Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's a Nice Day for A...Green Wedding!

No, our wedding colors aren't actually green. But we are working on a more environmentally sound option for our wedding: evites. Yes, the mythical evites, while typically acceptable for parties, barbecues, and offbeat events are being more highly debated as wedding invite options. All over wedding forums, the question that tiptoes, creeps and thunders around is whether this is a truly legitimate option, and people are not shy about their opinions. So here's our story on the matter.
My fiance and I are still in college. We're tying the knot before crossing the stage. To put it bluntly, quaint hemming and hawing aside- we're dirt broke. We're planning our wedding on limited means, but we've found that if one is willing to compromise, to relax, and to really pitch in, there's no reason why it's not a manageable target. This idea contributed to deciding to do evites for both our save the dates and our invitations. But we had a couple other ideas that motivated us in this direction.
One, is that we are actually environmentally conscientious. Brenden more so than myself, but we both do a good amount of recycling, we pick cleaning products that are natural, gush about biodegradable packaging, and so forth. And as sweet a memorabilia as invitations can be, we cringed at the idea of the waste of paper. When people check their mail once a day, but check their e-mail like it's a compulsive tick, it seemed like the best option to reach everyone was the great ether of the Internet. Not to mention that it saves us the trouble of having to mail a ton of things out, which is really useful. No postage, no licking dozens of nasty-tasting envelopes (I mean seriously? We can launch ourselves into space, but we can't make envelopes and tongue depressors taste better?!), no worry about people losing their invite. None of it. Especially since we're having a fairly open, adaptable menu, choosing food isn't really a hassle. And most of our info is/will be on our wedding site that we're referring people to anyway, so it really seemed like a good idea from every angle to go the electronic route.
Not knowing much about it, I immediately went to work researching invitation options, and singing out a siren song calling for peoples' e-mail addresses. I've only been at this for a few days, but I came into it not knowing anything, and I'm obliged to share what I've learned! :)
First off, there are plenty of sites that let you design and sent out invites for free. Just googling "free wedding evites" will usually get you a lot of hits, but the one that I found that I liked a lot (and seemed fairly open to customizing) was (Link to that here :]). From what I've gleaned messing around on it, it seems that their invites have a fair amount of openness to customizing, but you have to do most of the work yourself, so if you're super frugal and into DIY, this is for you! :) Similarly, but not completely the same is of course evite (Link to that is here :]). Theirs has more options for adding pictures and there's less work as far as phrasing, etc... They also have kind of a hybrid site idea, where some evites are free and you have to pay for some, so it really is whatever you want it to be.
The upsides of these two are that you have a decent amount of say in your invites/save the dates, and of course- they're free! :) The downside is that you'll have to keep track of all responses pretty closely, but if you're a planner anyway, then it's not too much extra work!
Similarly, but following a slightly different path are sites where you can pay for a specific package, but they cover a lot of things ranging from (electronic) envelopes, to contacts lists, to invites, save the dates, and RSVP lists; which saves you a lot of work.
Two sites that I found for this that I liked were (Link found here :] ) and (Link found here :]). For varying fees, these provide a number of services for different packages, the most basic of which usually covers save the dates and invitations, the more extensive also including RSVP lists and thank you notes. Both are perfectly good sites, all though is especially cool because a portion of the costs goes to Mountains to Sound, a nonprofit organization working on the West Coast to help protect more public areas of nature. You can read more about that here :].
Long story short (too late...) is that it really is how everyone says. It's your day. It's a day for you and your partner to share and celebrate the gift that is loving one another. Whether your guests keep a paper copy of your invite on their fridge in frantic fear of losing it, or if they save it in their favorites in their e-mail, it won't diminish the love that grows between you. So if traditional invites feel right, then go for it. But don't be afraid to do what you feel is right. It can be easy being green ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

We Didn't Start the Fire...

