The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

Welcome to my newest follower, Sassmeister!

Back when we first got engaged, I grappled a lot with who I should choose to be in my bridal party. I had to take a lot of things into consideration... my relationship with these ladies, how often I see them, how often I talk to them, and of course... whether or not they could afford it.

It's no secret that being a bridesmaid isn't cheap.

According to this article, bridesmaids can spend anywhere from $500-$1500 in the name of the wedding. Here's an example:

Dress: $210
Alterations: $75
Shoes: $25
Strapless Bra: $40
Hair, Nails, and Makeup: $150, including tips
Travel: $300
Shower Gifts: $70
Contribution to Shower: $30
Bachelorette Party: $100
Wedding Present: $100

Total = $1100

The cost can be even higher if you're a Maid of Honor. But this girl? She's not a bridezilla. So what am I doing to keep down the costs?
  • I'm asking my ladies to choose any dress they'd like, as long as it's navy blue and knee length. I would never demand they wear a $500 dress of my choosing.
  • My bridesmaids will be wearing non-matching silver heels. I'm hoping they already own a pair... but if not, I've given them enough notice so they can score a good bargain before June.
  • Their wedding day hair will be paid for. My hairstylist will be doing everyone's hair, and is offering of a steal of a deal.... so covering their 'dos is no problem.
  • Bridesmaid makeup will be 100% DIY. My girls are adults and have been doing their own makeup for over a decade. They know what looks good on them and what will make them feel the most comfortable.
  • Travel is an unavoidable expense, but I'm trying to help out by having us all meet in the middle (that being Dayton, Ohio) for dress shopping. I will be paying for our hotel room while we're there. It's the least I can do.
  • Lastly, I have requested (more like demanded) that none of my bridesmaids throw us a shower or buy us gifts for the shower or the wedding itself. Being by my side is gift enough.
Let's see how these little adjustments affect the cost breakdown...

Dress: $200
Alterations: $75
Shoes: $25
Hair, Nails, and Makeup: $15
Travel: $200 (on average)
Bachelorette Party: $100

Total = $615

It's still a good chunk of change, but we knocked off a whopping $485! And since I'm only having 3 bridesmaids, I'm hoping that they really grasp just how special they are to me. It's not one of those situations where they are one of twelve and don't feel appreciated.

I love them all to death and am so proud to have them there for me during this time.


Meet Our Videographer

A couple weeks ago, I discussed being bit by the videography bug, and a lot of you commiserated in my pain.

Why, oh why couldn't someone have told us up front that wedding videography is so much better than we thought it was? That information should be front and center in the "You're Getting Married" handbook they pass out right after you get engaged.

What? You didn't get one?

...Don't feel bad. I didn't either ::sad face::

So Ryan was a little on the fence about this whole "videography" thing (it has to be put in quotes to convey the sarcastic tone). He told me if I really wanted to do this, I should poll recently married friends first and see what they thought.

Seeing as I only have one recently married friend, I facebooked her ASAP. Her response (I assure you, this is a direct quote)...
GET A VIDEOGRAPHER - BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY WEDDING was not getting one. Please please please get one.

I forwarded her response to Ryan, who said finally jumped on board.

::Jumpy squeal:: It's on!

My videography research got hardcore, and we were able to narrow it down to two finalists. But here's the catch... we didn't end up hiring either of them.

Right as we were debating which package would best fit our needs, I received an email from a long-forgotten about videographer from out of state. He asked if I was still interested in his videography services.

I replied, "You are, hands down, our favorite... but we just can't afford you right now."

He responded with some numbers and urged me to take another look.

So I calculated out what it would cost to fly the videographer in from D.C., shoot 8 hours of our wedding, and edit it. Believe it or not... it was within our budget.

But we didn't just go with them because they're "within our budget". We went with them because they're fantastic. It was the first (and only) wedding video that made Ryan say "wow".

And that is worth a million bucks.

I now present you with the fabulous company who will be shooting our wedding... HumanStory. You may recognize them because they were the videographers for Mrs. Cloud's wedding:

kate and brian trailer from humanstory on Vimeo.

