Room to Breathe

What’s your budget?

Some of the most awkward things are also some of the most important–first and foremost, money. Our budget was tricky to nail down at first–we didn’t want to spend more than we needed to, but how much you “need” is hard to figure out before you start. The venue was the big piece that helped us get an idea of how much things might cost, and I tried to pick realistic numbers for everything. That meant I didn’t include anywhere we’d really splurge, but also assumed pretty average pricing on everything–for reference, I knew there was no way we’d be anywhere near the $1000 I set for printing, and we’re not. But I didn’t want to stress out over trying to match a possibly unrealistic number, so I aimed high (well, I aimed middle, but I’m calling it high) and then tried to come in at or below those numbers. Our ceremony will be more expensive than what’s listed, but we’re below on apparel, flowers, printing and music. 

Budget also means different things to different people. I’ll save you the click–the number I threw out in that earlier post was $33,000. For me, that meant I would stay at or below that number, and use it for the things listed in my budget spreadsheet. If I have extra somewhere, I can feel better about going over somewhere, but I don’t reallocate the money. I don’t have $500 free to spend on whatever I want to because I made my own invitations, I just…didn’t spend that $500. And if I was off on something (ahem, men’s platinum wedding band) I just shrug my shoulders. We should come in at or below my current budget, but if we don’t because, for example, more people come, that’s totally okay.

I know some people have a number, and they plan to spend it (also where people go over–they allocate all of the money, and then the alterations cost more than anticipated, but the spare money from not buying favors has already been used so you could get better shoes and…you know)–the Set Amount Budgeter. Others don’t want to go over a certain number (the Max Budget), and still others have a target but don’t stress on the specifics (the Ballpark Budgeter). And some just spend as little as they can to get what they want and hope for the best (the Fingers Crossed Budgeter).

The other tricky thing about budgets is what exactly to include. I leave out my engagement ring and the honeymoon. The engagement ring because he bought that himself, for me. (I actually sort of feel like the wedding rings shouldn’t count either, since they’re a symbol of the marriage but can vary a lot, although they are counted in my budget.)

Honeymoons can take so many different forms that I don’t think including them makes sense. I have friends who are having a more modest wedding, but a pretty extravagant honeymoon and others who roadtripped their honeymoon to afford the huge wedding they wanted. Everyone has different priorities, but the type of honeymoon and type of wedding you have don’t really have too much to do with each other.

For us, I was a cross between Ballpark and Max–I’m generally a frugal person and we had money saved, I just didn’t want to spend more than needed. (I also didn’t want to spend less than needed at the expense of friends and family. If we had needed their help to allow us to have things we otherwise couldn’t afford that would be one thing, but saving money at someone else’s expense when we could afford what we want is another.)

By the end of the planning process though, it was getting tough. I wanted to just get things done. At the same time, $100 (or $1000) here and there DOES add up. Finally, Shamrock pointed out that I wasn’t going to get an award for meeting some imaginary target. If I spend a little extra money, that I already have in the bank, instead of stressing over how to spend $15 less? Nothing happens. I just have $15 less. So in the home stretch I let it go…and we’ll see how I did next.

What’s included in your budget? Are you a Ballpark Budgeter? Fingers Crossed? Or maybe a Set Amount or Max Budget?


Setting Expectations

There are all kinds of stress that come up in wedding planning. There’s decision stress (What does my wedding look like? Where do I have my reception?) There’s financial stress (It costs how much? We need to save that much?) There’s guest list stress (I’ve never even meet your coworker’s cousin. If everyone says yes they’ll have nowhere to sit.)

But for me the toughest has been the stress wedding plan can put on relationships with the people you care about most.


We have wonderful, loving family & friends, many of whom have been so generous with offers of help, both financial and otherwise. (Hi Mom thanks for doing one million wedding projects.)

Which is why its really important to set expectations, as early on and clearly as possible.

For us, we ran into some trouble with both friendors and actual vendors not meeting the timelines we thought were clear. (Silly us!) So while they were thinking there was plenty of time, we were left wondering and waiting.

