Posts in the 'Guest Bloggers' Category
Hey-o! Today we’ve got Michael from The Honeymoon Guy here to talk about how you, yes you Broke-Asses, can (wisely) use those rewards credit cards to rack up some serious mileage to get you a luxurious but low-cost honeymoon. Now, we never EVER advocate going into debt for your wedding day (work with the dollaz you’ve got, yo!) but if you’re smart with your credit and are able to make the appropriate payments, this is a really wise way to get the most bang for your buck.
When my wife Patty and I returned from our around-the-world honeymoon, we got a lot of questions from friends and family on how we did it without breaking the bank. So I created The Honeymoon Guy website to provide tips and guidance to help others get a champagne honeymoon on a beer budget. The site is useful whether you want to take an elaborate trip like ours or you’re a broke-ass just hoping for a week-on-the-beach honeymoon.
Our honeymoon included a visit to Malcapuya Beach in the Philippines. The white sand beach was powdery, the snorkeling was spectacular and the fresh mangoes were delicious. And our flights and lodging were nearly free!
For most honeymoons, the two biggest costs are lodging and air travel, in that order. So to minimize the cost of a honeymoon while maintaining luxury, you’ll want to focus on reducing the cost of accommodations and flights.
Frequent flyer miles, hotel points and free night awards earned via credit cards are key to doing so. Now, that probably doesn’t seem surprising. It may even be a letdown to read that as you’ve certainly heard of frequent flier programs and you may be thinking, “I’ve been religiously putting all my spending on a single airline-branded credit card for years and I barely have enough for a single flight.” If so, you’ve been doing it all wrong.
Here’s why: Banks that issue credit cards know that a key to their business is getting new accounts. They offer incredibly lucrative bonuses such as two free nights at any hotel in their chain worldwide (total value often exceeding $1,000) or even 100,000 frequent flier miles, just for signing up for a new card.
By taking advantage of these offers, Patty and I were able to honeymoon in Maui, Tokyo, the Philippines and South Africa and almost all of our lodging and flights (many in business/first class) were free!
You can do what we did – strategically earn such large signup bonuses that you can nearly eliminate the main costs of your honeymoon.
Here are a few specific tips to get started:
- Once you’ve determined your desired honeymoon location(s), survey the airlines that fly to/from your desired destination(s) and the lodging options. You’ll want to look for hotels owned by companies like Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, etc. as they have rewards programs. Note that these brands do have some all-inclusive properties.
- Research the rewards programs for the relevant airlines and hotels to determine the number of frequent flyer miles and rewards points you’ll need. Then search the Internet or visit my site to find the best credit card signup bonuses for the relevant rewards program.
With free night awards from credit card signup bonuses you can stay at hotels such as the Andaz Maui, shown here, or even at all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica, Cancun and Los Cabos!
- Sign up for the credit cards with the best bonuses and be certain to meet the promotion requirements. Some cards may have minimum spending requirements which can seem intimidating at first but there are various ways to time-shift your purchases, use the cards to pay your rent or mortgage, or “manufacture spending” to meet the requirements.
- Realize that both you and your fiance can get the same credit card. For example, if a card offers a signup bonus of two free nights at any hotel, by both getting it you can earn four consecutive nights at a luxurious hotel for free!
- Keep track of your credit card signups using a spreadsheet. You can create your own or simply download a free spreadsheet I created.
- Divide and conquer. If you’re taking the lead on the wedding planning, let your fiance take the lead on the honeymoon planning. That way the tasks are split evenly-ish and everything gets done!
With the miles, points and free night awards you earn, book your dream honeymoon!
One key note: Though many people may think so, having a lot of credit cards does not hurt your credit score and in many cases it will actually increase your credit score in the long run (see my Credit Score page for further explanation).
With just a few hours of research – a fraction of the time you’re devoting to wedding planning – you can save thousands of dollars and elevate your honeymoon from standard to unforgettable.
One thing I see over and over again are couples who have issues with a vendor’s performance, and don’t quite know how to proceed. For instance, I just heard about a wedding photographer who has not delivered prints for a wedding that happened two years ago. Can you imagine?
Here are the steps I suggest you take when you have a conflict with your vendor, and you are not yet ready to hire a wedding lawyer. Please note that these are general steps. Every case is different.
1) Gather all of your supporting documents. Hopefully you have a contract with your vendor. This will likely be the most important document. Whether you have a contract or not, gather all of your emails, text messages and voicemails. You really want to organize whatever correspondence you have with your vendor. If you have a relevant voicemail on your phone, note that you may need to have that message officially recorded so that a court may listen to it. At the very least, be sure to transcribe it for now.
2) Review the documents. Try to find the place where the vendor agreed to do whatever s/he did not do, or did negligently. For instance, with the wedding photographer example, you would try to find the place in the documents where the photographer agreed to deliver the photos by date “x.”
3) Draft up a demand letter. Draft a letter, and attach all relevant documentation. Keep the letter professional, and leave your emotions out of it. Even when there is conflict, you will still catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be polite, but firm. Be sure you clearly spell out all relevant facts in chronological order. In your concluding paragraph, specify what you want. For instance, using the above example, if you want your photographs, then specifically ask for those. If you want your money back, then ask for that.