I'm suuuuper excited about this.

Ryan and I are paying for them all on our own... but I'm not sure we could really put a price on something like this. When Ryan first watched this video, he said it looked like a TLC show (in a good way).

We chose HumanStory because of the amazing way they integrate family and bridal party interviews into the footage. Hearing the people close to us discuss our wedding day and what it means to them is way more important than some fancy video footwork with catchy music. We want it to be a story about us.


Anniversary Wine Box

Welcome to my newest follower, Nicolette!

I have a really exciting idea to share with you all. It is an idea that has evolved over time since our engagement (probably since my discovery of WeddingBee), and has finally come to a grand conclusion.

It began with the Love Letter Wine Box ceremony. This is a ceremony that has gained popularity recently in place of a traditional unity ceremony. The bride and groom each write each other a love letter, then during the ceremony, it's sealed into a box with a bottle of wine and 2 wine glasses. The idea is, if ever their marriage is in jeopardy, they should take out the box and drink the wine while reading eachother's letters. It's sort of a last-ditch effort to save their failing relationship.

I liked this idea, but I found it a little depressing. I definitely didn't want to do anything like that during the ceremony. Our guests would think we were planning for divorce or something.

Ryan thought it would be a better idea if we did the Love Letter Wine Box by ourselves... and just planned on opening it on a special anniversary (5, 10, 25... whatever). Better, but a little boring.

Then I thought... what if we let our guests write us notes and put them in the box as well?! We could read all their notes when we opened the box. How fun would that be!

But then.

Ohhh, wait for it.

I discovered something called the Anniversary Box. Start your brain with a clean slate and picture this: During the rehearsal dinner, each guest is given a numbered card. They are asked to write a short letter to the couple on the card and seal it in an envelope. The cards are then placed in a box. The couple may read one card at each anniversary (the card whose number corresponds with the anniversary).

Super cute!

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I'm going to combine the two!

We will have a box (which I already purchased at Hobby Lobby). It will have a bottle of wine in it and will be on display at the rehearsal dinner. Before or after dinner, the guests will write their numbered notes and leave them in the box. Then, at each anniversary, we will open the box, drink the wine, and read one card from a loved one. After the anniversary is over, we will put in a new bottle of wine, seal it back up, and wait for the next anniversary.

OMG. I can't believe my little brain came up with this all on its own! I'm excited... and it's a great way to incorporate our guests into every single one of our anniversaries from now until 50.


Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (That is... except for our Canadian blogger friends.)

I'm spending the long weekend at the future in-laws' house near Philadelphia, so Internet usage will be minimal (I'm posting this from an iPad as we speak).

Take a moment (or two) today to stop and be thankful for family, friends, and fiances today. I know I will!

Ryan's niece playing in a box... my favorite photo I've taken today.

See you all next week!


Marriage and Infidelity

There once was an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte was engaged, and upset with Carrie because she was the "other woman" in Big's marriage. The only reason Charlotte was upset was because she was preparing to wed the man she loved while her friend was making a mockery of the institution of marriage.

Now that we have the picture, I'd like to say that I'm encountering a similar situation.

A coworker friend of mine (who shall remain nameless and title-less) is having an affair with another of my coworkers (who shall also remain all that stuff). Only a few people at my office know about it, and I happen to be one of them.

Every time he talks about their dates or the time they spend together, I feel awkward. It's not that I don't think they make a good couple (which, let's face it... they don't)... it's just that I can't stop thinking about his poor wife.

Despite the fact that they've been having marital problems for years, I can't help but feel like it's just not right. What if the poor wife thinks things are finally turning around for them... while he's secretly off with another woman?


But it gets better (and more relative to this whole "wedding blog" operation I'm running here). Because I have no idea how to address the invitation!

I assume that if he came to our wedding, he would bring the girlfriend (mostly because we all work together, but also because he isn't too fond of his wife). But I can't possibly address the invitation to the two of them!

