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Things that really got under my skin while searching for a photographer December 29, 2010

When I was searching for a wedding photographer, I posted an ad on Craigslist stating what I was looking for and what my budget was.  I got well over a hundred responses (and I’m still getting them, albeit at a much slower pace, maybe only one or two a day), and I sorted through all of them.  Some of them were good (although most of them who were good were still way outside my budget – I put my budget in the ad, why respond if you can’t meet it?  Why waste my time and yours?), but the vast majority of them were just terrible.  Here are some of the pet peeves I ran into while looking through all these photographers.

Grip and grins. A grip and grin was a term we used in the Army for any photograph of two people standing, looking at the camera.  Usually, they are shaking hands or both holding some award one is giving to the other.  These photos are posed, forced, awkward and worst of all, boring.  Most of the wedding photography I saw was basically nothing but a bunch of grip and grins, only instead of hand shakes, it’s arms around each other in a insincere hug, or people standing in a row.  Any twelve-year-old can shoot a line of people standing on a church altar in fancy clothes and turn it black and white in Photoshop to make it seem more ‘classic’.  I know some of this is going to take place at every wedding, but if these are the only photos you’re posting on your website, there’s something wrong.  I wouldn’t pay a penny more than $20 for that kind of work.  Unfortunately, most photographers do just that, then have the audacity to charge four digits for that quality of work.  Please, I did higher quality stuff in the Army and didn’t make in a month what some of these photographers charge for eight hours of coverage, even when I was deployed.  I lived in a tin shack for a year and ate out of Navy chow halls (which, to be fair, are at least significantly better than Army chow halls), and I was constantly subject to sexual harassment from 400 New Jersey infantry men, and about the same number of Detroit MPs.  But even under these conditions, at pay that equaled out to $7.50 an hour after tax, I still did better work than some of the photographers I looked at.  And I was not the best photographer in my unit either.

Inability to focus a camera. What really amazed me is how many professional photographers can’t seem to focus.  I know focus can be a little tricky sometimes, but come on!  For the prices you’re charging, I expect a sharp focus.  And these are the photos they’re displaying on their website, you know it’s their very best.  If their very best doesn’t even have a good focus, what does their average work look like?  Seriously, if you can’t do it manually, at least use the autofocus (not that autofocus always does a good job either, but it’s better than nothing).  And I can tell the difference between somebody who knows how to use their shutter and aperture to convey depth of field or motion in a photo, and somebody who’s just trying to pass off a blurry photo as something they did intentionally.  Apparently the average consumer cannot, however, because there are a lot of photographers out there doing just this.

Overuse of black and white. Sure, black and white can be nice some times, but most of the time when I see it, I think it’s just an attempt to cover up lack luster work.  So many people think black and white pictures are automatically better, and that’s easy to take advantage of.  Black and white does not automatically mean classier or better photos.  It usually means you’ve got a photographer who can’t do color (or can’t do much of anything).  Not always, mind you, I’m sure some photographer is going to find my blog and leave some comment like “I choose to shoot in black and white because it’s more raw and real, but I can kick ass at color if I wanted to” or some other hipster jargon, and that’s all well and good.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I still see an awful lot of shitty photography out there that, once converted to black and white, idiots think is art.  And I know there are a lot of not very good photographers taking advantage of all these idiots that think photography is automatically artful if it’s in black and white.  I’m sure that’s not at all what any photographer who visits my blog does, though.

Not to say all black and white photography is lame, hipster shit (and even if it was, I would be hypocritical to suggest that hipster shit never appeals to me, it most often does).  Some of it is very, very nice.  What I hate to see is bad photography being passed off as art just because it’s black and white.  Even when I saw a photographer do awesome black and white, black and white probably isn’t going to be the best choice for my wedding anyhow.  I am having a bright and colorful wedding that just wouldn’t be done justice if it were shot in black and white.  Furthermore, I think it’s a crime to put beautiful red hair like mine in black and white.  So I need a photographer who does awesome color work, and that is just few and far between.  Why is this?  Because of this stupid, hipster, black and white trend!  Everyone thinks black and white is classier than color in every situation, and that’s simply not true!  Ever looked through a National Geographic and thought “Gee, if only all these pictures were in black and white, then this magazine would be beautiful”?  No!  But very few photographers seem to even bother with color, because all these idiot people think only black and white is classy.  Frustrating!

