Wedding Highlights and Teachable Moments

Hi everyone – I hope life has been treating you well and that you’re staying warm if you live in colder climates!  Life for me has gone from boiling with a flurry of activities to a mellow simmer adjusting into married life, which has been quite a relief.  I do feel that in terms of personal finance, though, I started embracing the ‘we’ factor a lot more, which I’ll discuss more in a future post.  But before that, here’s some wedding highlights and teachable moments:

1) We lucked out on the weather!  There were quite a few storms these past four days, so we were all the more grateful that during our wedding weekend, it was gray on the actual day, but really sunny the day before and after.  This turned out to be great, since the photographer said that gray days are better for pics (better clouds, less glare), and our out of town guests got to experience Cali in all of its sunny glory!

1796833_10152229306722398_549120236_o2) The walk down the aisle was even more amazing as I thought it to be.  My parents walked me down the aisle, and it was an incredible experience not only seeing all the guests beam happily at me (I heard one kid say “there’s the princess!” haha), but my extremely handsome groom waiting for me at the end of the aisle.  I started tearing up after seeing his watery eyes and huge smile, and once I glanced at my bridesmaids who were all tearing up, I cried quite a bit!  The priest (his family member) was so funny, though, and gave a great Mass.

3) I had the BEST bridesmaids ever!  The best thing that worked out perfectly was a bridesmaid that flew in from the east coast on Friday and never left my side.  I was so stressed out with all the DIY projects and coordinating with people the week of (and when I stress I completely shut down and get creepy quiet), that by the time she got there, she had me laughing and mellowed out for the rehearsal all the way through getting ready for the wedding.  She stayed with me at the hotel, and the morning of the wedding, she ordered breakfast for me, helped me in my dress (along with other bridesmaids) and shoes, and shoo’ed away any guests that tried to make it about them.  After the ceremony and before the reception, they were all constantly feeding me and putting a Jamba Juice straw in my mouth before asking, that I felt like a prized fighter or something. 😉  They also all gave amazing speeches that had me both laughing and crying.  If there’s one take-away from all of this, is to be sure to pick bridesmaids that make it all about you for your special day, because I’ve heard way too many horror stories where bridesmaids make it about them.  I am eternally grateful for my girls.

Dancing to Hava Nagila

Dancing to Hava Nagila with my mom and B on each side 🙂

4) The reception was absolutely amazing!!  The entrance was so fun and lively, everyone loved the stations idea and said that it was delicious, his dad and the best man (his brother) gave such a heart-warming speech that made me feel really welcomed into their family, and the dance floor was packed the whole night thanks to lively kids and a bunch of friends and family that love to boogie down (though open bar probably helped, too)!  My dad (who is Jewish) had B break a glass and had the DJ play “Hava Nagila” with the whole crowd which had everyone dancing and participating, which was so much fun since I’ve never experienced that before.  I was pretty bummed, though, that I didn’t get to have as many meaningful conversations with everyone as I would have liked (though I hear this is normal for weddings, I still feel really bad!), and I now wish that we did rounds with every table since I’m not sure if I have a picture of everyone that attended.  I guess we’ll see when the pictures come!

5) I seriously got my money’s worth with the DJ, florist, and day-of coordinator.  I found the DJ and florist at less mainstream bridal bazaars, and they did such an amazing job and were so hands-on!  Also, the day-of coordinator was extremely helpful and not once during the event did I have to think of logistics, plus, she took the time a few days before to meet with me regarding setting up for things which turned out more beautiful than I could have done, and at the end everything was all packed up for us, including food.  She executed all the plans perfectly, and if you have a fairly big wedding, I think a day-of coordinator is pretty key so that you can truly enjoy yourself at your wedding.  I’ve pondered whether I could do that as a side hustle since I loved it so much, and kept in touch with the DJ to get her take on things (plus, she’s just a cool person all-around, anyway).

6) In terms of wedding costs/gifts, we did really well and, not counting my parents’ contributions of roughly half, balanced out and then some (do people care/want to know what the actual costs are other than my national average remark?).  I also plan on reselling my dress while it’s still in style, as well as some accessories and centerpiece items that should reduce my costs by a little.  However, the entire experience was extremely worth it for both of us, and we both agreed we would have done it all again in a heartbeat.

Next project now that the wedding is done: Building a great life together! 🙂

Do you have any tips for newlyweds?  

The Great Ball and Chain Acquisition (or, I’m Married!)

Howdy everyone!  I’m happy to announce that I’m now married!  It was an amazing time, from our parents meeting a few nights before the wedding to the rehearsal dinner where I got a chance to meet some of B’s cousins, all leading up to the most perfect wedding day ever!  It was not only a lifetime commitment ceremony for B and I, but a family and friends reunion that I relished and savored for the few hours we had together.  I am still on cloud 9 just thinking about it!

