After turning 30, I didn't really think I was going to have much hope in getting married, okay well maybe not much hope in having a wedding that I at least semi-envisioned. Crazy thought, I know. But my self-confidence was a little tarnished and I was content with just spending my days with my best friend with or without the fancy wedding. But my hopes were raised when Joe and I decided to go ahead and plan the wedding we always wanted, despite our parents attempts to discourage the idea.
We started out with an initial budget of about $8.500 based on our own personal savings and what we could contribute from our paychecks. After thinking a little further, we decided to give ourselves an even $10,000. Now, this may not seem like small budget to some (or many?!), but remember, this is only a budget, not how much we actually were or wanted to spend. I hope that this bio will at least help you get some ideas, show how you MUST research to get good deals, freebies and more and overall, how you can pull off your dream wedding for something out of nothing.
DIY Projects & Resources
To really add a personal touch and feeling like we were really a part of the planning process, we did a lot of DIY projects. Not to mention some serious research to try to get the lowest (or free?!) prices we could for our insane low budget (try planning your next wedding in one of the most expensive counties in California!) Below is a list of what we did, how we did it and other great sites that we used as a reference tool or Bio's that provided insipration and guidence. For more details, be sure to follow along in my bio, where I give a breakdown of what was used, where we got the items and a budget total.
Invitations - Target, InvitesByYou.com
Centerpieces - Costco.com, Grower's Direct in OC
Flowers - Costco.com, Grower's Direct in OC
Other Stationary - Sweet Paper Studio (FREE) - via wedding blog site
DJ - DJ Eric Mendies - (FREE) - via online special
Wedding Coordinator & DOC - Mardy Divnia (FREE) - via online special
Joe and I met while working for a bank in Washington State. Originally, we were both from California (me from Orange County, he from the Bay Area) and we became fast friends and for almost 8 years, he has remained my best friend. For the last 1 1/2 years, he's been the love of my life. Our journey has been challenging, but rewarding. We are like two peas in a pod and we know that there isn't anything to great that we can't handle. This wedding is a testimonial of our love and devotion and our dedication of that love to share with our entire family and our friends.
This is a really special event for us, as it gives us a chance to prove to our families that we really can pull off a "traditional" wedding, and pay for it ourselves. I know that our parents wanted to help, but since money is tight all around, they really encourage a more private ceremony. Both our parents were married in either Reno or Las Vegas, and while those are fun destinations, it ust wasn't our personal style. We always dreamed of a big wedding with our family, friends and loved ones in a relaxed gathering. And we're excited to share it with all of them! We also wanted to entertain the idea of a "Green" or "Eco-Friendly" wedding and also something that reflected (and one we could document and share with others) our budget and how it can help other Knotties and Brides(and Grooms!)-to-Be!
If you have any questions or anything really, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
I love my ring! It's not too flashy, but fits me perfectly. We picked it out together at Kay Jewelers. We were fortunate enough that Joe's Best Man had purchased a diamond ring but never ended up proposing to his ex-girlfriend. He ended up giving us the ring to go towards the purchase of my e-ring, and we are forever indebted to him. We walked away with over $600 in savings from it!
Engagement Session & Our Photographer
The lovely Nataly Lemus did our engagement photos and we are so thrilled with the photos she took. She even booked us a SECOND session at Union Station in Los Angeles! Here are some samples of the two sessions -- I'm just waiting for our second session prints to post -- and we just think her and her husband are fantastic! She's now fully booked for 2008! Way to go, Nat!
1st Engagement Session - $250.00
2nd Engagement Session - included for special contest
I've included various photos to my bio from my searches here at the Knot and online. If I have not provided you proper credit for your image or you would like me to take your image down, please let me know. My email address is above. Thanks!
Save The Date Cards
This design was done by our good friend Steph who took my concept and ideas and created something really cute and fun! They were printed as postcards by VistaPrint for free! (click image to view larger)
Bridal Party Request Cards
These DIY cards came in different styles, dependent on who was being asked to play a certain role in the wedding. The first example is of my "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?" cards. The other two are examples of variations that I did for the flower girls, groomsmen and ring bearer. All the die-cuts matched the dress styles, colors and overall theme of the wedding. They were in the colors of sage and ivory, along with sashes that the ladies will be wearing, too! All are credit to Becky who also sells them on eBay! Check out her store! You can also click on each thumbnail to view a larger sized image. Too cute!
Joe and I put our blood, sweat (mainly, Joe's) and tears (mainly, mine) into these invitations. Joe was able to finally master his laser jet printer and the templates he created to get the entire set just right. Below are photos chronicling the entire process. If you're interested, I've also included the templates we created for our invitations. Hope the help you somehow. Fonts used were Feel Script and Garmmond in all caps and expanded - so the letters weren't so close together. We also went to Target and bought a really basic and plain invitation kit so we didn't have to cut and reformat the sizes of the invites and the RSVP cards. The size of the main invite was 8.5 x 5.5 and fit into a 6 x 9 sized pocket fold. Not to mention, this saved us a lot in paper buying!
Joe cutting the custom made "Where we're registered" cards. We didn't get to put these in our shower/party invites, and we were getting a lot of people asking where to get our gifts, so we put it in a nifty single business sized card. You can also buy pre-cut business cards for cheap at Office Depot or any office supply store.
To insure that our invitations would stick, we opted for a spray adhesive. Let me tell you, this REALLY worked. Maybe a little TOO well. However, it didn't stain and provided a clean, non-messy and sticky surface for our invite card. The product was made by 3M and looked like a furniture polish can. Be prepared for fumes.
