Cheap 'n' Quirky Wedding

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Think You Have It Rough? August 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clln @ 1:22 am
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As your wedding approaches, you’re bound to be hit with stressor upon stressor until you wonder why people even get married. As you feel your inner bridezilla starting to emerge, keep in mind that the goal is (or should be) to marry your sweetheart, so as long as that happens, you’re golden. Our officiant canceled two weeks before the wedding, but we handled it. It rained on my wedding day and one of my friends who saw me before the wedding remarked that I was much calmer than she expected. But really, what could I do? I can’t control the rain. I was going to marry a fantastic guy, it didn’t really matter if I did it outdoors as planned on indoors on the dance floor. But really, a little rain is nothing. I heard a wedding story today that blew my mind. Names have been changed for privacy.

Martin and Sue’s wedding took place about 30 years ago. A week before the wedding, Martin developed kidney stones and had to be hospitalized. As he had planned most of the wedding, the last-minute details were now dropped into Sue’s lap. Sue was told that the venue had a little snag, but they worked it out so there was no point in even explaining it. Turns out the venue double-booked. So the day of the wedding, Martin got a day-pass to leave the hospital so he could get married. At the reception, as soon as the guests finished eating (or even before some of them had finished) they were rushed into another room of the venue so that the next party (the double-booked one) could be moved in. At the end of the night, their wedding night, Martin had to return to the hospital. He had to spend the next week (their honeymoon week) in the hospital until he passed the kidney stones. Utter craziness, eh?

The plus side is that Martin and Sue are still married all these years later. Weddings are great and all, but it’s the life that follows after the wedding that’s important, not the perfection of that one day. As Sue pointed out to me, most people probably don’t remember that they were moved to a different room halfway through the evening or that Martin had to go back to the hospital, but they remember they had a good time and that Martin and Sue have a lasting relationship. That’s what counts. So when it seems like stuff is falling apart right before your wedding, remember that getting married is the important thing. Also, remember Martin passing a kidney stone (they didn’t blast them with lasers back then.) Your day isn’t as bad as his was.


DIY Music August 9, 2011

I’m planning a surprise 60th birthday party for my mother in about 2 weeks and we still haven’t thought about music. For my wedding, we found a reasonably priced DJ through a recommendation (I think the person who referred the company got a discount, if you’re trying to save, consider hawking your DJ’s services for a price cut.) For this cocktail party, it’s a lot more low-key so I’m going to go with DIY. But how?

I’ve heard a lot of people use their iPods in place of a DJ during their receptions. My mom reported that my second cousin did this at his wedding, actually. From what I’ve heard, this method works pretty well but it’s less polished than having a DJ: the songs don’t blend together smoothly so you may be left with a brief silence, it’s hard to jump in and save the situation if your pre-prepared playlists aren’t getting the crowd pumped up, and you’ll have to get a friend or relative to take on the unpaid position of MC. These aren’t really problems at a small family cocktail party, but it could be a bigger issue at a wedding. If you’re willing to risk it, it’s a great option. My one concern with this option is that it’s not free if you have to buy songs on iTunes (I can’t condone or promote piracy, but you know, it is out there.) You can always upload songs from your favorite CDs for free, but odds are that you’ll have to drop some money. Still a lot less than a DJ, but you do have to keep in mind that it won’t be totally free. Also, you’ll have to think about where you can plug your iPod in. Sound docks are great, but they may be on the tiny side in a large reception hall. Ask your venue what they have to offer in terms of A/V equipment to see if this plan is feasible.

For a very small wedding, or a cocktail party like my mom’s party, I’ve been considering a YouTube playlist. There are definite problems with this, like that you risk an ad being played, a video could be taken down which would result in a long break, there are long pauses between each video as the next loads, and the playlist may stop playing if the browser tab is no longer open. You’d also have to find a way for your computer to be hooked up to a sound system (or bring really fantastic speakers.) Plus side: it’s free. That’s a lot to contend with though.

