8 Wedding Things You Don’t Need

Summer 2015 is the summer of weddings for me. And as a frequent wedding-goer, there are really only three things I care about as a guest. They are, in order from least to most important: a good dance floor, an open bar, and a few minutes with the happy couple. That’s it. And I think most wedding guests are on the same page. Unless you are one of the women on the TLC show “Four Weddings.” Those girls are leaving the reception all, “The center pieces were tacky and the cupcakes didn’t have the exact icing I prefer. I give it a 4 out of 10.” But everyone else is is just happy to be there with you, enjoying your special day.

Weddings are expensive. That’s just a fact. You need food, booze, a venue . . . the list goes on. But what can increase the price of your wedding even more is all of the extra details that go into it that your guests don’t even notice. Cutting out just a few things can really help keep your budget smaller. So in the name of saving money, I have compiled this list of wedding things you shouldn’t spend money on.

Here are 8 Things You Do NOT Need for Your Wedding:

  • An Engagement Party – I love a good party, but often there are so many that lead up to the wedding that it sort of makes the actual event seem less special. An engagement party, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, a brunch the day after . . . the list goes on and on. Be selective and only have a few pre/post-wedding events. Cutting down on all these extra celebrations will not only save you money but it will also make your ceremony and reception more memorable.

    Unless you are the girl from "Revenge" and it's the setting for one of your dramatic schemes, Engagement Parties are not necessary.

    Unless you are the girl from “Revenge” and it’s the setting for one of your dramatic schemes, Engagement Parties are not necessary.

  • Save-the-Dates – If you send out your invitations on time (6 to 8 weeks before the wedding), then you don’t really need Save-the-Dates. They’re just extra paper and postage that jack up your budget. If your wedding is during peak season or at a far-away destination for many of your guests, consider sending invitations on the earlier side (maybe 10 to 12 weeks in advance) to give people more time to plan. Or send Save-the-Dates via e-mail – it’s free and environmentally friendly.
  • Guests You Don’t Know – Creating a guest list is often the most difficult wedding prep task. It can quickly grow from 75 to 150 to 300 once you start adding in coworkers, plus-ones, and second cousins once removed. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but it’s also important to remember that the wedding is about the bride and groom, not their extended social circle. Try sticking to guests that are in your life now. My friend had a great rule-of-thumb for deciding which friends made her guest list – if she didn’t text you to tell you she got engaged, she didn’t invite you. It was an easy way to eliminate friends she still cared about but didn’t really talk to or see any more. You can also try putting your guests into categories such as: young children, coworkers, family friends. Then see if you can agree to eliminate an entire category. Exceptions might pop up to any of these rules, but they’ll help keep the numbers down.
  • Ceremony Programs and Menus – More paper! Most of your guests have been to a wedding before and they know the drill. All of those thoughtfully created programs tend to end up crumpled up on reception tables by the end of the night. Plus your guests don’t need to see a menu because already picked chicken or fish back when they sent their RSVP card and they’re stuck with whatever they chose back then. So save a few bucks by not printing these extra items. Instead, try writing the same info out on chalkboards. They’re inexpensive, fun to personalize, and an easy way to add decoration to your venue.
  • DIY Pinterest Crafts – Pinterest can be a great resource for ideas on DIY decorations, favors, centerpieces, etc. But it can also be very dangerous, because there are so many ideas out there that it can be hard to narrow them down to ones that are within your budget, time constraints, and abilities. You don’t need a cake, and cupcakes, and a candy bar. You don’t need a butterfly release, a balloon arch, and personalized napkins with your initials (all things I legit found on Pinterest). The point is, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details of the wedding and go overboard. It’s not good for your budget or your stress-level. Pick a few wedding details that are important to you, like centerpieces and the guestbook, and focus on those.

    Where would one even get that many old cowboy boots?

    Where would one even get that many old cowboy boots?

  • A Minister – If you’re not particularly religious, cut the cost of hiring an officiant and have a family member or friend marry you instead. Becoming an officiant online is easy and inexpensive. And having someone who knows you both well will make the ceremony more personal.
  • A DJ or Band – Entertainment can be one of the most costly expenses for a wedding reception. Cut it out completely by bringing your own music! Everyone has an iPod or phone that can be hooked up to the sound system. You can create a custom playlist beforehand so you get exactly the songs you want. You can even ask for song requests from guests on the RSVP cards. Or ask a friend to DJ for you.
  • Favors – Your guests came to your wedding to see you get married, not for the party favor. Similar to the programs, favors are an item that often gets left behind at a wedding. Favors are a gesture intended to thank your guests for coming to the event. Scrap them altogether and instead be sure to spend a few minutes talking to each guest during the reception. Or have an old-fashioned receiving line. Follow up by acknowledging your guest’s presence on your special day in their thank you card. Both of those steps are more personal than a party favor and much cheaper!

Do you have any tips for saving money on your wedding? Feel free to share!

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Tips for Furnishing Your Home on the Cheap

Recently my roommate of two years moved out of my apartment. Mostly I am suffering from separation anxiety. I have to watch the Real Housewives alone?! Who will listen to my angry feminist rants?! Who will order an unnecessarily large amount of Chinese food take out with me?!

But I also had this frightening moment a few weeks ago when she started packing where I suddenly realized that all of the things in the apartment are hers. The couch, the coffee table, the dining room table, the TV, the plates, silverware, pots, pans . . . ALL THE THINGS. I looked around and was like, “What do I even actually own in here?!” The answer is a large, framed One Direction poster and a microwave. What else do you need in life, though? I’ll be fine.

