Place Cards and Final Details

My wedding is next week.  The fact that we have reached the point that I can say that really blows my mind and I didn't even really realize it until yesterday when someone at work asked me about it.  I'm not sure why the 10th just keeps sort of sneaking up on me like this but it has.  Shouldn't I be way more stressed and way more anxious right now?  Maybe it's still too early or maybe it STILL just hasn't quite hit me yet.  I still feel calm and not stressed out like I expected I would feel at this time.

We had a meeting with the hotel last Thursday and went over some of the final details.  I still feel like there were things I forgot to ask.  All the prices have gone up since we originally booked it in December.  They probably went up in January but of course we get our contract prices.  We agreed to the $100.00 ceremony arch dressing which is basically tulle that they will drape over the arch.  No climbing on ladders for us.  We will host guest parking which should run us no more then about $100.00-$150.00. 

We also settled on $888.00 in hosted beverages which is only about $675 pre tax and gratuity.  Damn taxes and tips are eating into my party budget.  I was very adamant that I only wanted to host alcohol and not soda.  Bottled water of course was out of the question.  Why use the money on that when they can drink free water if they don't want alcohol?  Hubby and the wedding planner were against me on this saying that more alcohol will get used because if someone wants soda but can't get it they just might get a drink.  Then there was also the designated driver point.  Won't we cater to them?  My answer was no.  Designated drivers can drink water.  If you want soda you can buy it. can drink water.  I've been to plenty of weddings where nothing was hosted least of all soda pop. I am still not sure what the conclusion was on that one but I still feel strongly that it should be alcohol only.  Either way, when it's gone it's gone.  I forgot how small our reception room is and actually didn't even really know what it looked like because it was under construction when we booked the place.  It will fit exactly 80 in 10 person table rounds but not a table more. We might move to a bigger room which doesn't have the floor to ceiling windows that we like about the smaller one but it is bigger and has higher ceilings.  The room was bare and empty so it was hard to tell how it's going to look all jazzed up with linen covered tables and chair covers. 

As soon as we got home I started working on the seating chart.  I annoyed Mj by trying to ask him questions about where to seat his guests while he was trying to cook but to be honest there never is a really good time.  Time is ticking away and I need to get this done before I get even busier with other tasks.  I don't know his people like he does and he's certainly not going to sit down and draw little circles on a paper and go through the guest list and plug people in himself so he's kinda gotta work on my time for some things.  I managed to get force most of the info I needed out of him so it's mostly done. 
I almost screwed up BIG TIME by waiting too long to order my place cards.  I realized just last week that the ones I was originally going to order were flat and I didn't want the added expense of using place card holders so folded was the only way to go. I had to search to find a reasonable price elsewhere...and fast.   I knew I was in trouble when I got an e mail saying my order would ship by 7/12/10 when my wedding day is 7/10/10!  Uhh..not going to work.  There would have been plenty of time if I didn't want them personalized which I do so I am now having to pay extra on top of the already too high $10.95 for rush shipping.  I so hate that because technically I dropped the ball on this one and it's gonna cost me.   At $35.95 the best price I found was at  Exclusively  It would have been nice to have them in Pink and even have the guest names pre printed but both options were too expensive for me. I'm still cutting it close on this order but I am choosing to believe they will get here in time rather then stress out over it.

The planning and the countdown continues!

My Bridal Shower

I woke up really excited the morning of my shower.  Like a beautiful army those ladies came into my house bearing food, gifts, punch bowls, decorations, and lots of love. 
I heard little whispers here and there about party planning meetings and shopping trips.  It was kind of weird knowing all of this was going on around me and that it was all for me.  I didn't have to do a thing so I had no idea of what they were planning or the effort they put into it until they all showed up at my door and started setting up shop.  

My mom, and good friends De and Eb all got together and made my bridal shower so special.  And to think, I didn't even know if I'd have one at all.  The idea of people planning a party just for me seemed like a little much.  I didn't want them making a fuss.  I tried to tell my mom that I didn't need to have a shower but she wouldn't hear of it.  They all wanted to do this for me just because they care.
The Hostesses

I am not a big fan of games and accordingly they kept them to a minimum.   A fun activity we did is that on cute little recipe cards everyone was tasked with the charge of writing down a recipe for a good relationship.  Just girls sharing their relationship advice with the bride to be.  The last one and my favorite was where mom asked a list of questions about Mj and every time I got an answer wrong I had to chew a piece of dubble bubble.  I felt a little bit of pressure.  I'm about to marry the guy, hopefully I won't get them all wrong.  What turned out to be the funniest answer was how old Mj was when he had his first girlfriend. The answer was "Five" and my mom said she doesn't understand what this means but that Mj wrote that it meant he was a "straight pli-yah" We all had a BIG long laugh over that one as we explained to mom that it was Playa as in player!!  You can't plan perfectly hilarious moments like that!  They just happen and when they's so much fun!  Most of the answers were things that I knew which was good but the rascal put some really tough ones in there that I would probably never even get.  Sadly, I have the memory of someone twice my age a really BAD memory and although I did get quite a few right a lot of them I only remembered the answer AFTER I was told. Hence the tired jaw, mouth full of bubble gum and some really funny looking pictures.