We then took the completed invitation (we tied the ribbon to the card and used a glue, which was like tape and threaded the initial square to it) and stuck it to the pocket fold. There shouldn't be any bubbles or creases. The adhesive is clean and seals nicely. FYI - the initial tags were just a sheet of 8.5 x 11 card stock and then divided into 2 x 2 squares with the template Joe made. (See below for download template)
Here's everything after being all put together! Joe printed all the envelopes with the Feel Script in a font size of about 48. This gave the appearance of being done by a hand calligrapher and looked really professional. My maps were done by an adorable dear from WeddingBee.com who so graciously offered her services for free by making a map from scratch with only WEEKS till her own wedding. Thank you, Mo! We were able to get her map and the directions she drafted up onto one card stock double-sided and trimmed to fit inside the pocket. Here's a better look at the map:
We then stuffed the map, directions, RSVP card and pre-printed envelope, registry business card and a photo of us from our engagement session into the pocket fold.
The finished product! Now all we needed to do is wrap a bow around the pocket fold and seal off with our monogram that you can see at the top of my bio.
Once we were done, Joe personally did each envelope for each guest. He created a template for that, too, which you can download collectively below. We continued with the Feel Script font for the guest's information and luckily, it only required one $.58 stamp!
Here's our invite to the President! Hopefully, we'll get a response like other brides have. But we did hear back from Mickey & Minnie Mouse!
If you're interested in the templates that we created, you can download the files here:
Please RIGHT CLICK ON THE LINK AND SAVE TARGET "AS"
Just download them to your desktop, and then double click on the file and it'll open up another folder. I'd click and drag the folder onto your desktop and then you can work with it no problem. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help or need to get the file, directly.
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About my additional stationary:
I was fortunate enough to find Phyllis of Sweet Paper Studio to handle all my menus, programs, escort cards, table numbers and more all at little or no cost to me. She's just starting her company and needed brides to use her work in her portfolio. She's already shown such great promise and designed our monogram as you can see on the top of the bio. She's shown me a lot of additional proofs, and so far everything looks AMAZING. We really needed this break and now we'll be able to have the wedding we always wanted, without breaking out bank accounts! Luckily, she's relocated to Southern California, so we can pick up our printed items that she's made for us locally! You can see some samples of her work below. Thank you, Phyllis!
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I just love the simplistic, yet
complicated look of these programs. They're clean and uniform. I
can't wait to see how ours turn out from our stationary designer!
Our wedding will take place at Kindred Community Church in the Oak Chapel, under native oak trees.
We're so excited to have our wedding at Kindred. It's only 20 minutes away from our reception location and we have full access to the Gazebo and other great photo spots for our wedding. They include dressing rooms for both Joe and I and provide beautiful paper parasols to all our guests. They also take care of all the decorations for the ceremony, so we don't have to spend more on flowers! Yay! They also have a sound system where they offer music with the package or we can bring our own. Did I mention we get the minister included as well? Bonus! Having an outdoor reception allows us to have our nature themed wedding and put our money into something that gives back to the environment. They even throw in beautiful parasols to shade from the sun.
At first, we were all gung-ho and ready to have a Unity Candle Ceremony. However, circumstances beyond our control forced us to change that decision. With less than 2-weeks before the ceremony, I had to shift gears and opt for a Sand Unity Ceremony, instead. I searched high and low through various Knottie bio's for inspiration, and found one that totally fit the bill:
"We will be doing the Sand Ceremony. We will be pouring the sand into a frame instead of a glass bottle. We wanted something that we could easily display in our home without worrying about a way to cover it and keep the sand contained. The frame comes with four panes of glass, but we are removing the middle two. The side (which will be the top for our purposes) has a piece that slides closed. We will put wood glue in the seams and slide the piece in closed when we get home. The frame is by Umbra and I got it at Kohls."
She just had all the AMAZING details (and photos) about how it works and more about the frame, really got me anxious to try this. However, when I attempted to get this "coveted" frame, the frame was out of stock at Target. Crud! I ended up using my mad Google skillz and found one on Amazon, for only $19.99! I was thrilled because it was the last one and this apparently is really hard to find. Whee!
I attempted to find some sand that matched my color scheme, but that's proven to be a little difficult. I've scoured like five Michael's to no avail. I think my colors are popular this time of year.
My Wedding Dress
I've made my choice!
click on images to view larger
The dress is by Aurora D'Paradisso through Alfred Angelo and is style 1293. I love it!
From hearing a lot about where to get a custom veil at an incredible price, I sought the services of Candi Merle from Crowning Glory Veils in Brea, CA. What a doll! Candi is a true designer veil maker and is hilarious! She has a real eye for each bride that comes into her home and makes the most beautiful pieces for a RIDICULOUSLY LOW price! I don't have any pictures of my veil at the moment, but she did a great job with my veil. It's a fingertip, mantilla-like (no lace) drop and a 1/4 inch ivory satin trim with no gather at the top.
To coincide with the colors of sage/celedon and other greens, Ann Taylor had some fantastic dresses on sale in their "Celebrations" section. We love them, and shoes to match!
This is the Averie in Meadow Green with a Honeydew sash and trim. The shoes are also by Ann Taylor and are the Victoria style, also in Meadow Green. We really lucked out on getting this earlier on, and saved a ton of $$ for our 'Maids when these went on clearance.