(Note:  I had the pleasure of participating in a press escort of National Geographic during my deployment to Guantanamo Bay in 2004.  Here is a link to the article.  In the photo “Clear Warnings”, you can see my ear, right next to my former first sergeant.  If you can find the print article, there is another picture of me eating in the community kitchen.  A friend told me, upon seeing it, that I looked like an anorexic getting ready to puke myself.  In actuality, I had just popped a fried plantain into my mouth.  This was my 15 minutes.)

Also, I don’t like the whole, all-black-and-white-except-for-a-single-rose-in-color style either.  I know many people do like this, and that’s a matter of opinion.  It’s not for me.  Maybe some photographer can change my mind about this by sending me some wedding work done in this style that looks modern, but all of it I’ve seen looks really 1992 to me.  It’s just way over done.  Like black and white.  And white gold.  And diamonds.

Out of state photographers. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with being a photographer from another state.  What irritates me is how many photographers from out of state responded to my ad for a wedding in Denver.  A lot of them came in with bids under my budget, but didn’t include travel costs, which put them over budget again.  Furthermore, I can’t justify flying someone in from out of state to take pictures at my wedding when there are photographers right here in town.  To be fair, I didn’t put in my ad that I am passionate about supporting local economies and that I’m trying to keep the carbon footprint of my wedding as low as possible, but I didn’t think in a million years I’d get so many photographers from all over the country responding to my ad!  I thought that my ad for a photographer for a Denver wedding would appear only in the Denver Craigslist listing.  Apparently not.

High prices without offering much. I ran into a few photographers, not many, but a few, who were so outrageously priced I wouldn’t pay for their services even if I had a million dollars to spend on my wedding.  This is because even if you’re very, very rich, there is still a line where once you cross it, you feel like you’re just throwing money away, and any rich person who habitually just throws money away is not going to stay rich for very long.  There is just no way I’m going to spend $2500 to $3000 on 8 hours coverage with one photographer and a disc of photoshopped images, when for the same price I can get similar style and quality, full day coverage by two photographers, wedding albums, prints, and a disk.  I got schooled by a professional photographer about costs of running a photography business the last time I complained about photography prices on this blog, but there are some people out there crossing the line.  Especially ones who I know have full-time jobs that pay well in addition to their line crossing photography business (specifically, a photographer recommended to me who happens to be a friend of a friend).

Bad lighting.  Lighting is hard.  The flash is tough to get the hang of, and there is a bit of math involved with getting the aperture and shutter speed just right, especially in challenging lights.  I have sympathy for that because I always had trouble with lighting when I was doing photography.  A lot of times my photos were dark or blown out.  I didn’t usually publish those pictures, though.  I worry when I see a website full of really dark photos (which seems to be more common than blown out), especially if the photos were taken during the middle of the day outdoors.  I worry when I see photos of people with flash face, you know, that really obvious, I-just-had-a-flash-go-off-in-my-face look.  I worry about this because when I see this on the website they’re sending out to potential new clients, I know that the majority of their work is going to be even worse than this.  I mean, I understand that some photos come out like this, and sometimes, it even kind of works.  But if all photos are like this, there’s a problem.

Look, I know that photography is hard, it takes a lot of skill (which must be learned) and an artistic eye (which is a talent one is born with, but can be honed and advanced).  But surgery is also hard, and most of us would not choose a less than good surgeon because we can sympathize with how hard their job is.  When given the choice, we choose the best our money can buy.  I certainly was not the best photographer in my unit, I got into my MOS to write, not to take photos, so I don’t really want to be passing too much judgement on other photographers out there.  If you guys look at the GTMO newsletter, The Wire, from 2004-2005, most of the photos are mine, you will see I’m not a good enough photographer to meet my standards for hire.  I can admit that.  But this is my money I’m spending, and I want the best my money can buy.

This post is mostly just bitching about what I see out there, what people expect me to cough up my money for.  I feel like the wedding industry thinks I’m stupid enough to pay thousands of dollars on things that suck, not just photography, but everything.  It’s not to say that all photographers out there suck.  I had a pretty long list of amazing photographers after sifting through all the responses I got, and I’m really, really excited about and happy with the choice I eventually made, Clara Images.  I feel like it is the best quality for the money, and I really like the women who will be my photographers personally too.  I guess I was just amazed at the ratio of crap to good stuff in the professional photographer world, and wanted to vent about it.

I am very, very glad that I’m no longer looking through photographers.

