6.20.2014

I Can't Remember My Name

Hello all. I apologize for my absence this week. Life has gotten INSANE and I'm struggling to remember my name. Or put pants on. Or eat. Of course, not all those are actually happening, but I have forgotten to eat lunch a couple times this week, which, if you know me, that is just flat out pure insanity.

This has been our schedule this week


Oh, and that date Wednesday night for me and Chris? Totally didn't happen. Bad scheduling, jobs that took longer, general stress and bad moods. Ugh. We've gone on 3 dates together in the year+ now since Zoe has been born. Romantic, I know.

It's certainly been a challenge these first couple weeks with both of us working for our business full time. It's a new schedule to figure out (and a schedule that is already extremely inconsistent). Also, a huge renovation project for my brother's real estate biz started this week and we really hit the ground running. There have been meetings with the city, meetings with trades, many phone calls, ridiculous spreadsheets, etc. And the A's are in town this week and Chris is about to start a big job for a client.

Plus, Zoe has apparently entered a phase of being completely dissatisfied with everything I do for her. It's been a lot of fun. She's GREAT when other people watch her, but when she's with me it's a ton of grunting, crying, pointing, yelling, getting mad because she can't do as much physically as she wants, not wanting to eat anything I give her...sigh...there have been tears from both her and me a lot this week.

But so is the life of running your own business, working other jobs on top of that, attempting to renovate your house (but not really anymore) and trying to raise a kid. Oh, and also be in a relationship. Sigh. It's been a tough week. I can't say I will return with normalcy next week, because I think I may be playing catch up with the rest of my life, but I hope to return soon. I miss updating you wonderful folks. I hope you guys had a good week, and let us all please have a fabulous weekend, okay?

6.13.2014

How to Have a Wedding on a Budget

So, I wrote about how much fun we had, and how much our wedding cost, but for my last wedding post I wanted to write about how it was possible for us to do our wedding on the cheap. Or, at least what I think is cheap, under $3,200 isn't bad at all in my opinion.

Here are my 3 rules for making a wedding as affordable as possible: go local, be realistic and do as much as you can yourself.

1. Go local: meaning, try to source as much as you can as close to you as you can. Instead of going with a big catering company, maybe go to a local restaurant that you love and see if they can make and serve food for parties


You could get even more local (and affordable) by cooking the food yourself! I know this is fun for some people, but because we had 80ish people I did not want to spend FOREVER prepping food and then not getting to visit with people because I was spending all my time making stuff. You could however hire that out to someone who you know loves to cook. I can almost guarantee paying a cooking-loving friend to do your food is cheaper than hiring a big time catering company.

Go to a local flower mart instead of paying a florist. There are local flower marts in most metropolitan areas (after all, how do those florists get their flowers?) In the Bay Area alone, a quick search found them in SF, Oakland and San Jose. And if you don't go to a flower mart, consider getting them fresh that day from your local grocery store too. My dad and step mom did that for their wedding 25 years ago

aren't early 90s weddings the BEST? :)

I have several friends who did the same thing. It of course takes a little bit of work to do the flowers yourself, but it's AMAZING how expensive having a florist do the arrangements gets.

Last local item? The venue. Consider having it at your house, or maybe a friend's house. We of course couldn't imagine having it in any other place besides our backyard


And it was perfect for us. There is also frequently a lot less decorations needed because you're not filling a ginormous space. You do of course need to rent tables and chairs, but that literally can only run you a couple hundred dollars (ours were just over $300), and it's way more affordable than the likely (at least) couple thousand you will pay just to rent the place (and then there's always the rules about catering). Plus, it just feels a lot more intimate and personal. I loved sharing our house with everyone and getting to have it in a place where we are every day of our lives. It just made it so special.

