While living in Limerick, Anton and I would frequent the town market on Saturdays. One Saturday we went down and heard someone playing the uilleann pipes. We stopped and looked at each other. Immediately our eyes began to fill and that’s when we knew we couldn’t have this wedding without them. I had heard them many years back and always dreamed about having them at my wedding. Not realizing that one day I would infact marry an Irishman. They are just the most beautiful sound and a tradition in the Irish heritage.

I am pleased to announce that I have just booked an uilleann pipes player for the wedding ceremony. I’m so excited. He’s only going to play at the ceremony because we’re having a band play at the reception. He’s only €150, which I thought was reasonable. If you want to know who he is you can email me. Haven’t asked if I can blog about him yet. I will and post it at a later date. Visit this great website  if you’re getting married in the Cork area and want an uilleann pipe player at your ceremony. Donal was quick to respond to my email and although he couldn’t help me being so far away, he was more than willing to offer suggestions for someone closer to my area.

The wonderful person who actually referred me to the player I booked today was Gabriela Avram. A terrific lady who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know from social techie events here in Ireland. She’s got a great blog about the events she attends and the work she does in market research in technology. Thanks again Gabriela!

 “There are some things you can penny pinch on but my hair isn’t one of them.”

The first of three huge planning details I took care of yesterday was booking a videographer. I had called a few a couple months back to no avail. They were all booked. So I figured it wasn’t meant to be. Then I went poking around the internet again yesterday and found this great website, Keane For Beauty, with links to an array of bridal planning websites and phone numbers. Now mind you these services are mainly localized in County Clare, but most will travel for a nominal fee.

I first contacted Brooks Video,  from the links on the website, who said they regretably couldn’t cover it because they weren’t going to be in town. Yet they were more than willing to offer me two alternatives and one in particular worked out beautifully. The videographer I chose to go with is SES Digital. They have several packages to chose from ranging in price from €650 to €1100.  Very reasonable considering I’ve been quoted anywhere from €1200-€2000.  Declan from SES Digital was extremely helpful in answering all my questions and even sent me samples of his work. You can see them on the website as well.

The second thing I booked yesterday was the hairdresser. I found her on the same website as the videographer. I’m using Ev’s Hair Design in Quin. She’s really close by and can come to the house to do all the bridesmaids, my mom, and myself. Bridesmaids and mothers pay roughly €30 and mine will be €50. Plus another €50 for the onsite fee. I figure it’s worth it because the way the wind is out here, I’m not chancing too many trips to and from the car. So once I get my veil and tiara/comb I can bring it to her for a free practice run. There are some things you can penny pinch on but my hair isn’t one of them.

“…with enough ribbon and flowers…I’ll be happy.”

The last thing I booked yesterday was the transportation. I cheated and looked on www.goldenpages.ie for someone local. All of the websites I found were in Dublin and I wasn’t willing to pay twice the amount for the commute. So I’m going with Joe O’Leary in Limerick. For a black stretched limo that seats 8 that will pick me and my girls up at the house, drive us to the church, take us to any photo sites we chose, then on to the reception, will cost a total of €300. I called several places yesterday and needless to say they were the cheapest. An alternative to this, that I don’t have the pleasure of, is having a friend or family member that has a Hummer or larger vehicle that can pick a lot of people up.

An idea that Anton came up with as a solution to the problem of ‘how do he and I get to the reception with a limo full of the wedding party?’ was for us to rent a Mercedes or equivelent for the day. That way he and the groomsmen can use it to get to the church in style and we can use it after the ceremony. We’re going to have someone in the wedding party, or a friend, drive us instead of a chauffeur. That is going to cost a fraction of the amount it would if we booked a Rolls Royce with chauffeur. Ideally a Rolls is what I wanted but with enough ribbon and flowers on the car, I’ll be happy.  

Another website that helps with wedding planning is www.weddings.ie. It’s loaded with ideas from “etiquette for the big day” to “who pays for what“. You can even find bands, chauffeurs, and bridal party gift ideas on the site as well. I found it very useful.

So that was my entire afternoon yesterday. Surfing, emailing, calling, and booking things that seemed to only be available by chance. And the funny thing is I always ended up booking with the least expensive option. Guess this wedding is really meant to be. If you put your energy out there to get a budget wedding, do your research, and open your mind to fun alternatives, you’ll get exactly what you want. The perfect ‘wedding on a dime’.


Pre-cana, Part Deux

A few weeks ago we had our last pre-cana course and I’m here to tell you all about it.

“They really drove the point home that this is FOREVER!!!”

