Friday, October 9, 2009

Submission Guidelines and New Features

If you've pulled off a fantastic day with a small budget, please consider submitting your wedding to be profiled. Since small is a relative term, there is no specific budget cutoff. It's expected that even the most economical reception for 500 will cost more than one for 10 or 20.

If you'd like to submit your wedding, simply email me (the link is on my profile page) with the details of your wedding and some photos (attachments are fine, as are links to sites like Flickr) you'll allow me to reproduce on the site. I'd love to hear what you loved about your wedding, as well as any money-saving measures you used. Feel free to include your budget, but don't feel pressured to do so.

I obviously can't pay for submissions (I know of no wedding bloggers who do), but you will be doing a public service by showing off your big day. You'll be inspiring and encouraging couples who might be hard pressed to find your kind of inspiration and encouragement elsewhere.

Now, on to other business. I've decided to add a couple of new features to the blog. In addition to posting wedding profiles, I'll be happy to spend some time on the blog responding to reader email, and I'll also be taking a little time each week to discuss in depth the pros and cons of different money saving ideas. [Edit 02/26/10: Clearly, I have not managed to do this. I will update the blog on occasion, but since I'm not aware of a readership, I'm not pushing myself to do so on any regular timetable.] What should you be aware of if you're thinking of cutting out professional photography? What are your options when serving alcohol?

These articles will largely be judgment free. I'll simply take an issue and try to explore it thoroughly. I won't presume that something is better because it is more inexpensive, and I won't presume that something is unacceptable because it might be considered tacky by others.

I believe that the only things genuinely tacky in the world of weddings are things that are rude. Making your guests write their own thank-you notes at your shower? Tacky. Unconventional choice of colors or materials? Not tacky. Sometimes these articles might deal with what could be considered tacky, but only when I'm using tacky as a synonym for rude.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and please, remember to submit and/or encourage others to do so! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As Promised

I promised to put up some photos of our wedding, so here they are. But I also have an announcement! I'll be posting photos and information about someone who isn't me very, very soon! [Edit 10/07/09: The post is up, but since I worked on the draft before I posted this, it's showing up as having been posted first. Just scroll down.] And I'd love to post wedding blogs about lots and lots of people who aren't me, so please submit and/or spread the word to friends who might like to submit. I'll be ever so grateful.

A little background:

Different parts of our wedding took place on three separate occasions; we had our sand ceremony one evening, we said our vows and exchanged our rings a couple of weeks after that, and we made everything legal a bit later still.

My stepdaughter lives across the country and we really wanted her to be with us the day we said our vows, but coordinating that just wasn't possible. Her visit with us was about two weeks before, so we did our sand ceremony with the kids early and displayed our vase and pictures on the day we exchanged rings.
Our Sand Ceremony Vase

We also ran into a bit of a problem getting our paperwork together and ended up unable to get our marriage license on time. Thank goodness we'd already decided to get a self-uniting license; not having an officiant allowed us to simply quietly tell our families what had happened and go on with plans as if nothing had. We did tidy up the legal part a little later. And we still got the self-uniting license; actually doing so seemed to add some continuity to the whole process.

We said our vows at the beautiful Peace Valley Park in New Britain Township, Pennsylvania. DSCN7820

For our reception, we grilled steaks and cooked baked potatoes in the coals of the grills. We had a lot of wind and rain that day, but that didn't keep us from doing anything! DSCN7830

We also served shrimp, rolls, and salad. We weren't allowed to have alcohol at the park, so after the cake cutting, we had everyone back to the apartment for drinks. No one thought to take pictures of that, which is a shame. We had so much fun just hanging out with our loved ones.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we made the invitations ourselves, but not from a kit. Here's how they turned out:
Invitation CoverInvitation

I also made the wedding cake:
Aaron & Tracy's Wedding - 31

I hope you liked the photos, and I can't wait to see yours!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sage and Jon's Beautiful Winter Solstice Wedding

While browsing Flickr, I came across this gorgeous 2002 Winter Solstice wedding. I contacted the lovely Sage, and she generously agreed to let me profile it here on True to You [Edit 12/30/09: now Really Sweet].

Sage tells me that at first she tried to be "one of those blushing brides with the huge weddings and the fancy dinners," but that planning that kind of wedding just didn't feel right. She and Jon, her husband, gave themselves a month to plan the wedding and it was the right decision for them.

I love the bride's holly wreath:

Sage and her husband are avid readers, and they got married in their library. They chose a passage from The Prophet as their reading. So beautiful.

I love the bridal ensemble, the way it's both traditional and nontraditional at the very same time. And the groom's suit is really sharp:
Jon, Sage, and "That Guy That Married Us"

And this is just amazingly sweet:
Sage and Jon

Sage says that she's really frugal, and continues, ". . . my wedding was no different. My husband's wedding suit is now used for all weddings and funerals - the flowers were plastic instead of real, so our house is beautifully decorated every winter."

Perhaps the coolest thing about this wedding was how Sage and Jon handled their reception. They had a small guest list for the actual ceremony, but hosted an all-day open house. I cannot express how dazzled I am by that idea.

A big thanks to Sage for letting me profile the wedding! Any of you readers who have gotten married at home (your own or the home of someone else) might want to check out the Flickr group Sage moderates. It has lots of gorgeous photos.

