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Being prepared for any issue that may come up was very important to me because I am that person that always has a wet wipe and pain meds at the ready for anyone that may need them. My wonderful maid of honor tackled the Day Of Emergency Kit for the bridal party. I provided some ideas from my experience as a banquet server (lots of safety pins!) and a wedding coordinator (multiple scissors!). We also used some trusty Pinterest posts for anything we may have missed. I also wanted to create concierge-type bins for our guests to be placed in the bathrooms to help keep everyone comfortable and dancing (lots of Tums!). From there, we hit Target together to fill both needs… watch out world!
While it’s been a bit since we put these together, here is what I remember gathering for each.
Day Of Kit
Garden shears (to cut the flowers)
Lint remover (since my dog was in the wedding)
Static cling remover
Bandaids (for blisters and more)
Extra shoe heel covers (for the grass)
Lipstick (for picture touch-ups )
Guest Care Kits
*they were customized appropriately for the men’s vs. women’s bathrooms
I was pleasantly surprised to see all the kits were well-loved and used! Very happy we made the time to clean out the Target sample section.
The bins were also from Target. They snap together and have a handle on top. They worked perfectly!
Front side of postcard
Backside of postcard
I was anxious to share how our Save the Date cards turned out (before wedding planning kicked into high gear). I am pretty proud of them! The only downside was the matte printing from Staples was not the best on the back side of the cards (some ink was missing in part of the design). All-in-all they got the job done, and under budget! See this post for more details about how I designed them.
We did it. We survived wedding planning. As I lay here poolside at our first (of hopefully many) spa days, the full extent of the whole process, and the amazingness that was our wedding day, is setting in. I knew it would be intense, but one could never prepare for how stressful, nerve-wracking yet fulfilling planning your wedding really is. The sense of “you only do this once” is hard to kick, especially when everyone around you is reminding you of that fact. My now husband kept reiterating “so this is why people only get married once, who would ever want to go through this again!” I can’t blame him. He was super involved and helpful the whole way. Sometimes out of necessity, but I truly couldn’t have done it all without him.
I don’t recommend starting a new job while in the midst of planning your wedding. I managed to pull it off successfully, but there were definitely moments where I wish I hadn’t been working so I could have really dug my heels in at the end. That’s where my now-sister came in. I wouldn’t have accomplished nearly half of what I wanted if she hadn’t been living with us the final month beforehand. My parents, my new parents and my wonderful bridesmaids & work friends were also a godsend in keeping my sanity at the end.
As cliche as it sounds, everything turned out like my very own fairytale. From the craziest bachelorette party, to the sweetest bridal shower tea party, to the dream that was our wedding day, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I can’t wait to share all my favorite details from the planning to the day of, as well as pass along some of my favorite tips & lessons learned, now that I have all of this free time! But for now I’m signing off to enjoy this newlywed time with my husband.
So small bit of news that I haven’t shared with the world yet… I will be interning/assisting at an award-winning Portland wedding planning company this upcoming season! If all goes well, it will lead to becoming a full-blown wedding planner with them. The reality that it’s finally happening is still incredibly surreal. My first wedding with them is this Friday… I cannot control my inner giddiness!
Our personal wedding planning is coming right along as well. I thought I would share some of my favorite tools that I have found in the process. Budgeting is one of the most important parts for us because we have little buffer of going over! I wanted to make sure that we divided our budget fairly among the different elements (photography, venue, attire) so we would avoid going WAY over in one category, leaving little funds left over for minor things, like, oh say FOOD.
I’m in the process of reading a great book by Meg Keene called A Practical Wedding. Make sure to check out her blog for great stories by real brides that will give you a serious reality check on the whole point of getting married… the marriage! She recommends sitting down with your partner to discuss what’s really important to you both about the wedding (like top 3), then write those down and put it somewhere that you can see it all the time. It’s important to listen to what your parents want too! Then don’t stress about the rest, or what everyone else says you have to have.
Next, we figured out how much we could save before the wedding (one of the biggest benefits of a long engagement!). We used Mint.com to set our budget, one of my favorite budgeting tools! We created a new goal, then inputted how much we could contribute every month to our “Wedding Fund”. This gave us a rough estimate of how much money would be saved by August 2013.