I INSTANTLY fell in love with this ridiculously overpriced dresses from Fox'n Lily. This is the Chloe style dress, and for $220, I think I'd want to skip telling the parents of my FGs that they'd need to cough that up. So, instead, I found them on eBay! Yay! For only $40 and with the use of extra sashes I had from my bridesmaids purchases, we were set! Aren't they darling?! They'll look exactly like this.
Flower Arrangements & Bouquets
We'll be getting the vast majority of of our flowers from Costco.com.
We were fortunate enough to order our flowers while they were having a
$50 off sale. I've seen various Knot Bios that say they used Costco,
but they never really showcase how they arrive shipped, how they really
look or what it all came with. So, I figured I'd have to do that all
for myself! But that's okay, because my loss is your gain. We also
ordered some additional bulk flowers from a local grower who sells
their flowers for wholesale prices to the public. They have a location
at Los Angeles Flower District, but they also have another location in
Orange County. It's located on Red Hill and Irvine Blvd. in Tustin.
They're called Growers Direct -- GDFlowers.com.
We spent less than $300 getting 15-20 bunches (24 stems to a bunch) of
red roses, 10 Callas and 10 stalks of Bells of Ireland. Not to
mention, they'll be making our cake topper out of roses for $20.00.
We'll be then DIYing additional centerpieces, make rose petals and
adjustments to our bouquets.
From Costco, we ordered their 40-Piece Wedding Collection for $700.00, which included shipping.
40 Piece Wedding Collection includes:
1 Bridal bouquet
1 Maid of Honor bouquet
4 Brides Maid bouquets
1 Toss Away bouquet
2 Mothers petite hand-tie
12 Attendant boutonnières
6 Centerpieces (vases not included)
10 Rose Petal buds
These are what our centerpieces will look like with red roses and Star of Bethlehem.
This is what my bouquet
will look like, only I'll be mixing in about 2 or 3 white Calla Lilies
into it. I'll also incorporate this with my bridesmaids bouquets, too.
Ceremony Budget Totals:
Ceremony Location - $1,400
Ceremony Flowers & 6 Centerpieces - $700.00 from Costco.com
Additional Flowers - $255.00 from a local grower
Wedding Dress - $400.00
Bridal Veil - $32.00
Bridesmaid Dresses & Shoes - $88.44 each lady (paid by our bridesmaids)
Flower Girl Dresses & Shoes - $48.00 for dress and sash (paid by the FGs parents)
Sand Ceremony - $19.99 Frame & $20 for sand and shipping
DIY Chair Seating Signs - Free! All made from left over paper items.
Total Amount = $2,827.00
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY
When we first started out on our journey for a photographer, it was brutal. We were so tight with our budget, that we failed to realize how important the photos really are. I found some great deals on Craigslist and even "employed" someone to do our photos for WAAAAY cheap. A little too cheap. And after two e-sessions with them, we decided they just weren't a right fit.
Luckily, I found Nataly Lemus and was wowed by her work and found that her packages weren't going to break our bank, but allowed us to see that quality doesn't have to suffer. (see our engagement photos at the top of this bio) All the pricing we spent and other details are found in my first intro to her, and we couldn't be more pleased.
That being said, here are some of our "must have" shots that I'd like to see done for our big day:
Our Videographer details will be posted, soon.
HAIR AND MAKE-UP
My hair is very, very straight and incredibly thick. But, I wanted something that was curly, natural and fun. Something that fit my personality, as well as a classic look that isn't too overly made up. Of course, I instantly fell in love with the mother of all AMAZING hairstyles and make-up looks!
I love that she gives instructions on how to achieve this look, and I hope my stylist, Andi from Something Blue can pull it off! (I have every confidence that she can, BTW.)
Here are the instructions from her Bio (her email doesn't work anymore, and I don't think she's doing much in the world of weddings, except now she's a photog, I think.), in case she takes down her Bio:
TONS of ladies have requested instructions on how I did my bridal hair, so I am putting it in my bio so that all who are interested can try it at home, if you have any questions e-mail me!
Ok, so first of all you have to start with straight hair. (if you have curly, you need to straighten it first), then you will use a 1" curling iron. You take a small section of your hair, put some Matrix Flix Trix (sp?) or any other pomade that is not gooey, one or two spritzes of Paul Mitchell Freeze and shine super spray. Now you are ready to actually curl the piece. DO NOT clamp your hair and roll it up. Take the curling iron and place it at the root of the section and wind the hair with your other hand from root to tip around the barrel, this is the KEY to getting the waves. After all of it was curled I put a little more pomade in my hands and tousled a little bit. Then I back-combed the crown so that It lifted up a little in the back. Then take small bobby pins and pin pieces back till you are satisfied. Finish with some shine spray and a brooch and VOILA!!! Hope this helps!!!
I started to feel like I didn't really need anything to accent what I was wearing. But them someone reminded me that I'll be having my photo taken constantly, and I don't want to look like I'm just this blank canvas when I had every opportunity to prepare myself ahead of time. So true! Here are some things that I've been either drooling over, plan on getting or merely contemplating.
I really LOVE the simplistic, yet classic and antique look of this necklace. It's a little out of my jewelry budget, but I might be able to swing it for $79.99 or maybe find someone who's selling one? Update!My mom offered to buy it for me. Yay! Update #2 Alas, I didn't get the necklace, but got this one instead from eBay vendor jujugems for $21.24.
