Jul 31, 2010

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm
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Our budget is low, lower than probably most people on here. We set ourselves a goal of $5K, not including the rings and the honeymoon. It's looking like we'll come in a little over that, but we are doing pretty good so far! It has actually been kind of fun hunting for deals, being creative, and doing things ourself. Here's a few things I have learned so far--maybe they'll help some of you.

1. Do not be afraid to negotiate...just be tactful and sweet, not entitled and rude. Like I mentioned before, our venue knocked 20% off because we paid for it upfront. Before we signed on it, we also approached another venue we were considering and told them the price that we were getting at the first venue. They were willing to match it, which would have been about 25% off their original price. When I was considering buying a dress sample that was still out of my budget, I was offered $100 off the already discounted price and 20% off alterations. In addition, when I was searching for photographers, I mentioned to several photographers that they were a little out of our price range but we loved their work and every single one offered some percentage off...every single one!!! It wasn't awkward at all with any of these situations...people understand.

2. Do not buy things just because they are cheap!!! I tend to do this all the time; I buy clothes that don't fit quite right but are such a great deal, etc. It drives Ben crazy. Anyways, in true Aileen form, I bought a sample dress early on because it was so dirt cheap ($99) BUT I never really liked it very much. Then I felt horribly depressed about wearing it yet super guilty about buying another dress. Needless to say, it was a nightmare and I should have saved myself the $100! Of course, if you find something you love AND it's a great deal, you're a lucky girl.

3. The internet is wonderful. There is a WEALTH of resources out there to help you save money. Free fonts and graphics, used wedding dresses and decor from other brides, coupon codes for just about every store imaginable, tutorials for nearly any DIY project, etc. Not to mention the wisdom and support that can be found from fellow brides like here on PW!

There are a lot more things I've learned, but for now, I'm done :)

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm
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I took a couple graphic design classes in college so I knew enough about Photoshop and Illustrator to do our own invites! Yay. I got the lace graphics off istockphoto and the flourishes in the middle were free Photoshop brushes that I stretched and layered on top of each other. I also downloaded a couple fonts from The script is called Freebooter and the blocky capitals are EcuyerDax (one of my faves). The basic font is Gill Sans, I already had it on my computer.

They're still a work in progress since obviously we don't need to send them out for awhile. I'm not sure yet whether we will just print them off or if we'll mount them on cardstock afterward. I will post pictures in a little bit...the color is all funky right now. Not sure why.

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm
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Okay, we really need help on this one, actually. This is our major project of the moment. We want to decide by the end of December where we are going to go so we can keep an eye out for deals on plane tickets. So any input would be much appreciated!!!

Our original thought was to go somewhere gorgeous and tropical and warm. Not Europe, because we want to save that for another time. We just have too much we would want to see there, and we want our honeymoon to be relaxing, not trying to squeeze in as many sights as possible. Ben's dream vacation spot of all time is the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.'s out of our budget...or at least, even if we could get down there, we'd be spending everything on the tickets and hotel, and we'd have to eat PBJ for every single meal and do nothing at all!

So we figured, it'd be better to go somewhere still nice and warm, but a little cheaper, so we can actually DO stuff there, like rent jetskis or go for a helicopter ride or get massages!! Our top choices right now are:

1. Hawaii: the classic American honeymoon spot. Neither of us have ever been there and it does sound fun, but we are hesitant because several friends of ours have gone there and have said that it's too crowded, overpriced, and touristy. Plus it rained on them, and their weddings were at similar times to ours.

2. Florida: maybe somewhere in the Keys. Ben's brother and sister in law really want to go on a Caribbean cruise and cruises are fairly cheap so since we'd already have paid for the flight, if we do this option, we may honeymoon in Florida for a week and then join them for a 5-day cruise along the Caribbean. We figured after a week, we wouldn't mind having company and cruises just seem like they'd be more fun with lots of people. The problems: would Florida be too party-ish/touristy/crowded as well, and would we be hit by a hurricane? (we'd be honeymooning August 1-9 or so)

3. The Caribbean: Some friends of ours stayed in an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and recommended it, but as I mentioned before, we don't drink (alcohol) and I know that's a lot of the cost that you "save" by doing an all-inclusive, so we're not sure that would be the route for us.

What would you recommend? We could totally use some help on this one :)

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm
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One bad thing about being engaged for over a year is, I have had so much time to browse wedding blogs and see so many cute ideas that I would have never thought of on my own! Here are some of the ideas that are totally unnecessary but oh so cute:

#1 Photobooths. I love ones that use gorgeous furniture outdoors, but alas we don't own any fabulous antique furniture that's just laying around. Plus I doubt Ben would be up for carting them all the way to our venue even if we did. So my current idea is to tie empty frames from a tree with ribbon and have a trunk of props, like mini chalkboards, mustaches, parasols, what have you, for guests to have fun with. I bought a frame similar to the one in the pic on the right (except gold) at a garage sale a few months ago....for 3 bucks!

Other Ideas photo 1Other Ideas photo 2

Other Ideas photo 3

#2. Pinwheels. I'm a little obsessed with these little paper pinwheels and I want to make a bunch of them and scatter them on the tables. It will be time consuming, but not very expensive. I don't know why, I just think they are adorable!