We all had a great time.  I got some nice gifts for me and some sexy gifts for me us.  All parties seem to have a natural end and when 5:30 pm rolled around everyone pitched in and started packing things up and cleaning up the kitchen.  Not in all the years since I moved out of my parents house have I ever in my life had any kind of party or gathering in any place I've ever lived.  So, this was extra special because it was my bridal shower and it was in our new house.

I am so appreciative of the hard work that everyone put into this to make it so wonderful for everyone.  We all have busy lives but they took time out to put this together and make it great.  I may not have a lot of friends but I have a few good ones and I'm so happy that I got to celebrate with them.

Hello Three Day Weekend

It is absolutely heavenly to still be in my jammies right now on my living room couch instead of sitting in a desk at a cubicle in the grayish tan colored office I spend 40 hours a week of my life at.  If only every morning could be like this.  I've been worn out from working an extra hour every day in the morning for the last two weeks and my handsome reward of a Friday off has finally arrived.  I've been sitting here reading blogs, surfing the net and eating my PBJ and it feels grand. 

Mj still continues to put me to shame in the kitchen but that's OK because I continue to be the recipient of deliciousness.  I still think about that chocolate peanut butter cake he made from scratch and when he makes stir fry it tastes like it came out of a chinese restaurant.  Now that he has subscribes to the Food Network magazine no doubt he will be inspired to make even more goodies.  Not that he hasn't ever made freshly squeezed lemonade before because he has but this recipe called for boiling the lemon peels and using that to flavor it which he was excited to try.

It's time to get productive.  My bridal shower is tomorrow.  I'm having a party at my house for the first time so even if it's not totally together the way I wish it were I can at least make sure that it's clean.  Then there are errands to do and things to organize but at the end of it all I plan to spend a relaxing night with Mj watching a movie and drinking fresh squeeze lemonade.  Wow...It looks just like it did in the magazine minus the Jose Cuervo bottle that is.
We finally figured out what to do with that giant bottle of not nearly as good as Don Julio disgusting Jose Cuervo that has been sitting in the kitchen collecting dust for almost a year.  Incidentally, it tastes amazing with lemonade.  Mj may be the talent behind the lemonade but adding the Jose Cuervo was my idea!

Wedding Make Up

For my wedding day make up I was planning to go to the Mac counter at Macy's or Nordstrom's.  I didn't budget for make up but I definitely knew I couldn't do it good enough myself so I figured that was the best solution. Mom however stepped in and was kind enough to offer to pay for a make up artist not only for me but my entire bridal party and my big sis.  Now I don't have to worry about rushing out and back to get my make up done because she will come to us and all of us will get glammed up together.  Not only will we look great but it will be fun for all of us.  I am so grateful that my mom is willing to do this for me. 
 I have had my make up done many a times for modeling but my mom has never had her make up professionally done and is really excited about it too. 
I knew that I wanted a smoky sort of dramatic eye and she incorporated that along with some blending of Pink eyeshadow to compliment my wedding colors.  I am going to use false eyelashes because they will show up great in pictures and if I'm going to do it I might as well go all out.  These are called cuties.  She didn't glue them in but just placed them along my lash line so I could get an idea of what they will look like.
  I'm going with a natural shade of light pink on my lips so my eyes will be the focus.  I never thought I could wear light pink lipstick-I just didn't think it went with my skin color.  She did them over three times until I finally made up my mind and agreed with her that what I originally thought I wanted was way too bright.  I want to look like me just way more glamorous and I think she did a very good job of doing that.

Things to Do:
  • RSVP's-I finished chasing down mine but Mj has a few more he needs to hunt. Guest total is about 65 right now. 
  • Meeting with hotel tomorrow to finalize details: Complete info packet.
  • Schedule final meeting with the DJ: Decide on songs for dances/processional and complete packet.
  • Make pre wedding and cocktail hour CD.  
  • Put together guest favor boxes and fill w/candy.
  • Work on day of timeline.
  • Buy shoes, bracelet and possibly a tiara.  Mj's grandmother sent some beautiful jewelry to me and one of the necklaces and earring sets should work well.
  • Buy place cards.
  • Decide on and buy bridal party gifts.
On the day of the only thing I want to worry about is geting my hair done, picking up my flowers, setting up the reception room and getting dressed.  We are down to only 17 days until the wedding!  There are literally only two weekends left.  My bridal shower is this weekend and the first of out of town family starts arriving next weekend.  Something tells me I'm going to be very, very if I wasn't already!

Got A Renter and Life is Good

I have met people over the years who seem to have a fairy godmother floating above their head. Everything they touch turns to gold and even the bad things in life often yields rewards. They land hot jobs and somehow manage get what they want and do what they want without even seeming to have to try that hard. They seemingly coast through life without a care in the world and why shouldn't they? They are the "charmed ones" and things just have a way of working out for them. Unfortunately I have never been one of those people. I work hard and try to do the right thing but nothing has come easily to me and I always seemed to be left wanting or with the short end of the stick.

About 2 weeks ago I got a call from my property management company that there was a woman interested in renting my condo. Ever the pessimist I was so happy and so relieved yet I did not count on anything until she actually paid her deposit, signed the lease and moved in. Well Friday.....SHE MOVED IN! I officially have a tenant in my condo who is locked into a lease for one year. Due to market conditions I was not able to rent for the full amount I owe but will only be taking on about a $100 per month deficit which could have been a lot worse and I should be able to absorb that into my budget. I never wanted a rental property but due to circumstances I have one and am just thrilled that I can finally stop stressing myself out over this-which I've been doing for over a year. Ideally, she will pay rent every month and I won't have to think about a double mortgage situation for at least the next year.

