Saturday, October 31, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

This is what I call an unconventional wedding with attitude, style and sophistication. Very beautiful!

One of the most beautiful photos of a wedding dress!
Check out more photos at snippet & ink

Bridal Expo Part I

I attended my first Bridal Expo this past weekend at the Riverside Convention Center in So. Cal. I had my reservations about attending a bridal expo. I imagined a stampede of irate bridezillas dragging their bored fiances from one booth to another. Sure, there was a few of those at the one I attended, but I must say, a bridal expo can be a very beneficial experience.

For one thing, you have to know what you're looking for. Expos will usually have a floor plan of their vendors. If you know what vendors you're looking for, it will save you a lot of time waiting in line, or even the crowds.

Also, do your research. Ask the important questions. I grilled each wedding coordinator, photographer, DJ, and florist I came across. You can usually tell who's the real deal and who's not when you exactly what you want your vendors to do for you. We knew that if we went with a professional DJ, we would want them to have a lot more duties and responsibilities--in a way, function as a reception coordinator. They would need to keep the reception  and entertainment moving along as planned. We found one DJ who seemed totally clueless to that concept. C'mon, we're not paying you $1000 just to play music off your iTunes! One DJ marveled at how many great questions we asked. I know a little about Photoshop, photography and retouching. When I asked one photographer of the basics of her technique and the software she uses, she kind of skirted the questions and never really answered them.

We did find some really good professionals who seemed to know what they were doing. It was really helpful to see who was out there, their rates and ask them questions. Really, it's a one stop shopping adventure.

There was a bridal gown fashion show and a selection of designer wedding gowns at discounted prices. There weren't really any dresses in my budget that I really liked, but  I suspect I should have come earlier for the deals.

Another great perk at a Bridal Expo is that there are usually contests you can enter for free stuff (I entered our names for as much free stuff I could!) and deals on a variety of items. I got a card for an extra $50 off of any dress I purchase at David's Bridal. Perfect because I have another appointment with them in a couple of weeks!

One other piece of advice--set up another email account just for wedding stuff. When you register for the expo, you'll be asked to give your email address. If you don't want your primary email to explode with Wedding spam, it will be good to set up another account.

We found a church!

Whew! What a relief! We finally found a church we both really like and in our price range! It's St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Altadena. Built in 1922, St. Elizabeth is a lovely church with ornate paintings, frescos and woodwork. The outside courtyard is lush and green--a really picturesque place for a wedding. It's also really close to Old Town Pasadena where we'd like to have our reception.

 The priest, Fr. Edwin, was very approachable and didn't try to scare us away with strict guidelines. People at the parish seem very welcoming and close-knit. There was no marriage information meeting night. I was able to schedule a meeting with the priest within a few days of contacting the church. The stipend fees for the church is in the $500-$600 range--still a little more than what we budgeted, but far more affordable than St. Andrew in Pasadena. We were even able to set a tentative date --August 7. Now we have to meet with their wedding coordinator to finalize everything. We're so happy! It's such a great feeling to get the ceremony venue--the most important item on the list--finally squared away! Now we have to book the reception site. We already have one in mind, so here's hoping everything works out!

Oh, man! A DIY guest book tree!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

Yes! The DIY wheels are turning again! So far I have invitations, ceremony programs and bridesmaid bouquets on my list of DIY Wedding projects. Now I can add a guest book tree to my list. When I saw the below photo, I knew I had to have one at our wedding! It doesn't seem like you can buy one ready made. When I googled "Guest Book Tree," nada. Then, I found this little tutorial on My DIY Wedding Day.

Image from My DIY Wedding Day
Apparently, they're not that hard to make and relatively affordable too. Check out manzanita branches on ebay or look for them at Michaels, pot them in a nice vase, find a bunch of silk orchid flowers and wire them onto the branches. Voila! You have a guest book tree!

I haven't tried it yet, so it may be a lot harder (and pricier) than it looks, but I am inspired. That's the first step!

Table "Places"

I love this idea from My Modern Vintage Wedding. Instead of your usual table place card numbers, why not table "places." Our bride used places both the bride and groom traveled together for inspiration and used vintage-styled postcards as table themes....I likeeee! I was actually thinking of the same idea (especially since I'm an avid traveler and looove to collect postcards of places I've traveled to.)

But the fiance and I are thinking our wedding theme will be about our own multicultural backgrounds--incorporating my Filipino roots with his Chinese-Samoan heritage. So each table would signify a place or landmark of our cultural background.

My Modern Vintage Wedding had a graphic designer recreate these vintage looking postcards. I tried googling postcard images and I couldn't find any suitable ones of the places I wanted. I still like the idea, though. Hmmm, shall I add this to the growing DIY list?
Image from My Modern Vintage Wedding

Yummy favors!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

I saw this on Ten Thousand Dollars Only and I flipped! Ok, not really, but I really love the idea. If your favor budget is as pitiful as mine and you totally forgot about printing costs for placecards as I did, this may be your sweet savior! Placecards and yummy bite-sized goodness in one--perfect! You can get a 48-ct of Ferrero chocolates for less than $20. Good news to my wallet and cute!


Monday, October 26, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

As I have blogged before, people have reacted to my proposed wedding budget with skepticism. They consider my paltry sum way too modest for any "quality" wedding. But the other day, I received a totally unexpected response. Yes, the person was astounded...but for an entirely different reason.

$15000? That is more than enough money! I did mine for just $5000! said my co-worker, Mr. $5000 Wedding Budget.