We think a squirrel probably did. We still don't know. We had no idea what was going on last Friday morning, as our downstairs neighbor woke us up at nine in the morning with cries of " The house is on fire!!!". We had no idea how bad it was or what was going to happen. We put on coats and shoes, bolted out the door, and watched as three fire trucks filed in one after another, sirens wailing in time with the cop car in front of the house.
As the fireman methodically checked to see that everyone got out and appropriately dealt with the growing smoke, all we could do was watch along with the neighbors that were gathering on the side of the street. The fire looked decently contained from where we were, the only signs were the smoke lazily pouring out of the back end of the house where the dry wooden stairs,insulation, and crawl spaces were. It looks like the fire originated there, most likely when a squirrel got in, and chewed on some wiring.
After standing around for over an hour, waiting for the go ahead, the minor panic that had blossomed in my mind at our neighbor's words had subsided. It was clear the fire was being controlled, and our apartment was far from the probable damage. I decided it was nothing more than an inconvenient alarm clock for which there was no snooze button. Then a fireman approached us, accompanied by our landlord, and they told us that in the process of checking to make sure the fire wasn't in the walls, our living room wall was destroyed, along with the ripped up carpeting. They looked at us, almost apologetically like it was actually their fault instead of the dryness in the air and the spreading of smoke; but all that they said was "You're probably going to want to move."
A fireman took us upstairs to get what we'd need for the next few days. Slightly shell shocked, i got lost looking at the plaster debris of the broken walls and destroyed floor that coated everything in the room. Pictures of my nephew, Brenden's favorite chair, our papasan; all of it was covered. It's moments like those where I'm especially grateful for having Brenden in my life. He grabbed all of the things I had forgotten, things that weren't his responsibility to remember. But he grabbed them anyway.
We were lucky. Our landlord had an open apartment right next door to ours, but that essentially meant we were going to have to move. So, we did. Our parents traveled a few hours each way, and they came up and helped us move. We all carried furniture, vacuumed dust out of every nook and cranny of every item, and cleaned all the surfaces of the new apartment. By the end of the weekend, we had moved most of our stuff, and had set up our new place.
This was a difficult experience, but it helped reinforce a few things. My fiance and I are completely right for each other. When all of this happened, we worked hard to love and support each other, and I am especially sure that we will see each other through anything. It's also nice to know that though we are legal adults, gaining more independence everyday, we still have supportive people who love us. From friends that let us crash with them, to the parents who sacrificed their time, energy, and resources, to professors who gave extensions, to people who wished us well. I am so very thankful that in the heart of difficulty, the people I'm proud to know gave us a hand up, held on, and stayed with us through the hard stuff. They are amazing, and we are blessed. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

She Didn't Shoot the Sheriff, but She Did Shoot Us!

Hello to all fans, friends or family who are dropping in for a read! Today, I wanted to take the time to give a quick shout out to our amazing photographer, Alexi-Lan Lowell, of Walla Photography in Bangor, ME! Day four of our engagement, I had been wading through a sea of links, pictures, the riptides of lace, flower arrangements, and dresses consistently pulling me back from the sleep I intended to get sooner or later. There comes a phenomenon, where no matter how much you may love wedding planning, you look so intensely for so long that all the diversity in the world starts to look the same. That how you know it's time to take a breather! ;)
But just before I got to take a break, I got a break. Earlier, I had heard from an old friend who was a talented photographer and who offered to cover our wedding. I was eager to have friends involved, but his wedding packages were just too expensive for our tiny budget, and it became obvious to me that we were going to have to find a more affordable way to have tangible memories of our special day. I checked the theater related sub-folder of our university's First Class e-mailing system. Staring me in the face was an e-mail from Lexi, advertising her website launch. I figured "Why not, let's see what she's got...", so I clicked on the link to her website, ignoring the incessant low battery notice from my Ipod (we were both running out of energy!). I was shocked, as Lexi's rates are fantastic. My natural reaction was cynical, I'm sheepish to admit. I figured if her pricing was so affordable, that her work must be poor or alright, but not fine tuned.
I.Was. Stunned... Her ability to capture color especially intrigued me, as well as her skillful candid photos and breathtaking black and white photos all created a beautiful body of work. She had a deal going for March, offering a discount on some sessions. So I took a chance, and booked an engagement session with her for the following Thursday.
Lexi was just about the sweetest person to work with. She's full of great ideas, but open, and the farthest from demanding as anyone could be. She helped us maximize placement in our engagement shoot at the library where Brenden and I first went on a date, and the hall where we first met. She flawlessly combined what was sentimentally important to us, what were realistic photographic goals, and what helped bring out our playful personalities.
Long story short, I would recommend her to anyone, as she is a joy to be around and great at what she does. Walla Photography is on facebook, and they have their own website with a blog. The only problem with it, is that it's new, so it doesn't come up right away when googling it. But no worries, we can supply it here! :)
Well, technically here: Link :)