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Community, or why I love my back yard wedding December 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rockingthehomestead @ 11:00 pm

When my mom suggested holding the wedding reception in the back yard, it just felt right.  I couldn’t have put my finger on what was right about it when she said it, but it was like a light bulb went off above my head.  In my back yard is where I’m supposed to celebrate my wedding.

Of course, I had my reservations.  Could we fit enough people?  Would the neighbors get pissed?  Where will everyone park?  But the idea seemed so right to me, I just couldn’t let it go.

My mom said that it was because this idea is just more me than a reception hall.  I am passionate about local economies and urban homesteading.  I have a love affair going with this back yard, and leaving it will be the saddest part of getting married.  I have put a lot of work into it, and I will put a lot more into it to get it ready for the wedding.  And I will love every minute of it.

But, the longer I have to reflect upon it, the more I think that there is so much more meaning to a back yard wedding than just environmental friendliness and speaking to me as an individual.  A back yard wedding speaks to the meaning of marriage as a whole.

Weddings serve a greater purpose than just procreation (despite what some homophobes want people to believe).  Traditionally, weddings were a way to grow families and communities by bringing them together.  Wars could be resolved through weddings, poverty could be eased, friendships could grow and communities were strengthened.  Marriage was more about that than even love, traditionally.  In fact, marriage for love is a relatively new concept, anthropologically speaking, and in many ways, unique to western culture.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t like marriage for love.  I love Jeremy very much, and I’m glad that I have gotten the opportunity to marry him, instead of being forced to marry the first man who showed interest, or the man who knocked me up (thank God I didn’t have to marry that).  But I think that the other purposes of marriage, the ones that have served such a vital purpose to human culture from the dawn of time, ought to be recognized and cherished.  And while it is true that that purpose was often achieved by treating woman and children like property (I will trade you my prettiest daughter in exchange for ceasing this war, etc.), I don’t think that ancient sexism devalues the role of community and the way in which community can be served through marriage.

Marriage can, and should, bring communities together.  Of course, most people’s marriage brings two families and sets of friends together, and that’s very good.  But community consists of more than just our friends and relations.  Community consists of your neighbors, your mail carrier, your garbage person, local business owners, your religious authority at your place of worship, all the people around us every day that most of us tend to take for granted.  And it’s hard to involve community, on that level, when you’ve shipped yourself far away from your home,  your neighborhood, your community, to some sterile, foreign, artificial location for your ceremony and reception.

While I understand that budget and space restrictions keep most of us from inviting our entire communities to our weddings, I love the idea of having my wedding reception in my community, involving my community.  Not only will my friends and family have the opportunity to get to know each other, but my neighbors will all have this opportunity to get to know my friends and family, and each other, as well.  In a world where we spend more time talking to Facebook friends than our own neighbors, I think back yard weddings might just be one step towards saving the world.  Or at least culture.

Here’s an article about community and family that I really enjoyed.  I hope that you do too.

 

Wedding secrets. Shhhh. December 23, 2010

My sister and I got into it a little bit today when she asked me to send her a picture of the dress I picked out.  I didn’t want to send her a picture.  I didn’t even want her knowing I had bought one.  It was nothing personal, I wouldn’t want to send anyone a picture.  I didn’t want to mention buying one to anyone.  When I picked it out, I swore my mom, future mother-in-law and future sister-in-law to secrecy.  And I wasn’t going to say anything else to another damn soul about it until the wedding.

The best laid plans of mice and men …

Well then my co maid of honor got in touch with me and asked when I was going to start looking at dresses, because she’d love to come with me.  I had to tell her I’d already picked one out.  Then I had to also call my grandma, who I was thinking would make me a dress, and let her know that I had fallen in love with a dress in a store, and that I wasn’t going to have her make my dress after all.  But that was going to be it, damnit.

Of course, I know that when that many people know a secret, it’s bound to get out (which is exactly why the government can’t keep secrets from us for very long).  I should have known that eventually, someone would blab.  Maybe even me.

Well, that’s what happened.  At least two people blabbed, and one of them was me.  Really accidentally, on Facebook.  I’m not even sure what I said, or in what context, but my sister says I did.  So she asked to see a picture of the dress, which I was very, very reluctant to give her.  I even considered sending her a picture of another dress.