I could address it to him only... but then I'd have awkwardly ask him in person who he plans on bringing (so I can properly address the placecard).

Has anyone else run into this dilemma? (I doubt it... it's a unique one!)


Taking a Sick Day

I'm currently home sick.

Not that I had any big plans for the day... but I missed church and our weekly grocery shopping trip. I haven't stepped foot outside our house all day.

I've got a sore throat and a general "sickly blah" feeling. I guess you could call it a cold with a side of no talking.

Unfortunately, this isn't unusual for me. I get this exact illness 3-4 times per year! Ugh.

So when I sat down to write this post, I began to think of the ways in which my illness relates to weddings.

And then it hit me. DUH. Because no one wants to be sick on their wedding day. I actually have no idea what I would do!

Ryan told me that his father was sick on his wedding day. If I recall the story correctly, I think it was something he ate the day before. Come the day of the wedding, he was throwing up and generally felt like crap. He barely made it through the ceremony and the reception.

OMG. Knowing my luck, that is totally something that would happen to me.

If I get sick on our wedding day, can we have a "do over"?


All the hard work and money put into that one day... and you forever remember it as a day you were miserable and ill.

Maybe the overall excitement of the day would ward off too many bad feelings. Perhaps the adrenaline would get you through to the end. But if the wedding was today... I'm not sure I would even have the voice to say my vows!

So stay healthy, fellow brides! (And be careful what you serve at your rehearsal dinner!)

I'll just take the fact that I'm sick today to mean one less chance I'll be sick come June 25th.


Our Third Registry

We registered in person at both Crate and Barrel and Macy's. But I'm a greedy bride who wants more!

Just kidding.

In reality, Crate and Barrel and Macy's are lovely... but they just don't have the wide selection of items that I was hoping for.

A wedding registry is supposed to be comprised of items that will help you and your significant other create a "home". Well let me say right now that bakeware, bath towels, china, and kitchen appliances does not a home make.

And that's why we have our Amazon registry.

It's wonderful because a) Amazon has a ton of stuff (duh). And b) because you can add anything to it.

You heard me. ANY-THING.

A camping tent from Target? Registered.
A cookbook from Williams-Sonoma? Registered.
A fancy vase from Anthropologie? Registered.

You can add anything your heart desires.

So on with the show! I present you with a selection from our alternative registry...

Backpack Picnic Set - Picnic baskets are pretty impractical. They're bulky and heavy to carry. When I found this backpack picnic set, I knew it was perfect because we can bring it with us on bike rides.

Paisley Apron - I think this adorable apron will make me a better cook.


Garmin GPS - I get lost always. I think I'm a good navigator, and then BAM!... we're lost. I swear, I can't even get to my parents house after 7 years of making the treck. So in a nutshell, this GPS is a necessity.


Bocce Ball Set - We don't have a yard... but we will some day.

Dining Chairs - We have a dining table that expands to fit 8 people, but we only have 4 chairs. Poker night is back-breaking because there are always some poor soles that have to sit on wooden stools the whole night. Ouch!


Bananagrams - Who doesn't love this game?! We do!


Shower Radio - I had one in High School, but it was never loud enough to hear over the running water. I'll dance in the shower whether I have a radio or not... so it's best I stop looking like an idiot.


Bike Rack - I bought mine for $15 on Craigslist, and I have to use a bungee cord to hold my bike on. I'm petrified it's going to fall off one of these days on my way to a race!


I do realize that this Universal Registry idea is still relatively new, and most of our guests won't understand it. But it's a fun way to add the things you really want. We're guessing that the younger crowd will probably catch on more quickly.


Prop Me Up!

After my freakout on Saturday, I decided to use my day off on Monday to start some DIY projects.

First up... photo booth props!

Supplies: hot glue gun, stiff felt in multiple colors (I chose pink, red, and black), dowel rods, scissors, and moustache templates if you need them (which I did. I found mine here).

Step One: Cut out the templates, place them on the stiff felt, and cut accordingly.

Simple, right?

