Apr 10, 2010

  • Last updated on July 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm
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We decided to get married.  That was hard enough for us.  THEN we had to figure out how we were going to AFFORD getting married. 

And for us, it was pretty simple.  A small, small, SMALL "destination wedding" in Washington, DC.  We only sent out 20 invites, and we made a rule that we had to have both at least MET everyone at the wedding (with the exception of my brother, who lives across the country and Chris hadn't met yet.) 

Once that decision was made, everything fell into place.  Here is a breakdown of what we spent and how we had the simple, sweet, intimate wedding of our dreams for $4,276. (Yes, DH knows how much we spent to the dollar...):

Engagement Ring -$999 - - Find a *reputable* online dealer, and don't be afraid to go for a colored gemstone!  They are cheaper than a diamond, but no less stunning!

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Wedding Bands (His & Hers) - $170 - - We were all about keeping things simple and clean.  Plus, now we can upgrade in 5 years! :)

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Invitations and Postage - $10 - I made my invitations using photo paper that I bought at the dollar store and designed & printed them myself.  They were *very* simple, and we had our guests RSVP via email.

Dress - $450 - This was a bit of a splurge, but I fell too in love with my dress!  I did save $50 during a David's Bridal sale period, though!

Alterations - $60 - Don't be afraid to shop around!  Bridal salons are most likely going to charge you an arm and a leg; if you just need something simple done (I added clear snaps for my  lace bolero & took in the bust about an inch)

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Suit Rental - $150 - Chris isn't a tux guy, and I just LOVED the clean look of his tan suit.

Shirt & Tie - $30 - Both were designer brands I bought at Ross!

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Shoes (Both) - $30 - I got a pair of heels online from K-Mart (of ALL places) for $20 including shipping; and my flats were shimmery silver and white ballet flats from Payless, on clearance for $9.

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Jewelry & Accessories - $50 - Ebay saved me on this one!  I got a pearl necklace *with a free pair of matching earrings*, my short veil and a headband that I ultimately didn't end up wearing.

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Flowers – FREE - Location Perk; if you are on a budget, consider National Parks.  The are usually protected because they are BEAUTIFUL!

Photographer - $200 - - Found a transplanted photog from Cali looking to build her portfolio in DC, and on 4 DAYS notice!

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Ceremony Site - $50 Permit Fee -

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Hair - $40 - Just hopped a cab and went to The Hair Cuttery.  I made sure to make an early appointment ahead of time and let the receptionist know that I was getting a simple up-do for my wedding, but I was from out of town.  They were all SO nice and even though my hair didn't end up the way I originally envisioned (it was too humid and wouldn't hold the curl), I LOVED what I ended up with!

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Make-up – FREE - my DEAR friend offered to do it for me, she was amazing!

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Favors - $30 -

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Cocktail Hour/Reception Site – FREE (with food purchase) - Although dinner consisted of the bulk of our budget, I feel like this was REALLY where I got a bargin.  The staff of The Henley Park Hotel were AMAZING!  I feel like I got 2 free wedding planners.  They were so gracious and accomodated all of my questions.  I never even saw the place in person until the day before our wedding, but I was never nervous because those ladies were on top of everything and made sure that we had a FABULOUS experience.

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Dinner for 23 adults, 3 children - $1033 ($34/person, $5/Child; Plus Gratuity) - Amazingly delicious food, our own personal banquet captian and a private room.  I couldn't have asked for more!

Cake - $80 - - I must have designed this cake 50 times on the internet, but it exceeded our expectations.  DH was adamant that the cake only really needed to TASTE amazing, so we found the bakery with the best reviews on the taste and went from there.  We were able to sample some cupcakes from Cake Love 2 weeks before our wedding when we applied for our license, and I was CRAVING it right up until it was cut!


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Misc. Reception Décor (Card Box, Cake Topper, Frame ‘Guestbook’) - $50 - Mostly purchased from craft stores or discount stores or on clearance.