I actually still can't believe it. Every week after we moved out without a renter I got more and more anxious.  It's such a tiny condo-what if no one wants to live there?  I was already trying to figure out where I could tolerate working for a second job and how I would ever find the energy to do it. I tend to be surprised when everything works out according to plan while Mj expects it. Getting a renter was the last thing that I really needed to work out for me and just in the nick of did.  Throughout this whole house hunting, home buying, and rental property journey he has said over and over "Don't worry. It will all work out." Did I listen? NO. Did it work out? YES!

My only explanation for all of this is Mj-who incidentally just so happens to be one of those charmed ones. My general outlook and my life has totally changed since he entered it. I was lonely and depressed with little expectation or hope for better. I wore my misery and independence like a badge of honor and faced life in general with a mild sense of dread. The way I saw it life is hard. Happiness and fulfillment is promised to no one so you better just learn to deal with it. Fast forward two years and I am genuinely happy, planning a wedding with the man of my dreams, decorating our house and feeling an overall sense that life may not be perfect but the good in it far outweighs the bad. I still tend towards pessimism but no longer see gloom and doom lurking around EVERY corner. While I'd like to take 100% credit for this change I can't. Mj is the catalyst of all of this.  He has changed my life and I hate to think of where I'd be right now if I'd never met him.

I know that this doesn't mean that nothing bad will ever happen. Not even the charmed ones can count on that.  Maybe Mj's good luck has rubbed off on me a little but I still don't count myself as one of them. It doesn't even mean that I will stop worrying because chances are I will always be a worry wart-it's just the way I'm wired. However, it does mean that my panic meter goes down a few notches and my happy meter goes up. It means I no longer feel the heavy weight of the world sitting on my shoulders and every set back won't feel like the end of the world. It also means that I can finally say, "life is good." In the past those words would never EVER cross my lips under any circumstances. I was just too sad. So no matter what happens down the road of life I know that I have come an incredibly long way and that alone is something to be happy about.

Clubbin' With Mom & Dad

"Hey Dad, I want skittles," I yelled out the window as my dad got out of the car and went into the convenience liquor store.  There is something about sitting in the back seat of the car with mom and dad in the front that reminds me of being a kid again.  I constantly hounded my dad for candy and barbies as a child so I thought it would be funny to ask for skittles which was always my favorite.  My dad comes back and tosses in a bag of skittles and one of those cute little mini alcohol bottles of  Gin with lime.  I didn't used to get liquor with my candy as a child but well, I'm not a kid anymore.  It's 10:15 pm and to celebrate Father's day mom, dad and I are going out clubbing.  "Drink up," he says as he hands one to my mom.

There is nothing traditional about my father.  He makes no apologies.  He thinks, says, and does whatever he wants to and could care less about who's looking or what anybody thinks about it.    "Dad, what do you want to do for Father's Day?"  

"Nothing.  Don't buy me anything because you know I'm not into that and don't go out of your way to come up here or spend any money." Then he went into his usual rant about commercial holidays and how it's just about making money and he doesn't need one day to celebrate anything.  My dad always tries to act so rough and gruff but we all know there is a softie in there somewhere.

I was going to be up there Saturday and was thinking I could spent the night and do breakfast in the morning so he could get to work and I could get home to take care of the millions of things I have to do. He said that all he wants is for his girls to be happy.  He doesn't want or need anything else for Dad's day.  He has his routine on Sunday's.  He gets up, goes to the gym, then goes to the barber shop for work and normally doesn't get back until evening.  He really didn't really feel the need to interrupt his schedule and with everything going on with wedding planning and buying a house he didn't want me to have to do anything else.  I have learned over the years that it is almost useless to argue with him.  He is more set in his ways and stubborn then anybody I know.  So when mom suggested that we just spend time together on Saturday because I was already going to be up there I agreed.  We would eat dinner together then go out.  Mom and I had a make up consultation for my wedding so we would already be glammed up.  Perfect!

So, that's what we did.  The consult took longer then expected so we didn't have time to cook but we did pick up some delicious food from a local Soul Food restaurant and ate that at home.  Dad doesn't drink anymore since he's been on dialysis but mom and I had some wine.  I was already getting tired.  I don't go out at night much because most of the time I find that I'd just rather be at home in my pajamas at that hour but we said we'd go out so go out we did.  It's a small town and there aren't too many any hot spots to choose from unless you want to head south about 40 minutes closer to where I live.  The Flying Bridge seems to be the only game in town so that's where we went.  The ONE night my parents and I decide do go out it's closed so we ended up at a dive bar called McCabe's.  I used to go there in my single days long ago and hang out mostly because there wasn't anyplace else but I never expected I'd find myself there ever again let alone with my parents.  Not much had changed.  It's still a dive bar with lots of random weird people inside but dad new the guy at the door so at least we didn't have to pay a cover.  We chatted, people watched.  My mom and I were being shy but dad put an end to that by dragging us on the dance floor and we had fun out there. 