Luckily, most of our vendors AND our friends and family were great to work with. And for the ones that were not-so-great? Well, I learned some valuable lessons. (In my professional life I’m very detail oriented and for whatever reason this still did not occur to me.) I know I’m not the only one who ended up in a stressful situation waiting for things you can’t control. I know how much it sucks when its a vendor that won’t get back to you, but add in worry over losing or damaging a friendship and anxiety over the fact that you may not have a back up plan and the situation is even worse.

So what would I have done differently? (And with anyone, not just a friendor, because we had this issue with some people we paid a lot of money!)

Two big things:

1. Lay out exactly what I want. “Hey Mom, want to help me with my place cards?” isn’t nearly as clear as “I need help folding 200 cards.” Be specific about exactly what you are and are not hoping to get help with. (Except in my case place cards was waaay more complicated)


2. Give a clear timeline.

“Hey Mom, I’ll need the leaves cut for the place cards by June 1 so I can start writing names on them.” Even if its really obvious, it can’t hurt to make expectations know. It also makes it infinitely easier to follow up. Otherwise I’m stuck listening to my mom tell me the place cards will be ready for me in time while I’m freaking out because I wanted them yesterday and when exactly is “in time” but now it’s too late to say something.

Also, inflate your timeline. That way if things are running a little late, you’re still ok. And even if you have all the time in the world because you don’t even get married til next year…it will not hurt. And it might really, really help. Especially with people you aren’t as close to–it’s a lot easier to tell your mom you’re upset and needed that done asap and when on earth will she do it than to ask your second cousin when, exactly, your invitation proof will be done.

Bonus: Money is a tricky subject–its definitely easier to follow up when there’s money involved, but if Friend Crafty tells me she’d be happy to make me a necklace to wear, or my mom says she’ll handle the place cards…it could be weird to say I’ll pay them. Just decide how you feel about it in advance. (But it might be weird to pay your mom…)

Do you have awesome people helping you? Have you set timelines for your projects?

The Friendor Dilemma

A friend whose skills are employed as a vendor at an event or a wedding. Results may vary, as some friendors are highly skilled (as a DJ, photographer, baker, etc), while others are not. Urban dictionary
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to know someone really useful. A graphic designer, a florist, a dj…or maybe just a friend with some serious talents.  Or even just someone who’s ready to help and good at following instructions. There are lots of options–helping with a project, providing a service or a day-of role. And friendors can range from your closest friends to acquaintances.
Crafty and me –she published a book on beaded jewelry | Photo by BM Mathlete
I have a close friend who is a wedding planner and another is a designer. I have acquaintances who are wedding photographers & hairstylists. And my friend Crafty can be considered a pro in terms of making jewelry–with plenty of amateur talents too. But help from friendors can be tricky–I don’t want to take advantage of anyone but I also  love the idea of more personal touches on our wedding day.
First, we have the different TYPES of friendor:
The Pro: This person gets paid real money by people they do not know to help them out. (think: the friend who owns a wedding planning business)
The Semi-Pro: It may not be their full time job, but they have official technical skills in the area you need. (think: the friend who majored in graphic design in college)
The Enthusiast: It’s a hobby, but they love it, and they have the right tools for the job (think: the friend who has all the right sound equipment to dj for you)
The Amateur: They’re just happy to help. With anything. (think: anyone you can sucker into making invitations/centerpieces/placecards/etc…oh hi Mom!)
And then the different ways  to handle COMPENSATION:
“Friends & Family” Rate: Full service, lower price. Make sure you sign a contract for what you’ll get–you don’t want to get less quality in return for a lower price.
Gifts In Kind/The Barter System: Maybe you can trade a skill or will give a very nice gift–or just babysitting. Trading is always a great option.
Business ain’t personal: Full price. But at least you know the person, and you’re getting the same service as any other paying client.
Free: For really good friends or total amateurs, people just want to help. Let them!
And of course there are different TIMES you may need or want some help:
Before the Day: Help with preparation, design, DIY projects or overall planning–these friends can still be full guests at the wedding
Day of: You may want help with set up, coordination or a day-of service. Think hard about these friends’ role both in your life and your wedding. If a friend is working your wedding, they may not be able to enjoy it as a guest–if its an acquaintance, that’s no big deal but it might be an issue for a close friend or a family member.
Afterwards: Maybe you could use help designing an album or selling extras.
There are good (and bad) things about each–hey, one’s free–but its important to think through your needs before you ask.
I have a good friend who has been a wedding planner for years (and launched her own business the day after we got engaged!) but I didn’t think I needed a wedding planner. For awhile I felt like I shouldn’t talk to her about the wedding at all since I wasn’t going to hire her (my church has a coordinator with multiple assistants and so does the venue–I think it would be overkill). This was silly–I just need to not take advantage. She sent me a couple of recommendations for the great photographer search, told us which bridesmaid lines to check out and definitely doesn’t mind taking questions. Asking her to be my DOC for free or handle my venue search would have been out of line, and I’m glad I waited for her to make the first move, but don’t forget your friends love you–they really do want to help make your day special.
Here’s the distinction–I’m grateful for Emilee’s help, but I didn’t need it. I appreciated the recommendations, but nothing was going to fall apart without them. Had I asked her to actually find me a photographer (which I would have paid her for), we would have needed to work some things out.
And along those lines–friendors can really help you save some money, which can be a lifesaver to have the wedding you want. We wanted a pretty traditional wedding and made some decisions (like a fancy church and a full dinner) that are pricy–but we can also afford the wedding that we want, and so it isn’t worth it to me to make my friends or family help out on the day of (the key reason I hired a florist even though Mama Clover really wanted to do the flowers herself). If we were in different financial circumstances though, I would definitely see what my friends could do to help with setup, especially when it could be done without missing anything (like setting up for the reception in the gap after the ceremony).
Mixing money and friendship makes people squirmy, but make sure both you & your friendors are clear on your expectations AND your timeline. Wondering how I know? Yeah…but at least I have some tips for you next!
Did you use any friendors for your wedding? Good experience or bad?