4) Include a response time. Give the vendor a reasonable deadline to respond to your letter. I personally, generally, like 2 weeks. Make it clear to the vendor that if the conflict is not appropriately handled, then you will proceed with contacting an attorney or filing a lawsuit.
5) Send the letter. Send the letter via fax (yes, fax machines still exist!), or email and send a hard copy. You might also consider sending it via certified mail. You want some kind of verification that your letter was received.
6) Be patient. Wait for a response. Hopefully you will get one, by your deadline. This can be a frustrating time. Also, demand letters are the first step, and not always productive. Try not to think about the wait too much. During the wait, catch up on your blog reading.
7) Follow up. If you don’t get a response by the deadline, follow up. You can follow up by sending a concise letter or email and attaching the initial demand letter. Simply stating something to the effect of
“Dear Vendor: I have not received a response to my letter of December 28. I remain prepared to file a lawsuit. Kindly let me know if you have any response.”
You know your vendor, so apply the follow up principle according to his or her personality and what you think will be the most effective language. Don’t forget to be polite, though!
8) Consider your next steps. If you still don’t receive a response, or the response isn’t what you wanted, considering filing a lawsuit or consulting with an attorney. Contact your local small claims office to determine if the amount of damages fits into the jurisdictional cap, which varies by state. In California, for instance, the cap is $10,000, with some exceptions. Other states have caps of $5,000. The information will likely be set forth on the court website.
If your claim is more than the jurisdictional amount, then it would be advisable to consult with counsel. Although small claims cases are generally informal, and friendly to non-lawyers, non- small claims cases are much more complex.
You should not hesitate to move forward if you feel you’ve been wronged. There are finite time limitations on causes of action. So, don’t delay in proceeding with whatever course of action you
As always, you can consult with an attorney. Your case may be too complex for small claims court. And, if you do go to small claims court, the key to winning is having an organized and succinct argument with supporting evidence. A wedding lawyer can help coach you to success.
Christie Asselin is a sixth year, California licensed, litigation attorney with a background in personal injury and business disputes. In 2012, she began to explore legal issues related to weddings including vendor negotiation, and contract review. She loves all things weddings and has a personal and deep love of Gwen Stefani’s wedding gown. She also adores Oceana roses, and cathedral-length wedding veils. You may visit her website at: yourweddinglawyer.com.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information stated above is general legal information, and not legal advice. Please also note that the author is admitted only to the California State Bar, and to no other state. Attorney Advertising. This communication may be considered attorney advertising. Previous results are not a guarantee of future outcome. No Attorney Client Relationship. The use of any content provided in this article and your provision or submission of any information while using this site will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Ms. Asselin. Please be aware that any information that you provide by reason of your use of this article is not privileged or confidential. The content of this article is provided solely for informational purposes: it is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax, career and/or other professional
I believe that it’s not enough to simply survive planning your wedding, you should thrive and feel like a Boss while you’re doing it. Here are five wedding planning habits to start practicing now that will help.
Let’s start with the money, first:
1.Multiplication. Avoid sticker shock that every couple goes through, and remember that you are buying in bulk. For example, Chiavari chairs for $10 each? Multiply by 100 = $1o00. $2000 if you’re getting another set for the reception.
2.Ask about the other STDs – Service, Tax and Delivery. Always. Everyone who is delivering a product – your photographer, your photo booth, your cake – is going to charge tax, plus a delivery or travel fee. Your venue and your caterer will charge tax, plus a service fee. Here in Los Angeles, that’s usually adds up to 30% of the bill, on top of the bill, turning your $85 per person dinner into $110.50 per person. Multiply that by 100 …
3. Your last question to any potential vendor needs to be, “Is there anything else I need to know?” There are many unknown unknowns in wedding planning — the stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know, or need to know. Asking this question will give the opportunity for your vendor to go over anything they might have missed in their spiel, but are mentioned in the contract, or cover concerns other couples should have had. Things like, late fees, open fire permits, parking, vendor meals. That question might lead to more questions, but there are never too many questions. Or answers, for that matter.
And then there’s the mindset:
4. Treat this like any other shopping trip. This past weekend, I walked through Bloomingdales – like an idiot – to get to the rest of the mall, and I was stopped dead by an ankle length full-sweeping silk skirt. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that’s My Style. $598? No. I took a picture of it so I can maybe find it cheaper online, and then skipped over to Banana Republic and bought another ankle-length sweeping skirt for $75. My point is, that with every vendor, every service, you have alternatives. The last thing you look at is not the only option you have. It’s not only being able to afford it, maybe you just don’t like it. As an ex-bride of mine once said to the hovering bridal salon sales lady, “I know I look good in it, I just don’t feel good in it!” Feel good in it, feel good about it, whatever it is. If you don’t, move on.
