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Honeymoon on a Dime?

Because I got married abroad my mother decided that spending ‘all that money to get there’ meant she should stay as long as humanly possible. I love my mother dearly so I had no problem with her staying an extra TWO WEEKS after the wedding. Only problem is that meant NO honeymoon. The extra time I took off work I spent showing her all around Ireland while the hubby went back to work (he didn’t mind a bit-weirdo loves to work).

So instead of a honeymoon we decided to save up for a trip to some place fun and historical when we had the time. I love going to places with character and history because, you guessed it, it’s cheaper. You can oogle the buildings and monuments and don’t spend a dime doing it because you’re usually outside. So finally, 2 1/2 year after our wedding, we’re going to Krakow, Poland. And to be honest we really didn’t need to wait that long because the whole trip including airfare, hotel stay, and breakfast for 6 days came to just under 500 euro!! It’s so easy to find cheap but nice hotels to stay in in Europe. If you’re coming from America it’s a bit more expensive. I’d recommend a trip to Canada or Mexico for a cheaper option of getting out of the US.

Ireland is one of the most expensive places to visit on the planet. Even just a weekend out of town can cost upwards of the price of my entire trip to Krakow. It’s gotten more reasonable since the recession but still nowhere near as cheap as other countries. The only advantage of coming to Ireland money-wise is if you’re in the UK because Sterling (GBP) is still kicking the Euro’s butt.

Some ideas of budget honeymoons:

  • Hit up friends or family that live in cool places and see if you can stay there free or on the cheap.
  • Go camping-Campgrounds can be as little as a tenner a night.
  • Take a long weekend. There’s no rule that says a honeymoon needs to be 7  full days and nights. Sometimes a shorter break is all you need. Hey, you at least got out of town.
  • Look for travel packages at an agency. They can get you to some pretty cool places with package deals. New resorts open all the time and they offer super reduced rates just to get people to try it out.
  • Take a bus or train instead of a plane. It might take you longer to get there but it may end up being cheaper.
  • Book any flights 6 months in advance. The second flights to your destination appear book them. They get more expensive as the time draws closer.
  • Europeans-Take the train across Europe. I think it’s like 100 quid and you can get on and off anywhere you like. Explore new places and just live moment to moment.
  • Americans-Take a bus across the country. You can both see the sites that way and no worries of getting lost!

Sometimes ‘planning’ a honeymoon takes the spontaneity and romance out of it. Give yourself an idea of where you’re going but maybe leave the details for when you get there. You’ll have so much to plan for the wedding day that having that part be breezy might just be what you need. To be sure you have enough for a honeymoon, start a ‘honeymoon fund’ the second he proposes that you NEVER touch. Even make it a charitable fund anyone can contribute to. As little as a fiver a week will add up in a year’s time. And hey, isn’t the week off after all that stress worth a bit more than the wedding day?  Trust me, you’ll need it.

Traditionally you would throw rice at the happy couple after they leave the church. Not sure where this tradition came from but it later became controversial. Some birds got sick and people said “throw birdseed, save the birds!!” So that’s what I did. Trying to be all PC I chose to have my lovely guests throw sunflower seeds on us. Good idea right? Oh my GOD no! It was the most painful thing ever. One person thought it would be a fun idea to blast me in the face at point blank range. Please people, if you go to a wedding where there are seeds or any hard pellet sized objects given to you to throw, lob it…The one cute thing I did was use little sheer pink and lavender draw tie bags to hold the seeds in. They looked adorable in the basket by the church entrance. That’s where you would keep them for when everyone comes into the church. Either have someone hand them a bag (so they aren’t all used up by a family with 6 kids) or have them placed them in the seats.

A few less painful options for confetti are:

  • Flower Petals-Daisies and roses are lovely because they both come in white and wont stain clothes.
  • Bubbles- A less desirable option because of possible spillage but painless nonetheless (unless you get one in the eye).
  • Faux Flower Petals- A bit more expensive than real ones and harder to clean up but again, not painful.
  • Biodegradable Paper Confetti- If you can’t find anyone that stocks these make them yourself by getting some sheets of paper and a hole punch. Takes a little time but, hey, what are bridesmaids for?

Click on the picture of the basket above and it will take you to a UK website for confetti baskets and the like. Such cute ideas posted there too.

Share you stories (or horrors) and ideas for great confetti options.

DIY Centerpieces

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Now that my wedding is over, and I can relax, I’m going to only do fun posts with great  ideas to save you money.

