Bridesmaids – Beautiful on a Budget

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The time has come for the most difficult task of your wedding. You have to approach the people you love the most and ask them to spend hundreds of dollars on your wedding, with the biggest chunk going to a dress they will likely Never. Wear. Again. You want your bridesmaids to be beautiful, but your idea of beautiful might be their idea of breaking the budget. How do you have beautiful and happy bridesmaids in your wedding? Keep an eye on a realistic budget for EVERY member of your bridal party and consider borrowing (or renting) your bridesmaid dresses.

Would you be caught dead in this? Don't let your bridesmaids!

Would you be caught dead in this? Don’t let your bridesmaids!

Renting formal wear has always been an option for men, but is becoming increasingly popular for women as well. Many women are familiar with Rent the Runway which rents out designer gowns for a fraction of their purchase price. The shop carries bridesmaid appropriate gowns and dresses, and you’ll find Monique Lhullier, Halston, and Badgley Mischka among the available designers. An $850 Badgley Mischka rents for about $100 on the site.

Weddington Way is another bridesmaid dress rental option. They keep things simple, offering only six different styles in six different colors, but a dress that normally retails for $150 can be rented for half that price and returned after the wedding. It won’t even take up precious room in your closet.

Another option to keep your bridesmaid budget in mind is to choose a color instead of a gown. If you tell your bridesmaids your color is navy blue, they can then purchase a dress that suits your wedding vision, their body type, and their budget. It allows them to shop at the mall or look for discounts that might not be available at your local bridal salon.

No.  Just no.  Not on any budget.

No. Just no. Not on any budget.

Also consider the re-wearability factor of the bridesmaid dresses you choose. Someone who just can’t rationalize spending $200 or $300 on a gown for one day might be able to see the value in paying that same price for a dress that they can wear out to a club, on a cruise, or to another nice affair. Choose something in a practical fabric without a lot of embellishment that can be dressed up or down for another function.

It’s such an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding. It means that you cherish them in your life and want them to be a big part of one of the most important days of your life. Make sure the experience doesn’t cause them any unnecessary stress. Beauty on a budget is possible – even for a bridesmaid.

Wedding 101: The Beginning – Guest Lists

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Your freshly manicured fingers are happily showing off the conflict free diamond, chosen with every ounce of love a human being can hold in their heart after making the jeweler painstakingly show him every one of the 2000 rings in the case. What’s next? The Guest Lists! This is where it all begins (and that conflict free thing is likely to end).

It’s hard to know what to tackle first when it comes to wedding planning, but a big part of many of the decisions you’ll be making has to do with the number of people you want to invite. While many churches will have plenty of seating and room to accommodate most size guest lists, if you plan to have your ceremony in other locations, you may have to consider space limitations. Some locations have unlimited space for an outdoor ceremony, but if inclement weather forces your services indoors, you might have to contend with tight quarters.

You will also need to know how many guests you plan to invite when you consider the type of wedding you’ll have. If you have always dreamed of the fanciest of affairs, a multi-course seated meal, live music, specialty lighting – the whole enchilada – but you are working with a tight budget, you may have to put a strict limit on the number of guests you can invite. When you’ve made your preliminary list and realize you couldn’t possibly cut anyone, you may have to amend the vision of your wedding so that you can afford a larger crowd.

Invitation Flow Chart

Invitation Flow Chart

Whatever plans you make from the time the ring is shimmering in the sunshine as you wave it to passing strangers, you will have to give serious thought to the number of wedding guests you plan to invite.

The first list is your rough draft. Be liberal. Go ahead and put down the name of that kid that sat behind you in third grade and poked you in the back with his R2D2 pencil. It’s better to begin with everyone you can think of so you don’t risk forgetting anyone. You’ll also want to have both sides of the family compile a list. You may think you’ve added everyone you need, then your mother will remind you of her great Aunt Sally who you may not have seen since you spit strained peas on her in infancy. Both the bride’s family and the groom family should be asked to make a list.

Once the preliminary list is made, go back over it with a more careful eye. His ex? Scratched. Paulie Pencil Poker? Outta there. Aunt Sally? She never liked you after that pea incident. She’s gone. You may have family on the list that you HAVE to invite, but you know they likely will be unable to attend. Make a note next to those invitees.