Hotel Room for 2 nights - $500 - We had a BEAUTIFUL Junior Suite that used to be the residence of pages for Senators and Congressmen (I LOVE the history of DC!)

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Parking - $40 - Valet service, including tip.

Gas - $80 - Well, we had to get there...and I think this may have included some snacks at the gas station, too! ;)

Now, it wasn't an over the top affair, but every bit of every moment felt very special.  Our guests were all people that we love and wanted to share this special moment with.  I will have memories to last several lifetimes about how much pure LOVE was flowing during this great day. 

If anyone has ANY questions about any part of our budget, PLEASE feel free to PM me!

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The absolutely *beautiful* Henley Park Hotel :)

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Our Cake Table & DIY Favors ('Ciencin Soda', YUM!)

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Having fun talking to our guests! :)

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LOL, AWFUL pictures of me...but a great view of the Blue Room where we had our cocktail hour.

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Our beautiful Private Dining Room at the Coeur de Leon Restaurant.

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My little one completly passed out during dinner, and a shot of the AWESOME Cream of Artichoke soup...mmmmmm I may need to go back for more!

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Kisses...lots and lots and lots of kisses... :)

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Getting ready to cut the cake...mmmm, caaaake...

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But first, a toast...maybe the first time EVER that that wedding AND the wedding toast were performed by the same person! ;)

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  • Last updated on April 30, 2010 at 5:46 am
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For a little background, I was inspired by the DIY Old Fashioned Soda Bar article on PW, but I knew that having ALL that soda would go to waste at our little I decided that I would rather make custom labels for some old fashioned glass soda bottles and use them as our favors.

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I found these 4-pack of Cream Soda with the light blue twist off caps at Marshalls/TJ Maxx for $2.99 each!

The next step was trying to make my own labels.  Now, I am not artistically inclined AT ALL, so after scouring the internet, I found this awesome article about DIY Sodas to make Ice Cream Floats (which I am TOTALLY going to do for my little girls' next birthday, YUM!) on Eat.Drink.Chic.  Luckily, she had some templates for making all the different labels for her sodas, which I thought were PERFECT!

The only think I needed now was to personalize the colors and write the info that I wanted on the labels.  Again, I am NO GOOD at this stuff, but luckily one of my good friends is a photoshop whiz kid and had it done in a matter of moments!

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My friend Cindy is SUPER talented! The Labels read "Symone & Chris...Ciencin Soda...Established April 10th, 2010"

Now, my original intention was to buy some waterproof label paper and print them on there, just slap them onto the bottles and then chill them, but that stuff is PRICEY!  So I decided that we would just have the labels printed on regular paper and find some way to adhere them to the bottles.  Chris printed them at work (FREE) and I bought this Elmer's Glue-All stick that seemed like it would work ($2.49 at Rite Aid)

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And viola!  It really only took me a total of 20 minutes to do 32 bottles, which isn't bad!  I can't wait to see them all set up on our cake table! And for under $30 we have really, really unique favors for our guests!

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EDIT: Here they are, on our cake table!! :)


  • Last updated on April 30, 2010 at 5:41 am
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Chris and I had said pretty much from the beginning that we weren't going to get married.  I come from a family of divorce *a LOT of divorce* and I just never really saw the point.  But, one day we were talking on the phone and somehow, someway, we kind of mutually decided that *our* marriage might be a good idea...

And THEN, I happened upon the perfect ring online.  It was EXACTLY what I would want to wear for the rest of my life.  I sent the link to the picture to Chris and he immediately wrote me back that it was 100% THE RING.

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I had to wait over a month from that point, until he came down to Florida to help me move up to Pittsburgh before we became *officially* engaged.  It was a great moment, he waited until I was saying goodbye to my house, where I had called home for over 15 years and the place where I first knew that I loved him. 