I found this amazing website that give you loads of DIY wedding accessory ideas. Everything from arranging flowers to making your own centerpieces is listed on this site.  Being in Ireland I don’t have access to huge craft superstores like I did back home, but I still have great ideas to make that budget wedding gorgeous.

Floating candle centerpieces are an inexpensive way to jazz up the table and people can even take them home as gifts. You can stick a coin under one of the seats at every table and whoever has the coin gets the centerpiece. Have this announced when everyone is in their seats and the time is appropriate.

candle

Now how to make it. Go to any craft superstore, discount kitchen store, or even Wal-Mart.  Find tall clear glass cylinders or even shorter glass containers that are wide and not clear. Whatever your personal preference.  If you chose a taller clear container you can put fresh flowers in the bottom (cheaper than fake and look better) with a candle on top. Simple, easy, done in 3 steps. Flower then water then candle. Done.

The shorter wider base ones are easy as well. Simply add water, candles, and for a special touch float flower petals or entire blooms on the water. In a shorter clear container you can take long green stems of flowers like lilies and weave them in the bottom placing the flower heads on the water.

If the reception hall will be dark, lighting the candles adds a romantic touch to the occasion.  But if your reception is during the day in a bright room, candles might not be your first choice.

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What’s the theme of your wedding? A beach scene? Winter formal? Vibrant autumn colors? Build a centerpiece that best matches your theme.
fishbowl
Beach weddings can have water centerpieces with shells in the bottom and goldfish or beta swimming in it. Buying fish bowls might even been cheaper. Other beach accessories you could use are rocks, sand, starfish, sand dollars or even colored glass pebbles. Try a few of these before the wedding to see which one you like best. It’s best to experience any problems that might occur (fish poop)way before hand as well. It only takes one day to find that out.  If you don’t add flowers at least jazz up the bowl with ribbon, a painted design, or even some twine tied in a bow.

Also a good idea is to see what you have local to you. Is there a beach nearby? How about trees with fall foliage you can pick? What about planning so far ahead that you actually try to grow the flowers for your own wedding. You don’t need a green thumb to grow bulb plants like tulips, lilies, or even hyacinth (which are so fragrant and gorgeous).  Flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding will make them cheaper if you do need to buy them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to spend a lot on your wedding. And making as many DIY things as you can will save you in the long run. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment.

Man, am I clever or what?

It’s the day before the wedding and all the accessories are bought and paid for, body is freshly waxed, and nails are gorgeous. So it’s time to relax and enjoy being around my friends and family.  Well, not quite yet.

Except for the tiny fact that I don’t have anyone to play “Here comes the bride”. The overpriced uilleann pipe player informed me that, even though he does loads of weddings, he doesn’t know how to blow out that tune. Strike one. Then I find out that the wonderful caring and giving person that’s going to play the piano and sing with my soon-to-be sister-in-law doesn’t know the tune either. Strike two. So I found it on iTunes and downloaded it for $1.99 (bargain) and burn it to a disk. Man, am I clever or what? Keep this part fresh in your mind because that story isn’t over yet.

“Uh, who is this?”

OK now I paint all of the wedding party’s nails, hands and toes, to match my colour scheme. We sort out last minute details like who’s bringing the sunflower seeds to throw at Anton and I as we leave the church and the newly burned cd of our wedding march. I just had one last thing nagging me. The limos. I never touched base with the drivers to make sure they were coming. Easy enough, I’ll just text them to make sure everything is A-OK.

Text to both: “Hiya, Jessica here, just making sure we’re all set for my wedding tomorrow. 2:15 at my place, don’t be late!”

Text reply from Rolls driver, “Yup all set. See you then.” (Let out half a breath)

Phone call reply from limo driver, “Uh, who is this?”

Frantic Psycho Bridezilla:”Jessica Roy! I booked you for my wedding tomorrow about 4 weeks ago? Ring any bells?”

At this point everyone in the room went silent. As if the look of horror on my face wasn’t enough of an indicator that something was terribly wrong.

L.D. “Yea I have something written here in my book. Refresh my memory again.”

This is the part that gets a little fuzzy for me as I wasn’t breathing properly and I got a little lightheaded. I basically tried jogging his memory which didn’t really work as I could tell he was still completely confused. Luckily he hadn’t booked anyone else that day, so he could fit me in. Nice. Needless to say I was disgusted. And to be honest, the limo was shite as well.