While I applaud folks who can produce a wedding for more than half of my proposed budget, let me reiterate what my budget includes--everything! Food, party favors, wedding bands, my gown, beauty prepping, hair and makeup, church fees, the rehearsal dinner, the honeymoon, the rental car, gas for the rental car, photographer, DJ, hotel for the wedding party and the bride and groom...everything. Except for the engagement ring. No, not the ring. Basically everything related to the wedding after he put that ring on my finger.

I've perused other wedding blogs on budgets similar to mine, and most of them don't include those smaller details that definitely add up. There are realistic budgets for different people. We won't be able to get a free cereomony site. My fiance and I are both church-going people and we don't really want a civil wedding. And since my fiance is Mormon, Mr. $5000 Wedding Budget urged us to marry in the Mormon chapel. It's free. Sometimes, it's not just about money. My fiance and I both agreed to marry in a Catholic church. I was open to marrying in a Mormon chapel, but I knew that if we did, I would want a Catholic ceremony as well. My fiance said he would just rather have one ceremony and if I was set on a Catholic ceremony, then we would have one. I know it probably would be cheaper to have a Mormon ceremony, or even a civil ceremony, but it's not always about what's cheaper. Mr. $5000 Wedding Budget also urged us to make our own food. While it may be cheaper to go the DIY route, we simply don't have the time, money or talent to do everything. I'm trying to be realistic here and I'm not planning to slave in front of the stove to cook for 100-plus people.  But I'm open to other budget-friendly, less time-consuming projects. We don't want to compromise on food. None of our family members are zagat-rated chefs. We want quality photography and elegant decorations. These are the things we want for our wedding. Not everyone wants these things and that's fine.

Everything is all relative. Quality is relative. If we produce a wedding that some people still might think is "cheap" or even "too expensive," at least it will be something the future hubby and I will be proud of...and that's what's most important.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Someone had mentioned to me, why not have one interfaith ceremony, a ceremony with both Mormon and Catholic traditions? If we did have one, it would not take place in either one of our churches, but in a country club or a park. I mentioned it to my fiance, but we realized we had our hearts set on marrying in a church. Since we could not marry in a Mormon Temple because I am not a member, my fiance was the one who suggested the Catholic church.

Just remember...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

...Don't compare your wedding to anyone else's. Don't worry about what other people think. The people who matter are the ones who care about one thing--seeing you two get married.

Don't let your budget discourage you. Don't feel like you can't have a great wedding without the expensive stuff. In the end, those are just things. What lasts is your love.

Don't sweat the small stuff. In the end, you won't remember any of it.

Don't let yourself think it's all about you. It's not. It's about your love. There's a difference.

Don't let money limit what you can do. I'm not saying you you'll be able to afford everything. You're only really limited by your strength of your imagination, and that -- if you allow it-- is boundless.

Do remember a "good" wedding is determined by the love and commitment you have for one another. You can never put a price tag on that.

Favors, please! (Part II)

Here are more budget-friendly favor options! The Knot has some good deals on wedding favors on their online store this week.
Some of my faves:

Heart Wedding Bubble Tubes - Make your ceremony exit in a sea of bubbles!

$5.99/ pack of 48

Personalized Beverage Napkins - Add a little personalized touch to the bar!
$19.99/ per 100

Glass Photo Coaster Set - What makes this a great budget-friendly favor is that not every person is going to want a set, especially when they'll be several people in one household coming together. Personally, I don't think the fiance and I would want our photos on the coaster, but a meaningful inscription from the both of us would be really sweet.

$0.99/ per set of 2

Love Camera -$2.99 each - Place these on each table and let your guests capture all the shots your photographer missed!

Wedding photography tips

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 1 comments

While browsing through local wedding photography sites, I discovered Sweet Monday Photography. Their site boasts dozens of vibrant shots capturing a wide range of emotions on a wedding day--the kind of photography I adore. Sure, we got to have a few of the traditional portrait shots, but who wants to see the same posey photos all the time? They also offer some pretty helpful tips when planning your wedding photo session. Good stuff!

Favors, please!

I love homemade soap. They're the kinds of crafts I always tell myself I will take up, but never get around to.  How cool would it be to give homemade soap as favors? I vow to make my own soap someday, but as ambitious I am, I don't think making 100+ soap bars as wedding favors is in the DIY Wedding list for now.

But here's a budget-friendly alternative. Cave Girl offers some really cute soap samples as wedding favors for $2.50 each (on orders of more than 100). This is still out of my budget, but $2.50 a favor is not bad. much does it actually cost to make soap?

Enter to win 100 free invitations!

I saw this on $2000 Wedding Budget and I had to spread the word! Sarah from Sugarhouse Ink is giving away 100 FREE 4X6 cards which you can use for Save the Dates, Invitations or Thank You cards. When I hear free my ears automatically perk up! Enter the contest by going to the $2000 Wedding Budget Blog and leave your name and last initial by 11:59 tonight! Good luck!

Wedding bouquets for under $15!

Monday, October 19, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

For awhile I was thinking my original budget for bridesmaid bouquets was unrealistic. $25 for a bouquet? That would probably buy me a few wilted roses. Then I saw this Weddingbee tutorial on the DIY carnation bouquet.

Now, I've heard that the canrnation is considered the black sheep of the floral family. They just don't get any respect. Apparently, they're cheesy if you believe the floral snobs out there. I don't know what the fuss is about, it's a beautiful flower--bunched together it makes a gorgeous bouquet. The carnation comes in a varety of colors (including purple ;). But the best thing: you can make a $15 bridesmaid bouquet!

