It’s Hard Work

Planning a wedding is hard work as anyone who has gone through the process will tell you. It can be fun, stressful, fight-inducing, but the good news is that more often than not it culminates in a celebration. The planning itself was not so bad for me. I had a year to work with Mike and our families to plan food, venue, flowers, wardrobe, etc. It wasn’t until people arrived that it felt stressful and overwhelming. 

Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE our families (especially since I know they’re the ones reading this blog anyway!). But having the focus be on me and Mike for 4 or 5 days was actually pretty hard. It’s like being a hostess constantly – I felt guilty if I wanted to nap or not be around people for just a little while. I was kind of lucky that my sister was sick (sorry sis!) because it gave me an excuse to care for her and maybe even lie down a little. It wasn’t until we actually arrived at our pirate-themed “rehearsal” dinner that I felt I could exhale and relax. Seeing our friends and knowing that we were on a non-stop trajectory toward the wedding was a relief, all down hill from there. 
I even remember looking at some of my friends whose weddings I had gone to or been in and said, “why didn’t you tell me it was so stressful?? You don’t share the secrets!!”. Some of them laughed or shrugged but my new cousin responded, “Well we wouldn’t want you to not do it.” …… Fine, I’ll accept that one. But I will gladly share with anyone that this stuff is hard, overwhelming even, and all very emotionally charged (as it should be since it’s a wedding and more importantly, a marriage). 
Okay, so it’s hard work – and for some people it doesn’t seem to pay off. I read my fair share of wedding/marriage blogs to pass the time and help with inspiration and at APW some people have shared stories about not loving their wedding. I was prepared for that. A wedding is a wedding but a marriage is much more than that and it’s okay to not love one day. 
Luckily, I frickin’ adored my wedding. It was awesome!! And I don’t mind tooting the wedding’s horn – people partied hard. It was raining….whatever. The ceremony made us cry hard and laugh harder. Wine flowed as it naturally would among our boozey families (that’s not an insult, that’s a compliment). In our ceremony we asked people in a call and response section if they would ‘dance at our reception’ and they lived up to their exclamatory yeses. Everyone danced hard and my blisters and splinters could prove it. 
I hope the joy we experienced at our wedding is only a small part of the joy we will feel over our life times. I know this isn’t a ‘wedding blog’ but in future posts I will share our readings, vows, and maybe even some toasts because what people said was ridiculously meaningful — the toasts alone made the wedding worth every ounce of work and money put into it. 
If I had to go back in time and inform my former self, I think I would still be 50/50 between doing the party and eloping. I have no interest in repeating the process but I’m really glad we did it this first, and hopefully only, time. 

Good To Be Home

Whew…it’s been a long & super fun journey and now I am married and honeymooned and excited to talk all about it.

Unfortunately there’s a lot to clean up. We had non-stop partying in our apartment for roughly 4 days and 2 weeks of dirty honeymoon clothes to wash up. SO! Today is repair and recover day (18 hours of traveling from Sevilla to Baltimore).

But this week I look forward to writing and posting pictures from the wedding and trip to Espana! I’m pretty psyched about my new job which I start on Monday and there’s a bit of commentary to make on Halloween and Occupy Wall Street.

Be Right Back

Well, it’s that time. The family is starting to roll in and wedding events will be commencing. This is serious business!

That means I need to take a little break from My Orange Chair. I will be back with stories and pictures!

What Marriage Can Look Like

As our wedding approaches (17 days away!!!!!!), I have been thinking about what marriage means and the different forms it takes across the world. This has forced me to face some hard facts:

*All facts and images taken from The Coalition for Adolescent Girls*
Child marriage robs girls of the opportunity for education, skills, and social networks that could empower them for a healthier life and improve outcomes for their children. 

The difference in contraceptive use between married and unmarried adolescents vary regionally and are greatest where married women’s contraceptive use is low. For example, in parts of West Africa at least four times as many unmarried adolescents use contraception as married young women. 

In about a dozen countries, at least half of all girls are married as children. This is both a manifestation of their powerlessness and a strong drive of health risks, from early childbearing to maternal mortality to HIV to domestic violence. 

Marriage doesn’t look the same for everyone, everywhere and there are things we can do to help young girls avoid child-marriage and the accompanying health risks. Visit The Girl Effect where you can Learn, Give, & Mobilize. Or, join the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign! 

Choosing What’s Important: Wedding Style

Mike and I are not particularly traditional people, especially when it comes to our wedding. Luckily, being non-traditional has really helped us stretch the wedding money. 