Word of advice, ALWAYS go check out the hire cars for your wedding. Never assume they are nice just because they are a professional company. And triple check all arrangements for your special day. Getting things in writing works best, but a phone call a week prior is vital.

The morning of my wedding was quite calm. I slept well, something I never thought I’d do. I hated not having my fiance next to me but it was tradition not to see the bride before the wedding.  My family and I went into Ennis that morning to see the flowers and make sure they were what I wanted. I was blown away with how gorgeous they were. I ordered them at Mulqueens Florist on O’Connell Street and was thoroughly impressed. I had to change my order about 3 times to suit change in dress colour and number of groomsmen. They were more than happy to oblige. Plus the price for all of the flowers was fantastic. Put it this way, I got 3 bouquets, 3 mother corsages, 4 button holes, elaborate cake flowers, alter flowers, 6 pew bouquets, and petals for my fathers dedication candle all for around €340. I highly recommend this company for your wedding.  See the flowers and other wedding pictures here.

As we left the florist, my niece and I saw one of the groomsmen come out of a shop so I knew Anton was close by. We ran by blocking any view of me with random pedestrians then killed some time before our hair and makeup appointments.

Long story short, the hair came out great, but the makeup and photographer made us extremely late. Everyone wanted makeup on last minute so I had to oblige. The photographer was supposed to meet us one street over from where he was parked but drove right by. By then I was sweating and having heart palpitations as well as swearing like a trucker. I blasted through traffic and really pissed off another motorist that in turn followed me half way home just to flip me off. Whatever dude, I’m the bride.  WIth my family muttering Hail Marys under their breath and death gripping ‘oh-shit’ handles in the car, we finally made it home.

Wedding starts at 3pm. We arrive home at 2:59 in jeans and the comfy shirts we wore to the hair dresser. The limo and Rolls Royce drivers are waiting patiently and my friends are inside ready to help us zip, clasp, and squeeze our way into our dresses, shoes, and jewelry.

We make it out the door and to the church by 3:15. I never dressed so fast in my life. Little did I know that just 5 minutes before I got there, half of the guests weren’t even there yet. I have to remember the Irish pace of things. I should have shown up at 4. Next time I’ll do that. Oh yea, there is no next time. Ah well.

This is where it gets interesting. Remember when I told you to keep the wedding march fresh in your mind? Well, here’s where it gets sticky.  My friends show up in the limo just in front of us. My now sister-in-law is outside waiting for the disk. The ONLY song on the whole cd. Nothing can go wrong, right?

She tells my friends to stall me for a couple minutes so they can get the music ready. She runs back inside and hands the disk to the best man. He then heads to where the stereo is to insert said disk. He’s met at the door by a 4 foot nothing old woman with a wooden cane. She instructs him to put the disk in and use the remote control, all the while threatening him with the cane.

Instrumental music started to play and my bridesmaids headed down the aisle. I peeked inside and saw them reach the alter.  Music stops, now it’s my turn.  With my mom on my arm we walk up to the inside door. This was my big moment. The one I’d been dreaming about for 20 years. Ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds, almost a minute goes by and no music. The whole church is staring at us but we can’t move. Finally some faint music plays, not my song of course, so I decided not to wait any longer. My gorgeous fiance was waiting for me, so, embarrassed and fuming, I started to walk.  Mom fell into step and just as we were about 3 pews from the altar “Da, da da daaaaa” my song starts blaring through the speakers loud enough to wake the dead. Everyone started to laugh and I joined in because it was either laugh or commit homicide.

My mom tearfully handed me off to Anton and to start the ceremony. He kissed my hand and let me to the altar where we became man and wife.

A few hiccups happened here and there but nothing too drastic. Except maybe Anton’s brother reading my fathers name as Oogeen Boyle and not Eugene Roy. But hey, only everyone noticed.  All in all it was a great day.

