Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wedding Hacks

I promise to keep this post-wedding post a tad shorter than the last one (sorry!).

Today's topic: Time saving wedding hacks

I planned my wedding while teaching three dozen fifth graders.  I was all about time saving hacks.

Time saver one: Address stamps

By far one of the best purchases we made.  We ordered this one with our first names and used it on the engagement shower invites, save the dates, bridal shower invites, wedding invitations, and thank you cards.



We also ordered one with our last name for wedding thank you's and every day mailing.

Not only did it save a lot of time (which is crucial when you mail things out in groups of 100), but it also meant B had no excuse not to help.  I'd address the envelopes, he'd stuff them, seal them, stamp them, and place the postage stamp on them. 




Time saver two: Numbering the RSVP cards

We used an excel doc to keep track of our wedding information.  We numbered the reply cards to correspond with the number on the excel doc and my oh my, what a life saver!




Some of our guests forgot to put their names on the cards, so instead of guessing, we just checked the back.

Time hack 3: Favors

I wasn't about to hand write 150 small cards.  For me, it was worth it to order favor tags on Etsy:







Sometimes it's worth it to spend a little to save your sanity.  My bridesmaids definitely appreciated not having to hand write each of those small cards.  Making the favors and getting the twine to cooperate was difficult enough.

While not necessarily a time saver, I am a huge advocate of back up wedding shoes.

I loved my wedding heels, but it was a long day.  I picked up bejeweled flip flops for a few bucks and discretely changed into them after dinner.  




They were the same height as my heels, so my dress wasn't damaged in any way.

I also ordered many items from Etsy (bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts, gifts for my mom and his mom, cards, etc).  I asked for discounts if I was buying in bulk (6 or more of something) and many vendors happily obliged.  Every little bit helps!

We (my hubby and I) also set aside time each week to discuss the wedding. I did my best to not bombard him every day with details, so instead we had a thirty minute chat once a week about the progress of different aspects.  He knew ahead of time so he could focus and I was respectful not to ask to talk about the wedding when he was working on homework, watching football, or playing video games.

We also made sure our entire lives didn't revolve around the wedding.  We still went on dates. We celebrated friends' milestones.  We lived our lives without devoting every spare second to focusing on the wedding.

It's an important day. It's an exciting day. But it's not the only day that matters.  Keep the long term goal of a happy marriage in the front of your mind when wedding planning and hopefully the bridezilla moments will stay at a minimum.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Just a few of my favorite things (Wedding/Engagement related)

**Notice: This is a lengthy post because I fully enjoyed planning my wedding.  It contains products we used (I'm not paid for endorsements) and ways we saved money (because weddings are expensive). 

With the stress of the wedding safely behind me, I can now pause and reflect upon some of my favorite aspects of the day (and the days leading up to the event).

I had a long engagement and it was phenomenal.  We were engaged on July 4, 2015 and married on November 11, 2016.  

We lived together in the home we purchased before marriage, so there wasn't that rush to get married quickly.  Having a long engagement meant I didn't feel pressured to make any snap decisions.  It also meant I could spread out expenses, which is easier for the budget.

I took my time on creating table decor and favors.  I waited out coupons for Shutterfly (invites) and Joann's for crafting purposes.  

We toured several venues and toured two more than once.  We could discuss our choices and it didn't feel like every spare moment of our lives was devoted to wedding planning (which B appreciated).

A long engagement also meant I could read way too many articles (pinterest, bridal magazines, the knot, etc) on wedding planning.  After spending lots of time in the bridal aisles of local craft stores and attending bridal planning events, I realized I didn't really like a lot of the bridal trends and overly elaborate weddings.

I like burlap as much as the next crafty gal, but an entire wedding devoted to it? No thanks.  Overly rustic and mason jars everywhere wasn't my husband's taste.  So I used burlap, lace, and mason jars at my bridal shower instead!




Cute for me, just not representative of us as a couple.  So I had it at my bridal shower (which was amazingly me: pink, polka dots, lace, burlap, glitter, and Harry Potter with an elegant feel.  I am very blessed with amazing friends and family.)

Other wedding trends: rhinestones and feathers? Absolutely not.

Elaborate programs? We passed.  Fancy place cards? We passed.  

Instead, we found small ways to incorporate our interests into the big day in several ways.

One: Our Fur Babies

I got vetoed on having our dog as our ring bearer.  So instead, we used our pets to announce our wedding date.







(Correction, we tried. They didn't always cooperate.)

Two: Crafting & Couponing

So anything related to weddings can be super expensive.  Plain white flower girl baskets are over $20 and super bland.

Instead, I snagged some after Easter for 70% off, added ribbon in our wedding colors, added fake flowers, and made 2 for around $12.