All you need are:
•Flowers of your choice (miniature carnations - $10)

      •Floral tape ($1)

    •Corsage pins ($1)

      •Wide satin ribbon ($2.79)

•Scissors or Cutters

I think I can, I think I can...

Saturday, October 17, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

I am wait, I am thoroughly convinced that I CAN make my own pocketfold invitations, Oh, yes, I can! No, I'm not talking about ordering my precut materials online. I'm talking about making everything from scratch. Ok, I'm not making my own paper, but I'm going to purchase my own paper and cardstock, print them, cut them into the sizes I need and create my own pocketfold envelope invite.

I saw this youtube clip and I thought, YES! Seems perfectly DIY-able!

I also read these instructions and now I am on a new mission: the DIY Invite! Now I have to figure out how to make each invitation at no more than $1. Can I do it? Better start saving those Michaels coupons!

Free gowns for military brides!

Friday, October 16, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

Women marrying men serving our country get a huge freebie this Sunday--a free wedding gown! Mon Amie Bridal salon is sponsoring this huge giveway at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, CA.

To qualify, brides must be engaged, be on active duty in the military or have a fiancé on active duty. All military brides must show ID, copy of deployment papers, orders or other qualifying proof. Brides do not have to reside in the area where the giveaway is taking place.

For more information about the giveaway gowns, please call Mon Amie at (714) 546-5700 or e-mail

The event is a first come, first serve basis, so if you you qualify what are you waiting for?! My fiance is not in the military, but if he were, I'd be there right now camping out in my tent!

Bridal Expo Listings

Here is a list of upcoming bridal expos in the California area. I'll be attending a couple on this list. I haven't been to one, and I'm a little wary of exactly what kind of REAL deals I'll find, but it doesn't hurt to check them out!

October 18 ~ 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Dream Day Bridal Show
Doubletree Hotel
One Doubletree Drive
Rohnert Park, California

Tickets: 15.00

October 18 ~ 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Premier Bridal Shows
Radisson Newport Beach
4545 E. MacArthur Blvd.
Newport Beach, California

Tickets: $7 at the door, $5 if you pre-register

November 1 ~ 11:am - 4:pm
Cethosia Parties and Events - Bridal Show
Doubletree Hotel
222 N. Vineyard Ave
Ontario, California
Web site

November 14 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
1800 Old Bayshore Highway
San Francisco , California
Web site
Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

November 15 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
170 South Market Street
San Jose, California


Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

January 3 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
Anaheim Hilton & Towers
777 Convention Way
Anaheim, California

Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

January 10 ~ 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Dream Day Bridal Show
Doubletree Hotel
One Doubletree Drive
Rohnert Park, California


Tickets: $15.00 ($3 Off Coupons Available)

March 13 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
San FranciscoMarriott
1800 Old Bayshore Hwy
San Francisco, California


Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

March 14 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
Fairmont San Jose
170 South Market Street
San Jose, California


Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

March 27 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
Anheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, California


Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

March 28 ~ 12:00PM
The Great Bridal Expo
Sheraton Los Angeles
711 South Hope Street
Los Angeles, California


Web Site Tickets: 7.00 advance 9.00 at the door

Here's a link to bridal expos by state.

No wedding without the church

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

Prospective, affordable reception venue: check
Prospective church for the ceremony: still looking.

Yes, I attended the information meeting night at St. Andrew church in Pasadena. I waited three weeks to find out the stipend fee was way out of our budget. Perhaps I budgeted way too low for the church, but the $2500 to marry at St. Andrew is just too much. While I would love to marry my future husband at St. Andrew's, I know that it's not really necessary. The church's physical beauty shouldn't really matter and I would be happy to marry my fiance in the simplest of chapels. The church drills home the fact that marriage shouldn't be all about the reception venue or the party afterwards. The ceremony is the most important part and you should spend even more effort and focus on your preparation for such a huge committment. Sure, I believe all of these things, 100%. But that doesn't mean I need to fork over tons of money to make that commitment. All you need is (cue The Beatles) love.

So the search for the wedding ceremony site continues...and we can't book our reception venue until we do so. My advice: If you're going to have your wedding in a church (or at least a Catholic church) secure your wedding ceremony site first. Make sure you understand all the requirements and set your wedding ceremony date. Your ceremony site should dicate where you have your reception, not the other way around.

My, Oh My! Great finds at the Dollar Tree

Here's a great tip picked up from 12K Wedding: Glass vases at the Dollar Tree! You can buy 12 centerpiece vases for just $12! How about that for a cheap wedding centerpiece idea?

Line these cute vases with aquarium sand or some sea shells and top with vibrant tropical flowers and you have yourself a really awesome centerpiece (with or without the gold fish! And you can even give these away as prizes!)

I'm really liking the glass cylinder vases. With a stem of purple orchids and topped with a floating candle, this can look very pretty. See for yourself!

Budget saving tip: Downsizing the wedding cake

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

Need ideas for a cheap wedding cake, but not digging your local supermarket bakery? When I heard the average wedding cake costs $500 and that my future sister-in-law spent a whopping $800 on her's, I was floored...$800 on cake! No way! We thought of budget-friendly alternatives including a cupcake tree. But even that may turn out to be out of our league with most gourmet cupcakes selling at $36 a dozen. With a cupcake tree and decorations, the whole thing could cost about $400.

