Thursday, 25 April 2013

8 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

I was putting together a blog post of wedding advice but couldn't narrow it down to my "top 10", and I realized that lots of the advice was related to saving money, so I put together this post with ways that we were able to spend less on our money. I hope that someone finds this advice useful! Check out the other post here.

1) DIY as much stuff as possible

OK, so I might be a little biased about this one since I am a very DIY-minded person. However, some things are so simple to do and you can save a lot of money. I made all of our invitations, programs, and place cards by hand, well I had an invitation making party and invited some friends over to help out. Most of the work was just designing the invitations on Microsoft Word, printing, cutting, gluing, and tying ribbons. If you aren't a big DIY person, then just ask someone who is to help you out.

2) See if you can get your flowers from a local grocery store

I asked a coworker where she was getting her flowers from and was surprised to hear that they were coming from a Sobey's grocery store. I was really pleased with how everything worked out. Their prices were much lower than a florist, and they did a great job. Our flowers cost about $350 if I remember correctly for 6 bouquets, 11 boutonnieres, and 4 corsages, made of roses too.

3) Skip the DJ- use an ipod or laptop instead

This decision was a no-brainer for us. We aren't huge party people, and didn't want the dance to be the main focus of our reception.  Even if it was, I think that it worked out better than having an actual DJ. We just made a playlist in advance and hooked up our laptop to the sound system. We enjoyed having more control over what songs were played (we didn't have to struggle through the YMCA). We were running short on time but had a few songs we wanted to dance to that hadn't been played yet so we moved them up, and took out some of the slower songs that weren't as big a hit. This is a really easy way to save money too.

4) Pass on the open bar

We never really considered having an open bar since many of our family members and friends don't drink, but I was shocked by how much it cost! At the place where we had our reception the price per person for open bar was almost as much as the meal! Everyone would have had to get 5 or 6 drinks each to make it worth having, and I knew that wasn't going to happen. We also didn't really want to have people getting drunk at our wedding either. I know that some people consider it "rude" to not have an open bar, but it's a pretty hefty price to just avoid being rude, and I think that many people understand that weddings are expensive. A few other options are to stock the bar yourself, or even to have people pay $2 for a drink and pay for the difference.

5) Spend money on things that people will notice, be more frugal with things that nobody cares about 

This piece of advice was especially salient to me when thinking about centerpieces. There are some wedding  I have been to where the centerpieces were too big and were just in the way. Others I couldn't tell you what they were a month later. Instead of spending $200+ per table on floral arrangements, we used a vase with water, floating candles, and sprinkled rose petals, which was much more affordable, but still allowed us to use the colour scheme. A few candles will go a long way!

This is the picture I took for the people at the hall so they knew how to set up the centerpieces. We had real rose petals, but you get the basic idea :)

6) Skip the giant bakery wedding cake

Jordan and I aren't huge fans of cake, we both like it, but we like ice cream much better! So we decided to get our ice cream cake from Dairy Queen instead. It was only $30, and the girls working there really liked us so gave us extra punch cards so we were able to cash it in for another free cake later on! We served the ice cream cake to the bridal party, and had the caterers do an ice cream sundae bar instead, which I think was a hit. Wedding cakes are so expensive, and some places will even charge you to cut it up and serve it. I know it's a big trend right now, but it's easy to work around. For my sister-in-law's wedding, my mother in law made the cake (for free), used plain white icing, a tiered cake stand, and wrapped purple ribbon around it. It looked and tasted great too!

7) Don't pay anybody to do something that you could do yourself 

In going to wedding shows, there are so many services available to brides, but some of them are just unnecessary! For me, it would have been really silly to hire a wedding planner since I love planning events and was really on top of everything. I can understand why other people would hire one, but it was not necessary for us. Another thing that we were on the fence with was getting a company to come and do a photobooth. The companies that did it charged $1000+, and we just couldn't justify paying them. Instead we used a piece of plywood and leftover wallpaper, a bunch of dollar-store type props, and had a friend take pictures for us. A professional likely would have done a better job, but it just was not worth paying someone else to do it when we could do a pretty good approximation ourselves. I think that our guests had lots of fun and wouldn't have really noticed the difference if it was someone from a company doing it, but our bank account sure noticed the difference! The one exception we made to this rule is that we had our flowers delivered. It only cost $20 and it would have been too rushed to have someone pick them up from out of town that day. Really weigh the pros and cons before paying for anything!