I’ll write a more thoughtful post soon, but remember how I said it was an aeronautical theme, which is why I had boarding passes invites and luggage tags in the shape of airplanes as thank you gifts?  Well, it’s because the reception was held at an aeronautical museum!  Is it because we love travel?  Sure, let’s go with that… but really, after seeing some ho-hum venues where the pics looked better than real life, once we saw the planes at the museum we knew that this was it.  Everyone loved it, from kids to adults, and the food was amazing, as well.

I won’t get pics from my photographer for 6 or so weeks, so enjoy these (horribly botched up) pics in the meantime.  I’m going to catch up on some much needed sleep, but I hope everyone has a wonderful week! xo

I’m Ready to “Give Birth” to This Wedding!

Hello everyone – I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  My cousin had his wedding this past Saturday and it was a blast – both of them are really outgoing and hilarious, so there was a lot of dancing, festivities, and general hamming up all around.  B and I are pretty shy so ours will be a lot more mellow, but I’m definitely ready for ours to happen and I just hope that things will go as well as they can be.  I figure we have the priest, the food, and the booze, so everything else is just icing on the cake, yes? 😉

1) Timelines for the vendors and bridal party – Michelle hooked me up with her wedding timeline/ vendors/ bridal party instructions, so I’m modeling mine after that.  The ‘duties’ are pretty light, but I’d at least like my bridesmaids to remind me to eat at regular intervals to avoid the Anna-Monster from being unleashed.

Menu2) I am semi-DIY’ing the ceremony programs and menus.  I tried to find a free template for our ceremony programs and menus since we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but I found the process really overwhelming and time consuming.  Instead, I chose this design from an Etsy vendor, who was affordable, extremely responsive, and helpful, so I highly recommend her!  She made our ceremony programs in Regency (purple), and our menus, place cards (I got lazy and thought this would pull on our color themes better), and table numbers in Apple (red) since we’ll have purple table cloths.  My friend who made my invitations gifted card stock for us that matched our invites, so we’re very thankful for that.

3) My SD girls surprised me with a mini-bachelorette party!  It was a hilarious sight, as we went to one of my favorite wine bars, though none of us drank since I’m trying not to until the wedding, and all of my friends who went are either nursing or pregnant. 🙂  It was so much fun and thoughtful, and I don’t have to buy underthings for practically the next two years – yay!

4) Reader/groomsmen/parents gifts.  I have now learned that my soon-to-be-hubby is quite the procrastinator, so I had to basically throw out ideas to him with clickable links so that he could figure out his groomsmen gifts (personalized beer mugs with funny sayings).  Since our readers are my brother and best friend, I gave them the same thing, and we bought personalized frames for our parents.

5) B is ‘sponsoring’ me for another half-marathon for his Valentine’s Day gift!  He doesn’t understand my love of overpriced races (#Iamasuckerforpinkraceshirts), but he at least supports me.  I think it’s the perfect stress reliever for after the wedding, and if I become injured, at least we have a long plane ride to our honeymoon to help me recoup… at least that’s how I justify it!

6) Not gonna lie, the bridezilla has been emerging somewhat.  For the most part, it’s containable, as I mostly get snippy at B for not communicating things in an effective manner (I quickly apologize when I know I’ve crossed the line, though).  However, I am up to my ears of people who make this about them with some family drama that went down.  I won’t get into it, but I honestly don’t understand some family/cultural dynamics sometimes.

Alright, enough about that vent – for the most part it’s just all the communication and time involved with this, from dinner with our parents meeting, rehearsal dinner communications, to actual day of communications with vendors.  As much as I enjoyed the process, this end month is a lot of work, and I’m just ready to ‘give birth’ to this wedding.  I asked my friends if this is what being pregnant is like, and my favorite answer came from my friend who said, “Nope, you get more sympathy and casseroles when you’re pregnant.” Love it!

To those that celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and I’d love to hear if you have any plans!  I’ll probably put B to work with cutting up our place cards and menus since I’m a big romantic like that. 😉

Wedding Stuff and the Half-Marathon Awaits!

Hi everyone!  First off, thank you so much for all your thoughts on my last post – it seriously helped me reconsider some situations that could have ended up really sticky, so thank you!  As An Exacting Life mentioned, at least when people do ask, I can do so with enthusiasm, so there’s that ray of hope!

Anyway, I have the half-marathon this Sunday with the lovely Tonya (so the highlight of the weekend!).  My training has been meh overall, but I think I’ll at least be able to complete it, and I’m glad I had this training since it seemed to give me more life balance and helped with my efficiency with the projects on my plate (my Spanish and reading goals for 2014 are another story, though, but it’s only January, right?).  Speaking of stuff on my plate, here’s more wedding updates!

1) Venue/ catering/ coordinator walk-through completed.  B and I met with the venue director, catering lead, and day-of coordinator to set the plan for where the bar, tables, and stations will go.  It was pretty easy since the catering has been at that venue before, so they were able to offer suggestions that made the area flow and become cohesive.

IMG_20140127_170050_5382) Card box selected!  My friends that went to the bridal shower know I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Etsy so they hooked me up with this rotating wedding card box from one of the vendors.  We’ll replace our travel pics  (we didn’t do engagement pics) with wedding pictures and have as decoration for our place (with our wedding cards inside).

3) Ceremony verses/music selected!  We decided on having a full Mass, and we made our verses and music selections (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for bridesmaids, Canon in D for when I walk down with my parents).  Since I selected the procession music, I asked B to choose the one after – he selected Hornpipe which wasn’t my first selection since it’s a little fast-paced and I’ll be wearing heels (plus he’s a fast walker to begin with), but I’ll just cling on to him for dear life when we leave. 🙂

4) Airport transportation – I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but we were able to reduce our airfare by over $2k by flying out of TJ (flying out of SD internationally is always crazy expensive, and it was still $1k cheaper than flying out of LAX).  There’s shuttles that offer pick-up services, but I think one of our guests will drive us to and fro as our wedding gift – hope this works out, but if it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure it was still the most cost effective route.

5) Bridal shower thank-you’s – since I type more often than not, my handwriting has become atrocious!  I’ll have to see if I can buy the wedding thank you’s prior to our honeymoon if my 2-3 cards a day is any indication.

6) Lots of get-togethers – there’s a lot of events going on than just the wedding, what with our parents/siblings meeting that week, the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner the night prior, and then a brunch the day after (my dad’s idea, he’s so sociable).  It’s taken some time coordinating all those things and sending out the Evite with the rehearsal dinner, but thankfully they’re well on their way.

7) Ceremony programs and reception menus – initially I wasn’t going to give hand outs at the church, but thought it might be useful to know our ties to the ceremony participants, and for directions to the reception.  We might also do menus at the reception, which I didn’t initially want, but I’d like guests to know what each station is, that there’s a “Quiet Room” in case they have infants that need a mellow space, and to send phone pictures to us so we can feel part of their table.  We figured we’d only need 3 or so per table, though, rather than each person.

Alright, friends, I hope you have a great weekend, and since B is a die-hard Seahawks fan – Go Hawks! 🙂

Wedding/ Honeymoon – Bridal Shower and Getting Into the Details

Hi everyone – lots went down the last couple of weeks with wedding stuff, so let’s cut to the chase and get on with the updates!

My lovely ladies

Some of my lovely friends

1) I had my bridal shower!  My mom and bridesmaids did an amazing job, and it was the perfect amount to really catch up with my friends and family.  It was Parisian-themed so there were macarons galore (oh man, such a fan now!), and all the games were super fun.  At the end, my sis-in-law had a video of B where he was asked a few questions and I was asked to guess his answers.  For the most part we were on the same wavelength since I knew what his childhood nickname was and how many kids we’d like, but he’s so practical and literal that when I answered “buy a house!” to “what’s the first thing you would do if you won the lottery,” he answered with “go out to dinner.” lol

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My mom was completely hilarious and all my friends loved her, not only because she has a cute personality all-around, but when it came to the gifts, she gave me the two-sided eye mask in the picture, a really elegant night wear outfit, and a really racy one that 1) should really come with instructions and 2) I’d probably need to stretch and warm up before trying it on.  I get it mom, you want grandkids stat. lol  Love her! 🙂

2) Air BnB is pretty darn amazing for our honeymoon lodging!  I started trolling around Air BnB and found a really cool place in one city with great views and lots of positive reviews (plus two adorable kitties).  Not only that, but once I booked, the owner already gave me information on reciprocity fees and the best/ least expensive way to get to her digs.  I’m super impressed and can’t wait to meet her and check out the living situation!

After this stop, we’re going to another section where it’s kind of a package deal (hotel/tours), and after that we’re going to our final destination.  The hotel prices are reasonable, but we checked out Air BnB again and found a sweet looking trendy studio that pretty much looks like a hotel but at a lesser price, and with the convenience of having a kitchen (since we don’t like to eat out all the time), a gym, rooftop pool, washer/dryer (coin-operated), and in a cool area with easy transport access.

3) Must-have shots list.  We’re meeting with the photographer at the end of the month, and after reading Kali’s post about her photographer, I’d like to work on the ‘must have’ list our photog recommended to ensure we have lots of shots of our loved ones.  If anyone has any recommendations (or horror stories), I’d love to hear any ideas I might not have thought of!

4) Seating arrangements is 90% done – it was actually pretty fun since it was like playing a game of who knew whom, and people I’d like to get to know for either networking or romantic purposes (I only have a 50% success rate with the latter, but hey, when you know two people who are so amazing, you just want them to meet!).  We’re going to hand out our lists to our parents so they can figure out their guests’ arrangements, and it will be complete.

5) Church readings and meeting with the wedding coordinator.  We’ve selected most of our church readings (I know the “Love is kind…” is pretty overplayed, but it’s the best one from the selections, and I still have to choose one from the Old Testament – any suggestions?), and we’re meeting with the cantor/organist this weekend to discuss the music.  The church also has a wedding coordinator (didn’t know until last week), who we have to schedule with to discuss the ceremony walk-through, give us ideas on announcements, etc.

6) Final fitting done!  I loved the cinching at the hips since it gave me a bit more form, and I didn’t know beforehand but it’s a good idea to have a bridesmaid (or someone) with you at the final fitting so she/he can learn how to bustle the train afterward.  Mine has a 7-point bustle, and while it seems easy enough, she did a great job with making it really seamless so I just hope they can find it the day of (looking underneath the lace helps, though).  I also ended up buying my veil on Ebay since, even at 50% off, the veils at the store were pretty ridiculous.  It’s not the greatest quality, but I’m only wearing it for an hour or so, so it didn’t seem worth it to spend a lot.

7) Reception walk-through tomorrow – I’m meeting with the venue director, catering lead, and my coordinator tomorrow to do a run-through of where things will go, so I’ll update in the next round!

dessertsAlright friends, I’ll part with a pic of the yummy desserts from the shower – I hope you have a wonderful week and let me know what’s going on in your corner of the world. 🙂

Wedding update – two month countdown!

Hi everyone – I hope your 2014 is starting out amazing so far!  This lady sure is – not only did she pay off over $5k of debt in December, but she also got engaged – congrats again, girl!  Anyway, shall I continue with more wedding updates?  Don’t mind if I do.

1) Make-up booked!  I love the person I chose – she used airbrush make-up which looked really nice, and she combined fake lashes with my real lashes that looked fantastic so I’ve decided against eyelash extensions (which after some research, I guess it ruins your real lashes so this is probably a good thing).  I booked trial before an all day outing, and it kept up so long as I powdered in regular intervals to avoid looking Dali-melted. 🙂

2) Bridesmaids gifts completed!  I’m inept at picking out jewelry, so I opted to give them cute clutches, a heart-shaped purse holder with their name personalized on it, and make-up.  I took advantage of some sales, as well as double rewards on Ebates (thanks Roger, for letting me know about it!).  The readers are my brother and my best friend from high school (a guy), so I have to still figure what to get them.  Any ideas?

My ever-so-helpful coworkers decided to show their Spanish support by labeling my supplies en espanol! lol

My ever-so-helpful coworkers decided to show their Spanish support by labeling things around my desk en espanol! lol

3) Honeymoon flights booked!  Despite having to be on the phone for over 4 hours since going online wasn’t working out, they’re booked and I’m beyond thrilled that we’ll be paying a visit to South America!   We’re only doing one tour package for one region for 3-4 days, and the rest we’ll try to wing it, as well as do a mix of Air BnB and hotels since one area is pricier than the other.

4) Guest list almost confirmed.  I’m starting to plan out the seating arrangements (originally I was opposed to this and thought I would give guests free reign, but I’d like super special loved ones to have the best seats in the house… plus I may or may not be trying to play cupid with a few people going as singles ;)).  Our attendance rate is in the range of what we expected, though there’s going to be a ton of kids/babies.  I love how they boogie down on the dance floor, though, so I’m excited!

5) Wedding bands chosen!  We went with Blue Nile (no affiliate) and chose a semi-eternity for myself and tungsten carbide for B since this sounds harder to scratch.  Not gonna lie, his hand has never looked sexier as it did when he tried it on! 😉

6) Reception timeline somewhat set.  We spoke with the DJ for hours last night, and she was really thorough with a Q&A period about us, speaking with us individually, talking about our parents and every member of the bridal party, talked a lot about music genres and what percentage of each, and what we envision.  It was challenging to think of anecdotes on the fly, but I’m sure we’ll finalize things down the line.

dress17) Bridal shower and probably rehearsal dinner dress picked.  I chose this dress, which was a bit more sequin-y in person than online, but I think I can pull it off for day wear with the right shoes.  I love it, don’t even have to make alterations like usual, got a great deal online, will probably just wear it to both the shower and rehearsal/dinner, as well as my friend’s annual black and white party in a few months to get the most bang out of my cost per use.

Now that it’s coming to a head, I’ll probably write more frequent updates so feel free to tune these out if you’re over it.  It helps me figure out what still needs to be done, and the way these next couple of months are looking, it’s going to take some time coordinating with vendors, figuring out readings/songs for the ceremony, and making time for logistics like getting the license, follow ups, and walk-throughs.  Overall, I’m pretty excited that it’s coming, though! 🙂

Are you planning any big events for 2014? 

November Updates – Debt Repayment, Fitness/Running, and Wedding

Hi everyone – holy canoli, only 30 more days until we ring in the new year!  I’m starting to formulate some 2014 goals, so I think for December my goals are to “finish strong” financially and mostly fine tune some of those 2014 details (and realistically throw out some lofty or out-of-my-control ones).  Here’s what went down in November with things that I usually update about:

1) Debt repayment – I cannot tell a lie, I didn’t complete Michelle’s Black Friday Challenge and pay off my credit card debt, though she managed to pay off *two* so be sure to go over and congratulate her!  I did manage to pay off $300 which brings my total to $3789.  I’ll for sure pay off credit card by 2013, and thinking about just taking the remaining balance from my EF/savings and have all debts ($3789) completely paid off.  I figured why not start 2014 anew, I’d rather pay back myself than those darn companies, and the remaining is a balance that I feel somewhat comfortable parting with.  I always worry about poo hitting the fan, but know that if it came to that, B’s got my back.  Should I just do it?

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Why hello there, seasonal BFF!

2) Fitness – I’ve been somewhat following Jamie Eason’s workouts, and starting to see results strength-wise with frequenting heavier dumbbells more, as well as making gains in squats (though this is attributed to B, since I join him during “Leg Day” and he definitely pushes me past my comfort zone despite him being the most awful testosterone-driven meanie who tells me to suck it up when I whine about how heavy something is).  Physically, I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, but my clothes fit better at least.

3) Half-marathon training – I’m getting in 3-4 runs a week and my longest has been a 7 miler.  It’s been nice, but so chilly con carne outside!

4) Nutrition – this area could for sure use more work, especially with Trader Joe’s bringing back my seasonal BFF, dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  Nom to the nom!  Besides, isn’t it good for carb-loading for my runs?

And now, onto my favorite updates – the wedding!

1) DJ picked!  She’s given awesome ideas, such as introducing us to the Vitamin String Quartet of which I am *loving* their rendition of Viva La Vida.  We’re toying with the idea of playing them throughout the dinner and making it a game where our guests will guess which songs they are (like Bohemian Rhapsody, Thrift Shop, Don’t Stop Believin’).  It’s kinda cheesy, but also kinda us. 🙂

2) Florist picked!  Flowers aren’t really high on my priority list so I was having a mild heart attack at the cost of really simple flowers, but we found a really cool guy at practically half the price.  Not only that, but he took the time to leaf through pages and examples with me, explaining different flowers, and has beautiful ideas for my bouquet (a round and neat mix of anemones and lisianthus in deep purple, with specks of mini red roses).

3) Honeymoon taking shape.  I told B I really want to go to one area of South America, he agreed it would be awesome and wants to add on another area, and he’s starting to work on this aspect thanks to some oh-so-very-subtle hints I’ve given like “um, so you got this, right?” 😉  But in all seriousness, we both started working on this during the long weekend (him prior), so it’s been exciting.

IMG_20130927_164556_3304) Wedding dress fitting – I went for my first fitting and I absolutely can’t wait to wear it, and campaigning for Wedding Dress Fridays in lieu of Casual Fridays at work, so hopefully it’ll pan out. 😉 I heard that tailoring costs a pretty penny and this is accurate, but I was at least prepared for it.  I’m wondering how the the re-sell prospect will work out with how it’s being tailored since I’m tailoring the hem, as well as the hips/tush part so it’s less A-line and more form-fitting.  I think I’d have to sell locally so people can try it on to see if it works out for them.  I’ve also decided on these shoes, though will probably drop down to flats once we start dancing.

5) Hairstyle picked – I’m going for this hairstyle and I’m going with my usual hairstylist whom I love and trust.  I need to figure out make-up still.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week – so crazy that there’s only a few weeks left in 2013!  Make it some great ones. 🙂