It's a 2.50 ct Pear Drop CZ Drop Necklace. Pretty, no?
These bracelets are perfect for my jewelry spending! The Bracelet is only $19.99 from WhiteAisle.com, it looks really pretty, but it may be a bit too small around the wrist. Since birth, I've been blessed with big boned wrists that never seem to fit a watch, a bracelet, nothing.
I'll be getting some extenders for the bracelet and the earrings for under $3 from eBay.
Update! Just found out that the first bracelet from White Aisle are on backorder until JUNE! Boo!
My replacement bracelet (pic 2) I found for FOUR DOLLARS on eBay! It's a lot cuter in person. Yay!
My Bridesmaids will be wearing these amazing necklaces which are handmade to order by the truly awesome Majestic Bridal! I just ordered these on eBay from her store ! At only $11.99 each, they'll be a lovely compliment to the ladies dresses and a wonderful gift, too!
At first, I wasn't totally keen on sleeves or anything with my gown. But after time went on, I started to see even smaller brides opt for this delicate touch. It offers coverage without appearing too obvious. Plus, I think it really ads to the dress without spending a fortune! This one is from Alfred Angelo, where I bought my dress, but I think it might be a bit too much in the $$ pocket for me. I'll keep looking around.
Choosing a garter isn't super easy for a bigger girl, so luckily, I found TheGartermaker.net. They make plus sized garters and even custom sizes at no extra charge! Awesome. I opted for the Two Garter Set, which includes one toss and one to keep, and designed with their signature, copyrighted "button" initials feature. Mine will be in ivory and sage green. I got a 10% discount from WeddingBee and chose a rush order fee since I forgot to get this in time. I hope to get it next week or the week of my wedding. Eek! Cutting it a bit close.
I wanted to also get a wedding dress label made from the Gartermaker, but just couldn't find it in my budget to afford it. I think she makes AMAZING labels, but I was really limited to only the garter.
I decided to look further, and found some that are custom made on eBay! (Good ol' eBay, where would I be without you?)
This was designed for just FIFTEEN DOLLARS! And FREE SHIPPING! Kathy is a Godsend! I'll update the photo with the one she made as soon as I receive it. I'm getting the top label that you see in the picture.
Here are some styles that I've just adored, however, being the flat footed (no, seriously. I have NO arch) and wide footed to boot (heh.), I can never find good shoes that don't kill me in 10 minutes. Plus, I'm semi-tall and at 5' 9", I don't want a heel that will make me tower over my almost 6' foot groom!
I just ADORE these shoes by Grazia, called "Vanessa", but they're $175-$200!! Haute Bride had a sale for them in February '08, for only $50! I immediately contacted them, but they NEVER returned my calls, emails, etc. Thus, I think I might have missed out on getting a pair, as they're now down to a size 7 in BLACK. Boooooo! Does anyone have a spare? I'd love them in any size. Maybe just for show? Hee!
I then started to think that maybe I should opt for some dramatic RED shoes!?! I found these puppies at PAYLESS of all places, for only $19.99. They have white ones that are dyeable, too. These are the Love Peep Toe style from Dyelights.
Finally, (and Lord, tell me why I'm going on so much about my shoes?)
I opted for these from ShoeBuy.com. Why? Because first off, I couldn't afford the first set of shoes I mentioned, not by a long shot! And second, the red shoes couldn't be dyed for me in time for my wedding. Boo! So, I went the online route and based off of wide-footed gals and their reviews of this particular shoe (and FI's opinion), I purchased these babies with a 20% off coupon and free shipping/no tax both ways! Plus, I'll try and dress them up with a cute brooch or the like. These are the Gretchen style from Touch Ups.
The final total came to $37.56. I just hope them fit! =D
A must have while me and my 'Maids get ready for the ceremony. Drink it up with these uber cute champagne/wine, beverages IN A CAN! All from Sofia Coppola's MINI Four Pack. Only $15!
We're having our reception venue a little close to home. We're
members of the Woodbury Community in Irvine, so we decided on our
neighboorhood's clubhouse. We're getting it for an amazing rate and it
includes so much, that I feel like we didn't have to really do much
planning! These are some photos of the outside area and I hope to get
some inside shots up, soon!
We have an attached courtyard with our reception venue and we'll be putting it to good use. It'll act as a location for the buffet and then it'll be taken down while everyone's been fed to become our dance floor. There is a grassy area all around the covered area and we'll be placing lanterns from either IKEA or some I found at Target ($2 ea!) on Shepard's hooks that I purchased from AFforever
I really love these looks:
thing about the cake is that we wanted to be able to instill the
"Green" theme here, too. I heard about "fake" cakes for awhile, and
decided to do a little research. I was able to find Fake the Cake out of Upland, California, where Stephanie has an amazing aray of cakes to choose from!
Our Final Choice
Our cake will be a
lot like the photo above, only it'll have four tiers and some ribbon.
We may make it have the green hydrangea like the example above, but we
haven't fully decided. The best thing is that we can save money doing
this and serve sheet cakes! We'll be getting our sheet cakes from BlackMarket Bakery in Irvine.
The cake will have a cake topper of all roses as you see in the picture. My mom did purchase a husband and wife topper, but it's a little tall and I think we'll just keep it up next to the cake. Here's what it looks like:
It's from the Willow Tree collection, called Promise.
EAT, DRINK & BE MARRIED!