I also made our card box.  I picked up this vintage inspired suitcase at Ross a few years ago, then added burlap flowers and a banner (pre-made letters and paint).  Total cost? $5 and an hour of my time.  I got to use the card box at my bridal shower and the wedding. 




The best part? Now that the wedding is over, it's back in the corner and stores seasonal napkins.  

I liked these frames at Joann's, but not at $12.99 for 4 (we needed 5 packs).  




So slowly over time, we picked up a pack at a time with a 40% off coupon.  I'll be using some of the frames as thank you gifts once we receive our formal wedding pictures back.



(Completed table numbers)

As I mentioned above, we skipped making programs.  Who really saves those anyway?

Instead, I waited until I had a super coupon to Joann's and picked up this chalk frame for $12 (originally $40).  With some erasable chalk paint and vinyl stickers, we provided our guests with all the information they needed:





Plus we can reuse the chalkboard sign.  His cousin Tony is getting married in May and his fiance asked to borrow the board (which is fine of course).

We also skipped place cards (because guests would probably lose them due to lack of pockets on dresses and the open bar factor) and used picture frames to display table information:




Plus, we can now reuse the frames for pictures in our home.  Win win! (Except B doesn't count this as a win because he has to hang them.)

Three: Football

It's not a secret that we are avid football fans and fiercely loyal to our teams.

We used this football in our engagement pictures:






And as the garter toss at the wedding.  (Not pictured: "Great Catch, You're Next!").  The groomsman didn't remember to take it home (cough open bar cough), so it's now on our mantle.

We took engagement pictures in our jerseys with #11 (but in our teams).




I surprised him with Broncos socks (for his cold feet) and a new #11 Somma jersey on our wedding day.  


I also got myself a jersey as well because I could (and I had a coupon).

But due to miscommunication, we didn't get wedding pictures with our new jerseys.  Oh well! Perhaps we'll use our matching Somma jerseys for our Christmas cards next year.

Four: Documenting moments

We had a photo guestbook made from our engagement pictures, but not everyone signed it (it happens).  Because of this, I'm so glad we did other small things to document the events.

For our engagement shower, we had guests sign a vase:







It now sits on the media stand (with fake flowers) so we get to enjoy it each day.  We also used the "be our guest" sign at our wedding (see above) and it now sits in our guest bedroom.  I'm all about using things multiple times!

At my bridal shower, I had guests sign my "kiss the miss goodbye" frame.  We used sample lip wands and cheap, vibrant lipstick so we wouldn't share cooties.  I then framed a picture with 2 of my bridesmaids.




We also had our bridal party & family sign one of the large S's that I painted. 




The S was also used in our engagement pictures and will soon hang on the wall.  For now, it sits on the ledge.

Lastly, we followed advice on pinterest and mailed the First Family an invitation.  I was a little anxious that we'd get a congrats card from Trump, but low and behold, a few days before their last days in the White House (which I'm still in denial about), we received our congratulations card from the White House.




What a fun keepsake!

Batman

My lovely husband couldn't care less about what our cake topper looked like.  So I ordered this beauty off of Etsy:





It was the same cost as generic "S" ones at the store, but way more meaningful.

It now sits on the Batman shelf at home, along with our wedding toasting flutes (a Marshall's find), and some of our wedding flowers.




I had a Batman themed garter as well, compliments of one of my bridesmaids.




Keeping with tradition, it had blue in it!  It was also way more fun than a traditional (bland) white and blue garter.

Harry Potter

I had a magical (pun intended) "Muggle to Mrs." themed shower.  




My MOH gifted me with the most amazing ring bearer box:






Which my brother has already called dibs on for his future wedding.


We also took advantage with this iconic chapter title: (The Unbreakable Vow):




I've been asked if I'm sad our "big day" is over.  My answer? Nope. It was wonderful to plan, it was a wonderful day, but my life isn't over.  There are plenty of big days ahead.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Resolutions



Seeing how we're over a week into 2017, I guess I should get around to posting my goals.  By sharing them, I'm more likely to be accountable for them.



I've been making steady progress with this goal.  Last month I finished (finally) There's Nothing Worse Than Witches and started The Hammer of Thor.  I've been trying to read a few chapters each night and type up notes about the novel as I go.  I'm currently on chapter 22 (of around 60), so we're counting this as a win.  As I {previously shared}, I've got the goal of at least one book per month.




With report card comments due soon, this one has been a tad more difficult to follow. 



I didn't stay past 5 any day this week and didn't really bring any work home for the weekend, which are both steps in the right direction.  I'm trying to preserve my morning times as quiet, productive moments. 

On the bright side, I was selected to attend an educator's conference in Anaheim at the end of March.  I'll be going with three other teachers from my school as well as my principal. I've heard of the guest speakers, but haven't read their books yet.  I'm hopeful we'll get free copies at the conference.  