5. Keep reminding yourself that you are not a victim of your wedding. This wedding isn’t something that’s happening to you, you’re not being forced to pay $110 per person for dinner on a Saturday night. If you start thinking otherwise, or continue thinking that way, you are going to be very, very unhappy through this whole thing. Throwing a wedding is a choice that you are making. That can be frustrating, or it can be empowering: You get to choose how you’re going to do it, what your wedding is going to look like, or if you’re going to do it all. You get to say “Yes,” and you also get to say, “No,” and your reasons for doing either are perfectly valid, okay? So, stay empowered and don’t confuse “want to” with “have to.”
You’ve got this.
What are some habits that you’re already starting with your wedding planning? And what do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments below. And if you would like more information about me and my little area of Wedding World, visit www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
Real Bride Kate‘s Aussie fiance, Daniel Gullotta, used to work in fine jewelry and was kind enough to provide our readers with insider’s tips on how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to wedding jewelry. This guide is the next best thing to having him with you when you go shopping! And when it’s all said and done, don’t forget to get your ring insured. Often when you have an expensive piece of jewelry, you’ll need it listed separately on your insurance policy with proof of its purchase and value. For instance, your policy could cover $30,000 worth of losses, but generally only a few thousand of that can be jewelry, so if you have an expensive piece or family heirlooms, it would require a separate rider or an overall bump in your coverage. Check with your insurance provider to be certain! Although insurance money is a cold comfort in the face of the devastating emotional blow of loss/theft, it’s definitely better than starting again from scratch. – Mellzah
So gentlemen, you want to get engaged, huh? Well, first off congratulations! This is an exciting time in your lives and it’s something that should be celebrated. You guys are taking a big step together and getting engaged should be one of the more enjoyable things to do. Sadly, with the pressures of a century of jewellery companies and the influence of Nicholas Sparks novels and countless romantic comedies, getting engaged seems to have become a nightmare because of one little piece of jewellery: the engagement ring. In my previous life, while I was taking a break from my academic endeavours, for two years I was a jewellery salesperson for one of Australia’s leading jewellers. I worked for one of the major stores that many people used as a reference to begin their searches, so needless to say, I have suggested, designed, and sold a lot of engagement rings to a lot of different people. Some of these people came in well-prepared and very educated on what they believed was expected of them by their partners and others came in clueless and in desperate need of guidance. So if you are reading this, allow me to take you through some tricks of the trade, some tips on getting a good deal, and some advice about finding the right engagement ring for you and your partner.
As a side note, I would like to stress my use of inclusive language because I have sold plenty of engagement rings to LGBTI couples who want to formally commit to their relationship. Buying engagement rings is a practice not just for heterosexual couples. In fact, I have sold some utterly gorgeous rings to same-sex couples. And, as a man who is typing this article wearing an engagement ring given to him by his lovely partner, Kate, engagement rings are not just for women as well. Engagement and engagement rings are not just for women who are having their fairy tale dreams come true, they can be for anyone and everyone who desires to formally and symbolically pronounce their engagement.
Let Your Desires Be Known
This is the first piece of advice I always give to people whenever I hear young people expressing that they want to get their partner an engagement ring. Does your partner know your desire to get engaged? Do they have a clue that you are planning? Do they know how much you intend to spend on the ring? Are you sure they are going to say “yes” if you propose? The reason why I inquire about this is because it answers a lot of questions straight away, and it also helps with piece of mind. If you are going to get engaged, this means you are about to begin sharing your finances and financial commitments with another person – maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually you are going to have to start budgeting for your wedding and other expenses. So, while you may be able to afford an $8000 ring, how much do you imagine spending on the wedding and how soon will you need that money for the wedding? Now, you do not have to let your partner know how much you are going to spend on the ring, but in my experience, partners have a way of finding this out. I think it is good to ask, “Honey, if I was going to buy you an engagement ring, how much do you think is a reasonable amount to spend?” Once I assisted a young man who thought he was going to have to spend close to $5000 on an engagement ring for his partner, but seeing how stressed and pale it made him, I advised him to discuss that with his partner. He came back a few days later very relieved and he informed me that his partner said, “If you spend that much on a ring, you are an idiot.” So, it pays (or rather saves) to communicate. Perhaps I am not being romantic about this, and I am ruining the grand and lovely surprise of it all, but honestly, if your engagement comes as a complete and utter shock, I think you two may need to start communicating a little better.
The other reason why I stress this is because of the chance of rejection and how that will affect your purchase. The worst scenario I have seen was a man who bought his partner an engagement ring which he was going to give to her on their anniversary trip to Bali, being almost two months away. He returned months later with the receipt, the box, the bag, and the ring and asked if he could get his money back because his partner was unhappy with their relationship. She had wanted to talk about it for a long time and with their tickets and hotel booked for Bali, she had wanted to wait until they got home. The engagement ring was a shock and too much and she let her true feelings be known. As sad as that was, my store had polices to follow, and the ring was long out of its return period and had even left the country. We could not give him his money back, and this created one of the biggest stresses in my career as a jewellery salesman. After weeks of back-and-forth dialogue from our legal team and him, the best we could offer him was a gift card for our store which he used to buy a luxury watch, and even then, he was still not happy at all. Yet, I have heard worse, far worse, and people have walked away with even less than that. So please, let your intentions be known and start talking to your partner about the future.