How to Plan Your Sister’s Wedding

My friend Crafty shared this with me ages ago–on one of our wedding-crafting weekends–and I thought it was both pretty funny and pretty helpful. I’m still on my honeymoon (don’t worry I scheduled this post). 

Crafty’s sister is engaged, and wants to get married, but has no interest in planning the actual wedding. Crafty’s all over planning things, so she offered to plan the wedding. The problem? They can’t seem to get anywhere.

Here are the conditions Crafty started with:
1) Crafty Sis told her she’d rather have someone else plan her wedding
2) They are having a secular ceremony, so there’s no church to consider
3) They aren’t considering a destination wedding because it would be cost prohibitive for a few people that they truly want there
4) We have a gigantic family that we actually see on a regular basis — their guest list isn’t made up of long-lost relatives. It’s people who they would rather share the celebration with (who would be deeply hurt if not invited).
5) I included the question about parental contributions because I know our parents are planning to contribute — I’ve heard it from both my parents.
In short, they’re having a 250 person wedding, they want an evening sit down meal and they want to do it for $15,000. [You can feel however you want about that; this is what Crafty is working with.] She’s found some options but she’d like to narrow down what exactly she’s looking for before doing more research.
But see above–they’re stuck. So Crafty decided to create this handy wedding questionnaire so they could give her a little more guidance–maybe it will help you too! (Its really long, so I embedded the document instead of pasting it.)
They still haven’t returned it (we think maybe it was too long & thorough?), but hopefully it will give Crafty something to work with. And if you’re just getting started it might give you some food for thought too.  (And I’m flattered that she used a lot of my early posts to help her put together her questions!)
Have you planned a wedding for someone else? What should Crafty ask next?

Making Waves

When it came to a guest book, I knew I wanted something we could hang up, and something that was subtle enough to not scream wedding. I wanted to be able to see guests names, and if guests came over I wanted them to be able to find their name. (That would totally be me.)

The first thing that popped into my head was my Birthday Art. 2 years ago, I threw myself a birthday party. [This is a long story and I’m bad at being brief, but I am trying, people.] I threw myself a party because I wanted to make a piece of art and I didn’t feel like making the parts and I wanted it to be meaningful and also I’m bossy.


All photos personal

So I invited everyone over for ice cream sundaes and then forced them all to make my present. My exact words were, “Ok, now you have to make my birthday present!” I’d seen something similar where she used art her kids created–but I don’t have kids. I considered using my students (it’s like having kids) but it seemed like too much effort. Giving everyone ice cream seemed like a good option.

