations to be fun, simple and sort of whimsical, and other ideas seem to work better than flowers.

Bride on groom’s left
We’re not sure yet what we’re doing with placement. We’re not having “sides” because my family is so much bigger than his, so we just want people to sit wherever. I think which side we stand on will depend on what looks and feels right. When we were in the backyard once, getting an idea of how things would be, it seemed like one side was sloped a little more than the other. Being 15 inches shorter than Mike, it makes sense for me to not stand downhill from him.

Wedding cake
No cake. But we will have an ice cream bar and a cupcake bar! Aw yeah.

Something Old…
I will have something old (dress, shoes), and something new (hair piece, rings), and something borrowed (earrings), and maybe even something blue by then, who knows. But none of it is to fulfill the ‘requirements’ of this old saying.

The “wedding”
Yes we’re having a wedding, but there is no purchasing of brides or whatever.

White dress
Nope. It’s green and ivory.

First kiss
Yes we will be having a first kiss. Except we’re trying to think of a good alternative to “you may kiss the bride.” Maybe something like, “You may now take your first kiss as a married couple.” Or something. Thoughts?

Carrying the bride across threshold
Um no. There will be no carrying of the bride over anything.

The honeymoon
Yes yes yes! We’re on a serious budget for the wedding so that we can have enough money for a honeymoon. Nothing fancy though. We’re thinking maybe a short cruise or something. But we definitely want to get away after the wedding.

Bridal shower and bachelor party
Rather than a shower for the women only (god I hate that!), we’re going to host a family meet n’ greet slash shower. Basically we want our families to meet before the wedding, so we’re going to host our own big get-together, and instead of having separate showers, the meet n’ greet can second as one. Then I guess it will be up to our friends if there are any other showers or bachelor(ette) parties. No expectations there.

Wedding march
This relates to our aisle walk above. No wedding march. And as we explained awhile ago, there will be no music either.

Taking hands during the ceremony
I’m sure we’ll hold hands at some point. Right hand to right hand though? That seems a lot like a handshake…

We haven’t given this much thought actually. Maybe? But our reception is going to be more like a casual backyard party, and formal toasts might seem awkward. Or not. I’m not really sure. I have a feeling unless someone speaks up strongly about wanting to do a toast, we’ll probably skip this tradition.

Throwing rice
Definitely not. We won’t be departing in any big fashion, and in fact we’ll probably be staying later than most of the guests in order to clean up. So rice throwing or bubbles or sparklers… pretty obsolete.

Read Full Post »

Wedding traditions are traditions for a reason: they’ve been around a long time. But where did they originate? Our Wedding Traditions Explained series attempts to find out. We have no real evidence to back up these claims, but they were gathered from various online sources. Take them for what they’re worth, and if you’ve heard differing explanations, please share.

The White Dress

In biblical times, brides wore blue dresses as blue represented purity. Later, women usually just wore their best dress, not often white. In China and Japan, brides have traditionally always worn white,  the color of  mourning. The bride is leaving her family of birth to join that of her husband’s, thereby undergoing a symbolic death.

The first known white wedding dress was worn in 1499 by Anne of Brittany, for her marriage to Louis XII of France. By the late eighteenth century, white had become the standard wedding color. It is thought to symbolize purity and virginity.

Read Full Post »

We all know that wedding dresses are expensive, and brides usually spend a lot of money on a dress they wear once and then put in a closet for all eternity. Some brides sell or donate their dresses, which I think is brilliant, but most, I believe, stash them away for all time.

So when my friend Robin offered to let my sister Emily wear her dress, I was floored. She saw the dresses Emily loved on our recent bridal shop outing, and suggested that maybe she’d like to borrow hers, which was very similar. It’s kind of a perfect arrangement because Robin is excited to see someone get some more use out of her dress, Emily gets a gorgeous dress for free (though she will be paying to have it altered and dry cleaned), and Robin can still keep the dress for all eternity after Em’s wedding.

(Robin’s words were something like: “I know I’ll never wear it again, so I don’t care if she alters it, but I might want it back, for sentimental reasons.” No problem!)

I’m so grateful to Robin, and Emily is near speechless about her generosity. And I’m so happy that Em has a dress she feels beautiful in. She told me that it has taken so much stress off her shoulders now that the dress issue is solved.

So thank you, Robin. You’re a role model for all brides!

Here’s Robin looking stunning in the dress:

And here’s Em trying it on:

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »