Tag Archive | budget

What Miss Sword Will Do to Save Money

I know I’m sort of rounding the last lap on the way to my wedding date, and at less than three months away is sort of an odd time to talk about saving money (as most of the big bills are coming up), but alas I was prompted by the weather so I’m going to go with it.

This past weekend Minnesota had a nice-sized snowfall.  The photo below was taken at the MSP airport where lots of flights were cancelled due to severe weather conditions.  I guess it snowed like 10-12 inches around the Twin Cities and close to 16 in other areas up north.

image via Kare11.com

image via Kare11.com

Now there is nothing weird about this.  It snows quite a bit during the wintertime in Minnesota.  And you’re only a true Minnesotan if you’ve driven at NIGHT in a BLIZZARD by YOURSELF in what I like to call my “near death experience.”  This is much like the theory that you’re not a true Chicagoan until you’ve had your car broken into (twice myself and most recently MOH/Sister Big Eyes was also initiated into Chicago the same weekend as my Hen Do even though she doesn’t live here).  The snowiest months for Minnesota are usually December to March.

What does this have to do with saving money you ask?  I’m saving a pretty large chunk of money by hosting a rather large event (AKA my wedding) in early March (one of the previously mentioned snowy months). It’s actually a really good deal, and a deal that wasn’t available just few weeks later in April.  You know how hotels and other wedding venues charge for everything per head?  We are getting ten dollars off per person which is HUGE if you’re inviting 150+ people.

Thanks to our awesome venue, The Embassy Suites, we’re going with a package deal, so our amount not only includes a plated meal for everyone, but also our cake, centerpieces (which we took as a credit because we’re making our own), a full hour of free drinks/butler-passed hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, a hotel room for the bride and groom, and a gift opening room for the following morning.  This package also comes with a recommended DJ and ability to rent the atrium space for the ceremony at 500 dollars.  At the risk of repeating myself, we are adding on to our package with kegs of beer, wine, two signature drinks, purple lighting, draping around the sweetheart table, and the DJ for both ceremony and reception.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it's August.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it’s August.

One stop shop has been my motto since the beginning but it’s going to be a sucky motto if there is a big snow fall the weekend of our wedding and our guests are unable to make it!  I know the weather can be issue anywhere in the world, what with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, heat waves, and other things that can put a damper on wedding plans, but adding to the winter weather we also have a lot of guests flying or driving in from out-of-town.  Hello Scotland, Canada, Illinois, New York, Virginia, and North Dakota!

Truth is, I wanted a lot of traditional elements, such as a plated sit-down dinner, a large dance floor, and the ability to have my out-of-town guests crash at the same location as the wedding.  To get all of these things we had to compromise on something and that something was time of year.

I have no idea if I’ll get beautiful sunlit pictures outside with Mr. Sword and our bridal party or if it will be snowing/raining/sleeting with a dark sky and ground covered in sludge.  I have no idea if the weather will remain calm enough for all of our guests’ travels or if someone people will have to forgo the trip due to road closures or flight cancellations.  Will there be beautiful snow-capped trees in the background or naked branches flinging about in rough winds?  Who knows?  The average temperature in March can range from 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weather is not something I can control.  Unfortunately, sometimes my emotions are also something I cannot control.  Bazinga.  (Can you tell I love the Big Bang Theory?)

I wanted to have the wedding of my dreams and still stay within our agreed upon budget.  Hence, March.  I guess we’ll see what happens.  🙂

I wanna hear from the Northern brides out there!  Did you have a winter wedding?  How did it go?  Did you have lots of guests flying in as well?  Anyone else having a wedding in March where the weather is a bit unpredictable?

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My Wedding Dress Doesn’t fit and I Feel Crazy, but My Shower Rocked, What a Weekend Baby: 2

The second edition of my awkwardly titled series is about FLOWERS!  (This is Part One, in case you missed it.)

Back when I started planning, I was in the “I don’t know what the hell to do about flowers camp,” and was waffling between hiring someone to do my bouquets and having a friend arrange them for me.  Then there was the whole flower alternative idea floating in my head where you make flowers out of paper (thank you Miss Gray Wolf and Miss Panda for the awesome inspiration), but considering I gave up on making boutonnieres after a whole 1.5 minutes,  I think I lack both the desire and skill to DIY anything so grand.  I also decided that I’d rather have my friends simply be guests on the wedding day instead of friendors.

Consequently, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and order my flowers through a flower shop.

And boy, was it EASY.  Too easy.  In fact, maybe it was all dream.  No wait, the crappier part of the weekend most DEFINITELY happened so then all good stuff must be true as well!  🙂

My flight into the Twin Cities landed at 9:30 AM and by 10 AM I was seated at a table with BM L Dawg and meeting with C for our first appointment of the day.*

C was a dream to work with, and as L Dawg told Mom Sword, “we were a bit high maintenance” and she still gave us great customer service.  She hopped up so many times to show me flowers that I finally told her it wasn’t necessary, and she could just stay seated!

Get this Hive: I went in with ZERO inspiration photos.  BRIDE FAIL.  But it wasn’t a big deal, I did have a vision and I had a budget.

I’m actually going to share our budget with you because not only is it a great point of reference for those in the Midwest looking for flowers, but it’s also nice to know the actual numbers sometimes if only for comparison sake and curiosity!  In case you’ve forgotten, our centerpieces will be flower free, which means we only needed 5 bouquets and four corsages.

The budget Mr. Sword and I decided on pre-MN trip was 500.00 dollars for all things floral.

When we first sat down I turned to C and said, “I know very little about flowers and what they cost, but our budget is 500.00 dollars, can you help us get all that we want for that amount?”  And she said, “yes.”  Immediately, my heart soared and we got to work picking flowers.

Umm, I think I’m holding stock but don’t quote me on that!

For my bridal bouquet BM L Dawg and C helped me choose white hydrangea, ivory roses, white heather (as a nod to Mr. Sword’s Scottish culture), and mini calla lilies in eggplant as accents.

image via Fifty Flowers

I’m also incorporating some fiddlehead ferns in my bouquet to add in some darkness and drama (they are the curly-q things sticking out of the bouquet shown below).

Source: luxefinds.com via Jessica on Pinterest

 And finally we decided to cradle the flowers in these big leaves known as aspidistra (I’d never heard of it before).  The bouquet featured below has leaves at the bottom of it that appear to be aspidistra (although hopefully they’ll be a bit darker), and this is the overall look we are going for in all of the bouquets.

image via The Flirty Guide/ Photo by Karen Hsu

Suddenly, all four wedding colors are represented in my bouquet: eggplant purple, chocolate brown, forest green, and ivory.  Insert happy bride dance here!

Cut to the maid’s bouquets.  Since the bridesmaids are wearing the color eggplant…

Thank you MOH Big Eyes for modeling

it didn’t make sense to have their bouquets dark purple as well, so instead they are going to have a mixture of different shades of purple flowers (I love purple so much), ranging from really pale to lavender to the  dark eggplant calla lilies like in my bouquet.  MOH/Sister Big Eyes will also get a splash of spray ivory roses in her bouquet to make it stand out.

Finally, we ordered wrist corsages using what else but a purple flower (of which I have forgotten the name).

Here is our numbers breakdown in case you’re interested (while calla lilies are expensive, we also incorporated some inexpensive flowers so all in all I think we did good):

Brides bouquet                                                                                                 135.00

Bridesmaids (3) ea, 80.00                                                                              240.00

Maid of honor (1)                                                                                            95.00

Wrist corsages (4) ea. 20.00                                                                         80.00

This comes to $550.00 less 15% discount (-82.50) = 467.50 x 7.775% sales tax 36.35 = 503.85

Did you notice the 15% discount?  Isn’t C amazing?  I can’t speak highly enough of her as she worked within my budget, was flexible in offering different types of flowers, and super easy to converse with!  We even showed C some of the tartan fabric and she agreed to wrap all of the bouquet stems in it as well!  Success!

Table of my stuff including a swatch of the tartan

After BM L Dawg and I left the shop, we promptly got into the car and canceled our next floral appointment (this was pre-estimate btw) because we were confident with C and lesbihonest, we just wanted to get to our movie.  (Random movie plug: Go see Pitch Perfect, you won’t regret!)  Aca-believe me.

(all photos personal)

*I have no problem sharing my vendors and linking back to their websites once everything is fully signed and dotted, but private message me if you are a MN bride in need of great service!

What do you think of our floral prices based on our Midwest location?  Am I crazy for not getting a second opinion?  What can I say, I was going on instinct!

Wedding Bands on a Budget

A few weekends ago Mr. Sword and I ventured out to take a look at wedding bands.  We started at the place he purchased my engagement ring, Wedding Band Co, located on Jewelers Row in downtown Chicago.

To recap, my engagement ring is a princess cut center stone with channel set princess diamonds on either side.  Because, DUH, I’m a princess and Mr. Sword is no fool!  🙂

My first thought was to go with a band that was thick and geometric to match the look of my engagement ring.  Something a lot like this:

image via World Jewels

But besides the high sticker price for that many princess cut diamonds, when I tried on bands of a larger width that had matching princess cut channel diamonds, I found I didn’t like them very much at all!  They were almost too similar and too typical.  I have always been drawn to popular trends but also to the slightly different or unique trends, and found I was no different when shopping for wedding bands.  So I started trying on atypical matches to my E ring, and I ended up falling in love with a very dainty, petite band covered in tiny round diamonds.

I know it’s sounds like it won’t match at all, but the round diamonds are so tiny that the band just looks sparkly and beautiful all the way around.  Unfortunately for Wedding Band Co, their version of this ring was over-priced in our opinion.  I know eternity bands can be expensive, and I know that quality varies from store to store, but I couldn’t justify spending that much on such a tiny band!  Mr. Sword was also adamant that we stay under budget and this ring was almost double!  So we moved on.

We decided to check out a Rogers and Hollands in Water Tower Place and found the same exact ring for a fraction of the price!  Knowing that Mr. Sword never makes a quick purchase, we went home empty-handed that day to let things settle, and so I could make sure I was still in love with my petite band before we did anything rash.  I’m happy to report I was truly smitten, and we went back one week later to buy the less expensive ring from Rogers and Hollands!  While I love that my engagement ring is such a quality stone and while it would have been ideal to have all of our rings cleaned and under warranty at the same store, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I’m so relieved we decided to shop around because we both think my wedding band is gorgeous and Mr. Sword is thrilled that we came in UNDER budget!

How do you think it matches up next to my engagement ring?

Both our jeweler from Wedding Band Co and the lady from Rogers and Hollands thought that another petite sparkly band would look just lovely on the other side of my ring and make a wonderful anniversary present.  Aren’t they smart??  🙂

As this post is already getting long, I’ll tell you the short version of how we picked Mr. Sword’s ring.  At first we looked at white gold, but Mr. Sword refused to spend that much money on himself.  Plus, he doesn’t even care  that much about jewelry.  So we decided on this masculine tungsten ring in white.  Done.

What do you think of our set, hive?  Anyone else shop around for their wedding band?

Get it on film!

Videography.   I think it’s important and I want to tell you why.  This post is based purely on my personal opinions so keep that in mind, but here is MY food for YOUR thought.

I  know I’ve mentioned this before but I do believe the WIC (wedding industry complex)  coerces us into thinking we need certain things to make our wedding day magical, and videography is something that can be  found on that list of “must-haves,” but in this instance, I think they are right!  GASP.

I do feel strongly that this day in age, with all the media and technology advances in recent years, it doesn’t make sense NOT to have your special day recorded on film.  It’s there to be watched over and over again for future generations, for when you have a big fight and need a loving reminder, for your anniversary celebrations, for when your memory begins to fail you, for when you need a nice gift for your parents, and for yourself because it was your wedding day after all!

A few years ago my siblings and I made a special video for Auntie B to commemorate a special birthday year of hers (of which the year shall go unmentioned).  This video is a compilation of all of our families’ inside jokes, but  I can’t tell you how many times Auntie B says to us, “I just watched my birthday video again and laughed all the way through it, it’s SO funny!”  Hearing this makes my heart so happy, it’s been years and she still watches it often!

People videotape everything from their first bungee jumping experience to their child’s first step; your wedding is going to be one of the best celebrations of you and your partner’s love so why not get it on film?  Even if you are an introvert or an extra-shy person (like Mr. Sword) you will still want to see how happy you looked on that day, how much you laughed, how silly you danced, and how well you were loved by family and friends.

“BUT WAIT ONE MINUTE YOU CRAZY BLONDE, what if I can’t afford a videographer??”

Good point.  In fact, price is probably the biggest reason people say no to a videographer.  Did you know some people charge anywhere from 5-8 thousand dollars??  NO THANK YOU.

You can do what Mr. Sword and I did and just scratch out money from your photography fund.  We were lucky enough to be able to fit both in without going over our set photo/video budget (which to be fair, was on the mid to high side to begin with).  Remember how important photography is to me?

Another option is to find a person or a company that is just starting out.  Perhaps a student or someone looking to earn extra cash from a side business?  They might only have a few weddings under the belt, but as long as they can get the important things on film, who cares about the editing.  You don’t need the editing.

In that vein, the third option is to designate a family friend to bring their flip camera and tape certain sections of the ceremony and reception for you.  Now, most people just want to enjoy themselves (which translated means they don’t want to hold a camera to their face all night), but you never know who would be willing to help until you ask them.  My advice is to pay them even if it’s just a little stipend, because it’s the thought that counts and it’s way cheaper than hiring a professional.

Think about it this way, flowers and alcohol only last for that night, but your video will live on and on.  To me, it’s worth the big bucks!  And just like photographers, videographers do a great deal of post-wedding work as well and they deserved to be compensated.

So who did we hire?

A2f Pictures. We immediately clicked with them at our meeting in Minnesota.  They were young, fun, professional, and agreed that every wedding has a unique story to tell.  A bonus is their easy to use application form online that helps you figure out exactly what is important to you and what the “extras” will cost.  The company is owned by three filmmakers who are looking to fund their own feature film someday but are currently work hard making both commercial and wedding videos.  I hope it’s not going to be weird when I ask to audition for their film after my wedding.  I’m only kidding!!  Kind of.  While I was overjoyed that our photographer is a woman (yay), I’m just as happy to give our videography money to aspiring artists!

Our video package includes two cinematographers, a cinematic trailer, a 10-20 minute edited cut of the day, and wedding interviews/stories from family and friends.  AMAZING.  We are so pumped and if you are a guest who is planning to be at our OOTG rehearsal dinner then you better start practicing your cutest “Mr. and Mrs. Sword” story.*

Finally, I hear over and over again (from lovely people like Mrs. Snow Cone and others) that the biggest regret people have is NOT getting their wedding on film.  So if you can squeeze a videographer into your budget I say go for it!

Is videography a priority on your wedding budget?

*Nobody will be forced to do an interview if they don’t want to!!  🙂

Kilt Woes from an American Bride

Soooo, our first big wedding-related fight discussion occurred about a month after we got engaged.  It was a discussion concerning the topic of kilts, which is traditionally formal wedding dress for a Scottish man.  Since Mr. Sword didn’t already own a kilt, we had to decide between renting a standard tartan, such as the Black Watch, or we could design our own…

image via Wikipedia

One of us thinks it’s too expensive to design a custom-made kilt and get it legally registered in Mr. Sword’s last name. The other person thinks it’s worth the money for a lifetime of family memories.

Can you guess who is on what side? My logical, realistic, super smart Scottish fiancé believes we should NOT go the custom route simply because we cannot afford it. He says it’s something we can do in three years time. My opinion is this, when is there ever an extra 1500 dollars lying around to spend on a specially made tartan fabric and all the accoutrement that go with it (and trust me there’s a lot of things, including but not limited to a man purse and a knife type thing).  There is always something expensive to buy no matter what the stage in life, ie. car, house, babies, etc, so why not now? Why not have the beautiful memories captured on film of this one-of-kind kilt for generations and generations to come?  This isn’t for us, this is for our kids who are going to grow up learning about both America and Scotland, and this is for Mr. Sword’s Mum and Dad, for his wee sister and her future family, for my family, for everyone!!

I close my eyes and I can picture my future with Mr. Sword and I can see our adorable (albeit pale) children and I get tears in my eyes.  While I know it’s a bit soon to start talking about kids, I can’t think of a better way to start  our new life together than with my future husband wearing a kilt representing his Scottish last name (and my new last name!).  Of course a custom-made tartan fabric is not the most budget friendly item, especially when most grooms spend a lot less on a suit or a tux rental.  But I would be so proud to have his family name attached to his wedding garb.

photo by Pink Sugar Photography/ via Edmonton Wedding Photographers

So we were stuck, at a crossroads.  And soon Mr. Sword was heading back to Scotland to renew his visa.  I was going to visit him for a week while he was there and I thought it would be a perfect time to discuss the kilt options again!

I knew just how serious I had become when I started begging Mr. Sword to rearrange some of the money in our budget.  I suggested we nix a videographer and also take money from my dress budget (yikes). It was that important to me!

Is anyone else trying to incorporate some part of their partner’s culture into the wedding clothing?  Who or what (if any) is your obstacle?