Their Style, Not What’s in Style
The other reason why I say it’s good to talk to one another about this is so you can get their style and desires right. Yellow gold or white gold? Diamonds or rubies or emeralds? How many stones? What sort of cut? What sort of design? The amount of choices can be overwhelming and this is where an important choice has to be made, even before you get into the jewellery store. To look at rings together or go in solo? Both choices are right, and it really depends the couple. Going in solo will take determination and research, but it shows great initiative and allows you the element of surprise. However, bringing your partner in with you can save you a lot of stress and time; plus sometimes their expectations from magazines and movies are not the same once they try it in the store. From my own experience, I am very glad I talked to Kate about rings and took her into various jewellery stores to get a better sense of what her style was. If I had it my way, I would have gone with a single solitaire round set in white gold with six claw prongs. Simple, classic, and timeless I thought, but to Kate, it was overused, dull, and simply not her. While Kate wanted a round stone and white gold (I got that much right), she wanted a few more stones to help the ring stand out a little and be special, and thus I started look at rings I had never originally intended to look at. From Kate’s own perspective, she had always imagined getting a ruby for an engagement ring stone, but when she saw how they had very little shine and no sparkle, her mind was quickly changed.
The Six Cs: Cut, Colour, Clarity, Carat-Weight, Compromise and Cost
When it comes to the actual science and art of selecting a stone, the most important thing to know is the four Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat-weight. Most jewelry stores, if not all, will have flyers or stands with this information and will demonstrate where the stone you are looking at fits into these categories. The fifth and sixth Cs that no one talks about are compromise and cost. Undoubtedly, these are what will define what you exit the store with. However, one of the most common questions I get is which c is the most important? What is the one that really matters? It’s a good question, but there is no universal answer – it really depends on the person, and you must remember that all of these factors work together in producing what your stone is going to be. So there is no perfect way to determine what is more important: that is up to you and your wallet.
The cut of the stone, before we get into the science of it, will determine how the stone looks, and getting this right is the most important thing because it’s what your partner will wear. If they wanted a square cut stone (a princess cut) and you present them with a round stone (a brilliant cut), that is a big mistake. However, the cut is important because it speaks to the proportions of the stone and that in turn affects the dispersion of light through the stone. Simply put, the cut determines how much sparkle and fire your stone can get on its best days in the best lights. This ranges from excellent to very good to good around the crown, girdle, and pavilion, each with its own grading. A stone with an excellent cut crown, girdle, and pavilion is the most desirable and is known as triple excellent cut or flawless cut. However, these stones are rare because in order to create a stone with a flawless cut, the stone itself must have very few flaws to work with. Thus, generally, most stones on the market are good to very good and some with excellent qualities such as just the crown or just the pavilion.
Next is colour. When it comes to diamonds, they are graded from D to Z: D for diamond being the best and colourless. The ranges differ from jeweller to jeweler, but in my experience D-F are generally considered colourless or rare-white stones, G-H are near colourless or white stones, and J-M are faintly yellow or off-white stones, and so on. However, let me stress something here: there is no exact scientific way to grade the colour of stones. Do not be fooled: all colours are graded by the eye and one person’s H grade is another’s J. The difference in colour can be subtle or striking and this depends the range you find yourself in. In my experience, due to cost, the range most people find themselves in is about the G-H range, as these are whiter stones but still relatively affordable.
The one the most people do not like knowing too much about is clarity, which is a polite way of putting how many flaws and inclusions as stone has. The reason why this matters is because these inclusions interfere with how much light passes through the stone. The fewer inclusions to mess with the dispersion of light, the more shine and sparkle you are going to get. Some cannot be seen by the naked eye, and generally these are very small inclusions, others are slight and take a trained eye to see, but some contain small spots that can be seen, and in my experience, they are known to drive people crazy. And this is where I want to stress something: do not get caught up in the clarity game. Unless you are stupidly wealthy, if you want a natural stone, whether it’s a diamond or a ruby or whatever, it is going to have flaws. Accept that fact and move on. Seriously, take a deep breath and move on. My advice to you is to go for something with small inclusions that you cannot see with the naked eye. It’s good to know where they are and how big they are, so ask the salesperson to show you with a magnifying glass. Once you look through the glass, remove it and see if you can still notice the inclusion. If you can and it’s striking, the stone is probably not good. However, if you can’t, you know the flaw is there, but you know it’s not noticeable.
Last comes carat-weight, which is all about the size of the stone. Stones are measured in carats, one carat being one hundred points. The bigger the stone, the bigger the price tag. Carat is probably the most difficult part of being a salesperson in jewellery, because generally this is where people get the most unrealistic or have the least amount of information. Being a fan of the single solitaire, I imagined getting Kate a one carat stone, being a nice even and holistic number, yet, when I discovered how much it was going to cost me (even with staff discount), I knew getting a one carat diamond was not going to happen. Carat weight is what can hurt the most, because, next to the cut of your stone, it’s what people and your partner notice (and sadly judge) first. Did they get a stone or a speck?