8) Borrow whatever you can

I was fortunate to be able to borrow a few things for free for the wedding. I borrowed my veil and tiara from a friend, and some jewellery from my grandmother. My grandpa also drove us from the ceremony to the reception in his classic car, so we didn't have to worry about that either! Our friends got married the weekend before us and we were able to borrow tons of tulle and lights from them, and then pass them on to her cousin who is getting married next summer too. I don't have any use for all that tulle beyond our wedding day! Take advantage of your connections, a lot of people are happy to help and be involved.

My shoes were from Payless as well, $20!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

10 Things I Learned From Planning Our Wedding

After planning our wedding, I thought that it might be nice to pass along some advice about things that I thought went well for us. I am so pleased with how our wedding went, and it was an absolutely perfect day! We are so blessed to have each other, our wonderful family and dedicated friends. Hope this advice is helpful to someone! I had too many pieces of advice, so I am working on a post about ways to save money on your wedding as well so stay tuned. :)

1) PINTEREST!!!!!!!! 
You seriously need to get on Pinterest if you aren't already. I am so happy that I discovered Pinterest before our wedding. There are so many great ideas that we incorporated into our big day, so take a look! One thing that was also helpful about Pinterest was that my photographer and I both followed each other, so when one of us was explaining a pose, we knew exactly what each other meant. I also have a ton of great wedding ideas pinned, check them out here.
2) Don't skimp on photography 
One of my pet peeves in considering other people's weddings is if they have really poor quality photography. To me photography was a really important aspect of our wedding. After all is said and done, all you have to show for your wedding are the pictures (and your husband of course!). Beware of people who call themselves photographers but are really just people with a nice camera who will take pictures for you if you give them money. Some of these types of people can do good work, don't get me wrong, but you are more likely to get good quality photography if it is from someone who is a full-time photographer. Compare different photographers online and make sure that you get someone whose work is what you are looking for. If you are in the Hamilton/Niagara region, check out our photographer, Emily Foster Photography!
3) Do an engagement session 
I personally found it really helpful to do an engagement session. Most people aren't used to posing for pictures with their mate, so it was nice to get used to posing, and working with the photographer. We were able to get comfortable with what the process was like, and you can see what you look like compared to what you thought you would look like while you were posing. I also think it is great to have nice photos of you and your spouse that aren't wedding photos (profile pictures for life!). This will also give you a heads up of what your wedding pictures might look like. If you aren't impressed, then you at least have the chance to find a new photographer.
4) Do what YOU want! 
Throughout the whole process, my husband and I made it clear that this was our day, and that we would do things the way that we wanted. Of course you should not purposely try to offend people, but in the end it is your day, and it should be the way that the two of you want it. We tried to strike a balance between having traditions and being different. For example, neither of us were keen on doing the garter/bouquet toss, so we skipped it, and I don't think that anybody cared! We like ice cream better than cake so we got a $30 one from Dairy Queen and had an ice cream sundae bar instead of wedding cake. We had fireworks at the end with our sparkler send-off. If someone has a problem with something, it's your wedding in the end and they can get over it (easier said than done of course). 

5) Write your own vows
I am very thankful to have a very sentimental husband, who was actually excited about writing our own vows. To me, this is the most special part about your wedding, and that's the reason that everyone is really there! We had our minister read over them before the wedding to make sure they were comparable in length and that everything was OK. It was a really special moment for us as a couple to make pledges to each other that were truly from the heart. After the wedding, I printed out our vows on vellum and have them framed above our bed so we can always remember and look back on what we said.

6) Treat your guests well 
One thing that was important to us in planning our wedding was to treat our guests well. The people you love are taking their time, and many of them have traveled to be there with you, so don't forget about them! A few things we did to make this happen was to provide finger foods and drinks immediately after the ceremony for the guests before heading over to the reception, putting out games for people to play at the church while waiting for the reception to start, and putting baskets in the bathrooms with toiletry items for emergencies. One thing that I don't like about weddings is when you have to wait for 3+ hours between the ceremony and reception. I think that it is important to have that time to get pictures for sure, but I have been in situations where I went to someone's house, or went to Tim Horton's in between while waiting. For our wedding, I wanted people to feel welcome to hang out at the church building before heading over to the reception.