2. Be realistic. Let's be honest people, if you have an affordable wedding, it is not going to look like Kim Kardashian's. Get it out of your head now if you want an affordable wedding that it is not going to look like this

found here

It's just not possible, and you have to be okay with that. It certainly can look beautiful, but it's not going to look like it cost a million bucks - because it didn't. Maybe that wedding picture above is from a wedding that cost $10,000. Now that's expensive to me, but maybe that's a budget wedding for you. Whatever the budget, don't have ridiculously high expectations about unattainable finances. If your wedding is going to cost $10,000, don't spend $8,000 of it on a dress you're only going to wear once

Best Wedding Dresses From Bridal Market Fall 2013.  Vera Wang gown.
found here

I already find the idea of paying thousands for a dress you will literally only wear once for a couple of hours quite strange, but if you must do it - even consider second hand shops. There's a great one on 4th St. in Berkeley for instance. Of course, I'm crazy and spent less than $50 on my coral sundress, but I loved it, and it fit my personality


And probably the most important factor...

3. Do as much as you can yourself. Seriously, this one is huge.

You can pay A LOT of money paying other people to do things for you, and certainly if you're having a wedding that costs a shit ton of money, are having 200 people or are maybe doing a wedding in another, further away location, it would make sense to hire help, but I'm amazed at how much money is wasted on people paying other people to do things for them for weddings. Absolutely 100% do as much as you can yourself, and ask your loved ones to help you from time to time. I got SO MANY offers for help, and it was wonderful. I also LOVE doing crafty projects, and planning things, so getting ready for the wedding was fun.

Of course, some might find the process of planning a wedding daunting, but honestly, I feel like it's nowhere near as hard and stressful as people say. We had 3 months from the time we decided to get married to when we actually did it, and up until the day before I would say I spent a total of 15 minutes being stressed out (of course the day before the fucking rental people showed up at 5 o'clock when their window of delivery was 11-3 and NO ONE at their office was picking up their phone for 90 minutes, so that will stress you out...)

How did I stay relatively calm, cool and collected? I made lists. I made a list of all the things I needed to buy, the things I needed to craft, the things I needed to do to the house and then things I needed to do day of. I kept all those lists on my computer in an excel file so I could add to them and check things off as the days and weeks went by. As soon as I thought of something I just added it to the list. And it was fun getting to check things off all along the way


Having the list allowed me to prioritize items - I bought easy decorations (like the baseballs, sunflower seeds, paper, etc.) WAY in advance just to get it out of the way because I knew those things wouldn't "go bad." I waited on buying all the wine, beer and drinks till much closer. But because I was checking things off as I went, there wasn't nearly as much to do as the day got closer because I had prioritized what needed to get done.

And do the decorations yourself people! I LOVED our paper chains and banners and balloons and butcher paper tablecloths with crayons




Everything was fun, colorful, affordable and practical. Just yesterday I took all the butcher paper from the tables and cut out all the fun messages and pictures that people drew on them. It was a really simple and cheap way to cover all the tables and it resulted in fun memories I'll get to save. And the paper chains were a huge hit with everyone and (like I've said before) they only took me 3 nights in front of the TV but they made such a giant impact and were by far the most asked about decoration that people loved.

I certainly perused the shit out of Pinterest to come up with ideas. Almost none of my decorations were original, but I spent a couple nights looking around on the internet for ideas for decorations for parties that I felt like fit with our personality, budget and feel we were going for. Pinterest and the internet are invaluable for ideas. But of course, don't go on Pinterest and feel bad that you're party won't be the best wedding ever - it's hard to not be hard on yourself when Pinterest has picture perfect event pictures. Your wedding or party will not be like that, and it's okay (remember, be REALISTIC).

I think the thing I loved hearing the most from people was that it was so "us." Many people mentioned it many times - the party just felt like it fit us well. It was laid back, simple, colorful and had decorations that fit our personality - baseball, peanut and sunflower seed centerpieces, cast concrete guest "books" for people to carve their names into, a slide for kids on the grass, and lots of colors all around. It felt more personal because it was personal: we chose to decorate in a way that fit us



Another thing you can do yourself: music. Unless you're having a GIANT party, I don't quite understand why people get DJs. Chris and I have a pretty epic CD collection...