After saying all this, here is where compromise and cost come into play. Ask yourself honestly, what really matters to you the most, and how much is it going to cost you to get it? Does size really matter to you that much? Can you live with a bigger stone but with less sparkle than you would like? Can you manage a very lovely stone with very few flaws but is it about the size of a grain of rice? Is there a perfect stone across the board with just one inclusion that you can see at certain angles? What can you compromise on, and how much it is going to cost? Honesty is the best medicine. If you can only afford a $2000 ring, stop looking at the rings that cost $10000. It simply isn’t going to happen, so walk away and save yourself the grief.
Tips and Tricks for Grabbing a Bargain
Having said all that, allow me to impart a few tips and tricks for getting a great deal on your engagement ring. These aren’t guaranteed to work, but they have helped people I have served time and time again, and they come recommended from a lot of finance books such as The Total Money Makeover and The Millionaire Next Door.
- Every day is a Sale Day: Jewellery stores always seem to have a sale going on, so don’t be surprised when you go in and see lots of “sale” signs and banners and discounts of 25% – 50%. By all means, go and see what is on sale, but do not stress if what you want is not on sale. If you want it, then and there, if you make them work for your money and business, trust me, it will go on sale for you. However, this will not work for certain companies that do not negotiate on price, but if you are shopping at one of those stores, you are probably more interested in the name on the box rather than the ring inside.
- Shop on a Sunday near the End of the Month: Sunday is viewed in either two ways, the start of a new business week (a great chance to get the week off to a good start) or the end of the business week (the last chance to boost a store’s numbers). Either way, Sundays are quiet days for businesses, and malls are not nearly as busy on Sundays. They have fewer staff members, and that is the time a lot of stores use to do extra amounts of cleaning. Also, if it’s near the end of the month, most of employees will have their budgets due, and if they haven’t made their targets, stress will be high and this will only be increased by how quiet a Sunday is. They will bend backwards to get your money, and by bend backwards, I mean bend prices.
- Cash is King: Cash is the easiest way to get a deal you normally wouldn’t get with a credit card or a financing plan. Cashshows you are serious, very serious. Cash in hand moves people to make deals and get business done. I can tell you a story when a very impressive woman wanted to buy her partner an engagement ring and she had decided that was the ring she wanted, she opened her purse and flashed a lot of bills and looked me directly in the eye and said, “Now let’s talk about that price.” Cash is the best weapon you have. It gets the deal done in one transaction, saves you on interest, gets you the best discount and even makes the salesperson a profit: everyone’s a winner.
- Fight Emotion with Emotion: “Sell emotion.” That is the mantra of the salesperson in jewellery. Because jewellery items are such personal items, salespeople are trained to persuade and influence people by selling emotion in their sales in order to maximise their profit. Do not let their flattery, stories, or emotions trick you. Of course they are going to tell you this ring is very popular and it’s amazing and it’s stunning and it’s perfect. Of course they are going to tell you that someone else has been looking at it and that there are very few left in the company and that your fiancé(e) would really love this ring. Fight emotion with emotion. Ask them, “What can YOU do on the price?” Say to them, “If I brought this ring today what would YOU make the price for me?” Point out, “I see YOU have a sale on this month, let’s discuss this ring.” Be bold and blunt, “I want this ring and YOU want to sell it to me, what are deal WE going to make?” Get them involved in this deal: they want your money and you want the ring, at least everyone’s honest about it.
- “Meet me in the middle.”: This phrase has seen more business settled than you can possibly imagine, both by me and by my clever customers. For example, one day I was selling a ring that was $3000 at full price. The lady who was interested in it told me she really only wanted to spent $1000, yet she loved that ring. After speaking with my manager, I offered her $2000, and she still insisted that was too much and it wasn’t what she had in mind and we went back and forth until she drew out $1500 in cash and said to me, “How about we meet in the middle?” It’s so simple, and it’s so effective. It’s the best way to try and keep both parties happy. See what discounts they can offer you and try your best to undercut them until they really start to hold up a fight, and then, flash your cash and offer to meet them in the middle.
My final piece of advice is that ultimately the engagement ring is what you make it. It is your money, but more importantly, it’s you and your partner’s choice in what you want to symbolise your commitment to one another. Do not feel pressured to follow the masses and get a diamond ring, far from it. Diamonds as ‘the engagement’ stone are a modern invention and engagement rings as common practice by the masses (not by the super powerful and wealthy) is a modern marketing phenomenon. I have seen every stone under the sun used an engagement ring, and the people who wear them rock them with complete and utter confidence that is inspiring. I have seen engagement rings made out of sterling silver crafted in traditional Celtic styles and even gothic skulls and dragons used as an engagement ring. Everyone is different. We all have different budgets, of course, but we all have different tastes and styles too. Do not let the norm inform you what you ‘should’ spend on your partner and what will make them happy.
That’s for you to decide.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out that the current number of Mrs. Coopersmiths would soon be increased by one — my husband’s little brother got engaged. Yay! But then I looked at the calendar again and frowned. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. Seven weeks before New Years.
Here we go.
