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Archive for the ‘Unity Quilt’ 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
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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While everyone got seated, Mike and I stayed inside the house. Through the windows we could see some chaos happening with the chairs – people were scrambling to find more and we weren’t sure why. A couple people came into the house to grab a thing or two, and told us that apparently there weren’t enough, which was frustrating because I counted those damn chairs and set them up perfectly. We didn’t have “sides” for bride and groom, and other than “reserved” seats for parents in the front, we didn’t dictate where people sat. But there were enough chairs! When I looked at pictures later and saw there were empty seats, that confirmed it. And also, I went back and counted them in this photo we took pre-ceremony, so I’m not really sure what was going on.

Can you tell the chair thing really bothered me? It was silly, but standing inside watching it happen, I was like, what the fuck, get it together people!

Anyway, Mike and I were inside waiting to get started. I was really warm in my dress, and even though we had both borrowed handkerchiefs from my two grandpas to dab the sweat, I needed to take a moment to cool down. I stood in front of the fan, then sat on an ottoman and closed my eyes. When I felt relaxed and cool, Mike and I took a minute to appreciate what was happening. We looked out on our family and friends, and at each other, and took it all in.

(Photos by Photography by Arika Reed.)

We both stood at different doors and waited for my sister Emily to give us the cue (a subtle nob). I was a door where nobody could see me except her, and when I opened to door a crack I heard her telling a joke. I guess she was entertaining the crowd while I took my moment to cool. When she saw me waiting, she nodded, and we walked out. We came from different doors and met at the steps of the deck. It was then I noticed the background music we were playing pre-ceremony was still on, and it was definitely NOT playing anything from the playlist Mike had made. I caught my sister Kelli’s eye and she knew I was saying, “What IS that? Turn that shit off!” Thanks Kel! I kept smiling, and Mike took my hand and helped me down the steps, then we separated again. He walked around one side of the chairs and I the other, and we met at the altar.

(Note the HILARIOUS face my little bro is making!)

Emily started by welcoming everyone and saying some sweet words she had written about us as individuals and as a couple. She wouldn’t let us hear or read that part before the ceremony, so it was nice to have a little surprise. Then we had planned this cool thing where Em was going to ask my family and friends to accept Mike, and his to accept me. She asked for “Shannon’s friends and family to please stand” but EVERYONE stood. It was a little confusing for second, but Em rolled with it, made a little joke and pressed on. It meant a lot to hear all of our most important people accept each of us into their folds.

Then Em introduced and explained our Unity Quilt. While she explained the idea behind it, how it was created and how many people contributed, Mike and I showed it off.

She also explained our Love Letter Box, and invited everyone to contribute some advice or well wishes. Then Mike and I exchanged vows and rings. We both said the same thing, words we had written together. I went first. Em asked, “Shannon, do you choose Mike to be your husband, to love, respect and honor him through all life’s changes?” And I took his ring from her and said:

I do. Mike, I choose you to be my husband and my partner, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the man you will become. I promise to be your equal partner, love you without reservation, and comfort you in times of distress. I will encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, and always be open and honest with you.

I promise I will always try to give you the best of myself and love you even when you’re not at your own best. Like when the grocery store is out of double chocolate PowerBars and you take it as a conspiracy against you personally. I promise to respect you as a person with your own interests, desires, and needs, and to realize that those are sometimes different, but no less important than my own.I promise to love and cherish you through all of life’s experiences.

I take you to be my husband, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner, and one true love. I give this ring as my gift to you. Wear it and think of me and know that I love you.

Then Em asked Mike the same question, and he responded with the same words. Only his example of me not at my own best was “Like when you get upset with me for not finding your phone fast enough in your bottomless purse.”

Don’t worry, we didn’t memorize all that. Em had it written in her book and we read. See?

Em pronounced us husband and wife and invited me to kiss my groom. Then we unveiled this funny plan I have had for a long time. Mike’s tall right? Quite tall. And I’m not. So when we’re both standing and we kiss, even when I’m in heels, he has to hunch over and I get a neck cramp. So to play up our height difference, we planned this:

(Photos by Photography by Arika Reed.)

We had hidden a tree stump behind our altar, and when Em told us to kiss, that was my dad’s cue. He hopped up, grabbed the log and put it in place, then assisted me in stepping up. Just as I had hoped, it got a good laugh from those who weren’t expecting it. And it made for a gorgeous! photo.

(Photo by Photography by Arika Reed.)

At that was it! We smiled for the people…

…and walked down the aisle together. Married!

As soon as we got to the end, people got up and we were surrounded with hugs and kisses and congratulations. Good thing my immediate family knew exactly what to do to set up for the reception. They jumped immediately into action while Mike and I mingled.

And that, my friends, was our wedding. It was beautiful and perfect and fun and a little silly and it was so personalized. We wrote the whole thing and did only the things that meant something to us. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. And I’m really glad we got tons of pictures and a video. Thanks to everyone with a camera!

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Just thought y’all might be interested in seeing the final product of our Unity Quilt project. This was one of the very coolest things we did. It took quite a bit of work, and I got worn out (and sloppy) toward the end, but it was so worth it. I love how it turned out, and I love that we’ll have it forever.

We presented it during the ceremony – my sister, as the minister, explained its meaning while Mike and I showed it off.