7) Have it indoors 
I know that lots of people dream of having outdoor weddings, and if you want to do that then that's great. I just knew that it would not be worth it for us to worry about the weather for the trade-off of having it outdoors. I have found that outdoor weddings are either beautiful, or horrible. A lot of the time it can be difficult to hear what people are saying. The weather needs to be absolutely perfect: sunny, but with shaded areas, warm, but not too hot, not too windy, not too humid. It would have been too stressful to wait until the day of to find out if your wedding was going to be ruined. A wedding I went to it was thunderstorming the morning of, but by the afternoon it was a beautiful sunny day. I can't imagine what the bride was going through that morning! It was very relieving to be able to set up everything in the church building the day before, and to not have to worry about these sorts of things. We used tulle with white Christmas lights behind- I think that it looked pretty good!

8) Limit the speeches 
Another pet peeve of weddings is unending speeches. Most of them are saturated with inside jokes that nobody gets but the lovely couple, and everyone else is left bored. A short speech can be just as meaningful as a long one, and will be appreciated much more by your guests. We were very intentional in limiting the number of people who would do speeches (parents of each side, maid of honour, best man, and us). We asked them to all have something written down so that they wouldn't just get up there and ramble.
9) Lists, lists, lists! 
I am such a listy person it's ridiculous. I had so many lists going of what needed to be done, ideas, brainstorming, and many other things. Near the end I had lists all over the place and was feeling a little overwhelmed, so I brought home a piece of chart paper from work and put all of my lists into one place. I found it really helpful having everything in one place (and colour coded of course) because I knew that nothing would get missed and everything that needed to be done would happen. Another thing I did was make a list of all the photography poses and combinations of people (family etc.) that I wanted for my photographer. This worked out great for both of us because there were no poses or people missed.
10) Plan a relaxing honeymoon 
Jordan and I spend our honeymoon in Ontario's cottage country at my grandparents' cottage. Part of the reason was to save money, but even if we had unlimited resources I don't think I would have done it another way. I would have found it really overwhelming to plan a wedding and to hop on a plane to a foreign country the next day. It was really nice that we could just hop in the car for 3 hours with the GPS and go to a place that was familiar, comfortable, private, and relaxing. After such a busy time planning our wedding (and moving to a new city two days after we got back), it was really nice to just be able to do nothing for the week without having to worry.  Our plan was to go somewhere warm in the winter, but this hasn't happened yet (hopefully next year!)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Taggie Blankie Sewing Tutorial

My mom and I have finally decided to get a table at a craft show. Actually it is a mom to mom sale as a fundraiser for Great Lakes Christian High School in Beamsville, ON where I attended and my father works. I visited some friends and their baby a few weeks ago and saw that she had one of these taggie blankies, and of course my first thought was "I could totally make that". I found a tutorial on Pinterest to get me started, but here is mine anyways. I was going to make one over my reading week and thought I might as well make a few, and ended up making 14! It is pretty easy, but can be time consuming cutting and pinning all the ribbons. Hopefully it will be a big seller at the sale! These are more sensory toys than actual blankets. Babies like the different colors and textures of the ribbons to fell, look at, and suck on. I gave one to my 7 month old niece and she loves it!

You will need:
-Two pieces of fabric 16" x 16" (I used flannelette and fleece, but minky fabric and cotton would work too. If you have smaller pieces you can use that too I have seen some that are 8" x 8")
-16 pieces of ribbon 5" long, various colors, textures, widths
-Sewing machine
-Iron and ironing board

1. Cut two pieces of fabric that are 16" x 16" (approx) squares.

2. Cut 16 pieces of ribbon that are 5" long. Iron them if they have creases.

3. Pin the two pieces of fabric together with just one pin in the middle, wrong side facing each other (on the inside). Pin the ribbons by folding it in half (right side facing out), and tucking it between the two pieces of fabric (edges touching). Pin 4 on each side, evenly spaced.

4. Sew along the edges using a straight stitch, leaving a gap between two of the ribbons (I place another pin between two ribbons to remind me not to sew it completely shut.) When you get to a ribbon, use your reverse button and go back over the ribbon twice to hold it in place (4 times total- 2 forward and 2 backward).

5. Take out the pins, and flip it right side out through your hole, and poke the corners out using a pencil. Iron it flat and make the edges flat.

6. Zig zag stitch around the whole edge, paying special attention to where the hole is (make sure those edges are tucked in good!


All done! The only thing left to do is give it to a baby!