The best part of the Holiday season is the number of chances you’ll have to spend time with your family and friends. And if you ever lacked attention from any of them, you are definitely going to get it now that you’re engaged:
“Oh my God, congratulations! When are you getting married??”
“You got engaged last Saturday? Did you find a dress, yet?”
“How many guests are you having?”
“My wedding was so stressful. If I had to do it all over again, I’d elope.”
“What are your colors? Do you have a Pinterest board?”
“Where are you getting married? All the good places book up fast, so you need to start looking now.”
Don’t get me wrong, everyone is really happy and excited for you, and you need to remember that once you start contemplating murder. But, all of a sudden, they’re heavily invested in your wedding day, offering a stream of unsolicited advice, unsolicited opinions and a ton of questions that you don’t have any response to right now. You’re still startled every time your new shiny new ring slides into your peripheral vision, now you’re feeling insecure about how you’re going to pull this all off, anyway, especially since all the questions make it obvious that you don’t know what you’re doing, right? Weddings cost how much? And how do you start looking for a wedding venue that’s not even going to be available when you find it?
Get it done and why haven’t you found it and what are you waiting for and NOW. And there’s that pressure even if you’ve been planning for a while, too. That one question that will be asked over and over — “How’s the wedding going?” — can be a killer. Well, how is it going?, you ask yourself, thinking about the open checklist boxes, the invitations you’re still trying to choose, the bridesmaid dresses that came in the wrong color, the DJ you haven’t booked … yet. Not so great, you’re thinking as you reply while smiling bravely, “We’re working on it.”
Another deep breath. The season of peace, love and joy starts with you, so give yourself a break, first of all! You don’t have to know all the answers right now, you don’t have to accomplish all the things before your Mom’s annual Yuletide bash. What you do need to do is give yourself credit for everything you’ve already done, even if that’s just finding the person you wanna hang out with for the rest of your life. Enjoy it. Bask, even. When you’re asked about the wheres and the whens and the whys? Shake your head, smile, and repeat after me, “We haven’t decided any of that, we’re going to talk about it next month.” Full stop. And if you’re not so new and a wedding check-up is requested, list everything you’ve already finished (because you are a Rock Star), and the one (choose ONE) thing you want to check off before the end of the year. If they ask about anything else, shrug and repeat after me, “Yeah, we’ll get that done after the holidays.” Because you will.
So, how are the holidays going so far? Any crazy questions or unreasonable expectations from your nearest and dearest? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like to find out more about me and my little part of Wedding World, visit www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
Confession: I suck at writing thank you notes. It wasn’t something that was a thing, really, as I was growing up — I suspect my mother wrote them for me. Though, admittedly, this is NO excuse for not extending appreciation for someone else’s graciousness. I’ve recently been trying to change my stubborn ol’ ways (30 does that to you, y’all) and I found that if I have super awesome stationery, it helps because I really want to show that shizz off. However, when you’re writing thank you notes to dozens, if not hundreds of people — as you will in the days preceding and following your wedding — it can easily get overwhelming. So, BAB homegirls Emily and Rachel, who have literally written the book on thank you notes, are here to give us some pointers on how to get started, what to write and how to streamline the process.
Happy Thanksgiving Week everyone! It’s hard to believe the day we set aside for feasting with family and friends and giving thanks for all our blessings will be here in a few days. We know this time of year is extremely busy for everyone, especially brides. To help save you time saying “thanks” for the gifts you have received or will receive, we’re sharing some thank you note ideas today.
Below are some sample thank you notes adapted from our book, “Something New: The Bride’s Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes.” These samples are geared toward popular gifts an engaged or newly married couple might receive during the fall season. The notes may easily be adopted for anyone’s use, though! Let us know if they help you.
Dear Mrs. Oksan,
Thank you for the pie server you gave Matt and me for our wedding. It is the perfect size for serving pie slices without tearing them. I also love that it is dishwasher safe.
You were so kind to remember Matt and me with this wonderful gift we will be using frequently over the holidays. We both appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Dear Mrs. King,
Thank you for the casserole dish you and Mr. King gave Jace and me for our wedding. It will be great to have a dish in our everyday china pattern for serving casseroles. I know we will use this often for the monthly potluck dinners we have with our friends.
Thank you also for coming to our wedding. It was wonderful to have you join in the celebration of our marriage.
Dear Mrs. Carmichael,
The handmade quilt you gave Ben and me is lovely! Pink is my favorite color, and the design on the quilt is so intricate. It will be a wonderful heirloom to pass on to our children.
Thank you and Mr. Carmichael again for such a beautiful and special gift. It truly is one-of-a-kind.
November 31, 2014
Here are a few other tips to help you write your thank-you notes:
1) If in doubt as to whether or not you should write a thank-you note, go ahead and write one. People always love receiving personal mail!
2) If you feel overwhelmed and are not sure how to start writing, just set aside 30 minutes to an hour one day to start writing. If you need to, start with a draft or two. Once you have written a few thank you notes, you will probably find them easier to write. You can then start fitting your writing into smaller time slots, like on your lunch break during the week!