We started out by entering the classroom and sitting in chairs lined up to face the front of the room. An overhead projector flashed love sayings with pictures of flowers until everyone got there.  Anton and I sat in our chairs holding hands and giggling like idiots when I looked around and took notice of everyone in the room. There were 42 people in the class (21 couples) and about 3 of us looked like we wanted to be there. Anton and I were 2 of them. The women were pleasant enough but the men had what you would typically call the ‘I don’t wanna do this’ face. Just a bunch of grumps. I could only sympathise what those women had to put up with to get them there.

So the class starts and the speakers introduced themselves. Two woman (wearing the same skirt and no it wasn’t a uniform) and a priest. They each had their own modules for teaching the class. We touched on subjects like children and women’s fertility, sexuality, finances, and how permanent this decision is. Honestly if I took this class 10 years ago with anyone I was dating back then, I would have called the whole thing off. They really drove the point home that this is FOREVER!!!

At one point the priest sat in a chair and pulled out a grocery bag. He then pulled personal items out of the bag describing what those items meant pertaining to his upbringing.  He then labeled it his “baggage” and described how it’s what he brings to every aspect of his life. He explained how we need to realize ours and what we bring forth to our marriage.  What we grew up with, our parents, our household jobs, past relationships, and anything else that frames us today.  I was amazed at how simple an idea that was but so completely accurate.

Another exercise we had to do was break the room up into 4 groups and take a test. Two groups of girls and two of guys. We were given the test with 20 questions and as a group we had to decide if it was true, false, or depends. They were all about women’s fertility so I couldn’t wait to see the men’s results. Once the tests were scored we were told the results. The men had the lowest scores with 7 and 9 out of 20. Oddly enough the women scored really low as well. The highest was 14 out of 20. They worded the questions so it was next to impossible to get the all right.  And who the hell makes a test with “depends” as one of the answers?

“…if a priest wasn’t present, I think she would have set him ablaze.”

Anyway, on to the rest of the day. We had a break for tea and biscuits and another for lunch. When we came back from lunch we had one more fun project to do. We had to hold a pen together and draw our ideal home without talking.  I thought it was a team building exercise or to see what we thought our ideal home would be. That was until they asked the question “Who did most of the drawing?” Well Anton controlled the pen and fought me when I tried to suggest what to draw. It got to the point where I was ready to whip out my own pen and draw, so we know what that exercise really meant. Yea, we’re both control freaks. So sue us. But it did bring to light the fact that we are. Only problem is I don’t see that changing any time soon. Hey, at least we can admit it.

The last thing we did that day was have a church service and lit a unity candle. As I looked around the room at the couples I noticed a few things. The way they held the candles. For example, Anton was holding my hand as I was holding the candle and our bodies were turned towards each other with arms pressed into each other.  Which, to me, was the way you were supposed to hold a ‘Unity Candle’. As a loving couple. Then I looked directly across from us and saw how this couple held theirs. He was holding the middle of the candle and she was cupping the bottom with the tips of her fingers so as to not touch his flesh AT ALL! She looked like she wanted to pour kerosene on him and flip the candle onto his lap. It was hilarious yet sad at the same time. They must have had the fight of a lifetime at lunch and if a priest wasn’t present, I think she would have set him ablaze. All I could think was, ‘I don’t see her making it to the alter’.

The other couples didn’t look much better. Some were holding hands like Anton and I, but their body language said ‘get a move on Father’. The class got out at 4pm, an hour early, because a rugby match was on at 5pm. I found it disheartening that even God is rushed for a game. Who knows what I might have been able to learn about myself and my betrothed in that last hour. But I guess we’ll never know. Hope the rugby match was worth it.


“…go crazy and hire Def Leppard…”

People often wonder why I’m so frugal, or “tightfisted” as it’s been eloquently put, and this is how I can describe it. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent recently stating it simply and metaphorically.

“…I was talking with people at a bloggers dinner last night and the one thing I came to realize, and more accurately put into words, is this. Women think their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives. Well up to that point it is, but the numerous best days of their lives are yet to come. So why not leave some water in the well for the future. I mean first, second, third baby, first house, and several other firsts will mean just as much as committing yourself to your beloved. Plus the fact that you will be sharing new firsts with that person makes it that much sweeter. Not spending loads of money on that one day doesn’t make it any less special or romantic. It just makes you realize there’s a whole life ahead of you to plan for.”

To embellish on that further I’m not knocking huge weddings if you can afford it. Hell, go crazy and hire Def Leppard if that tickles your fancy, but remember this. Sometimes a big wedding might be compensation for a little relationship.