I thought to myself for a moment how bizarre it is that I am out dancing with my parents on a Saturday night at a bar but that's something I love about my family.  We just are who we are.  My parents are on the other side of 50 but they still like to get out and have their fun and I can go right along with them  and there is nothing weird about it at all.  I was probably more tired then both of my parents and I'm supposed to be the young one!  We had a really fun time hanging out and doing something different together.  It was NOT the traditional Father's day outing but we certainly enjoyed it and that's really what it's all about.

Class Action Payday

You know those class action lawsuit notices that you get in the mail?  You half read them then throw them away and pretty much forget about it because you still can't figure out exactly how you have been wronged and you already know that whatever your particular piece of the pie is to compensate for your alleged pain and suffering probably won't even be enough to buy lunch at Applebee's Denny's.

I am bound by the terms of my confidential settlement agreement so I can't name names but I have been the triumphant recipient of four lawsuits since we moved to our new house which was less then a month ago.  The first settlement award came just days before we moved and I actually threw it in the trash by accident because I was in the middle of sorting and organizing at the new house.  I think it has to do with some sort of breach of privacy but I honestly can't remember.  It was a voucher for an upgrade on my gym membership for only $5 which means I can actually go to the brand new one by our house that Mj uses and not be relegated to their 2nd tier locations.  Never mind that I haven't been to said gym in a long time I am entitled to my damages and so I plan to collect because I really do plan on going back.  "Just wait until I get my lawsuit" I'd tell Mj when he would question harass me about not going to the gym.  Now I really don't have any excuse aside from the other ones I normally use.  

The next lawsuit was from a very popular online travel company.  I have absoloutely no idea what this one was for.  I got a whole $1.11 cents credit to use at my leisure.  That won't even get me downtown on a city bus so I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with that one.

Let's just say I hit the big time with the next two.  Cash money!  So big that I can afford to decorate my house any way my heart desires, add on all the bells and whistles to my wedding and am seriously considering quitting my job.  Well, one can dream right?  Last weeks check was a settlement from a work at home inbound call center I worked for briefly when I quit working full time about five years ago.  I was modeling so I was looking for something flexible that could earn me some extra money.  I completed their training modules and once I was a bona fide certified agent I signed up for time slots so I could wait for incoming calls via my computer and earn money from the comfort of my home.  I got to take orders from people in places like Skokie, Illinois who wanted to order things like the Heel-Tastick heel renewal system with the bonus grooming kit that they saw on late night TV watching reruns.   The only time slots available were often at odd hours and in 2 hour increments.  I'd set my alarm for 1:30 am so I could wake up only to sit there at my desk in my pajamas and only take 1 call while trying desperately not to fall asleep.  You got paid by the minutes spent on the phone so even if you "worked" for 4 hours you'd only get paid for maybe 35 minutes.  I think that's why they got hit with the lawsuit.  Nobody could make any money!  Needless to say, I think my $30.00 settlement check is more then I ever actually earned while working for them.

The settlement I got yesterday was from a major online dot com corporation that most of us have used at one time or another.  I have no clue on how I was wronged on this one but I will happily cash my $35 check anyways thank you very much.

The very first weekend of June as soon as I got paid I ran out and spent almost my entire budget for the month on things for the house and a few things for the wedding so I was flat broke just days into this month.  I get paid once a month so there isn't anything else comin' in but thanks to my lawsuits I have $65 more dollars to work with.  I was part of a cell phone company lawsuit years ago and a couple others that I only vaguely remember.  My oh my we have become such a litigious society.  Just living your every day life you can be unknowingly wronged, become part of a lawsuit AND collect damages without doing a thing. 

I'm not really sure how the lawsuit gods knew that this has been a really tight month for me.  When I check the mail every day I'm secretly hoping that there might be even more that I have long since forgotten about rolling in.

Making A House A Home

I hate leaving unfinished business.  When I do something I want to finish it so I can have closure, enjoy the fruits of my labor and check it off of my to do list.  What a mess I was.  Barely moved in and going, going, going from store to store and errand to errand like a woman possessed.  I wore Mj out with my relentless planning and need to do so much so fast.  He said, "Take a break, relax."  I think I was driving him crazy.  I wanted everything to be perfectly organized and I wanted it NOW!  I'd walk into Wal Mart knowing I needed so many things but I was practically paralyzed with indecision over what to buy.  I'd walk down aisles staring at this and that.  I'd pull out my mile long list of things to buy but still not know what to do.  What color?  What size? Should I check another store?  I'd spend all weekend going from one store to the next and still feel like I had accomplished nothing.  You can't walk into Target and Bed Bath & Beyond one day and expect to have your house fully decorated and furnished the next.  No siree.  Not gonna happen.  You might be able to do that in a studio.  In fact, I think it took me about two weeks to set that up, but I can't expect to do that now.  Not with a house that is 4 1/2 times the size.  Duh!