After they left, I sliced up all the artwork into strips, and then pieced it back together again. [It was slightly more complicatedwe than that.] I love it. They love it. People enjoy picking out their own parts of the art.

I wanted that for my guest book.

Except setting up a painting station and forcing everyone to paint me a picture at my wedding sounded complicated (and probably a poor fit with dress clothes, not to mention time consuming). Plus I already have one of those. So I thought about what I could do that was similar, and decided on my own fish scale art.


This is my mock up, to be used as directions at the reception. Here is how I made it:


  • Paper in your colors. I aimed for not too much variation and I’ll probably mix in some more patterned/textured papers when I put it together. You want flat paper here, not with texture so that people can write on it easily. This was surprisingly hard to find.
  • 2″ Circle punch
  • Pens–I’m doing pens that are grays/silvers/blues so it coordinates. It will be visible, but I don’t want the writing to stand out from across the room.
  • [That’s basically it for the wedding–you’ll also need a tape roller or other adhesive, stiff paper to mount it on and a frame]


1. Use a 2″ circle punch to cut your circles (I have a circle cutter, but a punch is a ton faster if you need that many circles. May as well precut pretty-non-writing circles while you’re at it. And if some of them are edge ones, its ok, you can place them strategically or use them on an edge in the finished product (just don’t put them out for people to write on!)


2. Wait for your wedding so people can write on them.

…Thats kind of it for now. But here’s what will happen when its all done!

3. Sort your circles by color. You’ll probably want written and blank circles in two separate piles.

4. Measure out how large of a space you want. My plan is to do a series. They will line a hallway. Ironically, I don’t have any hallways at all in my condo. Its a nice idea though. (Our new house does include a hallway.) I’ll probably be doing 11×14 or 16×20, and I like things matted. BUY YOUR FRAME FIRST. Just in case.

5. Sketch some light pencil lines to keep things straight. You don’t need to do every row, but at least every three.


6. Start with your bottom row since you’ll need to overlap. This row will run outside the mat, so use blank circles here and at the end of rows (or maybe your mom’s coworker’s wife who you’ve never met. Up to you.) Stick each circle down with your tape runner/gluestick/whatever. You should probably use more tape than you think. It can’t hurt.

7. Offset your next row by half and carry on. Repeat til its full. Insert in frame.


That’s pretty much my whole plan. I like how my mock up turned out, and I’m calling this one ready for the wedding!


Mama Clover tried to set it up for me (it’s all at her house). Not quite right, but you get the idea. That’s the basket she chose for cards, which actually goes in another room entirely.

I would like your advice though–my guests could be confused by my unusual choice. The circles will actually all be on the table and only completed ones will go in the little glass vase (which one of my guests made!)–we’ll include a couple pre-signed ones to make that clear. Does my mock up make it clear enough to you? Anything I should change?

What did you do for your guest book? Do you ever look at it?


Leaving Your Mark

Last fall, I developed a mild obsession with guest book options. I didn’t want a plain book (does anyone ever look at those again?), I didn’t want objects…I didn’t know what I should do.

If we were going to do the book thing…

Using our engagement pictures for a guestbook would be pretty nice and get our awesome pictures some more love–or we could use pictures from a photobooth (except I’m not sure if we’ll have one of those). I’ve also seen people take a coffee table book and have their guests sign on the pictures, which is a pretty cool idea. But I’m still concerned a book would sit on a shelf and never get looked at, so I moved on.


Via WeddingWire

I had the same issue with wish cards (even tied onto a tree–so cute!) and wishing stones (I guess you could decorate with your rocks after the wedding). Wine bottles aren’t a good fit for us (I barely drink and Shamrock isn’t into wine) and quilt squares aren’t quite my speed. 


Via PaperyNook on Etsy

Then I saw Jenga. I loved this idea–we love board games, we could use it after the wedding! But Shamrock already has Jenga and it seems like a better fit for a smaller wedding since there are only 40ish pieces.


Papery Nook on Etsy

I also heard of someone doing a puzzle piece guest book (I think it was on the boards but I can’t find it now) which sounded cute but I was confused–do you put it together? Are the names on the front?

