Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Dash of Advice

I am Jayme and I approve this message.

I cannot recommend living with your fiance highly enough. Joe and I moved in together in August last year, and yes at first, we drove each other crazy. This lasted for about two weeks, and then it has been smooth sailing ever since. For the other two and a half years of our relationship, we've lived separately. This led to constant fights over stupid, minute things and arguments with each others' roommates. We thought living together would solve all our problems, and strangely enough, that's exactly what happened.

Not only did this opportunity fix a previously broken living situation, but I recommend it for everyone who is in a long-term relationship for many reasons. Staying the night at each others' places frequently (or even every night) does not equal living together. It's very different. Living together means being in the same space at almost all times (outside of work and class). It also means paying the bills together, making important financial decisions together, and - most importantly - learning if you can actually stand living together.

I am very afraid of divorce. My parents divorced when I was very small, and it was hard growing up in that environment - and I'm sure all children from divorced families know exactly what I'm saying. I firmly believe that living together before marriage can prevent divorce. There are a lot of other things I believe can help prevent divorce, but this post could turn political quickly. If the first experience you and your intended have living together is after the wedding, neither of you really know what it will be like - if it ends up being terrible, odds are the marriage will be too. If Person A has certain tics and habits that Person B just can't stand, living together gives you the opportunity to work through these problems or just realize that maybe it wasn't meant to be.

I'm not discrediting traditionalists that believe this is considered 'living in sin' or that a groom shouldn't see a bride in the dress before the ceremony begins. I'm merely stating that these are not laws - no one is going to burn in a fiery pit over living together for a couple years before marriage and that a first look on the wedding day can be one of the most emotional and private moments the bride and groom get on their wedding day. That's a different post, however. I'm just asserting that living together can be both very eye-opening and very rewarding. It's like taking a couple classes at community college before going on to get your bachelor's degree... It's preparation, and a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Little Spiel About Money...

My blog maintenance skills could probably use some refining... Not to mention this theme setup is really dark and depressing - definitely not the taste I want from wedding talk!

So here's a little bit about finances. We've been saving like madmen since September (when we decided engagement would be in our future at some point), which has been incredibly difficult. We don't make a lot of money, as you can imagine. I have a job, Joe doesn't, and at my job I make approximately butt. It's a joke. I make maybe $400/month? That's really not enough to live on. My parents supplement my income with $200/month, which is super generous of them, and definitely helps us with our finances.

Our winter saving skills were hit hard by my getting a credit card. I spend judiciously and take care to make payments on time, but I've found that having to throw money at that every month has made it very difficult to put anything aside. On our meager income, we set aside about $3000 between September and February, which has been incredible. It feels really great to have a healthy savings. However, that comes with its own set of evils, including the virtually living-off-Ramen lifestyle. It's nothing we can't handle, especially considering we both have a fond spot for those silly plastic-wrapped noodles, and we never go without.

This past weekend, my darling Mac took its last sip of battery juice and decided to hit the road. It is now in a state of permanent rest (because it just won't turn on!) under the guest bed at my parents' house. So, we had to buy me a new computer. There really isn't the option of not having a computer when you're in college. So, we stopped by Best Buy, and priced some shiny new computers. We decided to go with a PC for many reasons (cheaper, Windows 7 is less suck, when we get an iMac we'd like to have both OS without having to run Boot Camp, etc...) and that set us back about $700. That's really not bad compared to what my first laptop was (Dell XPS M1710 - $2000), or even my second (Mac - $1100... also I can't believe this is my third laptop - am I really that bad with gadgets?)

So, we are in a budgetary lockdown now. Our savings has been taking a lot of big hits lately. Considering Joe has no job, we've found ourselves dipping into the savings to pay his credit card bills or using it to buy groceries (his parents give him $200/month for groceries, but sometimes that money doesn't find its way to the store...). So, this whole summer I am not taking classes and hoping to work as much as I can to rebuild our little nest egg. While most of our wedding costs will (thankfully) be caught by our parents (because we are trying to keep a trim an tiny budget, not because parents' pockets are stuffed!), we're still going to need money for incidentals and eventually, a house. It is never, ever, ever too early to save.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting The Ball Rolling

I bought a fantastic book, The Paper Bride. It's full of great ideas to make pretty much anything wedding-related out of paper. In its wealth of information, I picked out several ideas that would work perfectly for our wedding - and starting on these paper creations now means I have plenty of time to make them. More importantly, I have plenty of time to make them perfect.

The first idea I picked up was a pop-up map. Through a series of folds, an 81/2x11 sheet of paper folds beautifully into a shape that would tuck neatly into the back of an envelope. Opening the map is like opening a treasure map. Our hope is to have a hand-drawn map of the heart of our little city, showing the location of the church and reception locations as well as some other local favorites (the meat market, the historic family-owned theatre, etc.) Not only would the map be beautiful but it would contain an element of whimsy that I believe is absolutely imperative to our wedding. Our friends consider us "The Old Couple," in that we're very anachronistic and we act like we've been married for years. When I think of old couples that are reluctant to move into modern times, I think of my grandparents, and I would argue that they are the very definition of whimsy.