You could always go a little old school and make your own mix CD, but it’s a lot of work, you have no MC, and you’re screwed if the crowd isn’t feeling your jams. But if you already have the mp3 files, it only costs as much as the blank CDs. Plus you’ll have keepsake CDs of all of the music played at your wedding.

Have you been to a wedding without a DJ? I’m dying to know how they turned out, whether the absence of a DJ was noticeable, and if you’re doing the same for your wedding. Please, please, please tell me! I’ve been thinking about this since I was wedding planning, these questions have been killing me for over a year now! Plus I need to hammer out my music plans for my mom’s party soon.


The Top Layer August 7, 2011

Not everyone is aware of this, but it’s traditional to save the top layer of your wedding cake for your first anniversary. This tradition started back when it was also traditional for the top layer of your cake to be fruitcake. Yeah, fruitcake. Like the one your great-aunt sends you at Christmas and no one eats. While I don’t eat much fruitcake, I assume that one can spend a year in the freezer without it’s flavor or consistency changing much. But what about a marble cake with ganache filling and buttercream icing? How would that survive a year in the freezer?

There are sites with instructions on how to freeze the top layer of your cake. These instructions include tightly wrapping the cake in multiple layers of different wrapping materials. While these methods probably help preserve the cake a lot, I’m also sure the cake would be a little bit “off” by the time you try to eat it.

Our cutting cake and cupcakes.

At our wedding, we had cupcakes with a small cutting cake. As would be expected, we cut pieces out of the cutting cake to feed each other. Unfortunately, our venue was a bit too eager to clean everything up and they threw out all cupcakes that weren’t eaten within the first 10 minutes after they were put out. Many people who got up to dance and expected to eat their cupcake on their return to their table were greeted with an empty space. In fact, the only cake my husband and I got to eat all day was the tiny slivers we fed each other. While the venue threw out tons and tons and tons of our cupcakes, they at least saved our cutting cake (presumably so we could freeze it.) After all that wedding planning, I was really excited for the cake and I wanted to eat it now, not in a year. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon and picked up the leftover cake from my in-laws, we ate it. It was delicious even at a week old, but already starting to taste it’s age. I knew there was no way to successfully wrap it: with pieces missing, it had plenty of surface area to get hard, crusty, and freezer-burned. There was no saving it so we ate the whole thing over a few days. Plus our freezer space is at a premium, we just lacked the room.

Fear not, if you’re not saving your top tier for a whole year, there are ways that you can still partake in this tradition. Friends of ours ate their top layer on their six-month anniversary so that it didn’t have as long a time to deteriorate in the freezer. If you’re doing cupcakes for your cake, maybe save a couple in the freezer in case not every one is perfectly preserved. My plan is to go back to the same bakery that made our cake, order the same type of cake (though in the smallest size possible since there’s just two of us) and eat that on our first anniversary. We get the memories of our wedding and a fresh cake, it’s a win-win.

I’m curious, has anyone successfully frozen, defrosted, and eaten their wedding cake? What are you planning on doing? Remember, you deserve good cake, so make sure that you do something that will have delicious results.


I’m still alive over here August 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clln @ 10:06 pm

It’s come to my attention that I’ve been neglecting this blog. Once the wedding was over, I was kind of suffering from wedding-overload, I don’t even watch wedding shows any more! My brain just hasn’t been drifting over to the wedding world these days.

All that said, I still know people who are in the wedding planning process, I’ll be attending weddings, and my first anniversary is coming up, so I should be able to think up wedding-related posts as all of these things come up. There’s so much that I wished I knew when I was wedding planning (hindsight is 20/20) so I would love to share it all with you! If anyone can learn from my mistakes, it’s worth making the mistake. So long story short, expect a few blogs to trickle out of here in the near future (though nothing like the volume I pumped out while I was wedding planning!)