This is what I wrote in my journal about that moment:

My entire life up to that point was packed in boxes, set to take me to a new place and new experiences.  I was scared, yes, but  sure that this was the right thing to do.  After two years of being 1,100 miles apart, it was time to begin a new life--together. 

I'd had so many wonderful experiences in that house and I was sad to leave behind all my friends and family.  This was the place where Chris, the love of my life, had kissed me so sweetly and urgently at the end of our first weekend together, before he had to board a plane and we would grow our love through endless phone calls, emails, and all the visits we could afford.

Chris was watching me now, leaned against the doorjamb of the front entrance, waiting for me to be ready to leave this part of my life behind.  He flashed his brilliant smile and I knew that it was our time to move on.  I heaved a sigh and smiled back at him with all the promise of our future together.

That smile was like a catalyst, pulling him toward me to wrap his arms around me.  We embraced for the longest time, right there in the spot where I first knew that I loved him, and he whispered in my ear, "You have to marry me."

I laughed a little, and then my laugh turned somewhat nervous as I saw him reach into his back pocket and pull out a small gold box.  He tilted my head up and looked into my eyes and said, "This, right here, is our always." 

I never had to speak the words; my smile told him all he ever needed to know.


  • Last updated on April 30, 2010 at 5:03 am
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Chris and I first met on a ski trip in 1998, I was 15 and he was almost 17.  He was SUPER shy and quiet, but I thought he was fantastically good-looking (He looked like a tall Matt Damon with poofy hair...actually, he still kind of does!) so I decided that I was going to try and talk to him.  My best friend Krysti and I sort of hyjacked Chris and his younger brother Alex when we got to Tennessee, the first stop on the trip, because we were required to have 4 people in our group at all times to wander the *grand metropolis* of Pigeon Forge ;)

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So, basically I won him over with my goofyness and sarcasm...and he gave me my first real kiss in the hallway of our hotel...AWWWWW, I know! ;)  We hung out for the rest of that trip, even sitting together holding hands on the bus ride home, but then we went back to different schools and didn't really keep in touch.  I stayed very close friends with Alex, Chris' brother, even after the family eventually moved to North Carolina from South Florida in 1999.

Fast forward to Mother's Day 2008, over 10 years since our first kiss.  Alex called me to tell me that his whole family was going to be in town (their parents had moved back to Florida after all the kids left the nest) to see their mom and celebrate Alex's birthday.  I had just had the LONGEST day of my life, working from 8AM until 7PM and then babysitting for a one-year-old while his parents went to a concert.  It was about 12:30 by the time they came home, and I *almost* didn't go meet them out at the bar...but I decided to go for at least *one* drink :)

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I am in the middle, looking like crap...Chris is in the red, looking like the man of my dreams ;)

We spent almost the whole night talking...then we all decided to go to the beach and hang out there.  We stayed there until the sun rose and I knew that night had changed my life forever. 

Chris had to go back to Pittsburgh that Monday morning, Sunday night he and Alex came to my house to watch Arrested Development.  We just hung out and talked and laughed, and before I knew it, they had to go.  I hugged them both and watched them leave, standing in my living room WISHING that he would come back and kiss me.  At that moment, my phone was Alex telling me that Chris had left his phone on the sofa and to let him back in.

I opened the door, he walked me into the kitchen and kissed me silly.  THAT was the moment I knew that I was going to love him, always. 

He DID go back to Pittsburgh and for almost 2 years we had a long-distance love affair.  But we really did fall in love with every aspect of each other and in February 2010, I finally moved myself and my daughter, Sydney, to PA to be with him.

And in April, we got married and could NOT be happier!  :)

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  • Last updated on April 23, 2010 at 11:18 am
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Our personal glamour shots; I LOVE the portraits that our photographer shot!

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Pictures with my girl:

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Love our shiny rings!  Chris gets sooo much crap from everyone for biting his nails, lol ;)

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And, of course, some classic B&W with the beautiful monuments of our Nation's Capital:

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