I’ll confess something that most people don’t know. I’ve obviously dated other people in the past and as a normal healthy woman I’ve thought about marriage a time or two. Matter of fact I’ve pictured my big day since I was 12 when my sister got married. What kind of flowers, limos, and of course the dress. I’ve pictured everything including a faceless man standing at the alter waiting for me. Funny thing about that is “he” has always had dark brown hair. Hmmm! Premonition? Anyway, back to the point.

My last serious boyfriend of 2 years was, on paper, a great catch. He had money, a great job, was a gym buff and in excellent shape, and I even got along famously with his mother. Now for the minus, the big minus, he replaced love and affection with gifts. I never wanted for anything because I knew when the guilt of ignoring me got too heavy, I’d have a new gadget. Home stereo system for my birthday, ipod for Christmas, and jewelry occasionally just because. The gifts were wonderful and eased the pain of emotional distance for a period of time, but nothing that could sustain me permanently.

One day we decided to go ring shopping.  We hit every jewelry store in the mall. I found myself leaning more towards the higher end rings. Larger 2 carat 3 stone princess cut rings and matching band loaded with diamonds. Why was I looking to get the most expensive ring when everything else in my life was so frugal? Because of who was giving it to me. I wanted the big ring to compensate for the little love.

“…It was almost too perfect…”

When Anton proposed to me he had nothing to put on my hand. He had a heart full of love and the words on his lips. He got down on one knee, held my hand, and pledged his love to me while asking for my hand in marriage. There was no time for an extravagant scene planned out or absorbanent amounts of money spent to sweeten the deal. It was just him and me in my house having a great conversation when it hit him. He wanted to be with me forever and couldn’t wait another moment to ask, so he did.

The next words out of his mouth were. “We need to go shopping!” I suggested getting a ring from a bubble gum machine. Just a plastic one to remind me of him. A PLASTIC engagement ring!  And why did I want such a cheap ring? Because of what it meant. It meant that I was going to be with the love of my life forever and all I needed was that promise and nothing else. No 3 stone 2 carat princess cut diamond ring with matching band loaded with more diamonds. He would have loved to buy me those rings but I told him I would hear nothing of the sort.

So one afternoon we went to Wal-mart to get a few odds and ends, not even thinking about the ring, and there it was. The jewelry counter right at the front entrance to the store.  We looked over the giant fake rings but decided against it for the pure fact that it looked really fake and would most likely fall apart. Then we decided on a “place holder” (his term) of cubic zirconia in white gold. Strong enough not to fall apart but so beautiful it looked like the real deal.

It was almost too perfect that we didn’t spend loads of money on a ring since my mother recently decided to bequeath my grandmothers wedding set to me. I would marry Anton barefoot on a beach in a sundress with flowers in my hair and a few close friend and family to celebrate with us over a buffet style reception. It’s our day and the best way to celebrate it is an expression of our love and personalities. There isn’t one specific set of criteria for having weddings, much as planners try to convince you otherwise. So why commit yourself to ‘traditions’ that don’t properly reflect who you are. We get away from the true meaning of a wedding and make it into some extravagant affair and feel guilty if we don’t pull out all the stops. Well I’m here to say that thought process has got to stop. Take control of your day because in all fairness it is YOUR day. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking differently.

Dance all night, celebrate til dawn, and most importantly have a blast!!

Bling! Bling!

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. The tradition every woman looks forward to as the special girls moment just before their big day.

Jewelry is usually passed down as the something old, new, or borrowed. The blue can be something like a handkerchief or garter.

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I have just been informed by my mother that she will be handing down my grandmother’s wedding ring set as the ‘something old’. I’m so excited I could cry. I have loved that set since I was a teenager and now it’s MINE!!!!

Now to pick out your jewerly. Typically I prefer the traditional handed down or borrowed jewelry from family or friends. I still have my jewelry from my Jr. Prom (Deb) and it’s in perfect condition. Ask friends and family if they still have jewelry from events they’ve gone to. You might just get lucky. If that isn’t an option, costume jewelry will do in a pinch.

You can choose feaux pearls, crystals, or even colored stones to match any colors you might have in your dress. Pearls can be bright white or cream colored depending on your dress as well.

Costume jewelry stores can be found in several towns and cities in Ireland . Second hand shops, accessory shops, and even larger department stores, like J.C. Penney’s in the States or T.K. Maxx in Ireland, will be sure to have a decent selection.  

Here are a few gorgeous necklace and earring ideas from David’s Bridal, a U.S. based bridal chain.

Accessory style 5645N/white  - Three row pearl collar chocker    Accessory style RH4244N  - Square Crystal Necklace    Accessory style 600/NWhite  - 6MM 16    Accessory style WJE-4709  - Crystal Chandelier Earrings.   Accessory style 2872EP 5023  - Crystal Vine Linear Earrings.   Accessory style 06F1  - Pearl and Crystal Linear Earrings.