But then I heard this great tip--buy a smaller gorgeous wedding cake for display and the traditional cake cutting. It will probably only be enough to feed your wedding party, but you can buy a full sheet of cake to slice up and hide in the back.These slices are for the rest of your guests.

My sister recently had a birthday party with about 50 or so guests. She bought a 3/4 sheet of chocolate and mocha cake from Red Ribbon Bakery, the mother of all Filipino bakeries. It was delicious and so was the price. The cake was just $118 for a 3/4 sheet which can feed about 75 people. Smaller, decorated wedding cakes feeding 10 people or more can be less than $50.

Here's a small, very pretty wedding cake from Red Ribbon. It can feed about 30 people (your wedding party and maybe a few extra). Imagine this with purple flowers and a champagne lining...mmmm. the possibilities!

Asian bakeries tend to be much cheaper than mainstream ones, so check them out! The whole thing can be done for about $200 for sure. That's saving you hundreds of dollars for pretty much flour and sugar!

*EDITOR'S NOTE: I went to Red Ribbon Bakery today...good news and bad news: the full sheets are still $130 and the 3/4 sheets are still $118. The smaller cakes run a bit more than expected. Just the word "wedding" in front of "cake" doubles the price. Tip: Look for a nice "all occasion" birthday cake. You can ask that they not put on any writing and they pass for really cute small wedding cakes. The cheapest I found was a 10" white birthday cake topped with lovely floral decorations for about $52. While I love Red Ribbon cakes, I think we'll look elsewhere for the smaller cake.

Second thoughts about the dress

You know what, maybe my sister and that associate from David's Bridal was right. Maybe the $99 dress wasn't really worth it. I know the only reason I felt compelled to give it a chance was because, hello, it was $99!  It wasn't really anything I adored. Besides, I promised myself I would have a budget wedding without sacrificing quality. Does that mean I'll up the ante on my proposed gown budget of $250? No, not at all. I'm just not going to settle on a dress just because it fits my budget range. So, the hunt for the dress continues...

First bridal gown fitting: David's Bridal

Monday, October 12, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

My first stop of my bridal gown search was my local David's Bridal. I know David's Bridal is usually a hit or miss for most brides, but I thought I'd try my luck. Of course I had to check out the $99 sale. I made out a list of gowns I thought were nice and brought them in for my fitting. Lo-and-behold I did find a dress that was $99 and my size! It was a simple white, satin side-draped gown. Nothing too fancy, but nothing that made anyone's jaw drop. My budget-consious instincts gravited toward the dress. I thought it was cute. But here's the thing--the associate helping me asked me what my top 3 favorite dresses. No discussion of the prices, just the top 3 dresses I thought were prettiest. Of course, the top 3 best looking dresses were the most expensive ones. She immediately put the $99 dress back on the rack and made comments about how it didn't look great on me. Here's where the whole Wedding Industrial Complex comes in. People tell you what you need. They start playing on your insecurities and your desire to look absolutely gorgeous that day, so they insist that you MUST not want a dress that's 1) simple and 2) cheap. My sister even convinced me to put the dress away. And, I must admit, I listened to them. None of the dresses the associate put aside for my next scheduled fitting was within my budget.

This was my wedding novice mistake and I can see how brides can easily be pulled into buying that insanely expensive wedding gown. No, I'm not falling for it! I emailed the associate and asked her to put the $99 dress back on my list and I asked her pull any dresses under $250.

Besides, David's bridal is not the only store offering "discount" dresses. Here are a couple things I've learned: A bride must never feel too attached to any dress because there may be a cuter and cheaper dress somewhere else. Also, never pay attention to what the associate helping you tells you. She just wants to sell you the most expensive dress she can.

My friend texted me and said she found "GORGEOUS" dresses for under $250 in LA. Next stop: Fashion District of LA!

Hey, Mr. DJ!

Saturday, October 10, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

We thought we might have to skip out on a DJ, but I nearly forgot my cousin is a seasoned DJ himself. I did my research and I know most DJs (at least in the LA area) go for at least $1000. My cousin is giving us a "family" discount rate of $600. That's a Dj and an MC (and we want an MC we're comfortable with). Sounds like a good deal and I trust he'll do a good job. Hmmm, $1000 vs $600. That's saving us at least $400!

New take on cake: the donut tree!

I thought this was a really unique, very budget-friendly idea: instead of your traditional cake or the very trendy cupcake tree, why not try a donut tree? I found this on Simply Natural Event Planning's blog. Don't think I'll be doing this at my wedding, but I see it working. Krispy Kreme, anyone?

Reality check

Looking through all the wedding sites, blogs and photos (or what $2000 Budget Wedding calls wedding porn), it's tough not feel at least a little insecure about all the things I probably won't be able to afford. I had lunch yesterday with an old friend who helped bring me back to reality. No she didn't try to drill it into my head that $15000 was not feasible for a wedding and a honeymoon. She didn't try to tell me that I'd have to sacrifice quality with a budget like mine. She just said what I was certain of all along: regardless of how much we spend, or if I wear a "cheap" wedding dress, or if we end up using folding chairs for the reception, we'll still have an awesome wedding. What will make it so great is the love my future husband and I have for each other. What will make it beautiful and worthwhile for our guests is simply seeing my fiance and I make that lifelong commitment to one another, because they're close enough to us to care. Whatever happens, whatever kind of wedding we have, all I really care about is being my fiance's wife. The wedding is simply a celebration of that love, and what we really care about, beyond the flower arrangements, the linens, the food or the DJ, is the exciting future of our lives together.