(This is during our “rehearsal.” I don’t have a ceremony photo yet.)

Then we hung it up in front of the fireplace, with a nifty little diagram I mocked up, throughout the reception.

Pretty effing cool huh?

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The Unity Quilt is taking me a little longer than I had planned. I made the fabric contritubution deadline March 15 so I’d have plenty of time to put the quilt together and be done by mid-May. I wanted to have the last month before the wedding to focus on details, so I wanted the quilt done.

Oops. Didn’t happen.

I finally got all the squares together a week and a half ago, and on Saturday, I laid the whole thing out and sewed the front together. Mike and I also picked out some fabric for the back this weekend. Man was that a process. I didn’t really have a vision of what I wanted, but nothing I was seeing seemed right. Finally, after 20 minutes of circling the store, we decided to choose something based on the name of the fabric, and Mike found one called “Candy Carnival” which seemed appropriate since one of our unofficial themes for the wedding is candy. But damn it, there wasn’t enough left on the bolt! By then I was pissy and so over it, so we just picked something that seemed good enough. I hope it ends up looking ok.

Still not going to show you the quilt, but here’s a sneak peek at the pile of quilt squares:

Because we’re moving, we just took apart the table that my sewing machine usually sits on to make room for boxes, so I may not be able to sew the back on until we’ve made the move. Hopefully I get it done before the wedding!

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In one month, we’re getting married! Unfortunately, wedding planning has taken a serious backseat as we get ready to move. Yes, we’re moving out of our apartment two weeks before we get married. It’s not what we wanted to happen, but it’s the way the timeline worked out, so here we are. Knee-deep in boxes and storage totes and chaos.

Luckily the wedding planning has been going well all along, so it’s not a crisis that we can’t focus on it right now. There is still plenty to do, but we have a pretty good grasp on it.

– We have to make our favors and decorations, but we have all the supplies ready to go.
– We have to confirm with everyone the things they’re bringing or making for us, but at this point it’ll just be a reminder to them.
– We have to work out some logistics, but with the great helpers we have, it shouldn’t be difficult.
– I have to finish the Unity Quilt, but it’s just a matter of sewing the squares together and adding the back fabric.
– We have to make final arrangements for our honeymoon, but that’s really just a matter of printing maps and doing a bit of research.
– We have to buy and prepare our portion of the food, but that can’t be done until just before the wedding.
– We have to do three more sessions of premarital counseling, but those aren’t scheduled until the end of the month.

Aside from a few miscellaneous odds and ends, that’s pretty much it! We’re in really good shape. The stress of packing and preparing to move is less than fun, but we’re in great spirits about the wedding. We’re getting MARRIED! In a MONTH!

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As Mike mentioned, our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower was this past Saturday. I think it went really well. We had about 30 people there, and we heard a lot of compliments by the end. “This was a great idea.” “We had a good time, great job!”

Mike’s mom, aunt and dad helped us set up, and everyone was there by 2ish. We had tons of food (wish I took a picture to show you), and the room was perfect. My huge family was a little overwhelming to Mike’s much smaller family, I’m sure, but many thanks to everyone, especially my dad, for making an effort to get to know them.

The introduction game was a success. Everyone went along with it, and it seemed to be a good way to make sure everyone knew everyone else. The game also provided our only decorations (besides table clothes that we borrowed for free).

After everyone ate and we played our game, someone suggested we do gifts. As Mike mentioned, this was awkward for us. I was almost hoping to avoid opening gifts at the party, but a few people insisted. I know, we throw our own shower then get embarrassed about opening gifts. But whatever, it was uncomfortable ok? We did it anyway.

And boy were we spoiled.

It’s strange to ask for gifts and then sit there and open them all at once. But our families were unbelievably kind, and we can’t thank them enough. This is exactly why we’re choosing to honor our friends and family with the Unity Quilt – they give us so much love and support, and we never want to forget that.

I was nervous about this party, but I felt really good afterward. It was a really good idea and I recommend it to anyone.

I’ll leave you with this because aren’t my sisters gorgeous?

(Please note Kelli’s pregnant belly. She’s so adorable!)

PS – Total, this shower cost us $90.52. The room was free (thanks to Mike’s mom), food was $36.35 (our families really helped us out here), decorations were $20.85 (that was mostly for the candy), invitations plus postage were $25.84, and thank you card postage was $7.48 (we sent 17 from my stash of blank cards – they were all different!).

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The last week and a half, I’ve been working on our Unity Quilt. It was pretty daunting at first, but thanks to Mike and his mom, a plan (sort of) has emerged, and I’m off and running. The first night I worked on it, I nearly had a mental breakdown. I just couldn’t figure anything out, and I kept making the wrong cuts, which I can’t afford to do with such limited fabric. Mike started helping me with some of the figuring, and he had a much better attitude about it. “I didn’t know quilting was so much fun. It’s all geometry and logic!” Uh huh.

Eventually I got on a roll, but then Oberon decided his new favorite place to hang out was my cutting mat.

He’s cute, but not a great helper. Despite that, I’ve made about six or seven of the 20 squares I need to make, so… progress. We’ve shown just about everything else on this blog (my dress, etc.), but I think I’ll save the quilt reveal for the wedding (and post-wedding on here, of course).

A sneak peak can’t hurt though.

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