Some of the smaller accessory shops in most larger towns in Ireland are; Claire’s Boutique, Accessorize, Pulse Accessories, and Glizti Bitz for starters. The only website I found was for Claire’s but the complete list of address and phone numbers of all fashion accessory stores can be found at GoldenPages.ie.

I’ve also found an amazing discount wedding jewelry website in the U.S. that ships internationally. They have everything from tiaras to foot jewelry. Check out the gorgeous selection at Princess Bride Tiaras. Also, for the greener brides, they show how to select a veil as well as put it on and keep it on. What a great idea for a website. Plus all of their jewelry shimmers and promises the highest quality at an affordable price.

Unfortunately for many people this isn’t a DIY situation. So for those of us who don’t have a hand-me-down or ‘borrowed’ jewelry set, it’s good to know there are a plethora of options out there. Don’t worry about buying the most expensive either. Even though you’re on a budget you can still look like you spent a million bucks. No one will ever know the difference. I wont tell, I promise.

Up or Down?

One of the biggest questions for my wedding day is not ‘Where will the reception be?’ or ‘Who shall I invite?’ No it’s considerably more important then that. It’s by far one of the most important things I have to plan for my special day. And the question is… ‘Should I wear my hair up or down?’

I know that might seem a bit unimportant to most people but to me it’s a matter of life and death. My entire wedding day is going to be photographed and treasured for decades to come. So I don’t want to look ratty or disheveled. Personally I prefer my hair down, but I have a strapless dress and shoulders I wouldn’t mind showing off so I’m leaning more towards up. Maybe I’ll do both. Front up with a tiara comb, which I have to show you, and the back down and curled. My hair has a natural wave to it, that most people don’t see because I straighten it, so it should take the curl nicely.

Here are a few pictures of ideas that I had for my day.

 hair.jpg                              hair-5.jpg 

  hair-6.jpg <I love these two> hair-7.jpg This one has hair ornaments!

Plus there are these fun little hair ornaments that add a little something to your do. I’d advise against it if you’re wearing a tiara or other headpiece as it may be over kill and garish. Try them on and do a pre-run of your hair with your stylist a couple times before the wedding so he/she knows exactly what to do on the day. You don’t need to experiment the day of and end up not getting what you want.

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Here are a few pictures of the cool tiara type combs I’m going with. They’re a lot easier to keep in your hair and a lot less painful as well. I’ve tried on countless tiaras and kept wondering how it was going to stay in with all the dancing I’m going to be doing. Then I came across the tiara head-comb and voila! it stays put. It’s absolutely gorgeous with or without a veil and gives you the look of royalty. Depending on the hairstyle it can even look as though it’s a full tiara.

hair-9.jpg                           hair-10.jpg

Before I go I have to post another cake idea I found thats absolutely gorgeous. I’m going to try and get this made using gerbera daisies instead. I love the idea of candles around the cake. For people who can’t afford a waterfall in the middle of their tiers of cake, candles are an eye catching inexpensive alternative. It adds a touch of class as well.


 Stay tuned for the jewelry blog next….

Wedding flowers that is. Geez get your mind out of the gutter.

When choosing flowers for your wedding you have the option of real or silk. Real flowers last only the day but can be very fragrant. Many people don’t even think about their flowers after their wedding day. For the others that do, silk might be a better option. You can keep your bouquet forever to commemorate your day. Some silk flowers even look exactly like real ones and no one can tell the difference until you touch them. Another advantage to silk flowers is being able to dye your  flowers to match the wedding colors exactly.

Being into natural health and all things holistic, I prefer the real ones myself. I love the feeling of fresh flower petals against my skin and the fragrance that fills the room is so uplifting. As for the price, they’re comparable.

Make sure you know what the reception hall is covering for flowers before you go pricing. In my case the reception hall is taking care of center pieces and the head table. That saves me a lot of money. All I need to buy for is the church, bridal party, and groomsmen. Flowers are in no way cheap but they are a fraction of what other costs for the wedding are.

One option for saving money on flowers is to grow your own. If you’ve got time, and a green thumb, start planting well before the date. Plan the wedding for the time of year your favorite flower is in bloom. This will ensure your flowers will be available and if they don’t grow for you, they will at least be cheaper at a florist because they’re in season. Always have a florist in mind for the possibility that your flowers aren’t ready in time.