Too often, weddings become a competition. People start comparing and obsessing over the insignificant details. Sometimes, couples feel they must overcompensate with a really extravagant wedding to hide the fact that there really isn't much to the relationship beyond the superficial things. Not that it's a horrible thing to spend tons of money on a wedding. A friend of mine had a gorgeous wedding on a grand estate near the Temecula vineyards. But what truly made the wedding worthwhile was that you can see the love and commitment the couple had for one another. Without that sincerity, that genuine love, the wedding would have been just an over-the-top spectacle.

My fiance and I are having fun planning this wedding, because that's what weddings should be--one big joyous celebration. Not that you shouldn't care about your wedding. Don't feel bad for wanting to put effort in the small details or the presentation. That part can be really fun. Just don't make your wedding all about the small details or the presentation.

The Recession Friendly Flower: The Carnation

Friday, October 9, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

My crash course in species of flora begins now. The first flower studied: the carnation. These light, fluffy flowers look like colorful bundles of tissue paper, and they're often looked down upon for being less stylish than their floral counterparts (c'mon, I just compared them to tissue paper!). But I like them...bundle them together and they're oh-so-pretty! I saw these arrangements on Credit Crunch Bride and it got the DIY-inspiration wheels turning. Affordable and easy to make! Apparently, Credit Crunch Bride doesn't think the shades of purple thing does well with this flower (I don't think she likes purple, period) but I think it can look really purrty.

I dunno...maybe I'm just "crazy." But I like, and I especially like the price. I've seen wholesale prices for each stem at 60 cents to a $1. Not bad! Perhaps I can actually make 4 bridesmaid bouquets for $25 each!

Appreciate your Friendors!

Thursday, October 8, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

As my fiance and I began brainstorming our wedding budget, we thought of ways and areas to cut corners. Food and photography were categories we thought we would be willing to splurge a bit. But invitations--those are at the bottom of our list. Seriously, who really saves the invitation? Besides maybe Mom? Then we thought of people we could ask for help. Family members who are artistic and crafty can help with any DIY projects, maybe my printer co-workers can help with the stationary. While we thought about all the help we can ask for, we were consious of the fact that many of these peope would be doing us huge favors. Unlike hired vendors, our friends and family, or "friendors" are taking out time and money so we can save some. We told ourselves that we should never forget that.

When a good friend of mine and her boyfriend offered to spend a day taking our engagement photos for free (and free retouching), we wanted to make sure we show them how truly grateful we were. We picked them up so they didn't have to drive to San Clemente for the shoot and we paid for their meals throughout the day. Sure that may have cost us 40 or so dollars, but how much would we have paid to hire a professional photographer? I thought the photos turned out just as nice anyways, and now my fiance and I have photos we can cherish forever. Also, just because your family members or friends can offer their services, don't expect them to do it for free. Do your research. If a friend of a friend normally charges $4000 for photography, and you know the minimum cost of most photographers run at about $1,000, then don't get upset if they offer you a quote of $600. The point is, no matter how stressful the planning process is, don't treat your family and friends like slaves. Always show your appreciation and be genuine about it.The more confident you'll be that they'll do their best because they know you value their friendship.

The blogging bride

As you can see, I'm new to the blogosphere. I started this blog just a couple days ago for my own mere amusement. I haven't told anyone I know about this blog, but if anyone happens to stumble upon it, great.The concept of this blog isn't new. There are plenty of brides with blogs out there with budgets even more meager than mine (hello, $2000 budget! You are my hero!) I just wanted to document my own experience of planning a wedding as genuinely and sincerely as possible. I'm not a wedding expert. I never looked at a wedding dress catalog until I became engaged. I'm not super artsy either (although I love and appreciate creativity). I'm just not going to pretend that I'm Martha Stewart. But I'm willing to try. I thought this blog would be a great tool to reach out to other brides out there and share ideas, tips and advice.

This blog is just musings from a bride who wants what every bride wants--a memorable wedding. Like many brides, I want to achieve it under a certain budget. I turn my nose up against people who insist that I can't have a nice wedding without shelling out insane amounts of money. While I rebel against extreme consumerism ethics, I have to admit, I do enjoy some of the "finer things." A BBQ in the park or a hippie forrest fest (although they'd be fun to attend as guests) just isn't what I would have envisioned for my wedding (neither does my fiance). While I don't want to drop $1000 on my wedding gown, I just can't bring myself to wear something off the discount rack at Ross (unles it looked FAB-u-lous!). As a foodie, I can't bring myself to serve brown bag lunches. People tell us we'll have to sacrifice quality with our kind of budget, but we're determined to prove them wrong. My mission is to have a budget wedding without it actually looking like it was on a budget. .

When we first began wedding planning, my fiance and I both agreed we want a stylish, elegant wedding, but we didn't want to go broke in the process. We want it to be small and intimate. We want joy and laughter. We want great food. We want it to be uniquely us. We want it to be what it's supposed to be about--a celebration of our love.These are things we just aren't willing to compromise on. Can we do it without the $500 limo or the $10,000 venue? I think we can.

I have to admit, I still hesitate to tell people about our wedding plans. When they hear restaurant they automatically think cheap. When I say I'm willing to pay $100 for wedding dress, people scoff. Where are you going to find that? they ask pessimistically. When I say I may do my own flower arrangements, they smirk. DIY is just another phrase for tacky. I've lived in the OC, I know what real snobbery can be. But I know I must be firm in my budgets plans, and have faith regardless of my naysayers. While our wedding will probably cost less than half of the average wedding these days, I hope it will look and feel priceless.