She didn’t understand why I had such a problem sending her a picture of my dress.  I don’t understand why it’s a big deal for her to see it.  But what I do understand is that I’m the one behaving strangely.  I’ve been trying to explore why I have this really strong aversion to letting anyone see, or even talking about, the wedding dress I selected.  When it comes to my sister, the answer is simple.  We’re both getting married next year, and I feel like when we talk about our weddings, some kind of competition is starting, and I hate competition.  Especially with her.  I might be imagining it in this case, I don’t know.  I think there’s been a lot of this going on between us all our lives, though.  We are very, very different people, and our views clash a lot.  I think we both feel that the other is judging our every move.  I think we both do judge each other quite a bit.  Sometimes, I would just prefer not to reveal anything judge worthy to my sister, and this is just one of those times.  It is for that exact same reason that I have not looked at her wedding dress.  This isn’t a competition, I’ll just be surprised by all of her wedding elements when I see them, and then can appreciate it.

But it’s not just my sister I’m having this issue with, it’s everyone.  Really, the competition issue is just a minor excuse that is probably covering up larger issues I’m dealing with.  What I’ve come up with is this

  • I don’t want elements of my wedding to be judged out of context.  It’s hard for people to understand what I’m doing when they can’t see the whole vision I have in my mind.  I don’t want anyone to see one element of my wedding and get false expectations, or to dislike something and let that impression color their entire experience of my wedding on the day.
  • I’m not confident in my choices.  Well, that’s maybe a little poorly worded.  I am confident in my in my vision, and my ability to make choices that reflect my vision, even if it takes me a long time to do so.  What I’m not good at is defending my vision and choices when someone is critical of them.  I’m also not very good at saying no to things I don’t want.  And everyone has some idea of what my wedding should be like.  Very little of my vision seems to be understood.  So, for someone like me, who isn’t very  assertive, I’d rather not share any more of my vision than I absolutely have to.  Especially since my vision involves going off the beaten path a little bit.  When I start to listen to other people criticize my wants, I end up changing my mind a lot.  Case in point, bridesmaid dresses.  My original plan was for all of my bridesmaids to wear white and then accessorize with my wedding colors.  A bunch of people expressed negativity about that, saying I should be the only one in white (which I’ll address later), so I ended up changing my mind about what the bridesmaids would wear three or four times, until finally I came back to the original idea and I’m just sticking with that.  But now I feel crazy, and I probably look crazy and wishy-washy to everyone in my wedding party.  Ugh!
  • I believe that if I share too much of what I’m doing, I’m not going to like it anymore.  Sometimes when something becomes too familiar, it becomes distasteful to me.  But if I keep an element of mystery and surprise to my wedding, it will stay exciting to me.
  • I want everything to be a surprise.  And I’m superstitious.  I could be extending the superstition that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the dress to everyone.
  • I’m embarrassed about what dress I purchased.  I am quite certain that my dress was sewn by little children in a sweat shop, or something like that.  I’ll bet the companies that made my dress pay  no attention to any environmental hazards they might be producing in the wake of creating my dress.  I feel a great deal of environmental, human rights and anti consumeristic shame over my dress, and I don’t want the world to know it.  So here I go writing it.  Here I go confessing my deep, inner shame.  I bought a dress from David’s Bridal, the puppy mill of wedding dress boutiques.  Shudder.  I love the dress, when I don’t think about where it came from.  I promise, I’ll do something to make up for the horrible origins of my dress.  I’ll donate it.  I’ll make it into christening gowns for my babies.  I’ll sell it for cheap.  I’ll make a donation to Heifer International in the name of the people who sewed it.  Something!  Anything!  Please, oh powers of the universe and all that is good and pure in this world, forgive me!

All of this being said, I’m in this weird conundrum because here I am, blogging about my wedding.  That very same wedding that I don’t want to share any details of.  What am I doing here?  It’s not like a bunch of people actually read this.  It’s more of a diary, really.  Now that I’ve written all this down, I think I’ll stop linking my Facebook page to this blog.  Wow.  Yes, this post just took me here.  And I seriously wasn’t planning this when I started writing it.  That’s the power of inspiration, though, I suppose.

Or maybe I should just get myself a new journal.  My journal mysteriously disappeared over the summer.  The last time I remember having it in my hands was at Jeremy’s house, in his family room.  I was writing in it.  But it didn’t make it home with me, and we’ve looked all over his house and not found it.  I don’t think I realized how much I’ve been missing it.  I never used to keep a journal, but I started this past spring, and I grew pretty attached to it.  Maybe that is all I need right now.

Because I would like to share some of my wedding planning with the world.  For example, I’m making gouda in my kitchen right now.  I’m just writing this while I wait for a clean break.  Which I appear to have now.  I better go cut the curd.  Bye now!