No, I wanted something we could see, but I didn’t want it to look to wedding-y. A large monogram could be cool, but we’re already using a giant M above the mantel–another one would be overkill. Maps are adorable too and I absolutely love maps. But I’m from Illinois and he’s from Indiana. Lame. Next.


Here & There on Etsy (This is so great if you’re from non-neighboring states)

Oh, or a globe! Our condo is pretty small and Shamrock doesn’t have the map fascination that I do, but I loved this one, and I want something we can use in our home. I’m definitely in for something that will go on the wall–there are so many cute and personalized ideas. From an adorable shadow box filled up with hearts with all your guests names…


Via Etsy

To the ubiquitous (probably only on blogs) but oh-so-adorable fingerprint  tree/balloons/anything round. But I don’t want our guests to have to risk ink on their clothes.


Pinecone and Peridot on Etsy

So I’m sold on something cool that we can use in our house. I’d like for it to represent our guests, but hopefully be subtle enough that it doesn’t scream “this is from our wedding.” And I thought of the perfect thing!


Personal photo. Sorry to tease–I’ll explain tomorrow!

What did you do for a guestbook? I am amazed at all the cool ideas out there!

Timed Out

I read Miss Hen’s post about greeting guests yesterday with interest.

We too will be doing a combination of Mingling and Giving a Toast, but it was her quick mention of toasts and spotlight dances that really got me thinking. I need a timeline. Like yesterday. The caterer wants to confirm, and so does the venue. The photographer would like a copy, and the DJ wants to make sure he’s on the same page. Today, I got an email from my dad’s wife (who has decided she/they should host not only the rehearsal dinner, but throw a bbq for my dad’s family on Thursday and a brunch on Sunday) asking about pictures and if they should have people over between the wedding and reception for drinks or if I needed help or, you know, just send her the timeline.

Oh, right. The timeline. About that.

I do have a timeline; I started it ages ago, when I felt like I had all the time in the world and wanted to get a jump on things. But now people actually want it and I’m supposed to know.

The basics I’ve got. I know when we’re getting hair & makeup done, when we need to be at the church. We need to decide where to take pictures on the way, but thats pretty easy.

We’ll have cocktail hour and then dinner and then dancing. The framework is there. But there are a few wrinkles that I can’t iron out (probably not because they’re hard. Probably because I’m paralyzing myself.)

At a dinner reception, I’ve usually seen cocktails, everyone is seated, the bride & groom enter and are introduced (maybe with the rest of the wedding party), then dinner service begins, with speeches and sometimes even spotlight dances between courses. It works well. You have some breaks during dinner, but you don’t have to listen to all the speeches at once or anything, you can sit down–it’s great.

And we can’t do it. We’re hoping to have our cocktail hour outside:


This picture is taken from part way into the yard/garden. You can sort of see the house. I’m trying to ignore that this is happening, but below is a picture of the patio taken recently. They did the best they could, but that’s a construction fence. They were actually putting it up while I was on my walkthrough, and it certainly looks better now, but still. Ugh. Oh well….some things you can’t change.


Our guests will mingle on the patio and in the gardens before heading inside for dinner (yes, I reallyreally hope it doesn’t rain). We’re not planning on bouquet toss or big introductions but we do plan on the following:

  • Bride & Groom get introduced (we’re pretty sure no one else wants to get introduced)
  • Toasts (Father of the Bride, MOH, BM)
  • Cake cutting (Kind of–but we won’t be making a big deal about it)
  • First Dance
  • Father/Daughter & Mother/Son dance (combined)
  • Grace
  • Sparkler Exit (assuming we get our act together)

The cake is in the foyer. The only place there’s really room for everyone to gather is the Patio. Dinner is in the Living Room, Parlor Room & Garden Room. The bar is in the Solarium. Confused? Maybe a floorplan will help:


Cheney Mansion floor plan

If we get introduced at all, it will happen during cocktail hour, on the Patio. Cake cutting needs to be in the foyer, and we plan on serving it for dessert, so that needs to happen before dinner. Dances should take place on the Patio, and probably make the most sense after dinner.

But what about those toasts?

