Category Archives: Budget

Exciting News!

Now HitchDied isn’t the only place to read what I have to say about weddings: I’ll be writing a weekly post on The Broke-Ass Bride, every Sunday.

No one gets the newspaper anymore, so I’m sure you have a gap in your Lazy Sunday reading needs.  Go fill it with my first Broke-Ass post!

Runner’s Stretch

I’m breaking my number one rule for the Running of the Brides, because everyone on my dream team save my Aunt Chris can’t get out of work or weddings and join me in Cleveland tomorrow morning.  I’m a little bummed about having only one helper, just because it is lonely and not as fun.  Although I’m sure Chris will be a one-woman dream team: she’s a savvy negotiator, she’s got Obama arms for carrying heavy dresses, and she’s got great style.  Plus I am looking forward to a girly evening of gossip and iron-on shirt-making in a hotel in Cleveland with her.

But I think when I see the giant teams, I am going to have wistful moments.  In particular because there will be MOMS everywhere.  Even though I am fairly certain that if my mother were alive she would not go within 500 yards of a Filene’s Basement Bridal Event.  Grief is rarely if ever rational like that.

I am also nervous that every dress will pale in comparison to THE DRESS which I saw two weeks ago, despite price tag differentials.  Collin told me to stop kidding myself and just go buy  The Dress.  I called him out on how his suggestion was partially motivated by him not wanting me to go to Cleveland, even for one night.  I reminded him of ways we could use the money I might save on a dress.  [I think in normal relationships I’d say something like, “We can have another hour of open bar at the wedding!” or “We could take a weekend trip!” but instead I’m saying things like, “We can pay off more of the mortgage!” because that is what speaks to Collin.]

Full report, hopefully with hilarious pictures, when I return!

I Don’t Like Being Ripped Off

Just another reason I am ill-suited to being a bride: when I get the feeling I’ve been ripped off, I tend to stomp my feet, say mean things to not-at-fault cogs in the machine, cry once I’ve reached the “privacy” of my car, write a bunch of nasty Tweets in hopes the business tracks their name, draft scathing reviews for Yelp and similar websites… and never actually feel any better for all this fussing.

About eighteen months ago, I splurged on a pair of designer glasses purchased at Eyetique, a local fancy eyeglass chain.  I got “a deal,” paying only 25 dollars for the lenses, but that was on top of a cool $475 for the frames.  Last night, the plastic frames snapped when I laughed too hard.  This morning I went to the store and they told me the price of repairs would be $250.  Also known as “the price of an entirely new pair of glasses from any reasonable establishment.”

So… I went through the above foot-stomping process. I still feel scammed, and I still don’t have glasses.

Why is any of this relevant to weddings?  Because I am BOUND to overpay for various products and services for this wedding.  It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.  And I really, really would like to manage to get through that without going through this unhelpful temper-tantrum process.

And I know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and all that.  Maybe I should be focused on how to avoid getting ripped off?  But that seems much more difficult than trying to learn how to react with grace when I get ripped off.  I want to be able to roll with the getting ripped-off punches… because having a wedding is like being in a getting ripped-off boxing ring.  How have you handled your mistreatment at the hands of wedding professionals?

[Meanwhile, let me throw out another flailing fist:  if you live in Pittsburgh, just say no to Eyetique.]

The Wedding Budget Stork

After reading this wonderful post on Another Damn Wedding, and re-reading the posts linked to within, I started to think about where wedding budgets come from.

Some couples must choose their budget because it is what they have to spend.  Some couples  choose their budget because it is necessary to accommodate certain necessities, like inviting everyone in a large family, or adhering to parents’ standards for decorum.  And some couples are fortunate enough to set their budget as what they feel like spending.

Collin and I are, more or less, in the last category.   This makes us privileged, and I don’t mean to whine about our enviable position. But I do think having a flexible budget makes what Lyn says about the attached meanings we give to money resonate even more deeply:

Money, to each and every one of us, is not just straight numbers. Money is class. Money is opportunity. Money is worth. And so we involuntarily assign an ethical value to our budgets. Whether we like it or not, we assign an emotional value to what we’re spending for our weddings.

I feel even more mixed-up about the relatively unconstrained choice I am making about how much to spend on our wedding because I am not spending money I have earned.  The money I have set aside for our wedding is from my parents’ estate.  We also have support from Collin’s very generous and wonderful family.

If my parents were alive today, I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking them for this money.  We would probably wait to have a wedding until after I’ve worked for a few years.  It feels completely insane to be spending big bucks on a wedding when I don’t have a job lined up for after graduation.  But I do have the money to spend.  I am making the choice to spend it, and I need to own that choice.

I could spend every cent in my bank account on my wedding and it wouldn’t buy me something as valuable as dancing with my dad at the reception.  I hope I don’t attempt to find a replacement for my dead parents’ love in the perfect centerpieces or a designer gown. 

But having lost my parents is part of the reason I want a wedding.  I want all the family and friends that are still with us to be there when Collin and I become a new family.  I want to “celebrate life,” as they say at funerals, but this time before it is over.  That experience is worth a huge amount of money to me, and I have the privilege to spend it.