 

An Old Fashioned Notion for a Progressive Bride December 21, 2010

Filed under: Love — Rockingthehomestead @ 11:14 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I got pregnant with my son and moved back in with my mom, I told myself that I would never again move in with another man unless I was married to him.  My logic, at the time, was simple.  I was sick and tired of providing financially for men who would not offer me the same kind of benefits back.  If I were going to contribute my finances to a household in which someone besides a blood relative lived, I better have some kind of commitment to do the same from them.  And I couldn’t see why anyone would bother making such a commitment eventually, if I were already giving them all the benefits of making that commitment before they actually made it.  In short, it was sort of a “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” mentality, only in my analogy, the milk was my financial contributions to the household, instead of sex.

I think this notion is still totally valid, if you’re inclined to date men who don’t make much or any money, while you make a fair amount.  Or if you expect to contribute more to the household in certain areas than your partner (say in a traditional gender roles situation – why buy a wife who cooks and cleans when you’ve got a girlfriend who will do it).  But in my current situation with Jeremy (who makes more than I ever did, even when I was employed full time by the Army, and is perfectly capable of taking care of himself without womanly assistance), it does not apply.  So why am I still sticking to my guns and not moving in with him before the marriage?

There are a variety of reasons why I have chosen to remain in my mother’s home until marriage.  For one, studies show that couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to get divorced.  While I understand the reasons for this are complex and probably don’t apply to me and Jeremy, I can’t help but be a little … well, I guess you could say superstitious about it.  Another reason is because in this modern world where we now accept that most of us aren’t going to be virgins when we marry, I’d like to retain something special about the transition from dating to marriage.  If you’re living together before you’re married, you’re essentially living just as husband and wife would, and there really is no magic change that takes place when you have a ceremony and a party.  There is no special transition.  It’s like you’re throwing this party that costs thousands of dollars to mark … nothing.  Nothing is changing.  You’re just going to go home and live exactly like you were living before that.  I don’t know, maybe it’s frivolous, but I think it’s kind of nice to save that last transition until marriage.  At the very least.

But mainly, what it comes down to, for me, is this.  In my mind, there are only two reasons to move in with someone: because you are confident that you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person (in which case, if you’re inclined to get married, why not just do it?), or because you are stupid.  That’s right.  I think it’s straight up stupid to move in with someone you think you might break up with one day.  Why?  Because moving sucks, and it sucks even more when you’re moving in the middle of a break up.  Trust me, I’ve done it.  Twice.  Once while I was pregnant.  It blows, dude.  It blows dogs for quarters.

Seriously, why move in with someone if you don’t think the move is going to be permanent?  I know some people believe that you have to live with someone to know if you can live with someone, but I just don’t see it that way.  By the time you’ve been dating a year, two, chances are you know the basics of how they live, and the basics are what you need to see if you mesh with.  People can’t hide the most hideous aspects of their living style for that long.  I tried to hide that I’m a messy person from Jeremy in the beginning, but eventually the truth made its self known.  Jeremy has revealed things to me about how he keeps track of finances, cleans, eats.  All of the big stuff is out in the open.  Could I discover, upon moving in with him, that he has some annoying habits I wasn’t able to see when I didn’t live with him 24-7?  Yes.  But it’s not going to be anything so big that it’s worth breaking up over.

Listen, if you’re with someone, and you think “he’s pretty cool, but if I find out he has a habit of blowing his nose at the dinner table, it’s over!” then you don’t like him enough to move in with him.  Don’t do it!  You should only move in with someone if you think “I know all the major details of how this person lives day to day, and I can live with them.  I love this person so much, that even little irritating habits that I might not be able to see right now can be over looked.”  And if you feel that way about someone, and you also believe in marriage, then you should just go ahead and marry them, because that’s true love.

I feel that way about Jeremy, so I’m just going to go ahead and marry him.

Note:  This is not to say that marriage is the only legitimate way to have a committed relationship.  Hey, if you’re not down with marriage, I totally respect that.  I guess the point is the commitment.  I think you should only move in with someone if you’re ready to make a permanent commitment.  If, for you, marriage is part of your permanent commitment plan, you might as well get married when you’re ready to move in with someone.  If marriage is not part of your permanent commitment plan, then make your commitment however best suits your needs as a couple.

