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Hiring vendors outside the box February 2, 2011

I want to hire a day of wedding coordinator really bad.  It would be so wonderful to have someone to take care of any last minute set up so that my mom and other family members aren’t stressing out getting everything ready before the ceremony and between the ceremony and reception.  But honestly, there’s no way to squeeze a professional day of coordinator into my budget.  It’s just not going to happen.  So I’m faced with either accepting that the hours leading up to my wedding are going to be incredibly high stress for me and all my loved ones, or thinking outside the box to get the extra help I so sorely need.

I’m not hiring a professional.

Instead, I have contacted the Hospitality, Tourism and Events department at my school to ask if there are any students who might be interested in being my day of coordinator in exchange for a meal, a small payment, and an awesome reference.  I am also hanging up flyers around my school that say


Day Of Wedding Coordinator for August 2011 wedding

You:  A student on the Auraria Campus with interest/knowledge of event planning.  Possibly a Hospitality, Tourism and Events student, looking to get experience in event planning for your resume.

Me: A Metro student planning a wedding on a budget, hoping to find some budding talent amongst her fellow students and help that person grow in skill and experience.  I can’t afford to pay a lot, but I can pay some.  In addition to payment, I will be happy to provide you with

  • A Glowing Reference – I will write letters of recommendation, serve as a professional reference, and you can certainly list my wedding on your resume and job applications as previous work.
  • Food and drink for the day – You will be welcome to enjoy the same meal and drinks as the wedding guests, which will include options for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and gluten free.  Lunch will also be provided before the reception.
  • A fun working environment – Opportunity to mingle, network, flirt, whatever.  It’s a party!
  • Trade?  I’d totally be willing to negotiate trade instead of or in addition to payment.  I have a large garden I could probably give you fresh organic produce out of, or I could teach you a skill I know like knitting or cheese making, for example.  Let’s talk!

If you think you’re up for being a day of coordinator for a wedding, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss it further!

There are thousands of people at my school all looking to enhance their careers and make a little extra money.  Chances are pretty high that someone at my school could offer my the services I want and I could give them a little something in exchange.

You probably have a school near you with a hospitality department, but you never know where you might find someone able to be a day of coordinator.  Schools are good bets to look for people, because there are lots of people with really diverse interests and experiences gathered there, but you could put fliers up anywhere, the grocery store, bridal salons, you could even post an ad on Craigslist.  And it doesn’t have to stop with wedding coordinators either.

  • Culinary schools could provide you with an awesome caterer or baker.
  • Photography students could make kick ass photographer, or could man a DIY photobooth for you
  • Videographer students could do your videography
  • Beauty school students could do your hair and makeup
  • Art students could be hired to provide entertainment like charicture drawing
  • Theatre students could provide live entertainment like a comedy routine or a magic show
  • Music schools could be a place to find a low cost band or musician for your ceremony or reception
  • Dance students could provide entertainment with a dance performance during your wedding ceremony
  • Floral design schools could be a place to find a low cost florist

And who knows what else you could find if you probed for talent in and around your own community.  The point is to get creative.  I’m thinking about seeing what kind of talent I can bring in for entertainment, maybe a juggler?  A balloon artist?  Who knows what I could find.  And people remember the wedding with acts in it.  My only concern is overwhelming my guests with too much going on.

Of course, hiring students has it’s risks.  They may not be well versed in everything that needs to be done for your wedding project.  You don’t want to hire a student caterer who will forget about how to transport your food to your venue.  But there are risks to hiring professionals too, everyone screws up from time to time, and the thing about the wedding industry is that you don’t always have to worry too much if you screw up and piss off a client, because in theory, you will never have repeat customers anyhow (although I’m sure the divorce rate makes all the outstanding vendors a little happy inside, from time to time).

Another option is finding someone experienced in the general field, but who is looking to expand into the wedding market and needs some experience in that department.  I found a professional photographer skilled in portraits and weddings, but she was looking to move into boudoir photography.  She offered to do boudoir photography for me at an amazing rate so that she could get some experience in doing and build that portion of her portfolio.  I’ll be her first boudoir shoot, but at that price even if it’s not very good it’s still a deal, I could still go else where to get more done.  But judging by her other work, I think she’ll probably do a pretty good job. (No one spoil the secret for Jeremy about what he’s getting for his wedding gift, shhh!)

So you have to pick and choose where you’re willing to take risks and how much risk you’re willing to take.  I was not willing to take risks with wedding photography, and only medium risk with boudoir photography.  If I hire a juggler who gets lost and never shows up, I’m not going to be heartbroken that there was no juggling routine at my wedding.  But if he shows up and rocks the world of all my guests, I think it was worth the risk.