So, yeah.  The values we assign to the money we spend?  Loaded, loaded, loaded.

The Pink Dress That Wasn’t

We did our first venue walk-through today, at a local museum I worried would become the Pink Dress of our venue hunt.

To explain that term, let’s turn back the clock to early 2005, when I helped a friend shop for a wedding dress [here’s something to get you in the proper mindset.]   This was my first foray into the wacky world of weddings.

We went to a trunk show.  We got a private fitting room larger than the bedroom in my first few apartments.  The designer, a sort of a cartoon of a beautiful Mediterranean woman, joined us.   In my memory, there were flutes of champagne with strawberries in them, but I think I made that part up.

My friend tried on this gown she’d seen in a magazine ad.  It had this gorgeous pink organza overlay on the train, and pink was her favorite color, and she just looked like a million bucks in it.  The only thing that was wrong with this dress was that it cost absurdly too much money.

She didn’t make the splurge, but the specter of the pink dress haunted the rest of the search.

I’ve though about that pink dress many times over the last five years.  When apartment hunting, when buying my car, and, yes, while dress shopping.  I hate exposing myself to something that is exactly what I want at a price I cannot pay.

So,  I worried that touring this venue would be doing that.  It is at the very upper bounds of our budget.  I’m willing to cut back on plenty of things to afford a cool space, but if we went with this location, we’d have to cut with a machete instead of a scalpel.

But, to my relief (I guess) I didn’t love the venue as much as I expected.  The space is just a smidge too small.  The acoustics blow.  The lighting is questionable.  The contract is outrageously restrictive.  It comes with a built-in wedding coordinator who doesn’t like to play with other planners, and I didn’t connect with her the way I did with the independent planner we met with yesterday.  I still think it would make a fun, very memorable venue, but I also think it isn’t quite right for us.

And wouldn’t it be great if the real right venue for us fit more comfortably in our budget?  Oh… yeah.  I’m hopeful.

Venue Search Blues

Either I’m doing something wrong or Pittsburgh is kind of limiting when it comes to Wedding venues.

The Wedding Blog universe made me dream up some fantasy world where I could find an interesting, beautiful venue that was flexible about catering and alcohol and otherwise affordable.  The venue would be my oyster!  We could pass pierogies and toasted ravioli as hors d’oeuvres (representing my adopted hometown of Pittsburgh and Collin’s hometown of St. Louis).  We could serve gourmet pizzas as the entrée!  We could have Budweiser for the St. Louis people and tasty beer for the sane people!  (Oh snap, Finlaws!)

And then I started actually doing research, and it seemed like these places mostly don’t exist, and insofar as they do, they’re outside or can only accommodate parties under 100.  Well, we’re inviting twice that, minimum.

And getting married outside has basically no appeal to me.  I don’t want to be held hostage to the weather, especially in this era of global climate disruption where the Day After Tomorrow could swallow my wedding in a freak lightning storm/blizzard/tornado/CHOMP OF NATURAL FURY any day of the year.  Not to mention 2011 is a major cicada year, and even though Pittsburgh is allegedly too far north for that particular brood, I am still haunted by a story my Sixth Grade Language Arts teacher told me about going to prom in a cicada year and having a three-inch hem of insects on her gown.

With the parameters of “accomodate 200 people” “be inside,” and “don’t be unspeakably ugly,” I came up with a short list of venues that all have exclusive contracts with caterers who have typical menus at typically outrageous prices.  Some of the venues look amazing and are slightly more outrageously expensive.  Some of the venues look boring and I realize I’ll probably spend the difference on decorative touches.  As my friend Alex would say, “Your choice is fish.”

Maybe I’m doing this search wrong.  I tried searches for “event space” and “party venue” and other things that aren’t poisoned with the pricejack word “wedding,” but only found a few more too-small options.  Maybe what I am doing wrong is trying to get married in Pittsburgh?

Review of a Book I Haven’t Really Read: Bridal Bargains

An item I’ve been surprised to not see on wedding budget sheets is “literature.”  I’ve been officially engaged for 15 days and I have already spent TENS OF DOLLARS on a stack of wedding-related books and magazines!

There are some obvious solutions to this hidden money drain:

  • I could stop reading about weddings.  Not likely.
  • I could limit myself to wedding literature on the Internet. But I do want to read some “mainstream” “professional” material, and The Knot tends to overwhelm my old and slow laptop.
  • I could start to rely on my local library. But then I’d have to pay those overdue fees I racked up during finals last term.

Instead, my current genius plan to forestall spending on wedding literature is reading free samples of wedding books on my Kindle.

Some Kindle samples are nothing more than the title page and table of contents (I’m looking grumpily at you, The New Jewish Wedding); others resemble a book excerpt you’d see in a magazine, one cohesive chunk of the material to introduce you to the main point of the book (which sometimes does sell me on buying the entire book); and others are a collection on random snippets from the entire text.

The free Kindle sample of Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget falls into the last category.

Either the person who put together the sample is an evil genius, or Bridal Bargains is one of the most annoying books ever published. Continue reading