When the time came to determine a caterer, we were overwhelmed with the prices, choices and selections. Originally, we agreed upon a caterer out of Anaheim who had amazing food. The prices were decent and we were getting a lot of food for our money. However, circumstances required us to change this and we lost our $500 deposit (!!). We were then on a mission to find someone that was going to save us a TON of money and make up for the loss that we just suffered.
Now, Joe's Italian. And not in the sense that he's like 1/4 Italian or something, but really, really Italian (and German. Heh!). His grandmother was one of the first children in her family to be born in America to her Italian parents who came from Naples and settled in Brooklyn in the 20s. Joe and I love Italian food and wanted to incorporate that with our meal.
Enter, East Side Mario's of Lakewood, CA -- What. A. Find. We went to a Bridal Expo in Costa Mesa and sampled some of their food, took a flyer/brochure and moved on about our day. It wasn't until we went through all our papers from the expo that we revisited and reflected on how yummie their pasta was and that we should look further into their services. We spoke with their catering manager, Danielle and scheduled a tasting appointment.
Now, this place is a little further out and is in North LA County, but that's no matter since they cater just about everywhere. Apparently, they have these chains all along the Eastern Seaboard and in Canada, but only the one in all of the West Coast. They're owned by Marie Calendars and have their OC business license with them in case your vendor wonders.
What does this amazing cater include? Well, we chose a two item buffet for our guests and here's what that package includes (see my menu further up the bio for what we selected):
2 Entrees (From a HUGE array of Italian cuisine)
2 Gourmet Salads
3 Beverages (Iced Tea, Lemonade, Fruit Punch)
Now, for the best part:
Linens for ALL YOUR GUEST TABLES in an array of colors
Linens for the drink, cake and buffet tables
REAL china, silverware and drink ware (real glass, not plastic)
Cake Cutting & Coffee Service
What more could we ask for?!?! No rentals? Well, maybe some for things that we want in addition, but really, this is brilliant! All we decided to do was rent some full length linens from a local party events place and then used the color linens from East Side Mario's as an overlay. Sweet!
Costs? At the time of our wedding the prices were as follows:
$20.95 - Adults
$15.95 - Children and Vendors
$2.00 - per person for Cake Cutting/Coffee Service
We were sold. It saved us the huge headache of going elsewhere for rental pieces and we didn't have to get fake plates, etc!
These will rest on cherry wood easels that I purchased for about $5 from another knottie. The Menus will be placed inside the napkins for each guests' place setting.
Our Escort Cards will be a lot like this, only
different. (Hee!) I like the simplistic and sweet touch these have,
while sitting in a box of grass.
The favors will continue with our "green" planning and be little plants that have a single bean inside. The bean has the word "LOVE" written on it, so when it grows, it'll reflect our love for each other and for our friends and family.
We'll be doing a wishing tree in lieu of a guest book. Thanks to Mrs. Corn of WeddingBee.com, I was able to purchase her wedding wish tree tags from her own wedding for a reduced cost! I think I got like over 100 tags! She also runs her own stationary site for brides who want something unique, as well as DIY products. Check out her site at LimocelloStyle.com These are pictures of how her tree turned out, and I think we'll be getting our Manzanitia Tree from Save-On-Crafts or another local retailer. We'll then post a cute little sign on an easel next to the tree with cute pens for guests to write with, which will be DIY.
We got 5 of these in different colors to match our wedding color scheme. $7.45 for them + shipping.
The Little Touches
Throughout the course of my buying state of mind, I've found some random deals on the Trash to Treasure board, Craigslist, etc. Below is some of my purchases that I remembered where/whom I purchased them from:
White Galvanised Tubs - for H20 bottles and Coca-Cola Glass Bottles
White Birdcage - for gift cards from guests
Silver Block Letters - that spell W I S H or L O V E
We just LOVE the idea of sparklers! We picked up about 72 sparklers for a MAJOR splurge. We paid $80 for sparklers and shipping. I don't have the name of the company on hand, but I'll update later with the details. I will say that it was cheaper that some of the other sites out there.
Reception Budget Totals:
Reception Location - $2,400 (but we get back $600 of it in a month)
Food/Catering - $2,100 for 79 guests
Fake Cake - $160.00
Sheet Cake - $75.00 for two 1/2 sheet cakes
Manzanita Tree - $15.00
Sparklers - $80.00
Wedding Pens - $13.45
Current Totals - $4843.45 - $600 = $4243.00
In celebration of our GREEN Wedding, I "borrowed" these tips from Knottie barnhunter which we actually ended up doing, ourselves (and then some!).
Offset the Carbon Footprint of your wedding - We have people traveling from all over California and the West coast to attend our wedding. Cars, trains and airplanes all emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that cause global warming. Carbonfund.org is a non-profit organization that purchases carbon credits and retires them (instead of allowing countries and corporations to pollute with them). You can easily do this HERE. Note: We are having a semi-small and local wedding. However, there will be a small handful of people that are flying in from out-of-state (approx 5), so we opted for the 125 local donation.
Keep it Local and Organic - We chose a caterer that uses only organic and natural products. They also use ingredients that are locally grown and shipped and we also opted for a local Costco grower and local florist.
Save a Tree - Where possible, use recycled papers and tree-free materials. We used recycled invitation kits and donated paper that were really scraps.
Don't Buy Blood Diamonds - Be sure that your diamond/s are bought and traded in accordance with the Kimberly Process. Diamonds and mining in general are destructive to the earth, but we are socialized little bride-bots who want pretty things - just try to be as responsible as possible when making your purchases. For more information go HERE.
