Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day

I always think September is the best of Autumn.  Best weather, best color, the sun still shines and the days are just long enough to still enjoy some beautiful evenings around a fire outside.
Something about September feels like a beginning instead of an end.
Enjoy this holiday first day of September.  We don't have much planned, just some projects around the house, but it feels like a day off and we will enjoy it together:>)
Happy September!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Frugal Wedding

I wanted to share the wedding today, but I also know that several of you have commented that you have weddings coming up soon too.  There is no doubt about it, a beautiful wedding costs money! Weddings are important milestones, and we all want them to be as special and memorable as possible, but memories in the form of making payments long after your special day are over aren't the kind that give you that warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness. In fact, with our young people often starting life with student loans, car payments and other encumbrances, it makes sense to start your new life together as debt free as possible.
You all know how cheap frugal I can be.  I like to make every penny count, but I also love my girls and I wanted their weddings to be beautiful! So as I share, I'm also going to share the best ways that I found to pinch those bridal pennies til they squealed :>)
Grab a cup of whatever refreshment you might like, this is a long one.

The Dress

Victoria dreamed of a lace dress for her big day, and the style is so perfect for her.  We used the same little bridal salon in Waterford, Michigan for both Lauren and Victoria's dresses.  It isn't in a posh neighborhood but I would recommend it to anyone. For anyone in the Oakland County, MI area, the name of the shop is Adorabelle, and the ladies who work there have "the gift".
We walked in with a budget that would make the snooty salons sniff in dismay, but in both cases, after seeing the girls try on dresses and getting a feel for what they wanted, this dear lady would say, "Let me get a dress I think you'll like".  In both cases she nailed it.  Both dresses fit perfectly off the rack, (Victoria's needed to be hemmed but that is all) and both were amazingly beautiful, designer dresses that were very deeply discounted.  She has a large area of discontinued dresses with great prices and good selection, neither of  my girls found dresses in that section of the store, I don't know how she does it, but she knows her stock and she is gifted in finding the perfect dress.

Victoria got her lace dress with the most beautiful lace train.

Instead of buying a veil for $150-$200 I made her veil from tulle I had on hand and lace that she ordered with a coupon from Joanne Fabrics.  Total cost $50.


I had a mixed bag of success with the flowers.  Victoria decided from the beginning that she wanted zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and pretty much anything pink, peach or coral that we could grow.  Earl tilled up a cutting garden area and Victoria planted.  Outcome? We didn't plant nearly enough for the table centerpieces and window boxes we used.  I was able to cut a lot of flowers out of the garden, but I really would have been better off money and time wise, to just buy them all from the farmers market.  We spent $45 on the dahlia bulbs and seeds, and another $200 on farmers market flowers and a couple bunches of roses from Costco.  Still, I count this as a very big success budget wise. 
 The lowest price I have found for wedding flowers would be Sams club or Costco, and even those places would charge  $800 and up for the wedding flowers for a party with 10 attendants. It would also include centerpieces for only 6 tables not the 14 tables we decorated.  For my $250 we made:
the brides bouquet
5 bridesmaids bouquets
6 boutonnieres
14 centerpieces
10 long window boxes full of flowers
Not bad if I say so myself! 

  This dahlia is the only one that bloomed in time for the wedding, it was the perfect color though and I used two of these along with white hydrangea, pink hydrangea, a couple of Costco roses, dusty miller, peppermint, thyme, and sweet autumn clematis for the Bridal bouquet.  All but the roses came from my garden.

The bridesmaids carried zinnias, dusty miller, white hydrangea, queen anne's lace, and the herbs along with some of the Costco roses.  Something I learned along the way? Dusty miller (the gray/green foliage) is not a long lasting way to add green to the bouquets. Without water they wilt very quickly, so I can't recommend it.  However, it lasted long enough for photos and the ceremony.