And, of course, this is only my opinion.  Hey, you do whatever you want.  Want to move in with a dude you met last night?  Go ahead!  Far be it for me to pass judgement.  I’m just trying to make a case for waiting until you are committed to move in with someone.  But hey, if you don’t mind moving, and maybe you like dramatic break ups, maybe moving in with every boyfriend or girlfriend you ever have is a good move.  What works for me may not be what works for you.  That’s cool too.

 

Things are coming together now December 20, 2010

It’s almost Christmas and I’m about to put wedding planning on the shelf for about two weeks.  I’m feeling pretty comfortable with where I’m at right now and happy with how things are looking.

After much searching, I found a photographer I just love, Clara Images.  They do fantastically artistic and unique work for a really reasonable price, comparatively, I am actually able to purchase their unlimited package, which is more photographic coverage than I ever dreamed of when I started planning, and sure to be the number one thing that will make me feel like a princess all day, and help me to be happy with my wedding for the rest of my life.  Pictures are the one part of the day that lasts.  Oh yeah, and the commitment we’ll make to each other.

I also had someone from Butler Rents out to look at our yard and estimate what we’ll need.  We’re getting an assortment of tables, some with umbrellas for the sunny parts of our yard, and we’ll be getting tables for food and cake and bar and just to place around the dance floor (our patio) for people to set drinks and whatnot on if they’re standing.  We’re also getting keg coolers, how cool is that?

Jeremy is excited to build a small deck to place the head table on.  We’re using the deck to cover my son’s sandbox, and we’ll place the head table on top of that.  Meanwhile, I am excited to start cheese making, which I will probably do tonight when I start my gouda.  Gouda has to age 6-9 months, and I will be making several batches over the next few weeks, because I’ve never made hard cheese before, and I think making a few batches increases my success chances.  If we have too much, well, then we’ll be eating cheese for a while after the wedding.

Tomorrow we are going to try on wedding dresses.  This is my second trying on of dresses.  I’m being sort of secretive about the dress thing.  I’m not sure why.  Rest assured, I will never, ever share pictures here.  Okay, maybe I will after the wedding.

 

Guest Lists December 9, 2010

Filed under: Planning,Reception — Rockingthehomestead @ 1:43 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Now that we’ve chosen our back yard for the reception location, my guest options are truly limited.  I am saddened that there are about 50 people I’d like to invite but can’t.  I am not going to be inviting most of the people I was in the Army with, for example.  I haven’t even seen Jeremy’s family’s guest list yet, but they assure me it will be no more than 30-50 people, and they didn’t think more than 30 would show up.  Now, however, they’re saying that just about everyone wants to come.  Off of my guest list, I expect about 75-90 to show, but God help us if they all do!  There’s not enough room in our back yard!

 

Overhaul! December 6, 2010

After speaking to my mother and Jeremy about my wedding concerns, we have decided that since I have not signed any contracts yet, we are going to move in another direction.  First of all, we are going to move our wedding forward a month or two so that it will be warm enough to have an outdoor wedding, which is what I always dreamed of.  We are considering a few outside locations, but if none of them work, we’re probably just going to hold the reception in our back yard.  So this year, I’ll be gardening with a purpose.  I guess I always have a purpose, but I’ll have even more purpose this year.

A back  yard wedding will save fantastic amounts of money.  We pretty much will only have to rent tables and chairs, which is about $1100 cheaper than the reception hall was.  We also will be able to let people serve themselves out of kegs, vastly reducing our alcohol costs.  We can bring in our own caterer without issue, and our patio should make a decent dance floor.  We can decorate the day before, or even days before.  Because we’re saving so much, we’re going to switch our wedding to a Saturday, meaning we can start earlier, and get more partying in before noise ordinances are an issue.

The only things I’m concerned about is parking and how the neighbors will feel.  I think I can appease most of my neighbors by inviting them.  As for parking, I think the best option will be to encourage people to car pool (which is green!  I’ve been worried my wedding isn’t green enough).  I’m thinking we may have 130 or so guests (apparently, a lot more of Jeremy’s family is going to come than we originally thought), and they’ll probably be arriving in 50 to 60 cars.  Anything we can do to cut that down will be great, because parking isn’t exactly abundant in our neighborhood.  I should also verify with our HOA that this is going to be cool.  Or maybe I shouldn’t.  Better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission sometimes.  There are things about our yard they don’t know about, and I don’t want them to (our beehive, cough, cough).

So as it stands right now, we’re probably going to be doing a back yard wedding.  I feel much better about this.