Donate to Charity - In lieu of standard guest favors that are often tossed aside, use that money to make a donation in the name of your guests to a favorite charity of your choice. We are donating to breast cancer research (FI's step mother is currently battling breast cancer, so we felt this was an perfect option for us).
Buy Soy-Based Candles - They burn longer, they are healthier for people who suffer from athsma, they don't emit soot into the air, an most importantly they are not a petroleum bi-product. Click HERE to order. Note: All of our candles are SOY BASED and they won't ruin the glass containers or lanterns that they'll be in. No soot, no mess and clean air. What more could you ask for?
These are generally easy requests to make of your vendors. If brides start to ask for green alternatives, the vendors will follow suit. No need to get crazy about it, just do the best you can where possible.
Comments/Reviews: This location is just AMAZING. All our guests couldn't believe that this place even existed in Southern California! Family that lived nearby had never seen/heard of it and thought it was just breathtaking.
Despite the rain and its eventual cease when the ceremony started, I think it added to the freshness and beauty of this location. The church has an impressive property and with three additional locations to accomedate all brides, we were lucky to have free reign to photograph and access them on our day.
The church provides so much for its price. It includes a wedding coordinator that helps from rehearsal to your last step off the aisle, decorations for the ceremony (no additional flowers, needed!), chairs, sound equipment, a minister, parasols & water for the guests, a guest book table and easel for your framed photos, changing rooms for both the bride and groom and the beauty of the outdoors!
The staff was great, and really on top of things. My only issue was that since the rain was causing some time restraints (and changes), they were anxious to pack things up. Understandably, to avoid damage to their chairs, equipment, etc. However, we really wanted to get some photos of us sitting in the seats, use the parasols more, etc. but they were leaving and we only had a brief time with them but still were allowed to roam about the property. I don't blame them, really. The weather was dreadful and I can respect their need to close up shop. Just something that made it a little interesting. ;-) Overall, it was perfect and we're so pleased with our choice!
Officiant - Mark Vaughn with KCC - A+++
Comments/Reviews: What a sweet man, Mark is. We were so blessed when we were assigned to him by the church to preside over our nuptials. Apparently, he's the head of the wedding ministers, and it shows. He's very wise and kind and well versed with the Word. He prepared an amazing ceremony with adding a lot of personal touches from his prior discussions with us. He showed how he truly listened to us and was able to incorporate those details into his sermon and had a great "stage" presence with our guests.
With the rain we had at the wedding (and being outdoors), he even remembered our Washington State connection and that some of our guests were visiting from there! "To our guests visiting from Washington, thank you for bringing the rain." Hee! That's such an internal joke in our inner circle, it's great that he got it! =P
Overall, his words truly touched us and made me tear up several times.
Comments/Reviews: It was so great to have Nic and his staff on our side as our reception venue. A quaint, yet fully accommodating location, the clubhouse provided an intimate venue for a great price. They include tables and chairs (which we decided not to use) and ask that you do rent the kitchen and courtyard in addition to the reception space. Which makes sense, and we're glad we did.
The staff was extremely helpful and allowed me to visit them on numerous occasions to allow my vendors to check he place out, set up times to survey and determine how we'd set up stuff and just anything I really needed. They gave us so much room to stretch out and do what we wanted (for the most part) and it made us feel comfortable that this would be a great event.
There was a lot more space that I originally thought could occupy the room! An idea of how much space we used for our event:
We had our buffet food tables outside on the courtyard (which would be taken down prior to dancing) and had three 6' foot tables for the head table, nine 60" inch round tables for the guess and four 6' foot tables for beverages, cake, memory and gift table. We also were allowed to put a 6' foot table in the foyer/entry room for our guests to get their place cards and sign our wish tree, and we still had room to spare in the main room! Don't let the emptiness of the room fool you. Everything was perfect!
Comments/Reviews: What an AMAZING staff! I wasn't sure about how things would go since the main contact person for this place is a bit busy, but she assigned a great assistant and crew to handle our wedding and they were just so kind! They served appetizers to our guests, plated me and my husband's food so we didn't have to get up, and insured that everything was fully stocked, supplied and taken care of.
The packages all offer REAL china, glassware, silverware & table linens (which we used as overlays), as well as beverages (fruit punch, lemonade, iced tea) and they had great fees for cake cutting and coffee service. They even cut our fresh strawberries and placed them on each individual cake slice and served it to our guests! All this from one restaurant? Unbelieveable!
When all was said and done, they boxed up our CRAZY amount of leftovers in containers for us to take home, left the kitchen IMMACULATE and were incredibly professional and courteous. They even emptied all the trash cans at the venue (!!). So glad we didn't end up with just your average cater! We saved so much!
Oh, and the food! Deeeeelish! Everyone loved the stuffed mushrooms, penne pasta and the yummie apple and Gorgonzola salad.
Comments/Reviews:Fake the Cake - by Stephanie -- What can I say? I'm convinced! You don't have to spend a
fortune to have an amazing cake for your wedding! Everyone thought it
was real and complimented on it constantly.
Stephanie arrived on time and immediately went to work on setting up the cake. It looked beautiful and just as promised.
A great alternative for those that don't like or eat cake -- or those that opt for a different desert experience!