Other Ideas photo 4Other Ideas photo 5

Other Ideas photo 6

#3. Creative Guestbooks. I just saw this idea that I thought was awesome. This couple put mini mailboxes on every table and asked their guests to "mail" them a note for them to read on their first wedding anniversary. So cute! I also like the idea of having a book of engagement pics with room in the margins for guests to sign. Lastly, I love the vintage typewriter idea...but I don't want the vintage stuff to seem forced or hokey (is that a word?)

Other Ideas photo 7 

#4. Engagement Pictures! We can't really afford to hire someone, but I really want to do them. I'm going to borrow two nice cameras from UW (my school) and Ben's sister-in-law and brother are going to take some pics of us. I want to wait for the weather to be nicer though so the background will be prettier and so I can wear a cute dress and not freeze my butt off! I love, love, love pictures in a field for some reason, but we will also do some at the beach where Ben asked me to marry him.

#5. Transportation. I always assumed we'd just drive off in Ben's Chevy Malibu. But when I saw pics of people leaving in classic cars....ahh shoot. I began to covet. I'm sure we won't be able to afford it, but hey a girl can dream. I'd love to have one even just to take pictures with.

Other Ideas photo 8

#6. Striped Straws. These made my heart pitter patter, but although they're not that expensive, they're also not at all necessary. So cute though! If anyone else wants to get them, this is the cheapest place to buy them (that I saw). They don't sort the colors though:

 Other Ideas photo 9

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm
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Neither Ben or I are huge cake eaters--at least, not the typical kind of cake that we think of when we imagine wedding cake (aka: a few layers of white cake with raspberry filling in between, with a thick layer of vanilla frosting on top)

So it would be a waste for us to spend upwards of $500 on something that wouldn't mean that much to us. What we've decided to do instead is a spread of desserts rather than one big cake. We think it'll be delicious, and cheaper to boot. We're thinking a small two tier cake in the middle and two cheesecakes on either side (we both LOVE cheesecake). Then (maybe on a separate table?), apothecary jars filled with candy and maybe some old fashioned doughnuts and other baked goods in front (I love lemon bars and brownies, and they're easy to make).

Some inspiration as far as looks: if you imagine the first one with just the top two tiers, that's how I want to decorate our center cake. And I looove the simplicity of the lavender cakes on the right for our two cheesecakes on the side.

Cake and Dessert photo 1Cake and Dessert photo 2

I have purchased two cake stands for the cheesecakes. They are ivory and lace-y, kind of like the first pic except way cuter! I'm too lazy to take a picture of them now. For the center cake, I want to find a ruffly cake stand like the one on the right.

Cake and Dessert photo 3Cake and Dessert photo 4

I'm also working on a suuuper cute cake topper inspired by these:

Cake and Dessert photo 5Cake and Dessert photo 6

So far, I have both our heads painted and I've done my outfit, but Ben's mini-me is still naked! It is turning out sooo cute, and it was fairly easy to DIY. I just used wooden doll pins from Joanns, sanded down the tops, and stuck them inside of little wooden craft balls (also from Joanns). For the heads, I used acrylic paint and painted the whole thing with wood varnish afterward to make it shiny. My outfit took me a little longer cuz I wanted it to look like my dress, so I used lace and I made it a mermaid and all. I will post pictures when I am finished so you can see!

Plus, here's some more dessert eye "candy" ahaha. I already have several apothecary jars with lids.

Cake and Dessert photo 7

  • Last updated on December 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm
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I know many of you out there will think we are craaazy but we are going to DIY our food. GULP! This is the DIY that I am most nervous about, as there are so many things that could go wrong--and if I screw up the flowers most likely no one will care, but if the FOOD is screwed up, ain't no one gonna be staying very long at our reception!

Here's our plan:

Do something simple. We are thinking either teriyaki or barbecue.

Enlist lots of help! Ben's family did all the food for his brother and sister's wedding (100 guests). And we have a few other people that have volunteered--my mom for one is excited and she's a really good cook.

Make as much as possible as early as possible. We plan on doing sides that can be served cold. Like if we do barbecue: potato salad, baked beans, green salad, etc. Then we will only have to serve the meat hot.

Use as much ready-to-go stuff as possible. Aka: use those bags of pre-washed spinach from Costco for the salad, buy rolls from Costco, open a few jars of four-bean salad, etc.

We'll be serving it buffet style. If any of you did your own food, we would love any suggestions you may have. Or, if you tried to do it and it was a complete and total disaster, you can try to talk us out of it!

As for beverages, neither Ben or I drink alcohol and our families aren't big drinkers either so we are nixing alcoholic beverages. I know that may seem awful to some of you, but trust me, hardly any of our guests would partake even if we had it available. Most of the weddings I've been to with people from our church have been dry.

We are thinking of doing punch, lemonade, iced tea, water (duh) and coffee. I love cute drink dispensers, and I'm just waiting for the right time to snatch some up. I will probably get a couple of these ones (from Pottery Barn) as soon as they go on sale, seeing as how I am currently working there and get a li'l employee discount.

Food photo 1