Wedding Colors: Not your property!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 4 comments

We are very happy to report that we have agreed on our wedding colors. It's actually two colors that reflect the both of us. As the fiance and I began talking about wedding colors purple instantly came up. It has been a favorite color of mine for ages (hello, The Color Purple fans out there!). Then I thought, why not purple and gold? We're both Laker fans, we both bleed the purple and gold! But then we shuddered at the thought. A room full of purple linens and flowers and gold bowties made us gag. Sure, Barney-purple mixed in with bright primary yellow looks hideous. But what about a deep aubergine or plum color accented with a champagne gold? That can look really hot!

My initial search for purple and gold wedding ideas initially discouraged me. How can you make these two colors look great without it being purple overkill? To offset the monotone purple look, we decided on shades of purple (with deep purple being the base). The accents of gold can come in the form of smaller flowers or ribbons. Subtlety is the word here. While I couldn't find the exact purple and gold palette I'm looking for, I found a few purple-inspired looks that can be easily interchanged with gold.

Days after we settled on the colors, an aqcuaintance of mine who is also planning a wedding casually asked me what my wedding colors would be. Of course I told her and the Laker backstory that came with it. I explained how we were going with shades of purple accented with gold. Little did I know that I had divulged too much. A mutual friend of ours is designing her invitation and what colors do I see on the invite? Purple and gold!

Yes, I was a bit tiffed, but my fiance was even more upset than me. It is a little fishy (I mean, if she was thinking of the same colors too, she could have said something, but she said she hadn't picked hers yet!) But I'm not going to worry about it. Purple and gold is not a combo we patented ourselves and quite a few brides have chosen that for themselves too. If someone else wants to use the same colors, so be it. While couples don't own wedding colors, or even other wedding ideas, the least couples can do is find ways to make those ideas their own.

To trash or not to trash?

So what do you do with your wedding dress after its one day of glory? Other than let it sit in your closet for all eternity in hopes that future offspring will realize grandma had great taste? Some brides are opting to trash their wedding dress for that spectacular shot. I have to admit, some of these photos are pretty amazing, but a little morbid. I love the floating-in-the-water look, but it kind of looks like Ophelia in Hamlet. "Drowned Bride" is not the photo I want at the end of my wedding album. Got to admire the guts some of these brides had to completely ruin an obviously expensive dress, though. But the covered-in-flames shot? Way too gutsy and very disturbing!

On one hand, such acts can be a symbol of rebellion against materialism. It is after all just a dress. Who cares if it's covered in mud or drenched in pouring rain? On the other hand, that dress is money. I was raised to understand that materialistic things aren't everything, but we ought to take care of the things we do have. If you are blessed to come into posession of something that does cost a lot of money, take care of it, appreciate it. Ruining items that most people can't afford to buy can come off as quite arrogant.
No, I don't think I would trash the gown--even if I came away with a really amazing Vogue-esque shot. But really, what am I going to do with a photo like that? I'm not trying out for America's Top Model anytime soon. I think I like one of Credit Crunch Brides's ideas of donating the dress to charity such as Oxfam. At least the money you put into that dress will go toward causes that can really use it.

*Photos are courtesy of Michael Cooper

Conquering the Obligatory Wedding Invite

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

Well, it was bound to happen. Most couples faced with trying to keep the guest list small will eventually go throught it--the guest list spat. People will be surprised to learn that I am pretty stubborn about things, and when you put my equally-stubborn fiance and I in a disagreement, things can get ugly.
Yes, we both decided early on that we wanted our wedding to be a small intimate affair full of only our closest family and friends. We decided on 100 guests--a modest number. It's what we can afford and well, we want a smaller number so we can have an opportunity to talk and interact with one another. We agreed on 50 guests on both sides. Easy, I thought. I don't have a large family anyway. But really, 50 is more like 25 when you think about it. You invite your favorite aunt, but it would be rude not to invite her husband, your uncle. You want to invite your best friend, but how can you get away with not extending the invitation to her boyfriend of three years? Then you start to think, Daaayum! I do have a big family.
Coming from a close-knit Filipino family, where respecting your elders is the ultimate rule, every little thing can be perceived as an act of disrespect. People can hold grudges, and saving face and being polite is a huge deal.

But why should I invite an aunt and uncle I hardly see or talk to --along with their brood of children--over a friend I've known for years? The obligatory invite can be such a touchy issue. My parents don't think there's any alternative. It's better to sacrifice a friend then to upset family. My aunts and uncles will get an invite, but I may not be able to invite all of my cousins. My fiance doesn't understand why I bother to invite some of them at all. For him, if you don't know his birthday, you're not invited--even if you are his dad's sister. No hard feelings, just move on. Why can't I just be more firm and say no? I suppose it has been culturally engrained in me to try to make everyone happy.Thus started our disagreement.