Making a house a home takes time.  It doesn't happen over night and as soon as I realized that I was fine.  Room by room, piece by piece it all comes together.  In time.  Now I don't worry so much about the fact that I know I need some rugs but I don't know which colors to get or that I definitely want bright pillows for our sectional but can't get them yet until I decide on drapes.  The garage is totally disorganized and in need of some shelving and we need to get our closet done so Mj can actually fit some of his clothes in with mine but there is plenty of time to get to it.  There is still those last few stubborn boxes filled with stuff you don't know what to do with but at least most of them are finally cleared out and we have all of our necessary appliances and furniture. We haven't put up any pictures on any walls yet and the two extra bedrooms are sort of a mess but I do have a color scheme for the guest bathroom and a cute rug and shower curtain to go along with it.  We can't afford to get EVERYTHING at once even if it was possible.

We got our dining room table and TV console delivered. Oh, did I ever agonize over this table. The sales lady just pulled up a chair and waited as I walked back and forth between our two top picks staring at them as if I was hoping the table itself would tell me what to do. But once I saw it in our house I knew I'd made the right decision.

  The shutters and blinds were installed too and they look great. My mom was down visiting and we just oohed and awed over how pretty the plantation shutters are and how much they change the look of the room. 

It's so much fun watching as each addition transforms the space and helpful how each new piece gives way to ideas for the next.  I watch a lot way too much HGTV.  I'm no designer but I see all these beautiful rooms on there and now that I finally have a home of my own to decorate I want to do it right.  I know how I want my house to look but I just don't quite know how to do it.   I've decided not to worry that I am hopeless and won't be able to handle the decor which Mj has left me in charge of.  My over ambitious attempt to get everything done at once made me feel like I wasn't capable of doing it at all but I realize now that's not necessarily the case.  Just because I don't already have a color scheme in mind for the living room yet doesn't mean I never will.   

Buying the house was stressful but this is the fun part and it isn't going to happen over night.  Like most everything else it's a work in progress and rather then worry about what I think I don't know I've decided that I am just going to enjoy the process.  We already love our house so when you really think about it our house already is our home and anything else is just extra.

Way Too Much Fun

This is me holding onto my ancient cell phone before the incident although I imagine I didn't look too much different afterwards.  I certainly felt a heck of a lot better that's for sure.  My friends and I met up for happy hour/club night at our favorite local spot on Friday night to celebrate a birthday.  What with moving and wedding planning I hadn't really been out with the gang in a long time and I've been looking forward to it for weeks.  Everyone is so busy living their life that these outings have become fewer and far between.  We drank, ate, laughed, danced and had a grand old time.  Just like old times.  There was wine, champagne, and then a shot of patron that magically appeared in front of me.  When I say I had way too much fun I mean I found myself in the ladies bathroom with my head over the toilet at the end of the night.  I was having fun and feeling great....until I didn't.  I can't remember the last time that happened and if everything goes according to plan this incident will soon be a long forgotten memory as well.  I swear there have been plenty of times that I drank way more then I did that night and had a totally different outcome.  Oh yeah...didn't I just say that it had been a long time since I went out like that? Perhaps that would explain said inability to hold my liquor.   That combined with a sort of empty stomach sealed my fate but it certainly didn't ruin my night.  I was able to pick up right where I left off minus the booze plus lots of water for the last hour that we were there.  And no hangover the next day thank you very much!

Anyhow, I had a blast hanging out with my friends.  Yeah, yeah, yeah I may be way too old for such shenanigans but happens.

I'm Not Made Of Money

But it would sure be a heck of a lot easier if I was.

I'm struggling a bit with this rehearsal dinner concept. What if we just went out to a restaurant and had everyone pay for their own dinner because we were simply tapped out financially? Not an option. We definitely want to treat our wedding party as a show of appreciation to them. To complicate matters there are out of town folks not part of the rehearsal that might want to come socialize with us before the big day. Can we pay for some and not all without being rude? What with expectations and all. I'm sorry to say it but I think that's the way it's going to have to be even though I feel a bit bad about it. It is a REHEARSAL DINNER after all so I am hoping that anyone not part of the rehearsal will not be offended if they have to pay their own way.  If anyone thinks that's rude...well, I don't know what to tell 'em 'cause that is the best we can do. We have to plan on keeping it small and maybe try to meet up with some folks afterwards if we can. Or they can just come and pay. We have to do what is within our budget. If it's all or nothing then I'd rather not have one at all, but I don't think totally missing out is the way to go.

Do I sound mean? Dare I say cheap? Oh well. I suppose it's just the stress associated with spending so much money on a single event and the frustration of getting ridiculous quotes just to sit our group down to dinner. I'm not trying to have a reception before the reception. Just a casual dinner with good food will do. I knew that even at best with all of my super powers of frugality kicked into high gear this would be an expensive undertaking and I don't regret it. We have saved, budgeted, planned, and I am thrilled with my efforts to keep this within a reasonable comfort zone.  I am very much looking forward to the festivities. It's just that now that we are so close to the end and my STICKER SHOCK has just passed the 10K mark and growing the enormity of our spending is hitting me. Just when you are already stretched to the limit financially having already put down deposits with your vendors, several remaining balances are due very soon, and in the home stretch of paying off your venue you now have all of these extras to come up with on top of everything else.

Buying a house within two months of our wedding has surely exacerbated this situation. Whose bright idea was that anyways? We've been spending money right and left on that and everything in it. That was a HUGE purchase and we are going to have a new mortgage every month as a reminder, but I don't regret that either. Some things, even very expensive things, are just worth it. Like this wedding. I am absolutely not made out of money but in the course of planning a wedding (and even in buying a house) you sort of get the feeling that you are supposed to be. There are so many extras financially that you must take on or feel you must do just because you wanted to have a certain something. Extraneous costs that just add up. You really get hit from all sides and it almost makes you feel like only rich people should do this, because it starts to feel like only they can reasonably afford it.