3) Write thank you notes for the same gifts or similar items at the same time, when possible. Did you receive 8 dinner plates from 8 different people? Write one thank you note and consider copying it for all the other people who gave you dinner plates; just change the names in the notes and slightly change the wording. It is unlikely that people will compare thank you notes, even if they live in the same area. Save yourself some time!
4) It’s never too late to write a thank you note. We don’t mean that you should purposely wait a long time to write your thank you notes. However, if you have accidentally forgotten to write one or two, or if you have gotten behind on your thank you notes due to life events that often pop up at the most inconvenient times, you should still go ahead and write those thank you notes. People would much rather receive a late thank you note than no thank you note at all.
5) Organization helps when it comes to writing thank you notes. It’s ideal to gather the supplies you will need before you start writing to minimize any frustration. This includes choosing your stationery, making sure you have a pen that works well and gathering the names and addresses of your contacts.
6) Be yourself. Genuine is always best. If you are usually a more direct and to-the-point type of person, don’t write a thank you note that is exaggerated and elaborate or vice versa.
In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are offering a discount exclusively to The Broke-Ass Bride readers for purchases made through our website! Our print books and aluminum giftware will be available on our website at 20% off from now through Monday, December 1st. Please enter code THANKS14 during checkout in order to receive the discount. Quantities are limited, so be sure to place your order early if you are interested in something specific.
If you have any questions about wedding thank you notes, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Image courtesy of Larry Donoso
Is, “where the heck do we even start?” a sufficient question?
Absolutely! I suggest starting with the trifecta of guest list, venue, and budget, as all of them directly impact the other in non-negotiable ways. The absolute first thing I recommend doing is making an all-inclusive, “if we get to invite absolutely everyone we want,” all-out guest list. Have your parents contribute, if they desire. This is basically your dream guest list, and your actual list will likely end up being smaller.
Once you have your dream guest list, pare it down as much as you can, to those you truly would love to have in attendance. You might end up having to cut it down further, but at least this gives you a ballpark. After all, there’s no sense even looking at venues that have a maximum of 75 guests if your realistic guest list is 150. The opposite is also true — if you and your partner want a very small wedding, don’t bother with venues that have ballrooms for 300 people.
Now that you have your list, talk to everyone who might be contributing financially to figure out a budget. There are all sorts of pieces of advice out there when it comes to choosing a budget, but I suggest simply calculating what you can afford to spend and doing your absolute best to work within those constraints.
At last, you’re at the point where you get to consider venues. Depending on how many people you want to invite and how much you have to spend, you might need to be flexible in regards to dates. In general, Fridays and Sundays are less expensive than Saturdays, and off-season rates are obviously cheaper than more popular times. When it comes to off-season, though, that’s definitely a local preference. For instance, July in a northern state might be lovely, but in a southern state, it could be a sweltering hell.
And now, my lovely readers — where did you start with your planning process? Did you take the “trifecta approach”? Let us know in the comments below!
Have you guys heard of PopShop? Well, it’s a really cool little design fair where you can browse around for arts and crafts and other goods, as well as get your mitts dirty with a little DIY craftiness of your own. This weekend, PopShop Houston is hosting a Handmade Weddings event, where you can get down with some rad crafts with a wedding-y slant, find other fun doodads for your big day and maybe even find your wedding gown! In honor of their awesomely DIY-centric event Sept. 20-21, in Houston, PopShop shared this rad little terrarium how-to with us. If you’re in the Houston area this weekend, be sure to stop by PopShop Houston and get your craft on with the lovely ladies there! And keep an eye out for PopShop events in your ‘hood!
Looking for a hip and minimal way to bring the outdoors to your wedding table? Try terrariums. They could even be a fun gift for your guest to take home. They are easy to make, easy to care for and quite affordable. You can use colored sand rocks and seashells in a million different colors and match any terrarium to the style and color palette of your special day. A terrarium with multiple plants, like in the video, will cost about $20 to make.
How to Make Terrariums from Pop Shop America on Vimeo.
1. A Shallow Bowl
2. Rocks for Drainage
3. Cactus Soil or Regular Potting Soil
4. Several cacti and succulents
5. Colored sand, crystals, or seashells for decoration to fit the color and style of your wedding
6. A sunny window
Start with a shallow bowl. A shallow bowl allows the plants to absorb water easily. Add a layer of rocks on the bottom. This will help the soil to dry completely in between waterings. Gently pack and firmly place the succulents in the soil. You can add all kinds of decorations like colored sand, crystals, seashells or miniature toy like objects such as birds or deer. Place your terrarium near a sunny window and water once or twice a month. Let your plants dry out in between waterings. Succulents will start to look sunken in when they’re dehydrated. Look for visible signs to know when to water. Feed every three to six months.
About Pop Shop America:
DIY means something to us. We think that everything in life should be meaningful and made with care. At Pop Shop America, you’ll find a curated series of events and online boutique that showcase handmade & vintage fashion, art, and indie products. Our goal is to create a super fun setting in which artists can earn a living and shoppers can find products that they’ll love for a lifetime.
I talk to a lot of brides every week, as you can imagine. I’ve watched a lot of you exhibit two very disturbing emotions when it comes to your weddings: Fear and Shame.
