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Wedding Investments December 30, 2010

As a former photographer myself, I like the way so many photographers talk about what your investment in their services are going to be, rather than the cost.  Photographs are an investment.  They are physical preservations of your wedding memories.  You’re going to be spending a lot of money on your wedding, and all of it is just going to be hazy memories in a few years without photographs.

This is partially why I’ve been so picky about choosing a photographer.  Yes, I am on a budget, but I still want something nice (despite the belief some people have that unless you are forking over 30 grand or more for your wedding, you don’t deserve good pictures).  This is an investment.  The rest of my wedding is going to end up in either the recycling, the compost, sold/donated or in storage, and I’ll never see the most of it again.  But I’m going to look at my photos frequently, I’ll probably have some on display.  I want them to be good.

Photos don’t have to be the only part of your wedding that is an investment, though.  Probably the number one thing you can do to have a green and cheap wedding is to make as many aspects of your wedding permanent or reusable.  In other words, more aspects of your wedding should be long term investments than not.

How can this be done?  Well, for example, since I am holding my wedding in my back yard, a good deal of my decorating budget is going to be spent on fixing up my back yard.  I will be investing in some grass seed, to reseed my yard and make sure it is extra lush, organic fertilizing service for my lawn, and lots and lots of flowers for the borders of my yard, to make not only the yard pretty, but to provide the flowers for arrangements on my table, and maybe even a good portion of the bouquets.  All of these things are investments in my mother and mine’s property (even though after the wedding I will be moving into Jeremy’s house and this yard will no longer be mine, I will still be spending lots of time here, I’m sure).  We will be able to enjoy this money spent for many years to come.  Furthermore, all the extra flowers will provide more food for our bees and hopefully boost our honey production.

We will also be decorating with LED Christmas lights, which we will of course reuse for holiday decorating in the future.  I plan to use mason jars for vases, which I will then be able to use for canning for years to come.  I have done what I can to make sure that my bridesmaids will pick out dresses they will wear again, and I will be reusing as much of my wedding attire as possible.

Many women choose dresses that they will wear again, which I think is awesome.  I however, chose a princess dress that would not be very practical anywhere but walking down the aisle, or perhaps costume events.  However, dresses can be donated (for a tax write off), or used to make new things in the future.  On Offbeat Bride, a bride told the forums how she intended to make prayer shawls for herself and her husband out of her wedding dress when she was done.  In my family, we have discussed making christening gowns for babies out of my mother’s wedding dress (which didn’t happen for Elijah, but hopefully it will for the next baby), and I suppose the same could be done with mine.  Or, as another woman on Offbeat Bride said, there’s always the option of being zombie bride and groom for Halloween next year.

Parting with money for a wedding isn’t quite as painful if you feel like you’re making a long term investment, and not just blowing money for one day of frivolities.  Even if you could care less about the environment, it’s worth considering making more of your wedding purchases into long term investments.  Unless, of course, you really hate money, and are looking for whatever way you can find to part with it (in which case, you can make checks out to Jessica Stone, and my address is …. ).

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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.

 

DIY Wedding Resources November 10, 2010

As a bit of a crafter, I’ve been really drawn to the idea of a DIY wedding.  I know it’s not always cheaper and it’s not always more environmentally friendly, but it is more unique and more fun on my end, and I think I’m the type of person who can get creative and make it cheap and green.

But I need some kind of inspiration to get into crafty mode, usually.  I suffered from a bit of a wedding magazine obsession for a while, but all that inspires you to do is feel like you have to spend more and more money, sometimes on things that other people DIY’d.  I mean, I love Etsy as much as the next person, but I have no desire to buy a faceless, clothespin cake topper for a hundred dollars, thank you very much, when I know for a fact that I could spend a whopping $5 on two clothes pins and a hot glue stick to make the exact same thing (I already have the paint and scrap fabric).

Wedding magazines also cost a fair amount of money, and, much like I discovered about Cosmo’s sex tips when I was 19, you quickly realize you’re reading the same crap over and over, and half of it is so unrealistic (or frightening) for real people it might as well be science fiction.

So I’ve been looking instead for inspiration to websites and books, which I check out from my local library (nothing’s cheaper than free!).  There are some really good websites out there, my favorites include DIY Bride, Offbeat Bride and Ruffled.  ReadyMade, my favorite DIY magazine, even has a Wedding Wednesdays portion on their website.  For more traditional ideas there is of course Martha Stewart Weddings (I love her classy alternative to Jello Shots), and of course, one cannot over look Instructables for any kind of DIY project, just search for weddings on their site, and hundreds of projects will pop up.

Books can get a little more tricky.  I’ve checked out just about every wedding craft book at the library and looked at every wedding craft book at Barnes and Noble (then requested those books at the library).  Most of the wedding craft books out there are super lame.  Maybe if you’re planning a super frilly wedding in the 80’s, you’d like these books, but for the most part, there’s nothing to be gleaned from most of them.  My favorites so far have been The Paper Bride, DIY Bride, DIY Bride Countdown and The Artful Bride.  Martha Stewart’s wedding books are okay, if you’re super traditional (which I am not).

But honestly, I’ve gotten more inspiration from regular craft books, so don’t over look them at the library if you’re looking for DIY ideas.  If you’re planning a holiday wedding, holiday craft books are going to give you some great ideas.  While I’m not super big on Martha’s wedding stuff, her holiday stuff is awesome.  I’ve had a good time with books like AlternaCrafts, Handmade Home and 1001 Ideas for Creative Reuse.  There are tons of books out there on crafting cool things out of things you would otherwise throw away, incorporating those kinds of projects into your wedding would be both green and cheap.  Seriously, ReadyMade is the best source of ideas for those kinds of projects, I think.  Not only does it have a million ideas for recycled DIY projects, but their projects are hip and modern.