Well, some of the 'staches were twisty and hard to cut with my jinky old scissors. It probably would benefit someone to trace the template onto the felt instead of just trying to cut it like I did. But, ahh... too late for that now!

Step Two: Attach the moustaches to the dowel rods using the hot glue. It dries much quicker than I expected, so I learned to be quick about my placement!

Step Three: Admire your work!

Step Four: Test out the moustaches.

The Gentleman...

The Villian...

The Cowboy...

The Painter...

and the Dairy Queen...

After that, the gears were really turning, so I started to create some of my own. These ended up being some of my favorites...

I used leftover felt to create "Team Kelly" and "Team Ryan" flags. I hope our friends use these in the photo booth. I think they would make for some adorable pictures!

I tried to test the lips out on Maggie, but she failed and just wanted to sniff them...

DIY Cost Breakdown:
Stiff Felt: $2.37
Hot Glue Gun: $3.49
Template: Free
Scissors and Dowel Rods: Already owned
Total: $5.86

Go Team Kelly!

*All personal photos


Wrangling the 'Maids

Welcome to my newest blog-tastic followers, Lauren and Rebecca!

Today I'd like to discuss my bridesmaids.

I love these girls to death... but gosh darn it, sometimes I just want to knock them over the head for living so far away and/or being so busy all the time.

(Don't worry. I would hit them with something soft... like a pillow or a kitten.)

They each live between 2-8 hours away, and two of them I haven't even seen since before Ryan and I got engaged (that was a whopping 7+ months ago!).

All of this makes for a very difficult bride-to-bridesmaid relationship.

Every time I speak with them on the phone, they're all like "how is planning going?", and all I can respond with are generalizations like, "great... fine... fantastic." It's just too much of a hassle to fill them in more specifically than that when they aren't really around to be involved in the planning.

(Everyone take a moment to shed a tear for sad little me.)

Don't get me wrong... I don't regret picking any of my ladies. They're wonderful friends, and I can't imagine not having them next to me on the big day. But I guess I just thought this whole experience would be different.

TV tells me that my bridesmaids and I should be lounging around in our pajamas reading bridal magazines and giggling.

Why is TV lying to me?!

Instead, I'm stuck here sending out email after email trying to plan a bridesmaid get-together for January and figure out what city we should meet in so that each person will have to travel the least amount of distance.

Does anyone else have long-distance bridesmaids (or ones who work weekends), and have any good tips for getting all the gals together?


I've Been Bitten

... by the videography bug.

I've had a hard time writing this post because it means I have to come to grips with what has happened.

I wrote months ago about how Ryan and I had decided to not hire a videographer. We had discussed it up front, and our reasons pretty much boiled down to the following...
  • We thought wedding videos were cheesy. I couldn't stand the thought of tacky transitions and horrible music ruining our beautiful day.
  • If all you're left with is photographs, you can remember your wedding as perfectly as you'd like. But as soon as it's filmed, you realize just how terrible you sounded reading your vows, or how awkward you looked during your first dance.
  • It's just one more unnecessary expense we'd have to work into the budget.
So the decision was made, and that was that.

... Until I started reading wedding blogs.

The first few times people posted their wedding teasers, and gushed about how fantastic they were, I intentionally avoided them. I don't want to see what I'm missing and regret our decision, I thought.

But one day I clicked that innocent little "play" button... and a whole new fabulous world was opened up before me.

Naked Opie, Julie Dots ... breathless from humanstory

To give you a little insight, I'll share with you that I do, in fact, shoot and edit video for a living. I edit video every single day at work.

But my video is blown out of the water by what these people can do.

Kim + Kyle // Wedding Highlights from Erika Rydell

And now I'm torn. A part of me is saying, Be sensible, Kelly... videography is a luxury, not a necessity. But the other half is screaming, I must have this! How else will I remember our wedding day?!

The hard part is, both sides are right. Videography is indeed unnecessary... but I've also heard that many people regret not having it once the wedding is over.