And wouldn’t it be cool to discover someone awesome before they are famous?  Wouldn’t it make you feel good to help a hard working, talented student grow in their education and improve their career success?  I don’t know about your community, but my community could use a few more people willing to take risks on each other, a few more leaps of faith in humanity, a few more investments in each other.  Since I want my wedding to be about communities coming together and valuing human relationships, I can’t think of anything more fitting.


DJs and DIY January 7, 2011

Well, I found a DJ I like better than the home birth woman.  Okay, I don’t know if I like him better, I like him about the same, but he charges significantly less, so we can afford to have him during the entire reception.  It just goes to show that it pays to put out feelers on Facebook to see if your friends have any recommendations for vendors.  I asked about DJs and got a few suggestions, including one from a friend from high school who suggested a local DJ who spins regularly at area gay bars.  I wasn’t going to contact him, because I had my heart set on the home birth DJ, but I have another friend getting married next year, and she’s looking to hire only LGBTQ friendly vendors, so I thought about this guy.  After looking at his website (and learning he recently graced the cover of Westword!), I knew I just had to see how much he charged.  So I gave him a call, and found out he was far more reasonably priced than the home birth DJ, or any DJ that responded to my Craigslist posting.  My friend is also hiring him!

I like that I too am hiring and LGBTQ friendly vendor.  And I secretly, deep down inside, like that this pink mohawked, makeup wearing DJ is likely to freak out the more conservative members of my family and Jeremy’s.  I feel bad about not going with the home birth DJ, but I have to think practically.  I can hire this DJ for a longer period of time for less money than what the home birth DJ would have charged.  I wish her all the best, but I’m going with Rockstar Aaron for my wedding music.

Other than that, I am compiling a list of DIY projects I want to create for my wedding day.  I made my first wheel of cheese two weeks ago, a simple gouda that is aging in my basement at this very moment.  Currently, I am working on a banner that will read “Jeremy and Jessica, 8-13-2011”, out of scraps of fabric in our wedding colors.  It makes me feel so happy to be crafting for the wedding.  This is the part of wedding planning I’ve been looking forward to!  This is the part that’s going to be fun.  I’ve got tons of decoration ideas for my yard, and I’m thinking about little bridesmaids accessories, maybe little purses?  I can’t wait to start learning about flower arranging.  I looked into making my own cake, but decided that I’m probably going to be better off having a professional do that.  I’m so, so, so excited!!

Here are a few projects I’m thinking about for my wedding

Fabric Flower Garland

I really like paper and fabric flowers, I don’t know why.  They’re so bright and cheery, sort of like if flowers and stuffed animals had babies.

DIY Pinwheels

Who doesn’t love a pinwheel?  They’re so fun and whimsical!

Rock Candy Chandelier

Oh man, I can think of about a million cool things I could do with rock candy on a string.  Not only that, but it will be a fun science experiment for me to do with my son.

Pom Pom Vines

Can you see these hanging from all the trees on my property?  I can!



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 …. ).


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

Filed under: Love — Rockingthehomestead @ 11:14 am
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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.


The wedding is not the part that matters December 3, 2010

Filed under: Money,Planning — Rockingthehomestead @ 4:24 pm
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While going through all of this, I keep telling myself that the wedding is not the part that matters.  What’s important is the marriage, the lifetime I’m going to spend with Jeremy.  This has been what I’ve told myself when I’ve settled for things that didn’t exactly fit my dream wedding because they are cheaper.  It’s not that important that I have an outdoor wedding in a beautiful location, the wedding is not the part that matters.  It’s not that important that I have a unique reception location, the wedding is not the part that matters.  It’s not that important that I have my wedding at the time of day I want to have it at, the wedding is not the part that matters.  But the more I think that the wedding is not the part that matters, the more I think “Then why the hell am I even doing it?”

If I’m going to do a wedding, isn’t it important that I have the wedding I want?  I mean, yeah, I’m going to have to make some compromises due to budget, but at what point do I need to put my foot down and say “If I’m not going to do it this way, I don’t see the point of doing it at all.”?  My wedding is supposed to be a dream day of sorts.  I know it’s not going to be perfect, and I don’t expect that, but I don’t want to spend ten to twelve thousand dollars on a wedding that I feel mediocre about, when clearly, the wedding is not even the part that matters.  If I’m going to drop five figures, it better be on something I love.  If its not a wedding, fine, I can save that five figures for a vacation, downpayment on a new home, paying down student loans, paying for a home birth (which I could actually pay for several home births with that kind of money), etc.

Jeremy keeps saying that if we don’t have a wedding, we might regret it later, which is absolutely true.  But we also might regret spending this much money on a day we weren’t even that into as well.  I want to re evaluate how I want to do this wedding, I think, because I’m not happy with the direction it’s heading right now.