Holy Dress Nightmare, Batman April 1, 2011

Filed under: bridal party,the dress — clln @ 1:09 am
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If you’re getting married, chances are that no matter how calm you are, someone has called or will call you a bridezilla. Many people noted that I was very easy-going in comparison to the stereotype of brides to be, yet even I was called a bridezilla. My diva-like crime? I calmly pointed out that the return address label on the invitation envelope should go in the upper left corner after one of my friends stuck it on the right upper corner (where the stamp has to go.) Bridezilla just seems to be a buzz-word that everyone is quick to use the minute any bride has a request, no matter how reasonable. I stumbled across this article from the New York Times about a “bridezilla” today, written by the woman who was accused of being a bridezilla. What a nightmare! Is it unreasonable to demand that you get a clean dress? When you’re paying $1000, I shouldn’t think so! But this does happen, and it hit close to home.

My now mother-in-law had a lot of trouble with the seamstress who was altering her dress as well as her daughter’s (my now sister-in-law and my bridesmaid.) They had delivered both dresses to the seamstress at a local bridal store (where my SIL’s dress was purchased, but not my MIL’s) a couple of months before the wedding, but they weren’t ready for the final fitting until two days before the wedding. When my MIL went to the seamstress for the final fitting, she spotted a discoloration. The seamstress denied seeing anything there, she rubbed at it a bit, she tried to clean it and it looked the same. She admitted that she had no idea what it was. My MIL was extremely upset. With the amount of money she had paid, she expected her dress to come out clean and fitted in a timely matter, but that wasn’t the case. Not thinking anything could be done for the strange discoloration, I tried to assure her that no one would notice it as it was on the back and she’d be moving around all night.

In the end, that seamstress wouldn’t do anything for her and I couldn’t comfort her. She took it back to the store where she’d purchased it (another bridal store) and the seamstress there immediately identified it as the stain of oil you’d use to lubricate a sewing machine. This was odd as the jacket didn’t require any alterations, it shouldn’t have been anywhere near a sewing machine and definitely not near oil. Also, if it was a stain from a tool of the trade and this second seamstress identified it so fast, how could the first seamstress not realize what it was?

Now for the happy ending: the seamstress at the other bridal store was able to remove the stain within a few minutes and the jacket was back to being one color. My MIL looked great and felt great about her outfit. This worked out well just in time for the wedding, as it did for Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg when she got the second dress she writes about in her article. Unlike Kefauver Goldberg, we didn’t have to deal with legal proceedings afterward. So the moral of the story is, just because a seamstress works at a bridal shop doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best. You know who altered my gown and my other bridesmaids’ dresses? A friend who just graduated from fashion design school and does a few alterations on the side of her new job. She did amazing work, my gown fit fabulously. My MIL tried to warn me against using someone “inexperienced” for my alterations, but look how her professional alteration went. I’d seen my friends work (a dazzling couture collection of evening gowns for her final project) so I knew I could expect greatness. If there’s any way that you can ask to see the work of your seamstress/tailor, definitely do it. Or better yet, get a recommendation from someone you trust.


Things Learned: RSVP Cards March 23, 2011

I knew printing your own invitations could be a tad frustrating, but I didn’t expect to be swearing at my printer for 4 hours. I also never expected it to re-frustrate me two weeks before my wedding. Allow me to explain:

DIY invitations, whether made from scratch or from a store-bought kit, can save you a lot of money. It also allows your creative side to come out. When you’re making your own invitation, you’re free make it say anything you want. Any wording, any layout, anything. Actually, you might be too free. I was. I ran into trouble when I realized that I hadn’t actually read many invitations and RSVP cards and didn’t really know what they were supposed to say. Naturally, I googled wedding templates and I came out with a perfect invitation.