Would I change anything about the day if I could?  Maybe.  But bottom line is we’re married and blissfully in love.  And let’s face it, it does make one heck of a story.

jessanton_190

Enter Bridezilla

I know it’s been a while since my last post, and, I apologize. But I’m here now to tell some of the story of the last few weeks up to my wedding. (before I forget)

I was hoping to have all of my last minute planning done before my family arrived on June 5th, but, there’s a reason they call it ‘last minute’. I told everyone I wasn’t going to be a bridezilla and that everything would run smooth as silk. Shya! That lasted about .6 seconds when I realized I had to schedule a nail appointment, full body waxing, clean my house from top to bottom, grocery shop for 6 people, and trot my family and friends around Ireland as a tour guide. Not to mention the fact that the guest toilet stopped flushing, the hot water tank only heats water in this house when the heat is on (heat on in June, not going to happen) so the guest shower was out of the question, and the fridge was on the fritz. I don’t own a coffee pot and Americans just don’t do instant, so begrudgingly my family choked down as much as they could before letting me know it just wasn’t kosher. Luckily I have a coffee press so that did in a pinch. I was asked about the currency conversion so many times that I have a formula memorized to calculate any amount. And if I heard one more complaint about how much it rains here or the fact that clothing, that I told them not to bring a lot of, couldn’t be worn because it’s too cold, I was going to lose it. And people wonder why I had a nervous breakdown.

Deep breath…

Now for the good news. We did have a few days of wonderful weather and luckily the rain held out long enough for me to get my hair done and then run over to the spa for makeup. But before I get into that I’m going to back up and tell you a few things I did to plan my wedding day before my family arrived.

Shoes…

Trying to find shoes in Ireland was a trip. I went to every store in Ennis, Galway, and Limerick only to end up buying them on the internet. Apparently you can’t buy a decent pair of shoes in this country under €95. The one bridal store I ventured into in Ennis had a cute pair of strappy rhinestone shoes. But when I put them on my feet swam in them. My feet were too narrow for these shoes! Then under some good lighting I noticed they weren’t even white. They were almond, or eggshell, or whatever people call it these days. I asked the woman working there if they came in white. She then informed me, now hang on to your hat for this one, that I had to get a piece of my dress and mail it, and the shoes, to Belfast for them to be dyed the right color. Dyed? What do you mean dyed? How do you dye a shoe white? Bleach maybe, but how many shades of white are there? It screamed of scam and when I told my dress alter-er the tale she looked at me like I was crazy. She had never heard of dying shoes white either. Oh and the best part is it would cost me another €35 to get them “dyed” plus shipping. Hey I’m the frugal bride, remember? 

So bottom line is I got my shoes online at My Glass Slipper and had them shipped to my Mom in Florida. It’s an American website and they don’t ship overseas. Athough if you know one of the 300 million Americans with an address, maybe you can ship it to them and have them post it to you.  

 

These are my babies. They were only $48 plus $10 in shipping. With the conversion rate my shoes cost a whopping total of €36. Now that’s a bargain.

Veil…

The veil was easy. Although it took months of searching and debating about what style, length, and place to buy it from. I finally settled on having one made by my alter-er. Now I don’t always recommend this as the price could become ridiculous, especially for what you’re getting. Mine was very simple and elegant, but hugely overpriced. It was a mid waist length piece of material that was sewn to a comb. Nothing fancy, no jewels, embroidery, or even an edging and it cost me €75. Thankfully the shoes were such a bargain that it made up of for the staggering price of the veil. Although it’s now something I can’t brag about getting for a steal. Should’ve bought it from David’s Bridal in the States and had it brought over with Mom. Ah bygones.

All Other Accessories…

The ring pillow, garter, and other bits and bobs were brought over by my family as well. One accessory that wasn’t incidental but most important was my wedding ring set. As I mentioned in a previous post my Mother bequeathed my Grandmothers set to me. It’s a gorgeous round stone with 3 channel set diamond on each side set in white gold with a delicate matching band. The set is almost 70 years old and it looks amazing. I was very pleased to find that they fit perfectly and didn’t need sizing at all.  We purchased Anton’s ring in Galway and he wouldn’t allow me to spend loads on it so we compromised and spent what we felt was fair.

Being the anal planner that I am, I paid most of my deposits today and called all of my bookings to reconfirm everyone’s attendance. Photographer-check, cake-check, flowers-check, transportation-check, videographer-”We actually booked that day with someone else since our last chat…” I’m sorry,What? Did I just hallucinate? How could this have happened? I had a great chat with the videographer and thought we had an understanding. I was going to pay the deposit when I had the cash and he was going to be a great guy and wait for me. Fat chance. Word of advice. Don’t expect anyone to keep their word when money is on the line. Make sure when you’re going to book a service for a wedding that you pay them and fill out the booking order as quickly as possible.