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The number of guests will influence almost everything else you plan for your wedding. Start your planning here to help things progress much more smoothly from this point out.

Wedding Bliss – Keeping the Planning Stress Free

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The boyfriend has popped the question, and you’ve have said yes.  But a few weeks in, you’re wondering if you said yes to a lifetime with the man of your dreams or a lifetime of stomach ulcers, headaches, and wedding nightmares.

My sister is currently planning her wedding, which is just under a year away; my friends Amy and Anthony are planning a multi-part wedding; and my friend Sandi got engaged this past week, and has decided to get married in two months!!  But it doesn’t matter how much time you have or how many places you need to be – there’s always so little time and so much to do!  So let’s make this easier….

1 – Ask, and ye shall receive.

Everyone loves planning weddings!  Learn to delegate some responsibility to other people.  You don’t have to be in charge of everything.  So what if your Mother-in-Law makes a typo in your wedding program, and instead of spelling your name correctly, she accidentally spells it using all the same letters of your husband-to-be’s ex-girlfriend?  You’ll laugh about it later!  Let your grandmother assemble the gift bags for the out of towners – they might all end up with a hand crocheted tea-cozy!  But honestly, the more you can give to other people to do, the fewer headaches you’ll have.

2 – Tackle one task at a time.

Caterers, Flowers, and Limos – OH MY!  I like to cross one thing off the list at a time.  Catering – check.  Photography – check.  Flowers – check.  Try to cram in too many appointments for too many different things, and you may end up telling the caterer you’re allergic to “Flower” instead of peanuts, and you’ll tell the photographer you need pictures taken at Sunset Valley Catering Hall instead of Valley Sunset Catering Hall.  Make a list, try to keep appointments for the same type of vendor on the same day, and bring your cell phone!  Most phones allow you to make notes so you remember what you like or don’t like about each vendor, and you can snap pictures to help jog your memory later!

3 – Date night?  What’s a date night?

Remember him?  He’s the guy in the car next to you on the way to all those appointments.  He’s the one sitting quietly while you complain about the dress shop fittings, petit four frosting, dyeable shoes, and a particular shade of pink that doesn’t quite match the flowers you’ve chosen.  He hasn’t once moaned about his favorite ball player being traded, the price increase in his favorite beer, or the lack of sex he’s had since you’ve been in wedding planning mode.  Do the dude that you love a solid – take him out on a date.  It’s so hard to be romantic with all this love and marriage stuff swirling around – seriously, it is.  You’re stressed, he’s silent, and neither of you are doing the stuff that got you here in the first place.  Stop the wedding stuff for an evening, enjoy a nice dinner out, catch a movie, and just snuggle!  You might remember why you’re marrying him in the first place!

4 – Respect My Authori-tay!

You’re not on this earth alone – although planning a wedding can cause some brides to retreat into a bubble clouded with tulle and rose petals.  You probably have a boss to answer to, a priest or minister demanding time and attention, and possibly children or parents who want a piece of you, too.  The LAST thing you need on top of the stress of a wedding is stress from the other people you have to answer to.  Don’t let your boss catch you writing invitations while you’re on the clock, and if your minister says you need to come in for pre-marital counseling, don’t blow him off until the week before the wedding and find out he cancelled your whole day because you didn’t call him back.  Make time for the other things that are just as important as the wedding planning to avoid a whole other set of headaches you don’t need.

5 – Bridal Bath Time

Never underestimate the healing powers of a long, hot bath.  Fill the tub with some scented bubble bath, grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine, pull your hair up, and relax.  Get that hubby in practice and ask him if he’ll come rub lotion on your feet when you’re done, and turn in early.  Brides can be prone to getting sick, because you’re running around like a mad woman!  Hot bath, Sleep Time tea, and an early bedtime now and again will keep you healthy and feeling well.

You’ll get through this – we all do!  Know that your day will be happy because you’re marrying the guy of your dreams, not because you’ve chosen the perfect centerpieces for the tables.  Enjoy the moment, because it goes by so quickly – unless, of course, your wedding ends up on Funniest Home Videos – and even that’s not such a bad thing!