...so he went through all of our music and made a playlist. If you don't have the library we do - buy music on iTunes to make your playlist. Then hook up a stereo (we even just used our work radio). I don't think people could really tell the difference. Sure, there wasn't someone handing out glowsticks and weird sunglasses, but I don't think anyone was really missing out.

The last thing that we actually couldn't do completely ourselves, was set up! Here's where we accepted the help of many people, but it certainly went along with our DIY theme. I had made a list of all the things we needed to get done day of, taped it up on the garage and accepted the help of our parents and siblings. They were happy to lend a hand and it helped SO MUCH. They transformed our backyard and helped ease the stress day of. And we could not have been more lucky for all of their help.

So there you have it folks, the wonderful party we had, how much it cost, and some of my tips for how to make a wedding (or some other party) more affordable. That way you have more money to spend on the rest of your lives :)

Alright, I promise I'll be back Monday with house posts! I painted the nook in the ceiling on time for the party, but we still need to hang up that light...

6.11.2014

DIY Wedding on a Budget

As soon as we decided we were going to get married, we talked about how much we wanted to spend. It's not in Chris' and my nature to have a giant, fancy party - we're more, backyard BBQ people, so that's exactly what we did (and you can see all the fun we had here). We wanted to keep things fun and affordable. We didn't want to spend a giant amount of money on one day - it's just not our bag. I have certainly participated in fun, wedding blowouts, but it's just not our personal style. We also decided that we didn't want our families paying for it. Because we'd been together for so long it felt inappropriate to make our families pay for a wedding that was more of a formality. They kept insisting, so we let them pay for select things (dad and step mom = food, mom = dessert, step dad = wine, Chris' mom = drinks). They loved being able to contribute and we felt like it was a small enough amount that we didn't feel like we were taking advantage.

I kept pretty close tabs on how much things cost along the way because I didn't want it to cost too much and I knew I really wanted to write a post about it when things were all said and done. A lot of times I feel like people write about how to make weddings great, how to have a DIY wedding, etc., but they don't talk about how much things actually cost. I realize a lot of people don't like talking about money and that it's taboo in our society, but I also think that sometimes on blogs by not talking about how much things actually cost that we make things unattainable, or we think they're super affordable and then are upset if we try to do the same thing and it's crazy expensive. I really wanted to write about what this party actually cost us. 

So here it goes (and while normally writing budget posts I round things to the nearest $5, this time I rounded to the nearest $0.25 to try and make things as accurate as possible).

First off, the invitations


I made the invitation graphics in Photoshop and Chris printed them in color at his old day job :) The yellow construction paper on the back was $4.50, the envelopes we mailed them in were $7.50 and the postage was $24.50.

Next, the clothes


I bought my dress at a little boutique (Francesca's) for $48, score! I loved it. My sparkly Converse cost me $64, and I had to get pasties (yes, that's right people, pasties) which cost $1.50. My earrings and necklace cost $12.75 - thank you Forever 21! I did my hair myself and put a flower in it that I've had for a while, and my sister in law did my make-up, so both of those items clocked in at $0. I got Zoe's dress on sale for $22 and sewed the ribbon on myself with extra ribbon I already had. Her green and white shirt she wore later was $7.25. Her gold painted Vans were $32.75 and the gold paint was $4. I also got fabric paint and painted a 1 on the back of her shirt, the paint was $2. Lastly, Chris' short sleeved white button up shirt was $24.25 at Old Navy and he wore pants and shoes he already had.

Next up, favors


I made little gift bags for all the kids that had a thing of play-doh, 3 little rubber balls and 2 slinkies in them that cost $45. Our favors were packs of wildflower seeds for $53.50.