Maybe I just wasn't raised that way. If I put myself in favorite cousin's shoes, I would feel wierd attending a family member's wedding that my parents weren't invited to. I can see years of family drama ahead. So after hours of defending certain family and friends, our guest list was finally cut down to just a little over 100 guests, although we're pretty sure we will receive some declines. Some friends and family don't get to bring a guest. It is kind of annoying that a friend of a friend gets to be at your wedding over another friend who you actually know and you had to cut. Children (except my sister's children and a couple others) are not allowed. But I still have the recurring bad feeling that certain guests still won't get it. People have already invited themselves to our wedding, people I would love to have at our wedding, but probably won't make the cut. Maybe they'll just get the hint when that invitation doesn't arrive. I won't rule out certain guests bringing their own wedding crashers, either. For some, it's the more the merrier. There were a few guests at my sister's wedding who brought friends or children not on the invitation. It may be a cultural thing, they might not realize how rude that actually looks when food prices and packages are determined per head. (I found this really good blog post on wedding guest ettiquette) So, my fiance and I will be calling each guest to make sure that the people planning on coming to our wedding are the ones on the guest list. Tacky? Maybe. But it must be done. Of course we'll try to do it in the sweetest tone possible. We would love to be able to have a huge wedding and have all the time in the world to talk to each and every one of our guests, but it's not possible. People need to understand that they're not entitled to be at anyone's wedding. We hate to seem like mean, stingy people, but it must be done.

Venue search frustration

While we are so close to booking a reception venue, we are have hit a wall. Why? My fiance and I really want to be married at St. Andrew Church in Pasadena. As you can see, it's gorgeous. The frescos, the colors, the Old World feel--it truly would be an honor to say our vows to one another in that church. But here's the drawback of planning to get married in a Catholic church-- there are so many requirements and stipulations. St. Andrew's requires all couples interested in marrying at St. Andrew's to attend an information meeting night, scheduled only once a month. If you miss one, you must wait for next month's meeting. They won't tell you if certain dates are available, or if you meet all the requirements, until you come to the information meeting. Then you must become a member of the parish, you must attend marriage counseling months in advance...

My fiance and I don't want to book our reception venue only to find out the church isn't available that day. Meanwhile, as we wait for the information meeting, someone may scoop up our reception venue. It's pretty stressful, and kind of ironic that the church is the biggest obstacle right now. We're going to hold it out because we're pretty flexible with our wedding date. Here's hoping and praying that everything works out!

I hate chair covers!

Monday, October 5, 2009 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 4 comments

Ok, hate is a strong word, but like Jon Gosselin feels toward his soon-to-be ex-wife, I despise chair covers. OK, wrong analogy to place in a wedding blog, but I guess it would make sense not to have them at my wedding if that's the way I feel about them (chair covers, not the Gosselins).

I suppose the reason why I never cared much for weddings is because the frilly ribbons, bows and flowers never appealed to me much. To have 100 or so chairs wrapped with bows all in one room is feminine over-kill. If you like chair covers, well you're in luck because most wedding venues will offer them to you...for an added cost. If you're like me, you have few options. Most venues come with standard chairs, the ones you don't mind sitting on at the conference meeting. But they add those ridiculous chair covers at weddings for a reason--to hide the fact that the chairs really look like these:

Am I nit-picking? Maybe. Afterall, I am on a budget. Do chairs really make a difference? Maybe not to everyone, but as you can see in the above photo, plain brown chairs don't exactly scream elegance. Still, I wouldn't pay the extra $3 a cover to hide ugly chairs. Yes, I said I was on a budget, but who really wants to look like they're on a budget? But Chiavari chairs cost about $10 each to rent. Is there a way around this? Some venues actually already come with better looking chairs. The restaurant we're hoping to book (I won't jinx ourselves by revealing the place until we've actually booked it) comes with chiavari chairs...and they're one of the cheapest places we've seen so far! What a bonus!

Picking a Wedding Venue

Picking and booking a wedding ceremony and reception venue can be the most difficult part of the wedding planning process. Your venue(s) can eat up 40%-50% of your budget. The cheapest option can be a backyard wedding. People do it all the time and I've seen some backyards transform into gorgeous locations for a wedding.

Unfortunately, my fiance and I don't have a large enough backyard to hold all of our guests. So now we must decide on a venue.

As of now, we haven't officially booked our venues. But in the last three weeks, we have been busy scouring the 'Net and visiting potential sites. We're close to deciding on a location, and here are a few tips I found helpful during our venue search:

Decide on the type of wedding you want
My fiance and I were both pretty flexible on where we wanted to have our wedding. We didn't have our hearts set on a reception near the beach or country club wedding. We both thought rather simply we'd choose the location that was both affordable and nice. This opens up our search options. Our budget set aside $5000 for a wedding reception. We decided early on that locations without on-site catering might not be feasible since venue fees on top of catering may come out to more than what our budget allows. While community centers may seem like a thrifty choice, we didn't want to deal with the set-up and clean-up responsibilities. Besides, we want our guests to enjoy themselves, not put them to work!
We are leaning toward a restaurant option as many of them have their own banquet facilties. There often isn't a venue fee as long as you reach a food and beverage minimum. Also, the rooms come with their own tables, chairs and linens.
We are also opting for a lunch menu as they're much cheaper than dinner options. Since our budget is at $5000, we're looking at menus of $30 a person. On top of hors d'oeuvres, beverages, service charges and tips, that brings us to the $5000 range.

Decide on the location of your wedding
While a destination wedding would be great, it doesn't really fit into our budget. To make the planning easier and hassle-free, we decided to host the wedding closer to home. We chose Pasadena as a central place to get married. Old Town Pasadena offers quite a few scenic shots for wedding photos.