We sat down with each of our parents to get a solid number of what they would feel comfortable contributing. So there’s no surprises on either end! Then we had our grand total that we could budget with.
My other favorite budgeting tool comes from Vertex42. The heavens opened when I found this site! This Excel spreadsheet has an average breakdown of how to divide your budget among each category. You can then adjust the percentages according to your personal needs (for example: my parents are generously letting us use their timeshare for our honeymoon, which drastically cut our honeymoon budget). I also love their Guest List spreadsheet. I did a lot of research before deciding on this one. It may not be the prettiest, but it’s the most practical and easy to use! Plus, you can also change the fonts and colors to match your tastes. There are so many other awesome templates on Vertex42 for all walks of life, I highly recommend them all!
As I am crunching numbers for our budget, I can’t help but consider the burden of cost that our wedding will have on our close friends and family. Most of my friends and family are out of town, so I have to accept that some will be unable to make it simply due to the cost of a plane ticket from the East Coast (not cheap!). So we are doing everything we can to find ways to lessen the burden on our guests, like finding a venue with cheap hotel rooms, and that is close to the airport potentially eliminating the need for a rental car.
I found this great infographic by Mint that breaks down the average costs of being a bridesmaid (more on why Mint is a lifesaver coming soon). While some costs are completely unnecessary, there are many things on there that I hadn’t even considered yet! Pitching in by giving your bridesmaids their jewelry or mani/pedi as part of their wedding gift is a great gesture to show that you are mindful of their budget and really appreciate their support. This info will be helpful to me on how to keep costs down for my amazing friends!
As I move along through my wedding planning blunders, I thought a blog segment lovingly called “What Not to Do” was particularly appropriate. I hope you can all find enlightenment through my misfortunes.
This past Saturday, my fiancé and I finally made it to our first site tour at the McMenamin’s Grand Lodge. The property is a sort of laid-back resort filled with McMenamin’s flair (if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know what I mean). It seemed like a viable location for many reasons: Lodging for out-of-town guests? Check. Options for everyone to dine and be all together during the weekend? Check. Within our small budget? Check. Spa and mineral bath? Okay maybe that wasn’t on the list, but it certainly sweetened the deal!
Not the Grand Lodge (keep reading for why I have no appropriate photos), but I thought The Breakers was an adequate substitute. © Elaina Methot
However, the site tour also opened my eyes to the world of reality vs. the information you can find on websites. For example, they do not provide outdoor chairs, tables, a dance floor or tent. Meaning to fit an event over 100 people, you have to rent all these items. Suddenly the venue with the “no site fee” is actually more comparable to a site that charges $2000+ to rent their space and chairs. But enough ranting, here’s the list of what I wish we would have done:
- Take pictures! Even with your camera phone. Every site will look completely different in person compared to the stylized images you find online. A picture taken from your perspective, no matter how crappy it is, will help you remember how you saw the event space.
- Bring a notepad and a pen. Yes, this should be a no brainer (I have even made my own planning binder, but alas, I was running from work and forgot to bring anything!). The (very nice) tour lady was spitting out random fees and numbers that I wish I could remember. Important things like an 18% gratuity and a $3000 food & beverage minimum for ‘this space on a Saturday night in July’. It is much easier to decide if the venue will fit within your budget if you have all the costs in front of you to compare.
- Bring your list of questions. For me, this was if they would allow our flower pug, Chloe, on the premises, which would of course be a blatant violation of the ‘no dogs’ sign that you pass on the way in. I remembered to ask this question… on the drive home.
- Make your list of ‘must haves’ and don’t be romanticized. The first one on the list should be your budget! This is often the first venue that couples book, so it’s important you don’t blow your budget in the beginning then have no flowers to dress it up later. Also, booking a venue that fits with your vision and fulfills your needs (for us: nearby hotel rooms, affordable food options) can often help you save money in the end.
But I must say, it was kinda fun throwing caution to the wind and finally enjoying being “engaged” with my fiancé. And that’s the most important part of this whole planning thing, right?