 The venue was beautiful, it's our town's community center which is only 2 years old.  They don't have a website and I wouldn't have found them if I hadn't thought to stop and inquire about the facility.  It was a happy circumstance.  You may remember I planned an outdoor reception at the family farm. This venue actually cost less than renting a tent, tables, chairs, and dishes, not to mention it saved me from worries about parking, bathroom facilities, and weather.  In fact, the venue included very nice china, glassware and silverware in the rental price. One wall was windows and we alternated the beautiful window boxes Earl made from scrap wood we had on hand (free), with the lanterns I had left over from Lauren's wedding. The tissue poms in the windows added another punch of color and cost about $1 each ($50)
This is handsome son in law #1 getting the sweetheart table ready before the bride and groom arrived.  I made the lighted curtain behind him from muslin stapled to a board and icicle lights hung from cup hooks.  We then tied the board to the heavy wood blinds and pulled the whole shebang to the top of the window. Again, I used items I had left over from Lauren's wedding and it cost me nothing.  As the sun went down it made a beautiful backdrop.

The sweetheart table, cake table, and gift table were covered in my collection of vintage quaker lace tablecloths found for a few dollars at yard sales.  You can't see it well, but I also gathered a bolt of tulle (about $10) to skirt each table and lined it with more muslin that I had on hand.  All of the tables had centerpieces in milk glass similar to the one on the sweetheart table. I used my own collection and borrowed the rest from a friend. (Cost $0 for the containers, flower prices are listed above.)

The Cake

Victoria and I went to a darling little bakery in our home town, they do beautiful work and the cake tasting was a lot of fun...until they gave us the quote. $800 for a cake to feed 130 people!
Now I know that a gorgeous cake takes a lot of work but holy cats! It's a piece of cake for pity sake.
Enter this gorgeous girl.

Kayla is Victoria's cousin. She works in a bakery in New York City and was kind enough to put her culinary skills to work for us for free.

The cake was beautiful and delicious! Chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache and raspberry mousse filling. Earl put his woodworking skills to good use again and made the wooden pedestal to display the cake on.  We saved about $750.  Score!  A big thanks to Aunt Karen for the photo which I stole from her blog, I actually missed the cake cutting because I was off  talking to guests. 
 Bad mommy.


Photographers are one of those huge expenses, and everyone will tell you that if you are going to splurge on anything you should make sure it's on your photos.  With packages running $1000-$3000 and up, there is a lot of room for savings. And do you know what you get for those prices? A thumb drive. Seriously, for that amount of money you then have to find a professional printer and order photos.  Victoria decided she really just wanted a fantastic portrait to frame.  How often do you really pull out those wedding photos and go through them? The portrait is the thing really, so she hired a friend who does wedding photography as a side business and whose work she was familiar with for a couple hours for a few hundred dollars. This photographer's prices included some actual hard copy photos professionally printed, another big plus!

and she got some great photos, including the photo up a few pictures from this one of the bridesmaids!
I love the portraits she took of my girl :>)

I also love this pic of the love of my life and I ♥

 But the flower girls daddy brought his gee whiz camera too, and he sure knows how to use it.

The photo below turned out to be the one she loves for her portrait.
Photo by the flower girl's daddy.

 He also caught these..

 The handsome groom and his beautiful bride:>) I love this photo of him dipping her, both of them so happy.

And her 17 and 19 year old cousins captured the ones below.

If you have guests with good cameras, chances are they know how to use them! They also have the time (unlike the mother of the bride!) to get some great shots.  Ask friends and family to get all the pictures they can and send them to you. You might be amazed at the wonderful shots you get that way, and all for free:>)
We saved thousands of dollars and her wedding was one of the best nights ever!  I hope these tips help some of you plan a great wedding that you'll remember, not because of a monthly bill, but because it was the wonderful night it is meant to be.
For those of you who have already been through the wedding process, I would love to hear cost saving strategies and tips that you learned along the way too!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The New Home Office

This post doesn't come with pretty pictures.  Just the bare, cold truth. 
We are now empty nesters.
This is all that is left of our baby's room.  Some pictures she still has to take to her new home, moving boxes under the bed, and her childhood bed waiting to go on Craigslist.
I even left the dirt on the floor for this picture because I am all about being real here and the dirt is about as real as it gets.
Also, I just haven't gotten around to sweeping yet.
So here we are. We have to remind ourselves not to turn on the front porch light for her at night anymore. We keep her spot in the driveway open.
It's a lot quieter.
What to do?  This sunny little room is about to become Earl's new home office.
Which means his old office is about to become my home office and craft room.
Changes, you have to roll with them right?
Stay tuned:>)

Monday, August 18, 2014