Thank you, Fake the Cake!! =D
BlackMarket Bakery - The staff at this cute little bakery are really kind. The promised a moist, delicious cake and they accomplished it! The cake was ready on time and pick up was a breeze. We only served the first sheet cake, which was a buttercream/cream cheese based frosting, red velvet cake with a chocolate ganache filling. Yumm-O! It was almost like a brownie and had a lot of flavor. We had a full sheet cake left over that we ate later, which had the same frosting as filling with the buttercream-based texture. It was okay. Not as good as the first cake, but it was definitely moist and enjoyable. Great prices and great cake!
Online & Tustin, CA (they have locations in Downtown L.A. Mission Viejo, too)
Comments/Reviews: Costco did an amazing job on our bridal party arrangements and centerpieces. They arrived right on time and were beautifully packaged and cared for. Everything was arranged so wonderfully and with perfect little touches. We had so much to work with! The price was perfect and we received a lot of compliments on how they all looked. See my comments further up the bio for what all they included and my married bio for photos.
Growers Direct did a great job at supplying beautiful bulk flowers for us. They were prompt and courtesy. They even called a few days before to insure that everything was ordered correctly and made suggestions for some changes I wanted. Very professional and an amazing product. They're roses were so lovely and the Bells of Ireland were so fresh! Everything smelled wonderful in our house and looked so great on our cake, too! They're prices can't be beat and they were local! Just down the street from our house.
Comments/Reviews: What can I NOT say about Nataly? She's just fantastic! Her and her husband Art are a great team and come up with some of the most amazing pictures. We had two engagement sessions with them and everything was just brilliant. Nataly has a way at making pictures just POP and the colors are so vivid, it's almost like you're there, looking at the scene before it's photographed. She has an amazing ability to make anyone look fantastic and has a real eye for detail and artistic expression.
She arrived at our reception before the ceremony to take some shots before our guests arrived and everything was photographed to magazine quality. Once at the ceremony and afterwards, she snagged a few shots that I wasn't even aware she was taking! Her editing skills provide a professional and signature appearance that makes it look like you spent thousands upon thousands of dollars! She's reasonably priced overall, and we'll definitely be using her services again in the future! Thank you for making me a pretty bride and capturing my handsome husband so wonderfully, Nataly & Art!
DJ / Entertainment - DJ Eric Mendies - LakeForestDJs.com - D+ - DO NOT RECOMMEND
Comments/Reviews: I'll have to have my husband write a more detailed review about this DJ, but what an awful experience. DO NOT use this man's services. We received complaints all night, not to mention he cut off our first dance in the middle of the song, demanded we hire an assistant for him (which we declined, and he ended up doing anyway on his dime) who ended up only bringing him food all night and he didn't use hardly any of the added features we paid for. More to come.
Comments/Reviews: Joe's car was just perfect. It's such a smooth ride and we didn't have to spend anything! You can't go wrong there, except when you have a crazy Best Man as the driver. Eeek! The perfect chariot for our grand entrance and exit!
Invitations - DIY ( see above )
Comments/Reviews: We were really pleased with our final results of our DIY invites. They really allowed us to be involved in that part of the creative process and I know our friends and family loved that we dedicated so much time and detail to showcase our wedding to them. It was a lot cheaper, too!
Stationary - Sweet Paper Studio, by Phyllis Wong; - A++++++++++! Highly Recommend San Diego, California
Comments/Reviews: Phyllis is a Godsend! I found her services while perusing the WeddingBee Classifieds. She was just starting to build her portfolio, and wanted to extend an offer to some brides (free of charge) the ability to design stationary needs for weddings. Hooray!
She is incredibly talented (as you can see), willing to do anything and really incorporated the look and feel we were going for. She's so sweet and patient and answers emails with great proofs that exceeded our expectations.
She printed everything at no additional charge for this special request and we got to meet her in person since she relocated to San Diego! Everything was boxed up and beautifully assembled. Her designs and attention to detail are what will make all the finishing touches all that more special. I highly recommend you check her out -- so click on her link! Thanks, Phyllis!
Chair Covers / Sashes - Just Chair Covers; - A++++++++++! Highly Recommend! Irvine, CA
Comments/Reviews: Julie is an absolute doll. She was so professional and through
throughout the entire process. She's accommodating and resourceful and
came through so brilliantly.
While establishing her services,
she went out of her way to test her sashes with our chair rental vendor
and take photos to insure we were happy with the results.
arrived promptly for our wedding and did all the chair sashes so
quickly and even threw in some sashes as table runners for our head and
Great attention to detail and a total sweetheart. I
HIGHLY recommend Julie and her company for all your chair cover/sash
services. Her prices are perfect and the results will speak for
Comments/Reviews: I had some back and forth time with my contacts with Ari at Persiano's, but honestly, it's all because he's getting so popular and busy! He was still really great at answering the phone, my questions and emails. He provides great products that look fresh and new and unbelievable prices! I had a lot of faith and trust with him from the beginning, and I guess that trust helped him before I even used him!
He received a lot of referrals from here and I assume other places where I mentioned him and because of that, he was just so accommodating the day of the wedding. He and his staff arrived on time and were very courteous. He called me just to let me know that he was at the reception location and that out of his generosity, would set up the chairs/table linens at no additional charge (we also rented additional wine goblets). Perfect! He's a really sweet guy and his products looked amazing. Everything was exactly as it was discribed and his touches really help set off the event.
Thanks for all your help, Ari!