Now this is a big one: decorations


I really wanted to keep this one in budget, but also have lots of fun :) Alllllll the paper I got for the paper chains was only $10.50. Best. Score. Ever. I made sooooooooooo many feet of paper chains for really very cheap thanks to an awesome deal I stumbled on at Michael's one random day (packs of thick card stock for only $2 each and I got 5 of them). The paper chains were probably people's favorite decoration item and lots of people asked me about them. They only took me 3 nights in front of the TV, so it was definitely something I would do again. They just made the backyard look so happy. I bought a picture frame for Zoe's print for $8.75 on sale


It's a popular thing nowadays that I saw on Pinterest and people frequently do them on chalkboards, but I thought making one in Photoshop and printing it on nice paper and framing it would make a nicer keepsake. Printing it cost $1.75 because by the time I was done making it, I could no longer steal free color printing from Chris' job :) Tape and thumbtacks were $25.75 - I went through a lot of double stick tape. Crepe paper was $45.75 and the embroidery rings I bought to hang crepe paper from that we got married in front of cost $17.25. The pipe cleaners for my bouquet were $2.25 and the wire for my wedding gal's bouquets was $8.50 (I already had the paper and paper cutters on hand). Helium and balloons were $28.50. 

Then of course the tables, centerpieces and dishware


We rented all the tables and chairs for $325.50. For tablecloths I decided on butcher paper and then I bought a bunch of crayons for people to write and draw on for $40.25. I saved a ton of glass containers (pasta sauce, jam, etc.), I borrowed some vases from my step mom and then I bought some more vases at the dollar store for $17.25. I bought baseballs, peanuts and sunflower seeds to fill the glass containers as centerpieces and they all cost $101.25. I also bought some bowls and spoons for ice cream and forks for the cake that were $45.50.

Let us please not forget the food :) Yummmm. And we had a lot of it. We opted to get the party catered so we didn't have to worry about someone cooking. My dad kept trying to have me get a bartender, but with only 80 people, I decided people could handle things themselves. We got a local favorite place called Top Dog to do the food - hot dogs! It was Chris' idea and it seemed very fitting. We thought about other places, but they just didn't work out for one reason or another. We had 4 different kinds of dogs, lots of sides and they did cookies and brownies too. Their total was $1,291.75 - the highest single item by far, but well worth it. And people really enjoyed it - who doesn't love hot dogs at a backyard party? We went CRAZY with desserts and got a local place to make cupcakes, Zoe's cake and another cake for $288. The candles for Zoe's cake were $2.75. We ALSO got ice cream :) Chris loves ice cream, so of course we couldn't go without. And every Oakland party that needs ice cream needs it to be Fentons! (a local ice cream place that's been in business for almost 120 years. Awesome.) It is many an Oakland Family tradition to go to Fentons on birthdays, and we actually took Zoe the night before for a sundae :) 


We spent $110.50 on ice cream and $57.50 on toppings. 

And of course the drinks! Chris and I aren't big drinkers (Chris doesn't at all, and I don't much) so we opted for just beer and wine and then a wide array of non-alcoholic beverages. My step dad picked out all the wine (he loves his wine) and we had a wonderful selection that got many compliments for a total of $140. We got a variety of different kinds of beer (Bud Light, Pyramid, Gordon Biersch and Dos Equis) for $97.75. And we had lots to choose from in terms of non-alcoholic drinks with water, Izze, Juice Squeeze, Mexican Coca-Cola, and fancy root beer which clocked in at $81.25. And the ice to keep everything cool was $17.25.

Then there were also the things I did at no cost: the banners


The black and white printing was done at home and color at Chris' work and I already had all the paper they got taped on and the ribbon. 

Zoe's highchair ribbon garland was also something I made at no cost


Also, all the labels I made...


...and our couple print...


...were done for free from all the extra scrapbook paper I have, Chris printing at work and an extra frame we had laying around.

The sign welcoming people...


Was made with plywood I had laying around and craft paint.

And, not to be forgotten, our guest "books" which were mortar we already had that Chris mixed up...


...and then poured into frames from scrap wood we already had. People loved carving their names into them, and I love that we'll be able to put them in our yard instead of on a shelf never to be looked at 


I did all those items for free, but I'm guessing they might run you around $250-300 if you had to buy all the materials yourself.