I’ve written about how much it will cost us to have a small-ish wedding (50-some people) over here and how I really hoped it would cost less. We’ve made a lot of choices that have gotten us to our current price tag and I have to tell you, a lot of those choices were cutting out traditional stuff that would’ve cost an arm and a leg. 
Here are some examples: 
Flowers – I’m not having a bouquet, and I don’t want one so that works for me. We chose a venue that doesn’t really need help in the decoration department so all we’re doing flower-wise are some center pieces. I bought my flowers from Blooms By The Box which is an on line wholesale flower business. They’re the only company I saw that didn’t have absolutely giant minimum purchase requirements. 
Outfits – I bought my dress on Etsy. Yup, I know it’s scary but I just could NOT handle the thought of being in a bridal boutique surrounded by thousands of dollar dresses. No way!! The designer was wonderful and so communicative. She got me the dress ridiculously early and I’ve had time to get it altered and play dress up occasionally. Only once have I had mild dress regret and that was slapped away when I realized I paid a reasonable amount of money for a custom made, beautiful dress. Also I’m using gorgeous jewelry I already have and never have the opportunity to wear and I bought comfortable shoes online for less than $100. I know people say, it’s your wedding, spend big, but I cannot justify $700 for a pair of shoes just because it’s my wedding. It’s also my life, and I have real expenses in my life that $700 could go towards and make me a lot happier for it. 
Rehearsal dinner – Now I think you don’t have to have one at all because 1) they’re expensive 2) they’re not necessary. However, we have a lot of family coming from across the country and we wanted an opportunity to hang out with them before the wedding. One great piece of advice that my sister kept giving was, “Anna, it can look any way you want it to look”. So our rehearsal dinner is at a local brewery and our caterer is doing a southern-bbq style meal. And, because we aren’t being fancy shmancy about it, the price is totally reasonable. 
Favors – I don’t believe favors that you pay for. It’s just an added thing to think about/purchase/add to the list. And I have to tell you, it’s likely your guests won’t use them anyway! If we actually buckle down and finish our project, our favors are free, semi-useful, pertinent to our relationship, and oh yeah, free. 
Wedding cakes – These things are stupid expensive and I might buckle down and buy and/or make one but our venue is strict about this – if we bring one in, they still charge us money per plate to serve it to our guests. Welcome to the crazy world of weddings. 
We’re not having a band (yay ipod dj!), we aren’t serving liquor (just wine and beer), I’m not getting mani/pedi/makeup, I mean the list goes on for what we aren’t doing. 
But what we are going to do is have an awesome time, on a reasonable(ish) budget and I promise we are NOT going to miss the slew of traditional things we are choosing not to buy into. 
To learn more about some of the evils of the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) please visit 

Wedding Registries

When I first started thinking about the wedding and registries I cam across a wonderful article which unfortuantely I cannot find. Anway, the premise of the article was –

People really want what they put on their registry, otherwise, they wouldn’t have put it on there.

Mike and I were loathe to make a registry. I think the process is a little outdated. People are getting married at older ages (yours truly is an exception); they’ve acquired a lot of those household things that are commonly included on the registry. This means that most of what we want is on the expensive side of things; most of our family friends probably can’t afford that stuff anyway.

So here is our alternative:

We are planning to travel to Spain after the honeymoon — we have a travel budget but we know we could have a lot more fun with a bit more financial cushioning. We set up a paypal account so people could “donate” to our travel fund. Family can give us checks if they’d prefer. This way, people can control how much they spend on gifts and know that we really really want what they have to give.

I know that there are some people out there who aren’t comfortable giving money as a gift but I think people should rethink their hangup on this. I’ve heard too many stories of people getting absolutely AWFUL gifts (not on their registry)!! My goal with the paypal registry is to stop this practice and help couples (like Mike and I) get what we really want. In our case, that’s a fabulous vacation. Maybe you want new furniture? A giant television. Whatever!

Weddings ain’t cheap

Because we haven’t actually had our wedding yet, I don’t feel comfortable giving all the figures. Instead I’ll talk about our decision making process with some occasional figures dropped in.

Mike and I got engaged about a year ago. When we first started talking about what we wanted our wedding to look like it went something like this:

  • Elopement 
  • Small wedding
  • Elopement
  • Elopement abroad
  • Small wedding abroad
  • Small wedding in California
  • Small wedding on the East Coast 

Bah!!! So many choices!!!!!!!

It basically came down to cost and how much work we were willing to take on.

Mike’s family lives in California and that’s where we met and got engaged. We love it there! The weather is perfect, everything is beautiful but go figure, that comes with a sizable price tag. On top of that, we would have had to plan it all from the East Coast – uh…no, not so likely.

Eloping was my idea and I fought for it until the bitter end. My belief was that all the money we were going to spend and our families were going to spend could just as easily and nicely go towards my massive student debt.  Mike however is 10 years my senior and was pretty clear that he wanted a wedding of some sort.

Fine! Okay, so obviously we’re having one since I’m writing about it in this post.

We settled on a manageable wedding in a small boutique hotel in D.C – the deposit was pretty hefty but also comparable to everywhere else we looked in the DC/Baltimore area.

From the onset we knew our biggest cost would be feeding people. I had been to our venue several times for meals and loved their food! I adored the idea of not having to deal with a caterer and having a good idea of what to expect for the meal. We can have a maximum of 56 people in the venue — trust me, feeding and watering 56 people adds up, quickly!

Weddings also come with outfits which the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) likes to sell to you for an arm and a leg. Seeing as I wanted to elope, making the inexpensive choice was easy for me. I bought my dress on Etsy, got a great deal on the shoes, and splurged for a custom hair flower. I’ll be getting my hair done but for me, makeup, mani/pedi…not so important. And I promise, I am not going to feel like I’m missing out.

What else? Oh yeah – flowers (if you want them; i’m not doing bouquets), marriage license, rehearsal dinner (We’re doing one at a local brewery but that’s because we wanted to give out-of-town family another opportunity to hang out).

We are very lucky – Our families are able to help out with most of the cost but we have taken on quite a bit ourselves as well. We decided to pay for all of the deposits – venue, rehearsal dinner caterer, rehearsal dinner venue. We’ve paid for our outfits, flowers, anything misc. The money our folks have given us will probably cover the food and booze … probably.

By the end of it, I think we’re going to come in just under $10,000. One can hope anyway.

Let me tell you, when I first started planning, I wanted to spend $3,000, tops. And I know it’s possible. People talk about it at A Practical Wedding all the time. But you’ve got to be smart from the onset and it helps a lot if you know people who can help you along the way.