It’s in the way it takes me at least a couple of tries to find out how much your budget is.
Or, in the reverse, getting upset that you’re spending so much of your/your parents/whomever’s money on one day, when you could use it on a downpayment on a house, instead.
Or, the sideways look you and your fiance give each other when I ask how you met.
Or, when you tell me how much certain family members need to be kept away from each other, or, kept away from you. And then follow up, five minutes later, by saying it’s not that bad … but seriously, everyone has to be on opposite sides of the room.
Or, how you keep giving in to what your parents or your friends want you to do, instead of standing up for what you want. Are you being a doormat?
Or, not giving into what your parents/friends want you to do, and standing up for what you want. Are you turning into a Bridezilla??
You can’t win, because you won’t let yourself win. You’re ashamed of where you are, so you won’t allow yourself to be happy with what you have, whatever that is right now.
Researcher Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame is built out of the fear that you won’t be understood. And I’ve noticed that a big reason that people don’t feel worthy of acceptance and belonging is that they don’t really think that they can ever get what they want. Not really.
I understand — there is a lot of pressure to make your wedding the best and most perfect and most beautiful day of your life. And (GASP!) there are not supposed to be any limits — financial, personal, logistical — on the best day of your life! That’s what makes it such a great day, right? Poor people don’t have beautiful and perfect days, only people with unlimited budgets do. You can’t have a beautiful and perfect day if your families are always at each other’s throats, only people with close, well-behaved relatives can. Do you deserve to live happily ever after if you met online and not through a Random Act of Fate? What will happen if you tell the truth? You want to impress your family and friends, and most of all, you want to impress yourself. It is a lot of pressure, and completely unrealistic.
The cost of wedding fear is that it focuses on what you don’t have, and on hiding what’s not there. It’s a waste of time. Plus, it makes you feel like crap.
So, what’s the cure?
1. Be honest, with yourself and with anyone else you’re dealing with, wedding-wise. Just … be honest. The more you try to hide what you’re afraid of, the more control you give it. And, eventually, it’s going to have to come out. Are you worried about being judged and rejected by potential vendors … who don’t know you? It’s business, not personal. If they can’t work with you, for whatever reason, then you can’t work with them. If they are going to be mean or snooty about it, then you really don’t want to work with them, right? Which brings me to …
2. Don’t go in looking for a fight; don’t walk into the room expecting resistance. What you look for, you will find. I’ve met with many brides who will, in one sentence, tell me they have a limited amount of money, and then tell me that’s not enough for them to have the wedding they want, and then ask me, “You can’t work with that, can you?” This is before I’ve even opened my mouth to reply. I get it — you’re rejecting yourself before I get a chance to do it, but don’t assume. Same thing with your family and friends. Tell them what you need and what you want, and then see what happens. Don’t be defensive, just have a conversation.
3. Remember that you are not alone. Not even close to being alone. If you’re facing a wedding planning problem, there are tons of other couples facing the same thing. Find them online and and seek empathy and sympathy. And solutions, too.
4. Some things will not change, but they can be worked around. If your parents couldn’t be in the same room with each other before you started planning your wedding, odds are then they won’t be able to on your wedding day. You’ve been managing your family for years, and you know how to deal with them — or not deal with them — so they don’t drive you insane. Keep doing that. The historic house you love is not going to drop their rental rate by a couple thousand dollars on a Saturday night. You are probably not going to win the lottery before then, either. Accept it. You might not have Ivanka Trump’s budget, but you’re not so broke that you can’t have a beautiful wedding day, and the love surrounding you will be free (Aww!). It is what it is. If you can’t afford Saturday night, what about Friday or Sunday? Less guests? What about a cocktail or dessert reception? Figure out what you feel comfortable with and go from there.
5. Use what you have to get what you want and need. You think you don’t have anything, or not nearly enough? You’re so wrong. If you have access to the Internet, you can find a local bridal show and see what’s possible. If you’ve picked your venue, you can ask for photographer and florist recommendations. Don’t know how to do something? Google it. If anything, you have too many choices. Keep looking until you find the best option for you.
6. Be grateful for what you do have. A fiance who loves you, and who you want to spend the rest of your life with, no matter how you met them, or what type of reputation either of you had during the Bush administration. Friends and family that are happy and eager to help, even if they won’t back off (they mean well, I swear). One day to celebrate that with all your favorite people in the world. Pollyannish? Sure. True? Totally.
7. Don’t twist yourself into knots. Many a bride has overextended her budget, her patience, and her good will trying to overcompensate for a perceived lack of … whatever. Pull the brakes anytime you hear yourself saying, “I don’t want them to think … ” or “I know it’s still not going to work, but … ” Full stop. Turn around. Find an option that doesn’t make you hyperventilate. Ask for help if you need it. Take help when it’s offered.
8. Finally, give yourself some credit. You’re sitting there thinking, “HowamIgoingtodothishowamIgoingtodo thisHOWAMIGOINGTODOTHIS?”Look around! You are doing it, the way everyone does it: One step at a time.
See you at the end of the aisle,