All Things Go. Video By BMP. from Video that rocks. The Weddings

Without a wedding video, you only get one chance to hear your husband recite his vows. You only get one chance to listen to your father give his toast.

You only get one chance. You either film it, or it's gone forever.

So what is "forever" worth to me?

(A few other fantastic companies that didn't have embed-able video (some of my absolute favorites!): LoudByte Cinematography, I Do Films, Delack Media Group)


Where Did the Time Go?

I had a minor freakout this morning.

We are 7 1/2 months away from our wedding. On the surface, that seems like a lot of time. But then I remembered back to this past June. We were a year away from our wedding, and it seemed like we had all the time in the world.

But we were dumb, and the past 4 1/2 months have flown by.

So if the next 4 1/2 months go as fast as the previous 4 1/2 months, then before we know it... we'll be only 3 months away from our wedding!

::head between my knees, gasping for air::

Three months?! That's no time at all! That's like my "oh, crap... you better have everything done by now" time where I tie up all my loose ends. That is not a place I'm ready to be any time soon.

I have 131 items still left on my "To Do" list (and that's being generous with some umbrella terms like "Make Invitations" or "Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue").

Stupid "To Do" list! You mock me with your never-ceasing additions!

Luckily for me, 5 out of the next 7 weekends are long ones (I saved up too many vacation days at work).

I'm vowing to myself to get some major wedding planning done between now and the end of the year. All the major vendors are taken care of (that was the easy part!). Now on to the fun part... the details!


Where's the Line?

As you may know (or not), we'll be having a photo booth at our reception. The blogosphere question that always follows is whether or not we'll have any props.

I have some very strong opinions about photo booth props. They can be awesome and fun and make for some very cute photos. But if you're trying to have a reception with a certain "vibe", they can go a little overboard. I definitely want props... but only certain ones.

So where's the line?

Props I would be okay with having:

Mustaches and lips on sticks...

Mini chalkboards...

Empty frames...

Yay flags...

Props that don't really fit the feel of our reception:

Boas and fake noses...

Viking hats and handcuffs (seriously?)...

Arrows through the head...

Pink flamingos (who thinks of these things?!)...

I know a lot of couples have a wide variety of different props in their booths. This post is in no way meant to offend anyone. This is just an idea of the type of photo booth props that I think would best suite our wedding's overall feel.

Overall, I'd like to keep the props to a minimum. I don't really want people stealing the props and running around the reception with cowboy hats or feather boas on. Some people love that, but not me. To each their own.

Either way... I know our guests will make good use of our 'booth and take some awesome photos. I can't wait to see our scrapbook once the night is over!


Cards of the Escort Variety

Welcome to my newest followers, Vee, KatieB, Laura, and Leana!

I have something to admit.

I had never heard of an escort card before I got engaged. I just thought any card that had your name on it was a place card. Same diff, right?


Different diff.

See, a place card is a card that holds your seat. It basically says, "This is where Kelly sits!". In contrast, an escort card is a card that tells you what table you sit at. Like, "Go sit at Table 7, and bring me with you!"

Woah. My mind just blew up.

So I began to wonder... if you have escort cards, does that mean you don't have assigned seats?

Ryan and I have a problem with that. The last wedding we went to, there were assigned tables, but no assigned seats. It was fine for the two of us... but one of Ryan's cousins ended up sitting at the very end of the table, next to some people she didn't know... which was mildly awkward.

In a nutshell... assigned seats are pretty much a "must" for us.

So here are our options (along with some great inspiration photos compiled by yours truly)...

1. Seating Chart + Place Cards

2. Escort Cards + Place Cards

3. Escort Cards + Personalized Menus

4. Seating Chart + Personalized Menus

Well, option #2 seems repetitive. Who wants two cards sitting above their plate?

Besides that, how adorable are those escort cards in #3? The back of each card has a photo of the bride or groom with the guest. So cute!

I'm leaning towards options #1 and #3. I need to discuss it with Ryan. Although... he'll probably think I'm crazy for giving something like this so much thought.

But that's not unusual for us.
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