I researched the heck out of this one: A Practical Wedding’s Wedding Timeline Series I(Standard Evening Wedding), II(Religious Ceremony in a different location–thats us!) & III(specific samples for mornings, cocktail, etc), Bridal GuideThe Knot and a whole wiki devoted to it right here as well. I found lots of helpful information but am still stuck on those toasts.

I asked Clover Dad when he wanted to give a toast, and he wants to go during dinner, while people are eating. But since people are eating in different rooms, I want to minimize things that happen during dinner–the only thing we have planned is grace, which will be said over the internal speakers.

The wedding we attended this past weekend was a cocktail style reception (it was at Piper Hall on Loyola University‘s Campus and it was OMG beautiful–I tried to find you a picture but they did not come close to doing it justice). We felt like their timeline was pretty good–after awhile, the bridal party was introduced, and then later there were some toasts. They might have been followed by the first dance?

We like the idea of splitting things up, but we aren’t sure how. Shamrock suggested we have the MOH and BM speak right after dinner, but I suspect my sister would kill me–I’ve done a toast twice, and it was nice to get it out of the way and waiting through all of dinner may make them extra nervous. That means all four (Dad, us, MOH, BM) would need to go before dinner, and we can’t decide if splitting those up would just end up making the cocktail hour feel choppy.

We plan on being introduced sometime during the cocktail hour, so we should probably get introduced and then say thank you then (or skip being introduced all together). Either Dad or MOH/BM could then give a toast and the other could speak right before we go in for dinner. But thats probably a half hour apart; is that just weird? Do we skip being introduced entirely, and have all 4 go right before going in for dinner?

What do you think? Split it up? Skip introductions? I’m going in circles here, please help!

Guess Who’s RSVPing for Dinner

So, we decided we were going with an online rsvp. I knew what I wanted–to get the name and meal preference of each guest, ideally on the same line.

Initially, I wanted something like this, where guests could fill in their name and select a corresponding meal choice.

Name Can you make it? Salmon Beef Lasagna Kids Meal (?)

Unfortunately, that’s two conditionals in one line (name and response) and it didn’t look like that would work.

I headed for Google Forms to see what I could do, but they mostly looked like this:


Via Google Templates

With a list of “Name” “Are you coming” “How many Peeps” “Guest 1 name” “Guest 1 entree” “Guest 2 name” all the way down to 4 guests. Others let you respond over and over and over, once for each person. Other templates put one big space and asked you to just fill in all the guests names and each guests meal preference, like this one.

Sigh. So clunky.

Not what I was hoping for. Shamrock suggested Survey Monkey, but it was more of the same. No thanks. I was frustrated–I wanted to do it right, and I didn’t like the looks I was finding. So Shamrock stepped in, and took it away. He would either figure it out or code what I wanted (maybe he just told me that to make me feel better? Who knows?).

And he found it!


Image via RSVPify on Facebook

It was magical and unicorns! Ok, maybe not all that, but it was pretty darn close to exactly what I was looking for. (All images from demo.)


It starts with asking for your email and the number in your party.


The next screen populates with the number of guests in the party (so you get only as many blanks as you asked for–for whatever odd reason, I thought this was the best.) On a paper RSVP if you want to know what each person’s entree choice is, you have to have a blank for each person. But what if there are 3 guests? Or 4? You need a bunch of designs or blank lines, and I didn’t like either.

You enter each guests first and last name, then select “Accepts” or “Declines” (can you customize these? Possibly.) and an entree choice for accepting guests. Then guests submit to the final screen.


Their demo shows a dropdown, a free response (which songs would you like to hear), a check box (which hotel are you staying at) and an additional field for notes to the bride & groom.

The pro version allows you to ask as many questions as you like, but we went with the free-ninety-nine version, which gives you one. We went with: “Which songs will get you dancing? Any notes for the bride and groom?” The pro version would be great if you wanted to manage several events, but we only have a wedding, so we’re good to go with this. [Note: This was a mistake. We should have gone with the monthly or pro version.]

The site also has all kinds of summary tools that should be handy once RSVPs are done.

The free version requires a new window to open, and we tried to work around that, but the form only 95% worked–most people could rsvp but some browsers had issues. (It took us a little while to realize there was an actual issue–our mom’s reported it, so we thought the issue was, you know, moms. It wasn’t.) I guess we’ll find out when the deadline passes who thought they rsvped and didn’t.