I know that some of our guests have costs associated with coming to our wedding and being in our wedding. They also have expenses to contend with precipitated by us. They are kind enough to travel and participate in our special day and I truly do appreciate it. As a host I WANT to treat them all to dinner as a show of appreciation, which technically we ARE doing at our reception, just not necessarily the night before. I wish I could pay for hotel reservations, airline tickets and bridesmaid dresses too.

When it comes down to it you either have the money or you don't. You either stretch your budget to make sure you fulfill all of your obligations or you don't. Let's just say I foresee a lot of stretching coming up in the near future. At least I'm already warmed up. I might be willing to stretch it but I WON'T break it.

How I Became A Three Ring Bride

People used to ask me why I had an engagement ring when I wasn't engaged and a wedding band when I wasn't married.  I suppose I would have wondered the same thing.  It wasn't planned.  It's just the way it turned out.

We didn't exactly do the ring thing the traditional way. I met Mj for the first time on March 15th 2008.  On June 29th he gave me a promise ring big fat diamond engagement ring look alike. This was not your typical one millionth of a carat promise ring that one might imagine and I'm not even sure that people do that anymore. But he did. He said that he knew we weren't ready to get married yet but he wanted the ring to be a show of his commitment to me and the relationship. My heart about melted and I have to say I was flattered, surprised, and impressed that he was gutsy enough to do that because it was so early on in our relationship. He may be four years younger then me but he was showing me that he wasn't just some young guy.  He was for real.  I was still at the phase where I knew he was special and I knew I was in love but I hadn't fully surrendered to the relationship yet mostly out of fear and some personal hang ups of my own. I refused to let it scare me off even though part of me wanted to run for the hills and accepted it considering myself lucky to be with someone that would do such a thing.

Besides, I couldn't say no to a ring that looks exactly like the one I'd always dreamed about having. It is just my style. I have never liked yellow gold and wore white even back in the days when yellow gold was most popular.  It's a good size without being too big.  I love it's elegance and simplicity. I love the sparkly diamonds on the side and the square shape and the way it sits up and...and well I love everything about it.
Ring #1 and #2
I was happier then I'd ever been in my life and had this incredible feeling of walking on clouds all the time.  Things just flowed with us.  We fit together in so many ways that being with him was always effortless and easy.  I knew without a doubt that I had finally met my soul mate and it felt great.  Then in August comes the crushing news that he would be deployed for almost a year overseas.  In November he sent me a text message that said "let's elope."  I guess you could call that his proposal!  We knew that we wanted to get married and we decided that we would have the wedding....AFTER he got back.  He commemorated our engagement with a diamond wedding band.  We WANTED to get married in 2009 but he was to be gone for most of that year so we had to wait but as soon as he got back we started planning for this year.

I got the band sautered onto the engagement promise ring when he bought me the third ring a couple weeks ago.  I also had them re coated so they would be all shiny and new for the big day.   I wish I'd sautered them a long time ago.  I have skinny fingers and big knuckles so my ring size is bigger then my actual finger causing the rings to twist around taking away from the beauty of the set.  Now, the diamonds are always lined up and you can't even really tell it's sautered.  Not one to procrastinate I got his ring in 2008 and he's been waiting all this time to be able to wear it. It's a pretty and simple white gold band with a ring of brushed white gold down the center.  He didn't want diamonds.  Needless to say I got off pretty easy. 

I told him he didn't have to get me wedding band #2/ring #3 when we had the wedding but he really wanted to. I was worried that it would be too much bling, too much money right now, and I really do love my rings just the way they are but he insisted. And I let him. When it comes down to it I really love diamonds and I am not gonna argue too much about getting more of them. When I put all three of them on they really stand out and look so brilliant and beautiful. I never get tired of looking at diamonds and I don't see myself ever getting tired of looking at these rings. I have exactly what I want. I certainly won't feel the need to "upgrade" on our 10 year anniversary.

Ring #3

So, that is how I came to be a three ring bride with triple ring bling.  I got an engagement ring as a promise, a wedding band to engage me, and another wedding band to tie the knot.  I know none of this is about the ring.  I would be with him and marrying him even if he couldn't afford to get me anything at all.  I am marrying the man not the ring afterall, but it sure is nice to have rings you will love and treasure forever from the one you love and want to BE with forever that symbolizes your foreverness [Yes, I made that word up].  I've been wearing two stunning rings for going on two years and Mj still hasn't gotten to wear his one.  But very soon we will both be wearing them together.

Oh yeah...I'm getting Married Next Month

Right about Wednesday of last week it occurred to me.  Oh yeah, I have a wedding to finish planning. Somewhere in the middle of trying to close on a house, move, and furnish said house wedding planning got put on the back burner.  But, I am back in full wedding planning mode with as dash of house business on the side.  We still need to make sure that the house is ready to accommodate our out of town wedding guests plus, I'm anxious to get our house together the way I want it.