The second idea we fell in love with was that of a self-mailing Save the Date. I love this idea! It's simple and beautiful, and if done right can be chock full of a vintage and whimsical vibe. We would like to use a little less than half of a regular 81/2x11" sheet of thick brown paper as the backing. On the outside, it would fold in thirds with the top fold being shorter and using a cute address label to seal it. As you open it, the top fold segment would read "Save The Date!" The middle section would be blank brown, but we would lay a piece of ivory paper of similar weight and texture to the outside in the middle area that includes the date and our names - this would be the actual Save-The-Date. Our idea is to affix a magnet to the back so our guests have a convenient way of holding onto the information without having to track down a little piece of paper they got in the mail. This would be attached to the brown layer with a piece of yarn or twine - something easy to detach so the mailer could be disposed of but the magnet could remain. The bottom section of the mailer would probably just say something simple like "...details to follow" or one of those typical lines.

I could have saved a lot of time by sending you here. I made this video of the Save the Date for my mom so she could see how it works without having to read all the bulk I just wrote out (:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

DIY... Now... Please...

Occasionally the "Hey, I'm engaged!" bug comes biting, and I get the urge to start working on things. I am absolutely infatuated with DIY style and thrift chic when it comes to decor. I'm currently obsessed with letterpress - I would ideally like to press my own invitations for our guests, but I'm not sure it's feasible given the actual time I have available on a daily basis.

It doesn't help that we have so many variables still up in the air for this whole wedding deal. I'm excited to make it a beautiful handcrafted event, but I've really got to get some facts in order first... *Insert heavy-hearted sigh here*

We don't have a set budget - we could spend $15000, or we could spend $5000. But it may play to our favor to get our guest list set in place. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Roads Diverged and I... I Took the One Less Traveled By.

Joe and I have two options presented before us. The first is a very traditional, semi-formal and quite elegant wedding and reception; the second an undeniably unusual setup with an early afternoon ceremony and a very relaxed and casual evening reception.

Let me explain them one-by-one.
The first choice would be to have the ceremony at 3 or 4PM, then head southward to a beautiful reception hall just over the Indiana border. This hall has huge ceilings, in-house catering, terraces aching to be adorned with string lights, and an incredible property for guests to enjoy all night. There would be drinking and dancing, it truly would be a spectacular night. The pitfall to choosing this, for me, is that it is all very traditional and overdone. Also, all the little numbers come together to reveal an ugly truth - this path is about $8,000-$10,000 more than Joe and I really wanted to spend. My parents have made it clear that money really is no object, they're willing to help however much they can, and Joe's family has told us their contribution. However, just because the money is there does not encourage me to go with this option. I would rather spend less on the wedding and have more to put toward a house, a car, or anything that will last more than one day. I was never the girl that daydreamed about her wedding when she was young. I haven't had a dream day in mind since I was small. A lot of girls do, and I really do hope their visions are achieved - not only does it fulfill a great desire for a perfect day, but it gives a sense of accomplishment. Yet, this was never my goal.

The second option is, I'll just put it out there, kind of weird. I've never heard of anyone structuring their wedding day this way, and while I'm sure it will be met with some opposition, I kind of like that it's relatively unique. We would have the ceremony around 2PM, then of course have time for pictures. Then our guests may go enjoy the afternoon with family and friends in our little corner of the state. The reception would start at 7 or 8PM with heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks. The idea here being that we can save a lot of money if there is no sitting dinner, perhaps the guests can eat dinner on their own and come back for the reception and snack and enjoy dessert. The best part of this situation is that the reception could be held at the original location that Joe and I had thought of, and there really is no better fitting place. It is a live performance theatre very near the church where we will hold the ceremony, and it is exactly perfect for us. The theatre is a converted and renovated portion of an old abandoned factory, and the decor and feel of the theatre are perfect for us. It's a little offbeat, a little hippy-dippy, but then again, so are Joe and I. The theatre has built-in theatre-style seating, and there is not much room for tables. To have a full seated dinner reception here would be difficult, not to mention the price starts creeping back up when that is included. It is a strange setup for the day, and as I said, I'm sure it will be met with opposition - many people from our families are traditionalists. It's our day, however, and though this certainly isn't the final word on how we will structure the day, we prefer this second option.

My mom and stepdad are very much in love with the large reception hall with the plated dinner and everything, but it is definitely a borderline formal affair, and Joe and I are not formal people. We prefer the more rural look, more lodgy. We are small-town people after all. However, we have time to think about it, and there are many pieces to factor into the whole day. The right decision will present itself to us.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Welcome to The Student Bride


I'm Jayme - I'm a student and a bride-to-be, and I'm also here to catalog my technique for balancing wedding planning, being a college junior, a limited budget, and day-to-day life.

I've been engaged to my wonderful fiance Joe since November, and we decided on October 1, 2011 for our wedding date - and yes, I'll still be in school! I'll graduate in December of next year, and Joe will graduate in December of this year.

Joe and I moved in together in August '09, so we are already learning to maintain a household together, which is a huge step that we would otherwise have to take once we're married. However, our income is very limited. I work 13 hours a week, and outside of that small income we get some grocery help from his parents each month. It's tough living off of a small amount, paying all of our bills and eating and still trying to save for the wedding and for our future.

While we're figuring everything out, I invite you to follow along. Hopefully my learning experience will be useful to other brides-to-be!