Shamrock thought people may be less likely to rsvp with an online system (and we did give our phone number, which a few people used), but I’m not so sure. Our rsvp date is almost here, so I’ll follow up after that with our rsvp breakdown and how this actually went down for us.

How did you do RSVPs? Anyone else try online?


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Way back last summer, I was so proud to check “Draft invitation wording” off my checklist.

Then we got started on a draft, and I realized maybe the “Together with their families, Miss Clover and Shamrock…” wasn’t all they were referring to.

Oh no, I needed more. I need reception cards. I need reply cards.

And hold on a minute…I need to decide how to do the response. Sending in an RSVP is the traditional route–the card ties in with your overall look, you include a stamped self-addressed envelope, and get all kinds of fun replies.

CorgiTales RSVP

From Hive member CorgiTales found here


Mrs. Eggs Benedict has even more funny choices in her post!

Side note, I was telling Shamrock all the cute things people can do with or write on their response cards and he was so confused. Finally, he goes, “Does anyone even read that? I just get it and go, oh, chicken or beef?” Men. Sigh.

You can even do a postcard to save a little money on postage.


Mrs. Lollipop asked her guests to draw a duck. So random. So awesome.

But what about online RSVP? Is that tacky? Will it confuse people? Mrs. Sword had a great experience with hers.

I considered a bunch of things:

  • How formal is our wedding? (Regular? Not super fancy, but not casual either.)
  • How traditional are our families? (Pretty traditional, but not sticklers for details or anything.)
  • Does everyone have a computer? (Almost, one guest doesn’t. Most of our guests even know how to turn them on and connect to the internet.)
  • What’s the other option? (Our phone number.)

For us, it didn’t look like online RSVP would cause many issues, and for many of our guests it would likely be easier than finding a mailbox. We have one guest without a computer, and a couple more who might be more comfortable on paper than online, but most of our guests will be just fine.

I know some people offer all their guests both, but I found that silly. If I’m going to pay for return postage in every invite, you might as well return it to me. And I thought it might be tacky to NOT pay for return postage. So, you get one or the other in my book. After discussing it, and asking our parents and some friends, it was time to pick something.

The decision was made: we’re going online. Now what?

Did you use traditional response cards or online? What was the funniest RSVP you received?

Timing is Everything

Like so many brides, I’m out of my element when it comes to so many things wedding. Flowers? Hair & makeup? Dresses? Not so much. So we learn as we go. Sometimes, you’ll find something that turns out to be totally your jam, and develop a new interest.

Money is one of the places I really notice my ignorance–I don’t want to spend more than I need, but that doesn’t mean I want to skimp. You either guess, throw money at it or research obsessively (guess which one I am).

But the other place where we can really botch things is with timing. Not knowing about things means we also don’t always know what the timeline to handle them is. With a long engagement, I sometimes have a false sense of security about how much time I have left to get things done, and when I have to do them. I relied on checklists, but they steered me wrong in a couple places (and I made my own mistakes too).

Oops 1: The hotel block

06 2

Carleton Hotel

August, said WeddingWire. October, said the Knot. Ok, said Miss Clover. Not ok. There’s only one convenient hotel for the reception. I waited to book it until the end of July…when two other brides already had. Why did I wait on something I could do right away? Now our guests are choosing between suites and motel rooms. Fail.

Oops 2: Alterations

When I bought my dress exactly a year before the wedding, I knew I had plenty of time. Everything I read (admittedly, not much) said that you start alterations fairly shortly before the wedding (makes sense in case your size changes, which mine definitely will). So a few weeks ago, I called my mom’s recommendation. And she gave up her studio, so she’s no longer taking wedding clients. Great. Called someone else. Schedule already full. Called someone else–she might be able to fit me in. So far it looks like she can; we met last week and she said alterations would start four weeks out. (And honestly, almost none of my alterations are size specific, so I probably could have started this even earlier.) Lesson learned: Book early.

Oops 3: Invitations

I’m starting (much) later than I meant to in that process. Although that isn’t entirely my fault*, this also hits home the start! early! message.

Was there anything you should have started earlier?

*Communicate expectations is the moral of that story–more to come!