Price all florists within a reasonable radius of your wedding. You don’t always have to go with the closest one. You may even want to go directly to a greenhouse that sells their flowers. Lower overhead means less expensive flowers. In town skyrocketing rental rates for shopfronts greatly increases the price. 

A website that sells flowers wholesale is another option. Fifty Flowers (dot) com is one that does just that. You can search through their catalog of flowers by season, type, color, and even made for you flower packages. If you order online you get free shipping as well. I checked the prices too, VERY reasonable. The only con I see to this website is you have to get a load of flowers in the same color. Call to see if you can mix and match if necessary.

Great ideas for how to arrange your own home grown flowers like the florists do can be found on numerous websites.

Websites like:

There is a step by step tutorial is on this About.com interior decorating website. It tells you exactly what to do from picking out the colors to how to store them. Also check this list to find wholesale flowers in your area.

Pictures of some easy DIY center pieces, boutonniere, bouquets etc….

flowers1.jpg  flowers-2.jpg  flowers-3.jpg  flowers-4.jpg flowers-5.jpg  flowers-6.jpg  flowers-7.jpg  flowers-8.jpg

It’s unbelievable how easy it is to make these things.

*Word of hint. If you want to make a flower face a certain direction, tie the bunch close to the heads. To get the bunch to stay together while you wrap it, use twist ties or rubber bands to hold them. Then wrap gorgeous ribbon or material around the stems. You can also incorporate jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, or bracelets for a shimmery effect on the handle of your bouquet.

 **Boutonniere’s are easy. Just take the flower of your choice and some greens, tie with rubber band or twist tie, then wrap with a stem cover. Use a simple pin to fasten to the lapel.

 Get creative and practice. Look everywhere for pictures of arrangements you might want to duplicate. And most importantly, have fun!!


Wedding invitations can be very costly depending on who you go through. Fortunately for us, Anton has a cousin in the printing biz and she’s giving us invitations as a wedding present. Hooray!! But would I let that be the end of this blog and keep my penny squeezing/cheap chick advice to myself? I think not…

You might laugh at this one but earlier today I ordered my business cards online from a company calledVista Print. They have a dot com, dot ie, and dot uk dot co just to name a few. I ordered 1500 cards with print on both sides and it only cost me €34 with shipping and VAT. I was blown away at the price. Then I sat here trying to figure out what to blog about and it hit me. Check Vista Print to see if they do wedding invitations. Eureka!! They do!!

I must admit I had some fun creating my own with different fonts and colour schemes, all in the name of research of course. Then I got to the best part, the price. Seems that for 100 invitations it only costs €38.49 and 250 costs €62.99. There are higher and lower prices/amounts listed but that was just to give you an idea of the cost.

I haven’t seen the quality of the actual printing on wedding invitations, but I have seen the business cards. I have always been pleased with what I’ve gotten from Vista.  They also allow you to upload any image you want and create your own card.Finish options are glossy or matt and both are included in the price. You then have an option of a plain envelope for free or upgrade to the matching one at an additional charge.

For 100 it’s an extra €22.49. So cheap! Vista even has thank you cards to match your invitations. 100 thank you’s  is €37.49. You can always wait to purchase these until after the wedding as you’ll be sure to get some money as gifts.

So the total for 100 wedding invitations with matching envelopes, shipping and VAT comes to €90.03. Subtract €25 for plain envelopes. Don’t forget to get the RSVP cards to put in them. Or you can just put on the invitation to RSVP at an email address. That reminds me of something else.

Have fun with your invitations…                       

invite.jpg                                         invite4.jpg

There is an online invitation website that allows you to make a wedding page. Go to my webpage at The Knot and see how much fun it is to make your own wedding webpage. You can also send out e-vites to people and get RSVPs via email. Saves on postage and invitations. That way you could buy invitations for the technophobes out there that still don’t own a computer, but would like to attend your wedding, and save a fortune.

The Knot webpages even have a guest-book people can sign to send warm wishes and blessings. How fun is that! I love mine and the picture I chose shows how goofy in love we are with each other.

The internet opens up a whole world of options for you to choose from. Some people might not like the impersonal web e-vite. While others may love it and find less restrictions of how much they want to say. You can even add pictures to tell a story or for people to print out at their convenience. Plus you can get a wedding blog going either through The Knot or another website like WordPress (this one) to document your wedding.                    

Other wedding invitation website are:                                                    

For the crafty people out there you can always make your own as well. I made my bridal shower invitations and they were adorable. It’s amazing what you can do with construction paper, stamps, and glitter. No one is going to judge you by your invitations so have fun with them. Express yourself and show what the tone of your wedding day will be with the invite.

1. invite5.jpg  2. invite6.jpg  3. invite7.jpg