The first thing I did is write out our wedding ceremony script.  A bridesmaid's husband will be our officiant.  As an "officiant virgin" he has no idea what to do so it's up to us to get everything mapped out for him.  I cut and pasted wording from a variety of different websites and added some of my own writing to round it out.  I want the words to be meaningful and make a statement about love and relationships-the very reason we are standing there in the first place.  I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.  Mj and I will each write our own vows to each other which we won't hear until the moment we say them at our wedding. 

Next, I ordered our black silk flower petals and our wedding guest favors from  Originally, I was going to do bookmarks but when I saw these cute little pink personalized boxes for $39.99 I decided to get them instead.  I found a  5 pound bag of pink candy hearts to fill them with from for $19.50 for a grand totoal of $60.00.  There are 1,100 pieces per pound so I'm thinking that will be PLENTY.  The 500 black silk flower petals were only $4.99 and they will be used to scatter on tables around our centerpieces.  I already bought some pink one's at Michael's along with larger good sized round vases, LED lights, and pink stones I needed for my DIY centerpieces.  Aside from the carnations those are ready to go and should run me about $80 dollars total.  I'm glad I took the time to do most of my research on what I would need months ago because now as we get closer to crunch time all of the information I need is right there waiting for me.

Not only do we feed guests at our wedding we also have to feed folks the night before after our rehearsal so I'm looking for rehearsal dinner locations that won't break the bank. We are going to have to limit numbers.  I would like to include everyone who comes from out of town but that may not financially feasible so we will have to see how we can work that out.  I am definitely looking for something casual and inexpensive.  We can save the formalities for the day of.

I picked up two very important items as well.  My dress and my rings.  The dress still fits after alterations which is a good thing and I still love it as much as I did the day I picked it out.  Actually, I wish it were just a little bit tighter.  I am nervous about being in a strapless and feeling the need to tug it up all night.   I am wearing a regular strapless bra but I might shop around for some other options.  It's nice to have a place to actually put this massive dress now that we have extra closets.  And my rings are beautiful!  All three of them.

I will be scrambling this week trying to track down black pin on flowers for my bridesmaids to wear on their dresses from David's Bridal.  I figured I would just get them and it turns out they are pretty scarce and if David's orders it I won't have them until after the wedding!  My bridesmaid from Georgia tracked one down there and now I just have three to go.  I also need to add our officiant to our tux order since he wants to wear a tux for the ceremony.

Apparently no one is even coming to this little shin dig I've been planning all year.  Tracking down RSVP's is also on my to do list for the week.  I am back into wedding planning mode and ready to take it all the way to the finish line which incidentally is IN 34 DAYS.  Time really snuck up on me but I'm in a good place to pick up right where I left off and get things done.

The Minimalist Bride

There are a lot of things I'm not doing for my wedding.  We aren't doing engagement photos. There will be no out of town bags, petal tosses, programs, menu cards, bathroom baskets, or monograms just to name a few.  But, I will spring for chair covers to liven up our venue and I am hoping to host some extra alcohol for our guests.

I am now and have always been low fuss, simple, easy to please and all about business when it comes to budget. It turns out that my wedding is no exception. The invites I found online were simple yet elegant and I refused to spend more then I was comfortable with.  I started out planning on only 2 bridesmaids and having them pick their own dresses. I ended up with 4 and coordinated dresses just because ultimately I think it's much easier on everyone involved.  I was debating if we should have a rehearsal dinner but I am pretty sure I will because it will be nice for family and friends to get together and so everyone feels comfortable the day of.  I am on a mission to find a very budget friendly location.   I didn't even know if I would have a bridal shower.  Someone wants to plan a party for lil' old me?  Not that I didn't want one I just feel funny about people making a fuss over me.  I didn't go to any bridal bazaars or look at bridal magazines.  I picked out my wedding dress in 2 1/2 hours from one store on one day costing me under $500.  I still don't know what jewelry or shoes I'm wearing but I plan on getting a pair of flat silver sandals that I can wear after the wedding too.  If I end up wearing some pearls I already have at home that will be ok and I will probably end up at the Mac counter in a department store for make up the day of.

Don't get me wrong.  I am fully loving all of this wedding planning. Picking out invitations, designing centerpieces, deciding on colors.  I never imagined in a million years that I would get to have a traditional wedding. The full shebang with a princess dress, sit down dinner, DJ and dancing. I never thought I would be choosing colors and going to tastings. It's been absolutely a dream come true. I may not have a huge budget but I am just happy I get to do this at all.  Even without a whole lot of  extras the fact that I get to have a wedding at all is enough for me.

Every bride has a different approach.  I already know I am a frugal bride but seeing all of these little extras that others are doing got me wondering if I was a lazy and boring bride too. After thinking about it for a moment I have decided I am not. I am just doing what comes naturally to me. I can be creative and am having a great time designing my centerpieces-which I think just so happens to be my only DIY project.  Did you know you can have your wedding vows professional written for you at for about $150? We are having a friend perform the ceremony.  I plan on mapping out the entire ceremony script and we will write our own vows. There will be no sand ceremonies or musical numbers involved.  There are tons of potentially cool and creative things that could be done that I just don't feel are necessary.  I don't doubt that my wedding will still be beautiful and elegant just the way I envision it just because I don't have a million DIY projects.

My natural tendency is to go basic and maybe throw in a few extra frills and thrills depending on budget and desire. That seems to be exactly what I seem to be doing with my wedding. Not only am I a frugalista apparently I am a minimalista too.