My unclear RSVP card

I was equally pleased with the RSVP cards. I based it off of a template I found online and on the one I’d gotten for my coworker’s wedding. I figured that if multiple websites had it as a template and my coworker used it, it must be suitable. I’d found it clear when I filled it out for my coworker’s wedding. Here it is:


It was problematic on a few levels. Firstly, in how people filled it out. If it were filled out properly, it would read “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, 2 will attend, 0 vegetarian.” Not everyone knows the blank spots are for numbers. Some people just put a check mark next to “will attend.” That seems like an appropriate response when you look at the RSVP card, but it’s quite problematic when the Doe family is responding and you need a concrete guest count (are they bringing all of their kids? Are their kids assuming they can bring dates? Yes, it happened to us.)

There were some cases where we didn’t know the names of distant relatives’ children or spouses (shameful, I know,) and this format didn’t allow us to get the names. I don’t know about all banquet halls, but our venue required a list of the names of all guests.

On a similar note, when couples/groups responded and listed one vegetarian, we had no idea who in the pair/group couldn’t eat a meat dish. Luckily we had a buffet so it wasn’t an issue, but if you had to tell your venue exactly who needed the vegetarian dish, it might be difficult. Hopefully they only need to know the number of vegetarians at each table; it might be worth asking your venue about.

The problems listed above are only problems when people respond. The biggest problem I found with this format was that guests didn’t respond at all. I expected everyone to respond, not just because I’d spent so much on stamps, but also because I thought it was common courtesy. Some people who couldn’t come responded with a card that said “0 attending” or wrote a little note on the card expressing their regrets, but many more figured that we were only expecting cards from those who were attending. In an ideal world, only attendees responding could work, but not all attendees sent their cards back. There were people who assumed we knew they were coming without them responding, or those uncles who never respond to anything but just show up, or those relatives who were waiting until the last minute to see if they could get the weekend off/how their great-aunt’s health would be/if they felt like going, etc. No really, that all happened to us. On our deadline, we had received about half of the cards back. We had to follow up with all of the rest! Our deadline was a week before the venue’s deadline for our final guest list, but I never imagined that entire week would be spent tracking people down.

Remember my post on over-explaining your tosser? Same idea. Make the response card so simple that no one can make a mistake, not even that young single person who has never attended a wedding. I’d only recommend the last template on this list of templates. Remember that you should have a place to check yes or no (so the non-attendees know they have to respond too) and a place to list the number of guests. If you’re giving food options (choice of entree, vegetarian options,) you can present the choices with a blank spot and hopefully your guests will fill it out clearly.

In the end, there’s always going to be people who don’t respond, fill it out wrong, or say they need more time. There’s nothing you can do, it can’t be perfect. Just make sure that you put the deadline on the card at least a week before your venue’s deadline and try to make the card as clear as possible. And if all else fails, whoever wanted the non-responders on the guest list should be stuck with tracking them down (my parents and in-laws had a busy week of tracking people down, our friends responded.) Remember to delegate, especially since they should know the best way to get a hold of these people, especially if you don’t know them at all.

Good luck!


Paper Carnations December 9, 2010

I love carnations and I love paper flowers. Combine the two and you clearly get paper carnations. These can make great decor at your wedding; you could carry a paper flower bouquet, put paper wreaths up on walls or hanging off of chairs/pews along the aisle. Not only can you prepare these as far in advance as you like, they’ll last much longer than fresh flowers as a memento of your big day.

Martha Stewart's cupcake liner wreath

I was watching Martha Stewart this morning and she made this wreath out of coffee filters or cupcake liners (personally, I liked the larger, softer folds of the coffee filter version, but the photo shows one made with cupcake liners.) While they didn’t mention it, I found that it bore a striking resemblance to carnations. This is not only gorgeous hanging on a door, but it would be adorable hanging with a long ribbon in your wedding colors along your aisle.

You can also create these adorable tissue paper carnations from Folding Trees. These would be super cute in a bunch as a centerpiece or even held as a bouquet.

My wedding flowers were all carnations so I want to make these paper flowers as a sweet reminder of my wedding and as a nice piece of decor. I’ll let you know how it goes. Have you tried either of these crafts or have another way to make paper carnations? Let me know in the comments!