I went to try on wedding dresses on Saturday, and I think I found the one I want. It was simple but elegant. Awesome.

But when I started to peruse their bridesmaid’ dresses selection, I got really overwhelmed. $150 for a dress that someone will wear one time? And also, no matter what I choose, my parents will be footing the bill for two dresses for my sisters.

At this point, I desperately want not to buy bridesmaids’ dresses from a wedding store, but I’m not sure where to look. I’m willing to sacrifice the colors I want (clover green and chocolate brown) for a more affordable dress.

So far, the only place that I’ve been even remotely impressed with is Shabby Apple. They have really cute dresses that are more inexpensive than traditional bridesmaids’ dresses. However, the selection is limited, and I don’t know how to handle any sizing issues since no one can go try them on.

Did you use traditional bridesmaids’ dresses? If you didn’t, where did you find affordable, wear-again dresses?

Let me first say that I’ve been so encouraged by the comments on this blog as well as the people who’ve contacted me in person or through Facebook. I’m so blessed!

Today’s issue is not incredibly pressing, but it is one that’s been on my mind the last couple of days. I’ve heard a variety of opinions from several different people (including my mom), but I’m still not sure.

I’ve continued to babysit for families with small children in college and beyond. All of the families have a girl who is the appropriate age to be a flower girl, and one of them in particular I am very close to. Her parents have been huge encouragements, especially in the period a few months ago when I didn’t have a job. She’ll be four in February and is incredibly well-behaved and sweet, so she would be a great flower girl.

The problem is, my dad’s sister has three little girls. The oldest is 7.5, so she’s too old. The youngest just turned 2, so she’s a little too young. But the middle one will be 5 in June, so she’s at the right age as well. However, I really only want one flower girl, because I don’t want everything to be too complicated, and because I don’t have as deep of a relationship with my cousin, I’d rather have my sweet babysitting charge.

My mom is worried I’ll offend my aunt. My dad doesn’t care. Fiance says I should do what I want. My friend E said I could just have two flower girls.

What do you think?

Last night I had my first wedding-related breakdown. I was talking with Fiance about the fact that to get married at one location is seven times more expensive than to get married at another location. I’m torn, because the more expensive church is beautiful and I’ve always pictured my wedding taking place there. But the other church would also be nice, and some of the logistics would be simpler.

My mom told me that I shouldn’t worry about the money, because they can take care of it, and I know that’s true. But I want to be wise with what I’ve been given (especially since it’s not my money), and I know that what’s really important is the marriage, not the wedding.

I had a poll up here for a little bit, but because most of you don’t know the exact circumstances, it’s probably most helpful if you just leave a comment telling me what you think.

I guess what I’m most wondering is if, in five months or five years, I’ll really care where I got married.

More info: The comments so far have been great, and I wanted to provide a little more info. I’m not incredibly emotionally attached to either church. One church is where I attended in middle school and high school when my family moved to the state, but they built a new church about a year ago (after I had started going to another church), so the building itself doesn’t have any special meaning to me. I’ve attended my new church for about 2.5 years.

As far as style of weddings, we would have a little bit more flexibility at one than the other, but for the most part, the services would be exactly the same. We’re definitely having our reception at the less expensive church, so if we had our wedding there, it would be convenient for our guests, but a little crazy for the people moving the chairs and setting up food.

I spent the greater part of my lunch break yesterday talking with my mom about the response cards that are included in wedding invitations. I was wondering how necessary they were.

My mom said that she wasn’t sure if we needed them if we weren’t going to serve a meal, but I said that I had received them in cards for the last two weddings I went to, neither of which had a meal. We reached a consensus that we wanted the guests to RSVP.

I spent some time looking at inexpensive envelopes online and considered printing up my own response cards, but then I spoke with a friend who got married last summer. She said that people really don’t send back response cards with any kind of consistency, so it might be easier and more efficient to just set up an e-mail address.

I spoke to my mom today and we decided we’re going to just put the e-mail either on the invitation or on a little piece of paper in with the invitation, and it will include the e-mail address I set up as well as my parents’ home phone number.

I’m so happy about this, because it will not only save money on the printing of the response cards and the envelopes, but it will save time and money on the postage for the invitations. It does’t get much more simple than that.

Did you require or are you requiring guests to RSVP? If so, will you use response cards, e-mail or some other kind of method?

Update: Another thing I forgot to mention/ask was that for about 20-30 of the people we want to invite, we were just going to make a Facebook event. This would include many of Fiance’s friends from school as well as some of the students he works with in a campus ministry right now. Not only would they be more likely to RSVP on Facebook, but they would probably immediately throw away an invitation if we sent them one. Thoughts on this?

When my roommate got engaged last April, she bought a wedding planning notebook that included places to write in all your information, questions to ask your photographer and videographer, a vendor contact list, and more.

I considered for a couple days purchasing one of these, but because I am trying to save money in every area possible and lessen stress on myself, I decided to make my own. I also did this because I didn’t want more information than I needed. Looking through my roommate’s book earlier this year, there were so many things that seemed unnecessary, at least for what I wanted.

I also am opting not to buy a book about weddings. The Internet puts everything at one’s fingertips, so unless I end up feeling like there is something I can’t find online, I’m hoping not to spend any money on a book. One of my friends did offer to let me borrow one she used, so hopefully that will be enough.

Getting started
I bought a binder at Wal-mart for about $5. I could have bought a  white one for less, but they had a really cute pink one with white flowers on it, and it made me really excited, so I thought it was worth it. I also purchased one set that included four dividers and one pocket divider that matched the binder for about $2.

I wrote these labels on the dividers: Ceremony, Reception, Guest List and Post-wedding (anything related to our gift registry, housing, marriage licenses, changing my name, etc.). I think that everything I run into will be able to fit into one of these categories.

Building your own plan
If you’re having a truly unique wedding like a good friend, who had her mom as her bridesmaid and the reception and ceremony in the same room, then you may want to just write up a simple plan for yourself. I want to have a simple wedding, but I needed some help knowing what to do first. I did a Google search for wedding planning guides and ran across a plethora of seemingly helpful resources. Some were actually as helpful as they appeared to be, like the weddings guide from Real Simple. I started with their printable checklists and picked out the ones that seemed most applicable to what I needed:

You can also print out a master to-do list that includes all of the above and a few other worksheets on their wedding pullout guide.

Customize your plan
The first thing I did after printing out the planning calendar was to cross off the things that weren’t applicable. For example, I’m not hiring a wedding planner. I’m also not having an engagement party or hiring a live band or deejay. We’re not having alcohol and there will be no assigned seating – more things to cross off the list. When I was finished, I had a checklist of everything I absolutely need to do. A wedding planning guide made simple.

Other things to include
Both the church where we’ll be getting married and the church at which we’ll have our reception have policies that I printed out and included in the appropriate part of the notebook. I might need these later in order to refer to, so I wanted to have them in an easy-to-find place.

If you went to the Real Simple weddings guide, you may have seen numerous other worksheets you could print out. Some were about stocking liquor; others included questions to ask your vendors. I will be printing these out eventually, but because we’re still in the very beginning stages, I only want the things I absolutely need in my notebook.

It may also be helpful to have page protectors or dividers with pockets. You can use those to keep a copy of your wedding invitation, a draft of the program, cloth samples and other non-hole-punchable items in your notebook.

Did you use or are you using a wedding planning notebook? Is there anything else that I should have included?

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