House Work

What a busy week it's been.  All moved in so it's appliance time.  We chose an LG and got 10% off at Home Depot. Our refrigerator was the first appliance to be delivered on Wednesday.  We love the bottom freezer design and the fact that we no longer have to constantly buy water because it's filtered and comes straight out of our pipes through the refrigerator.  I have no idea how that happens but I am just glad that it does. 

Then, we finally decided on a washer/dryer which for me was the hardest.  I over researched to the point where I had no clue what to do anymore.  Installation charges vs warranty and delivery fees vs shipping charges and on and on.  I wanted the best deal and the best product but on the same brand one review would say it broke down the first day and another would say it was the best thing that ever happened to them.  I was over it and we really had a lot of laundry piled up so last week on my lunch break we met up at Sears and bought Whirlpools in less then an hour.  We got 10% off for using my Sears Card.  They were delivered on Thursday.  They are Energy Star certified and the washer is supposed to cut down on our water bill.  We qualify for a $100 mail in rebate and I think they are pretty darn cute too!
Whirlpool Duet
Saturday morning we were out of the house by 9:30 am taking stuff to goodwill and finally going grocery shopping after months of getting by on what we had.  Our bedroom set, mattress, and sectional that we picked out a couple weeks ago were delivered that afternoon.  We basically ordered out of a catalog in the store and hadn't actually seen the bedroom set in person and we were so pleased when we finally saw it.  It is real wood and you can see the quality.  It was my bright idea to get white and it turned out to be a good one.

We got this sectional in "Oyster."  We LOVE the modern look to it.  I am hoping it will give me some inspiration on how to decorate the downstairs.

I think there is a very good chance that our neighbors have seen me naked so it's great that we have also ordered window coverings. We had two companies come out and do quotes and went with the one that was cheap enough to allow us to do almost the whole house.  They won't be here for about 2 weeks.  This house has lots of windows which is nice but they are even in places you wouldn't expect like 2 in the laundry room and one in the closet.  There are 12 upstairs and 7 downstairs.  We are doing all blinds and I'll have to come up with window treatments only for the sliding door and kitchen window downstairs.  After that it was out for some more errands.  We got our paint supplies at Lowe's and went hunting for a bedspread.  We got an Eastern European King size bed and apparently it's next to impossible to find that size in the stores.  After Penny's and Macy's we gave into hunger and took a break.

We did something we haven't done in a long time.  Ate in the food court at the mall.  After being busy ALL DAY we were exhausted and hungry, which seems to be the theme of the week.  We happily took a break from shopping for some good old fashioned food court junk food.  Sbarro's Pizza to be exact.  After refueling we went to Walmart where we managed to find some king sized sheets [with a high enough thread count to satisfy Mj] to sleep on for the night.  The bedspread will have to wait.
My Very Own Sexy Pastry Chef

Mj is crazy a dedicated cook and he insisted that he make his Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake from scratch that night even though we didn't get home until after 9pm.  He said he'd do it within the first week of moving in and so he did.  The very first thing ever cooked in our new house was that and he was up until 2 am doing it.  I was up too of course since I can't seem to stop myself from working on organizing and doing things around the house.

So what's next?  Painting of course.  That project consumed our entire Sunday.  Mom was kind enough to come down and help.  She was our very first guest.   Here she is walking in the door.  She was so excited to be here and see us IN our house for the first time.  We immediately put her to work.  That's how we treat our guests around here apparently!!

Maybe I was rushing things by trying to paint so soon after we moved in but I really wanted to get it over with and thought it would be good to take advantage of the 3 day weekend.  I felt the longer we waited the less likely we would be to get it done.  I told Mj a week ago that we'd be doing this.  He was surprised but took the news well and went along with it.  We started around 10 am with taping everything off and laying down plastic.  
Mom came around 12 pm and we went to Home Depot to get the paint.  Our total for painting supplies was about $240.00.  Mj and I did a pretty good job on choosing colors.  We were right on in picking our colors for the Great Room (light green) and Master Bedroom (pale grey).  We got one set of samples and that was it but after seeing our furniture in the loft we decided brown on the walls would be too much Brown.  When mom and I went to get paint we found this great blue color and without even getting a sample we just bought the whole can and slapped it on the walls.  Luckily Mj liked it too and it turned out to be one of my favorite colors that we used.  

 We probably started actually painting around 2 and didn't finish until about 6:30 pm.  We worked so hard but it was awesome that we all just pitched in and did it together.  When you look at the finished product it is  completely worth it.  And now.  It's DONE!!  We did the loft, downstairs great room area and the master bedroom.  Anything else, I can worry about later.  Or not!
Our reward for all of our hard work was pizza and beer.  That was only just to get to Mj's homemade cake which was absolutely delicious.  He really should have saved us $500 and just made our wedding cake himself because it was better then any of the cake tastings we had.  Seriously!  I will be asking for it every year from here on out for my B day cake.  Never mind that I haven't had nor wanted a B day cake in a couple of years but this magnificent cake changes that.  It was moist, tasty, perfect and with an also from scratch Peanut Butter Mousse filling, Chocolate frosting and crushed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on top-it was the perfect way to end a fun but long, exhausting productive day.