So I’m sitting in the living room screaming at my laptop and sweating profusely. Meanwhile Anton is sitting across the room watching me morph into Bridezilla of epic proportions, most likely questioning his sanity for proposing to such a spa. In the reply email cancelling my confirmation, the videographer informed me that he could help me find another one if I so desired. Of course I so desire. Did he think I wasn’t serious when (I thought) I booked him? I sent a reply email and waited about .6 seconds then called his number to which I got no answer. I left him a message and called the other number. I think his mum answered which concerned me a bit but then brushed it off. Hey some people still live with their parents at 40 years old. Who am I to judge. I was told by the pleasant woman on the phone that he was possibly doing a wedding tonight. That was like salt in the wound. Knowing he might be videoing some other lucky bride who’s booking he didn’t cancel. But then I thought ‘It’s Monday. Who would get married on a Monday?’ Poor thing’s confused, bless.

Short story long his partner called me back. I was pleasant for as long as I could be. I said hello nicely then flipped my wig. I’m sorry. I’m an American who lived in New England my whole life. Do you really expect me to have patience? I told her how poor I thought it was that she booked over my day without even calling me first. She said I had to consider her blah blah blah. I didn’t hear the rest because I blasted her with her lack of professionalism and how a wedding is a huge day with loads of planning and if they couldn’t have the decency to call and confirm…you get the picture. She did say that she called but didn’t leave a message. Bollox to that. She never called. I’m not an idiot.

She gave me two names and numbers to call. The first one didn’t answer so the stress level just about peaked and almost turned into tears. I’m not hormonal I swear. I’m just a spoiled brat. I called the second number. When the man answered he must have thought a squirrel high on caffeine called him. My voice goes a few octaves higher when I’m nervous and I speak rather quickly. He confirmed that he had that date available and my body went limp. I released the air I trapped in my lungs just in case I needed to scream.

We had a lovely chat and come to find out he’s cheaper that the people I originally booked. He had a pleasant demeanor and loads of experience doing weddings. I can now breathe easy again. He also agreed with me that the original videographer I booked never called to confirm either. He said it’s sad but it happens all the time. If you want to know who he is, comment on this post and I’ll email his info to you. He’s out of Tipperary and doesn’t have a website that I know of. But I have his name and mobile if you need it and are getting married in Ireland.

So far that’s the only huge hiccup I’ve experienced and hopefully the last. I know everything happens for a reason and I think this was God’s way of saving me a few extra quid and making sure my day would be flawless. I just wish I could get it through my thick head not to panic about everything.

Ok huge dilemma. We just listened to our fifth band and, yet again, they sucked. We have no idea who to book. We’re super picky and me being an American, and a fan of the DJ, have found no one who can play up to our standards. Am I being too picky? Is my reception going to suck because I don’t want live entertainment? I just always pictured my big day with music played by the original artist. I’ve never even liked going to see cover-bands. It just annoys me. I know the Irish way is live music and karaoke-like fun, but seriously people, where is the talent around here? I will take any and all suggestions and listen to another 50 demos if I have to. Send them my way.

Anton’s family are extremely talented and can sing like angels. Either way, booking a band or a DJ, they will have to understand that his sisters and brother will be going up there to do a number or two. So we need someone flexible and easy going who will allow audience participation.  

I’m not mentioning any names, and don’t ask me to, but the demos I was sent and the one band I actually went to see, were bloody awful. One band even boasted about themselves so much I thought they were the second coming. They said they were booked into 2010 and they just happened to be available on my day. How lucky was I? So I was delighted I asked them to send me a demo. There are no words to describe how disappointed I was. Think Jimmy Buffet with about 50% less talent. €1500 for that? Bollox. I just threw the demo away and went back to the drawing board.

I know bands have to share the fee but to have a reasonably priced reception the only way to go is a DJ. And hopefully you know someone who can do it for you as a favor or at a good price. That’s a huge portion of the cost for a wedding is the entertainment. I have no problem having a DJ and I finally convinced the fiance that it’s our only option.

For a DJto play for roughly 8 hours they charge €950. For a band to play 2 1/2 to 3 hours they charge a minimum of €1200. Then you have to hire either another band or a DJ to play the rest of the night.  Hmmm whats the better deal? And which one do you think I would chose? When I saw the price comparison there was no question. Plus you can get them cheaper if you have them start after the meal and forgo the bridal party announcement.

One DJ service that gives you a text quote go to the Weddingdjs website and get the mobile number.

Any DJ recommendations are also welcome appreciated. Just post them in comments and I will look into all of them. 

You’ve been a wonderful crowd, thank you, and, goodnight.  

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