Also, attached are a couple of our engagement shoot photos, to demonstrate her amazing work! :) Thanks so much Lexi, and all readers! :]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Help! I'm having a wedding!

Marriage is a huge step. One of the biggest of a lifetime! And when you're ready with the right person, you couldn't imagine it any other way. My fiance and I haven't been together as long as other couples. Just over fifteen months, or 1.25 years depending on how impressive we wanted to make it sound to justify it to skeptical relatives.
I was expecting it when he proposed. In a way, I knew it was coming. We'd talked about it off and on as something we definitively wanted to do. But as third year college kids in the thick of work and the thin of cash, we didn't really plan on acting on that any time soon.
Even recently, when he finally did pop the question, we planned on a longer engagement. He asked me February 29th, at 3 AM, sitting on the utterly desolate swings of a sleep-stricken playground, holding my hand the whole time. We knew we wanted a late fall or early winter wedding. We had thought the end of November or the beginning of December sounded nice. But it seemed as if we were going to have to wait until 2013 for that to happen, because getting married in nine months would be crazy for two broke, in-debt college kids with nothing to their names.
But we didn't want to wait. And the more the friends and family started asking "So have you set a date?" their eyes and voices large and hovering, waiting to hear the good news; the taste of "In winter, end of 2013" soured in my mouth. After only a day, I said to my fiance, as we got into bed to watch cartoons together "Do you really want to wait a year and nine months to get married?". That was when everything changed.
It was another moment where I knew saying yes was the right choice. We were on the same page, yet again, as we both had and hadn't been throughout our entire relationship. As he hesitated with a distinctive pause that is native to his speech, he seemed caught. Finally, with a steady gaze and voice to match he said "No. I don't." We spent the next hour talking about how we could ever manage a wedding this year. And finally, we picked a date, and went to work. We began planning a life changing event nine months in the future, and it wasn't having a baby!
In posts I'll soon put up,I'll discuss the good fortune that has fallen into our laps in the first week of our engagement and sincerely helped with our wedding planning. Part of that was luck. Some was fate I'm sure. But a lot was scouting and planning. We're young. We're quirky. We're getting married on a budget so small that it makes a shoestring look like an aircraft carrier. But we're going to pull this off, have the wedding we truly want, at a completely affordable rate.
In an era where the average wedding costs roughly $22,000, we're setting out to do the ultimate challenge: tie the knot and not go broke doing it. I've already learned a lot in the last week, and I'm sure I'll learn more. And from venue photos, to seating charts,from invites to open bars, I want to share my journey with whoever wants to hear it.
So this is us, hunkered down, strapped in, all arms and legs inside the vehicle, and holding on for dear life. With every small moment in the day I catch a glimpse at my engagement ring or the loving man that will become my loving husband, I smile and know that we are making the right choice for us. For all of the other moments brimming with hectic phone calls, desperate saving sprees, and the agony of making a guest list all I can think is:
"Help! I'm having a wedding!"