A Breakdown of Our Own Wedding Budget

These prices are approximate, because I didn't keep track of all my receipts. However, we probably spent less, not more, because I have a tendency to overestimate costs.

Food, $358.00.
This included our steaks, baking potatoes, the salads we ordered, everything for our side dishes, and the condiments, as well as the items like coolers, ice, and charcoal. (We bought vacuum-sealed frozen steaks and thawed them just before the big day; they were much cheaper than freshly cut steaks and were still really delicious.)

Beer, $42.00.

Liquor, $45.00.

License, $90.00.
The self-uniting license was a little more expensive, but getting it allowed us to skip the expense of hiring an officiant. [Edit 10/07/09: I realize this isn't entirely clear, so I'll explain a bit more. In addition to the traditional marriage license, Pennsylvania offers what is known as a "self-uniting marriage license." It allows a couple to get married without an officiant. A few other states have similar licenses, but most do not.]

Rings, $55.00.
We went with matching titanium bands from eBay.

Gifts for the kids, $18.00.

Venue, $90.00.
This price gave us a large park pavilion for the whole day!

Invitations, $15.00.
We made these with blank-inside note cards, colored paper, and tracing paper.

Sand for our sand ceremony, $13.00.

Clothing, $295.00.
Sales, sales, sales! And discount stores.

Wedding arch, $25.00.

Silks, $60.00.
Yes, we used silk flowers. And it turns out that sometimes they really don't photograph as well as the real things - but they looked great, and I still have them! [Edit 05/18/10: I like working with silks because I can arrange them far ahead of time, but it's certainly possible make economical and beautiful fresh flower bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and arrangements yourself. I live in an expensive part of the Northeast, and even the priciest grocery stores generally have gorgeous fresh-flower bouquets for $10.00 and under.]

Vases, $16.00.

Tulle, ribbon, and other decorating incidentals, $21.00.

Disposable napkins and cups, $15.00.
We had to use plastic cups. The park rules didn't allow us to use real glasses.

Punch bowl, china, flatware, and serving bowls, trays, and utensils, $71.00.
The punch bowl and china came from our local thrift store, Impact. It is fantastic.

Favors, $20.00.
We displayed an assortment of Hershey's Kisses and favor boxes so that people could have exactly the flavors they wanted. I don't think anyone took any, though - we were eating chocolate for a month! (I'm not suggesting that's bad.)

Tablecloths, $10.00.
We got flat bedsheets on sale, made sure the edges faced each other where the tables met, and covered them with tulle. They looked great.

Batteries for portable CD player, $17.00.

Umbrella in case it rained, $4.00.
It did rain, so I'm glad we got this.

Grand total, $1,280.00.

I'll be adding photos sometime soon, so you can see how it all worked out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Hi! Thanks for checking out Really Sweet Weddings [edit 12/30/09: formerly True to You Weddings].

There are tons of wedding blogs on the internet, so I guess I'll tell you what I hope to do here and why I think that is going to make this blog special.

Like most wedding bloggers, I love weddings - love, love, love them. And like a few wedding bloggers, I love hearing the wedding stories of couples who really make the day their own and don't feel, excuse the awful pun, married to tradition.

Don't get me wrong, tradition is fantastic if it truly means something to you. I have nothing against it. But no one should feel obligated to give up the wedding of her (or his) dreams because of societal pressure to carry a ribbon-wrapped bouquet of calla lilies when she'd prefer a fistfull of clover, or to wear a tux when he'd like to rock black jeans and cowboy boots.

I know that there are already a couple of fantastic sites out there that focus on nontraditional couples. My husband and I were actually featured on one of them, and we thought it was really, really cool.

I'd like to think that this site is a little different from even those great sites, though. See, although those sites feature lots of weddings from couples who had tight budgets, that isn't the primary focus. And weddings under $2,000.00 still seem to be in the minority. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; it isn't my intention to judge how other people spend their money.

But brides and grooms on microbudgets have to deal with a whole set of unique problems. Aside from the very practical concerns of feeding guests and finding affordable venues, they often have to deal with the prejudices of others. It's alarming how many people feel comfortable making assumptions about a bride or groom's values, income level, and education level based on what they know of the couple's wedding budget. For that matter, it's alarming how many people think that anything but a person's values has any relevance at all. It takes an extremely strong bride or groom to plan a wedding with small budget and self-esteem still intact when the big day arrives.

My husband and I could have gone the traditional route and saved and saved for an expensive engagement ring and an expensive wedding. The simple fact, though, is that we didn't want to. We wanted to start our lives together; we didn't want to put off offering each other the legal protections of marriage so that we could have an expensive party.

Some couples work hard at thankless jobs and never make enough to justify spending it on a party. Does that mean they shouldn't get married, shouldn't pool their resources, aren't entitled to a wonderful day of sincere promises in front of loved ones? Absolutely not.

I hope this site inspires and encourages those planning weddings on the tiniest of budgets. It is possible to have a fabulous wedding for under $2,000.00.

If you've had an extremely inexpensive wedding, I'd love to hear your story and possibly profile it on Really Sweet Weddings [edit 12/30/09: formerly True to You Weddings]. You can go to my profile page and use the email link to send me your story and some of your wedding photos (please make sure you have your photographer's permission). Include your budget, if you feel comfortable, along with any information about how you trimmed costs. Also include the things that made your day feel so special you, and any helpful vendor links or information.

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you!