Yes, I am easily bribed with free books.  Fingers crossed!




I {previously shared} my resignation letter for Jamberry.  We're going through our closets and donating what no longer fits, we don't wear, or is no longer reflective of who we are.  Tonight we're going through our mugs (we have a lot) and donating ones that aren't sentimental or reflective of us as a couple.

I'm also applying this to friendships or relationships with people. I tend to over-invest in people, then are hurt when they don't reciprocate.  I'm investing less in these toxic relationships (because some I have to keep professionally). I'm keeping my boundaries (they aren't a bad thing) and letting go of things (and relationships) that don't bring me joy.

Our wedding was expensive.  We took every possible avenue to cut expenses and use coupons (more on that later), but it was still an expensive day. 

We've also had some unexpected expenses lately (new tires), planned expenses (water softener, couch repair, bedroom set, security door), and an impulse buy (new TV, but for more than half off because of gift cards and Black Friday sales).

Unfortunately, as a teacher, I don't make a lot.  (Yes, I know my job is rewarding and I'm in it for the outcome, but cliches aside, I work really hard and it'd be nice to be compensated more for my time).

However, we're taking lots of steps towards financial freedom. We've paid off our couch repair, new TV, the surprise tires he needed, and our new water softener.  I paid off my car this week and have two payments left on our second security door.  We're paying off all our credit card debt within the next few months and eating out less to not only be healthier, but because it's cheaper.  

We're using Ibotta, cartwheel, and coupons as often as possible. We've limited our spending to food, gifts for others, and bills.  We had a financial check in with a consultant, fund our savings each month, and have set realistic financial goals together as a couple. 

We've mapped out our big expenses for the year (new mattress, new tires for me, home warranty, wedding & baby shower gifts) and luckily, they're pretty spread out.  We are both also working overtime because we'd like to take a Disneyland trip in the upcoming months, but don't want to acquire new debt to do so.



We're using our upcoming tax return to fund our savings and tackle home improvement projects, which will only add value to our home for when we eventually sell and move.

It's difficult at times to say no to the pretty things at Marshall's, but I know in the long term, a mattress is more important.  

But still...



#adulting.

It's really easy to focus on the negatives.  Teaching is hard.  My students, as lovely as they are, can be exhausting at times because of their behavior choices and fluctuating hormones (which they can't always control).  People (and pets) get sick and that's scary.  I am legitimately terrified by the new cabinet and President.  2016 was particularly brutal with the number of deaths (both personal and public icons).

However, focusing on the negatives and complaining doesn't really do any good.  Yes, I understand the need to vent.  However, I'm putting into place the idea of venting about a particular issue to just 1-2 people, then letting it go.  



More importantly, I picked up a grateful journal and am writing in it each night.  (Found at Marshall's for a few bucks.)



We also started a jar for 2017. Every time something awesome happens, we add it to the jar.  



To be fair, I am way more into this then B is, but it'll be nice to look at on New Year's Eve.


I don't like the word diet and I don't like saying I'll completely cut something out of my life.  Instead, we're focusing on healthy habits.  Coincidentally, I'm also participating in Biggest Loser at work, so that money pot is a financial incentive.  B is totally on board with healthy habits, which makes a huge difference because I have support at home and at school. 

We're cooking more at home and eating earlier in the evening.  I'm taking Waffles on her morning walks, but we've also added in evening walks which benefits everyone.  He is really excited about a yoga DVD set, so we're trying to incorporate those work outs a few times per week. We're working on portion sizes and I've cut down on soda consumption. Instead of viewing soda as an every day drink, I'm limiting myself to 12 ounces per day and as a reward instead of a frequent drink.  We're adding healthy snacks to the fridge as go-to items and I'm adding a dash of lemonade to my water in the morning for flavor.  

We've also got cheat meals planned and enjoy them.  Last night we went to Olive Garden, but didn't eat all of our meals.  I had two bowls of soup, salad, and a small bit of my pasta.  The rest was taken home and split into 2 smaller meals.  

One of the best healthy habits tips I read was to ask for a to go box when you order food at a restaurant.  Before you start eating, box up half of it for a later meal.  Automatic portion control!



My last goal is an all-encompassing one.  At the end of the day, my family matters. My husband matters. My overall health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) matters.  My pets matter. My friends matter.

My job is important, but it doesn't define me.  There will always be more work that can be done. There won't always be more time to enjoy being a newlywed. There won't always be time to enjoy my (future) children when they're little.  (Not a pregnancy announcement, kids are still in the distant future, not on the horizon.)

I'm vowing to spend more time on the big, important things.



What are your new year's resolutions?