Jeweler - Kay Jewelers; - A ( Engagement Ring ); Zales - A+++ ( Wedding Ring ) Laguna Hills, CA
Comments/Reviews: Kay Jewelers has a lot of diamonds to choose from. They were having a sale and even gave us a $600 credit from a ring that a friend gave us as part of our payment. We were able to get my engagement ring for a great cost, and they over a great protection plan which is for the life of the ring. It's a pretty ring for a good deal.
Zales had an amazing sale going on at the time we were shopping for a wedding ring. The ring selection was a lot better and they had some beautiful deigns. We ended up spotting a gorgeous, clearance ring at 80% off the regular price. Score! The ring was a 1.50 ctw with the "Past, Present, Future" engraving inside the band. I love it and so glad that we didn't have to cough up a huge chunk of change for it. We also used their online store to order Joe's band. Great prices and even greater selection.
Tuxedos - Men's Warehouse; - A Irvine, CA
Comments/Reviews: Luckily, we received word that the guys tuxes were ready four days before the wedding. Good thing, because all the rumors I heard about alternations being needed a mere 1-2 days before the wedding were true. They were only minor, hemming of a cuff or fixing the length of an arm; and it only effected one or two of the tuxes. But overall, they were sharp and the colors were really nice. Nothing too glowing about them, they did what they were expected to do and offered a great deal with the buy 4, get the grooms tux free special.
My Dress - Alfred Angelo; - A+ Huntington Beach, CA
Comments/Reviews: I really enjoyed my two visits to Alfred Angelo. They had a MASSIVE selection for me being a plus sized bride, and they offered amazing deals on top of existing specials that I was able to take advantage of. My gown was normally $800, but they were having a sale that brought it down to $400 and the manager remembered me from a bridal show that I attended in Orange County, and gave me an additional $50 off since I didn't have my coupon with me. Brianne was my associate that helped me and she was very helpful. She offered a lot of advice, patience and kindness during my purchase and never tried to sell me the more expensive dress or something that she even agreed didn't look right. Such a difference over my nightmare that was David's Bridal!
My Veil - Candi Merle for Crowning Glory Veils; - A+++ Brea, CA
Comments/Reviews: Candi is such a joy to work with. She's extremely talented in all things veils and has become a bit of an institution with the OC brides here at The Knot. She's extremely prompt with her emails/phone calls and is such a riot! She's really candid and funny and loves what she does. To insure quality at a good price, Candi cuts out the middle man and doesn't invest in flashy websites and the like. She makes gorgeous veils at a fraction of the cost.
I was so pleased with the veil she made for me, that I can't believe it only cost under $35! Thank you for thinking for the thrifty, yet fashionable bride, Candi!
Bridesmaid Dresses & Shoes - Ann Taylor; - A+++
Costa Mesa, CA and AnnTaylor.com
Comments/Reviews:I truly was floored at the customer service, price and selection that Ann Taylor had for bridesmaid dresses. They are always doing sales and clearance mark-downs that with that, I was able to get the sold out Averie dress in Meadow Green for my 'maids. Even the shoes to match! The shoes were a bit of a difficult find as they were on sale for $29.44 and I couldn't find all the sizes that I needed online or in my local store. When I called their customer service, they offered to do a search in all their stores nationwide. If the shoes weren't found, they'd refund my money. But surprise! All the shoes were found (as far as Boston!) and delivered within days of my over-the-phone order. They fit beautifully and didn't require really any alteration. Overall, we spent less than $150 for the dress and shoes.
I did a couple trials with her before hand and on my
wedding day, she was able to achieve exactly what I was looking for.
Everyone loved the hair and makeup she did and it lasted the entire
day/night! She has great attention to detail and made my eyes really pop with some faux eyelashes and used all M. A. C. make-up.
She's great to talk to and really makes a bride feel at ease.
Comments/Reviews: Well, what can't I say about Mardy? Other than she's wonderful!
just incredibly hard working and detailed oriented. She made sure that
everything went off without a hitch for our big day. We had the threat
of rain for our reception, and Mardy handled everything with grace. I originally found Mardy via Craigslist as she was building her portfolio and became one of her first brides that she took on to help build her business. For someone that was gaining us as clients at no charge, she did not treat us any differently and went over and beyond the call of duty.
On the day of the wedding, she arrived in professional attire, clipboard in hand and ready to work.
She did all she could and more. She helped make centerpieces at our house a
day before the wedding, picked up our cake and brought it to our
reception venue on time. She worked splendidly with all the vendors and
received praise from all of those that I spoke with. She made sure that
all that we wanted to achieve was executed and met with our
specifications. Prior to the wedding (months prior), she was on hand to arrive at any meetings we had with various vendors, helped in the planning stages and was sure to stay on top of time lines, details I might have missed and referrals.
She's just so wonderful! I'm so glad we chose to go with
hiring her. I just don't think we would have found anyone else to
really pull it all off! Her website is currently under development, but you can reach her at email@example.com.
Mini-Moon Destination - Disneyland - A+!
Comments/Reviews: Thanks to a dear friend met through WeddingBee/Knot/ProjectWedding, we were able to get into Disneyland for free. Which was a HUGE relief given that we were pretty poor by the end of the wedding. HA! We had a lot of fun and Disney is so accommodating to newlyweds! When we arrived, we were of course in Joe's town car, which had be "tagged" with Just Married words all over it. The parking attendant saw this and gave us free parking, too! Wheeeeeeee! We also had fun buttons that said, "Just Married" on them and received a lot of congrats and minor discounts throughout the park. I didn't even think about the doing something like all that, but that's why we love Disney!