Where will you have your wedding ceremony?
My fiance and I are both from different religious backgrounds (I'm Catholic and he's Mormon), but we mutually decided to have our wedding ceremony in a Catholic church. A lot of people opt to hold their ceremonies in the same venue as their reception for an added fee. I've seen this fee range from $700-$1500. Some might find this to be a cheaper option, but in most Catholic parishes, the most you can expect to pay is "suggested donation." Depending on which parish you select, this donation can range from $200-$1,000. Keep in mind, certain churches (Catholic or Non-Catholic) may have specific requirements you must fulfill before you can marry in their church. In most Catholic churches, you must attend marriage counseling months before your wedding date. It may be best to look into your church's requirements at least 6-8 months before your wedding.
Also, if you're having your ceremony away from your reception site, try to arrange them close to one another. If you only have your reception facility up to certain time, you don't want travel time from the ceremony to the reception take up the hours you reserved.

Search the Web and ask around
Where would we be without the Web? Thanks to Internet, my fiance and I instantly found locations that fit our budget range. When I first sat at my computer and googled venues, I didn't know know where to begin. The sites that I found to be extremely helpful were,, , and (this site offers 360 degree virtual tours of the venues). It also helps to check message boards and research some of the locations other couples have used. One thing I like to keep in mind are photo opportunities at a venue. I like to check out wedding photographer sites to get ideas for receptions.

Of course, don't underestimate the power of word of mouth. Many venues are not advertised as wedding venues and aren't always listed. A friend of mine had her wedding reception in a barn house for a rustically elegant reception. One of my animal lover friends held her reception at the zoo. Ask around, someone might know of a true gem!

Visit the sites
This is a no-brainer. What you see online and in pictures isn't always what you see in person. We visited Almansor Court in Alhambra, excited by the prospect of an affordable menu and a scenic lake and gazebo. When we walked in, the venue smelled oddly of stale food. The venue was also located in questionable neighborhood. In other words, the venue was a big fat NO! Go with your gut feeling. Don't settle for a place you don't love. Even with a budget, with a little creativity you can find something you adore!

Next up: hopefully we'll have a venue picked! I will keep you updated!

Mission: A wedding under $15,000

I'm planning a wedding for under $15,000. That's $15,000 for everything. $15,000 out the door. And that includes our honeymoon! For some, $15,000 is a pretty comfortable maximum, but in Los Angeles where everything comes with a hefty price tag, that will be a diificult task. It's been said that the average wedding costs double that amount at $30,000 or above. Still, I think a $10,000-$15,000 wedding budget is perfectly doable, but we've heard the naysayers, including one former bride (who spent nearly $40,000 on her wedding). They claim we're sacrificing quality with a budget like that. I say money and price isn't always directly proportional to quality.

If my fiance and I wanted a $25,000 wedding, we could...if we wanted to go for broke . We have been blessed with family contributions to even make our current budget possible. But our families have given us a proposition: here's X amount of money, spend it on what you like --the wedding, a house, whatever.  But we don't want to spend all of the money we have on one party. My fiance and I would rather put that money where it really matters--our future.

Before I became engaged, I was never one to dream about my wedding day. I didn't pick out my wedding gown at age 9. I didn't envision red and pink roses. I never got why people spent so much money on one day. The whole materialism of such ocassion, and the cringe-worthy image of the Bridezilla, was enough for me to consider eloping.

But that changed when my best friend and boyfriend of 7 years proposed to me. I started thinking about my wedding day, started looking up wedding dresses, possible reception venues and caterers. I can't stop dreaming about the day I become his wife. But one thing hasn't changed--I'm not willing to break the bank on my wedding.

So my fiance and I are on a mission to prove our naysayers wrong--we can have a beautiful, elegant, memorable wedding on a modest budget. After all, a beautiful, memorable wedding isn't about the $800 cake that ends up on your face, or the $1500 wedding gown you'll only wear once (hopefully). To me, the quality of my wedding is determined by the joyous union of two people who love each other, surrounded and witnessed by my closest friends and family.

Too idealistic and naive you say?

Well, this blog will take you along on my mission as we plan our wedding just less than a year away. Will I stay on budget? Will I max out on my $15,000? Will we have a beautiful wedding on a budget..that doesn't exactly look like it's on a budget? One thing I know, it will take a lot of research, creativity and DIY-spirit!

So how are we going to achieve this? Well, here's a preliminary breakdown of our anticipated budget.
I used the Wedding Budgeter at to help me come up with the categories.

The $15,000 wedding for a party of 100-110 guests

Reception Venue (Venue, tables, chairs, food, beverage, etc.) $5,500
Wedding Gown (Including alterations) $250
Cake $200
Veil and other accesories: $100
Hair & Makeup $150
Pre-Wedding Pampering (manicure, waxing, etc) $30
Groom's Tux and Suit $100
Ceremony and Officiant fees $300
Bride and Bridesmaids bouquets $175
Boutonnieres $40
Reception decorations and centerpieces $400
Reception entertainment $1,000
Photographer $600
Invitations and Reply Cards $150
Other Stationary $50
Wedding Rings $300
Hotel and Lodging (wedding party and Bride and Groom) $550
Transportation $150
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen gifts $100
Party Favors $110
Rehearsal Dinner $500
Honeymoon $3,000

Total 13,755

Total, everything comes out to $13,755. Why not $15,000? I think we'll be more likely to stay within our budget if we leave a comfortable buffer.
Some items may seem like a stretch. For example, $250 for a wedding dress might seem unlikely, considering the cheapest gown I found at my last visit to a bridal shop was $600. But I'm determined to spend even less than that. Or invitations for just $250? Again, we're shooting for a particular amount, but if we happen to go a little over, it won't hurt us too much.

So now that we've decided on a budget, what next? We need to secure our reception room and our ceremony location. That is our biggest challenge! Stay tuned!