Another item we didn't pay for: a photographer. I just didn't think it was really worth it to pay for, plus, I really hate staged photos. I opted instead to steal all the photos my friends and family took with their cameras and cell phones :) Plus, Chris' friend is a wedding photog and videographer and he gifted us photos. I told him if he honestly got 10 that were great candid shots I would love him forever. Candid shots are my absolute favorite. Like this one of me and my dad


Or this one from the ceremony


I have no idea how much money we saved by not hiring someone, but I'm sure it's a lot.

Possibly the biggest money saver was that we did it in our backyard. We didn't have to pay a rental fee, didn't have to worry about transporting everything or any of those other fun logistics. It made sense for us because we love this house so much and so many people hadn't ever seen it or hadn't seen it for a very long time, so it was a wonderful way to share all of the hard work we had done to make it our wonderful home.

Alright, let's total everything up!
Invites: $36.50
Clothes: $218.50
Favors: $98.50
Decorations: $149
Tables & chairs rental, centerpieces, extra bowls and utensils: $529.75
Food: $1,750.50
Drinks: $336.75
Miscellaneous: $50 (I kept really good track of everything, but I'm sure there are some items I forgot)
Grand Total: $3,169

We had about 80 people, so that comes out to $39.61 per person, which I think is pretty damn good. Of course, the biggest thing I have yet to mention is the enormous amount of help we had on the big day. All 4 of my parents, my brother, his wife, Chris' mom and sister all came for 2-4 hours EACH that morning to help set up. It was amazing, and we certainly could not have done it without them. Our house NEVER looked cleaner, the backyard NEVER looked prettier and we were NEVER so thankful. We really are a lucky family to have had so many people help us. And we are even luckier that so many people shared the day with us. It was fantastic and I wouldn't have done it any other way. I loved having it at our house, in our backyard with people who mean so much to us. It made it so personal and special and I will surely never, ever forget it. 

6.09.2014

We Partied

Well everyone, the party was a WONDERFUL success! And we had sooooooo much fun. I'm still recovering a bit. Yesterday was cleanup around the house and a trip to SF to go over a project with my brother, sister in law, dad and Chris, so it was still pretty busy. I shall just fill you in with a ridiculous amount of pictures, and then post more about it later in the week.

I hope you enjoy! And really, get ready for a RIDICULOUS amount of pictures

nothing like wheeling your not running car to the curb while holding a baby

The house is ready to party













We were a little delayed in starting, not because the bride wasn't ready, but because the Preakness was late in getting started, and we of course had to show the horse race on the backyard TV

the TV was a big hit all party. Also, I love that throughout the party there was usually a beer can or bottle on Zoe's high chair.
Zoe was very into watching my sister in law beautify me


almost all ready!

Chris didn't take any time off and mixed up more mortar for our "guest books" to be signed. Carving names and messages were a big hit also, so he had to mix up more before the ceremony started



 Then it was time for the ceremony


me and my dad in our snazzy shoes (I hand drew patterns on Converse that my brother gave away as groomsmen presents at his wedding 3 years ago that they all wore at the reception and my dad thought it would be great to wear them for my wedding too. Loved it.

Then of course it was party time!










Our "cake cutting" was Zoe smashing into her cake



She was not super into it though...


She did however LOVE the ice cream we gave her instead










"Ummmm, more please"

And the winner of probably the best gift ever goes to my friends who bought one of these little toy cars and painted it A's colors and put a ton of A's decals on it to make it ZOE'S A's car. After all, it even says her name on the license plate.


It was a huge hit at the party and her cousins LOVED pushing her around in it

And after the party was done Zoe demanded to be pushed around more. Seriously, she LOVED it. If she was not moving she would yell out for someone to keep it going. It was quite hilarious




So there you have it. Our wonderful party. I only took the backyard pictures, so thank you to EVERYONE for posting these or texting them to me so I have wonderful memories of the day. It really was fabulous. I'm planning on doing a round up of the budget and all the DIY elements on Wednesday and Friday this week, so if you want to ignore wedding posts, feel free to come back next week. But I was pretty meticulous about keeping a budget and DIY'd a ton of elements, so I wanted to share how we made the party special - and affordable - for us.

Thanks for joining the ride with us!