Maybe I will just give up my apartment and start living under my desk at work.

Maybe I will just give up my apartment and start living under my desk at work. It’s comfortable there. 

Luckily my new roommate is a real adult who owns stuff like a couch and spoons so I won’t be living alone in a completely empty apartment. But the change in living arrangements did make me realize how expensive it is to live on your own. Besides being able to afford your rent or mortgage payment, you also have to pay for all of the stuff that goes inside your living space. If I had needed to start from scratch on my own here’s an estimate of the things I would have to purchase and their cost:

  • Couch – $299.00
  • Chair – $109.00
  • Coffee Table –  $49.99
  • Area Rug – $300.00
  • TV – $139.99
  • Dining Room Table & Chairs – $500.00
  • Pots/Pans – $29.99
  • Cups, Plates, Bowls – $9.99
  • Silverware – $19.99
  • Toaster – $19.99

Total Cost = $1,477.94

That’s a lot of money! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $1,500 just laying around. Here’s a few tips to help make the cost of filling your living space more manageable:

  • Ask family and friends – People are always moving, redecorating, and reorganizing. You never know who might be looking to get rid of just the item you need. And they most likely will be willing to sell it to you for much cheaper than you could buy it new. Or maybe they’ll even just give to you for free. The only household items I do own are all things that were donated to me by friends and family. That microwave was given to me by a coworker. My bed I “borrowed” from the spare room at my parent’s house. But the One Direction poster, I will have you know, I bought with my own hard-earned money.
  • Buy used – If no one you know has the household item you’re looking for, try a consignment store or website. They often have gently used items for a reasonable price. People tend to think places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army only have clothes, but they often get larger items donated too. And online sites like Craigslist make it easy to shop for what you want. Even yard sales can have the items you’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be brand new, just functional and clean!
  • Shop bargain stores – My best tip for buying household items is the Christmas Tree Shop. If you’ve never been there you are missing out. They have a ton of kitchenware, furniture, decorations, etc. for super cheap. That’s where I found the pricing for the stuff on my list like plates and silverware. They had an entire 21-piece set of plates, bowls, cups, and mugs for $9.99. It was plastic and bright red but hey, it’ll do the job just fine!
  • Prioritize – Furnishing an apartment or home can be costly. Like I said, I certainly don’t have the extra cash in my budget to buy all the stuff I listed above in big big shopping spree. So the solution might be to prioritize what stuff you can’t live without and buy those things first. I need plates and forks so I don’t have to eat with my hands. But a rug can probably wait until I can save up the money to purchase one. You don’t have to buy it all in one day. Pace your purchases so they are affordable.

Hopefully one day soon I will have my own furniture and kitchenware. But until then, I have my poster of One Direction to keep me company while I eat my microwaved meals with my fingers. 🙂

DIY Wedding Gifts

Summer is wedding season which, if you’re 26 like me, means it’s mandatory for at least 87 of your friends to get married. That’s an exaggeration of course, but I am starting to feel like someone new gets engaged every time I log onto Facebook. This is somewhat disconcerting for me because I only go on Facebook to post Buzzfeeds about boy bands on my roommate’s wall and to force people to read this blog. All kidding aside, I love wedding season because you get to dress up, dance, drink, and see two people you love celebrate their love. But wedding season also mean gifts. Engagement Party gifts. Bridal Shower gifts. Wedding gifts. Lots and lots of gifts

The key to gift-giving is finding that perfect balance between cost and creativity. Buying of the registry is always a safe move because it’s convenient and you know you’re giving the couple a gift they want. But buying off the registry has always felt a little impersonal to me, because I don’t feel like I put any thought into the purchase. I just found it on a list. Plus, gifts on the registry can be expensive. For example, who wants to spend $60 on a pizza stone? I’m not really even sure what a pizza stone is. And I’m confused about why you would bother to figure out how to use one when you could just order delivery pizza . . .

Rather than get a gift from the registry, I like to put my craftiness to good use bu making a wedding gift. There are so many cool DIY wedding crafts out there on Pinterest. And a lot of them are easy, budget-friendly, and turn out to be great keepsakes for the happy couple. Here are two examples of gifts I made:

Love Story Map
B&M Sign

So romantic. So easy to make. Here’s what I did – I bought a large poster board, a map of Maine (yes they still sell those), and a frame. I cut out 3 places on the map that were important to them – the place they met, the place he proposed, and their wedding location. Then I used sharpie to add the wording along with their initials and wedding date. And viola, a fun, personalized wedding gift.

Established Sign

Hohwald

One of the many perks of having a carpenter for a dad is that I do have access to a lot of free wood. To make this fun sign for my sister and her husband, I picked out this nice piece of scrap wood from my dad’s garage and he kindly sanded it for me. If you don’t have a dad with a garage full of 2x4s, you can also buy a piece of ready-to-paint wood at the craft store (bonus – you won’t have to sand it). The next step was to use acrylic paint to paint the whole piece white. Then I used light pencil to trace to outline of the letters of their last name which I then painted over with the dark blue. Once that was dry the last step was to freehand their wedding date over the name. If you’re nervous about free-handing you can also buy stencils at the craft store. Note: be sure to check beforehand that the bride is taking the groom’s last name. Because if she;s not and you make this it’s awkward.

This might be the cheesiest thing I’ve ever said on this blog, but DIY wedding gifts are great because they’re made with thought and love. I’m way more excited to give a gift I made myself than I am if I bought towels off the registry. Plus if you have a lot of weddings to attend in a short period of time, crafting your own gifts can help you wedding gift budget stay affordable. Happy Wedding Season, Everyone!