savvy wedding wednesday: save time for sales

When shopping with my mother as a small child, whenever I wanted something in a store that I didn’t necessarily need, she’d ask me one simple question, “Is it on sale?” I didn’t really know how to read then, but I’d look for that big glossy sign or telltale orange sticker, and if it wasn’t on sale, it went back on the shelf. My mother ingrained this in me so much that I actually thought if something wasn’t “on sale” it wasn’t “for sale.” This often perplexed me – if it’s not “on sale” why is it even in the store?

Then one day, when I was probably about three or four and had not yet learned out to read, my mom was reading the daily newspaper when I peered over her shoulder exclaimed, “look mom, that says sale!” Sure enough, “sale” was actually the first word I learned to read.

Throughout most of my life I’ve been a pretty savvy bargain hunter, though in my adult years I’ve also learned the value of treating yourself to things you really want (only of course if they’re within your means). I’ve found the few items I’ve splurged on I’ve used the most. I’ve worn my most expensive pair of boots nearly more than any other pair of shoes I’ve owned – and my $500 Coach bag? I think I used it literally every day for the first two years after I purchased it.

When it comes to wedding planning, I think it’s good to find a balance between splurging and bargain shopping and I’ve found the major key to this is time. The bridesmaids dresses and my gown were all purchased on sale, and not because we went hunting around for a bargain, but because we had time to wait for a sale.

Since my future mother-in-law and my mom both live in different states and both wanted to shop with me, I had to start when they each happened to be visiting, which was more than a year before our wedding date. After a few different outings, I finally chose my dress, and then learned it would be 30% off during a trunk show a few months later. Fortunately I had time to wait, so I was able to benefit from the sale and got my gorgeous Allure Bridal gown for less than $1,000 (sorry – can’t share this yet since it’s still a surprise to Chris).

As soon as my dress was picked out, I moved on to the bridesmaids. They also live 3,000 miles away, so I tried the dresses on myself and immediately fell in love with J.Crew’s silk chiffon dresses in “spiced wine.” The styles were gorgeous, but it was mainly the color that stood out to me, as I hadn’t seen anything like it anywhere else. The only problem was the price tag – $250. I’d set $200 as my loose budget, but was really hoping to keep it well under that.

Disappointed that my favorite dresses might not be a reality, I spent a little more time shopping around and also surveyed my bridesmaids. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything else that lived up to the dresses, but I came to an exciting realization – J. Crew has sales all the time, especially around the holidays. Since their bridesmaid dresses don’t require any extra shipping time, we had leeway to wait for a sale. It was mid summer when I decided on the dresses and since my wedding is in April, I gave my bridesmaids a deadline of January 1 to purchase their dresses, assuming there’d be a sale during the holidays. I monitored the J.Crew website daily, and sure enough, sometime in October they offered 25% off all items over $150. Each of my bridesmaids rushed to purchase their dresses that week and they only had to spend about $180. As a matter-of-fact, they’re running this same sale right now, so if you’re looking to buy J.Crew bridesmaid dresses, now is the time!

Okay, so maybe I’m just lucky the things I wanted eventually went on sale, but remember this – if you don’t have time to wait or even shop around – you’re going to pay a premium – unless, of course, you’re REALLY lucky and things happen to be on sale when you discover them. Needless to say, if you have time, it doesn’t always hurt to wait a little to see if you can get a better price.

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savvy wedding wednesday: tuxes optional

So I’m realizing it’s a bit tougher to write about wedding stuff when I don’t have any finished products to show you yet. I have a couple great ideas I want to share, but feel like it’d be more beneficial after the wedding so you can see how things turned out. Though I guess it can’t hurt to share my experience along the way now can it?

I’ll post more about this as the look comes together, but I wanted to start with menswear since it’s something I was totally clueless about. When it came time to start thinking about what the guys would wear for our wedding, I started asking friends what they had done, and pretty much got the same “tux rental from Men’s Wearhouse” answer from everyone. This seemed like a good route to take, so Chris and I scheduled an appointment for Men’s Wearhouse hoping to quickly cross tux rentals off of our to-do list. Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Without going into too much detail, I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the customer service at Men’s Wearhouse. Extremely. Since our appointment was on a busy Friday night, I decided to try again on my own a few days later at a quieter time, and had an equally miserable experience. While I know not everyone’s experiences with this store have been as bad as mine, and I’m sure they do have some genuinely good sales people, I was so put off by them that I decided I did not want to give them a single cent – so what next?

I suppose the one good thing that came out of my experience with Men’s Wearhouse was the decision to buy a nice black suit for Chris to wear rather than rent a tux. Without being able to see much of the selection in person, let alone try it on before renting, we figured buying a suit that could be altered and worn again was way more practical.

Chris got his suit at Jos. A. Bank during a 50% off sale for about $400. Granted this is more expensive than renting a tux, he’ll get a greater ROI. He’ll be able to have the suit altered so that it fits him perfectly and can totally wear it again – either together or as separates.

If you’re going to go this route for the groom, you should seriously be aware of sales. Jos. A. Bank has different sales every few weeks – 50% off, buy one, get one, buy one get three and so on. If you’re not in a rush it’s definitely wise to wait for a sale that works best for you. Men’s Wearhouse has similar suit sales too.

We haven’t purchased the other pieces yet, but will definitely hunt around for the best deals. We looked at vests at Jos. A. Bank and they were pretty pricey. While we sprung for the suit, a vest is a different story since it’s not likely to be worn again. We decided we might skip it altogether, but also noticed some great options at Koh’s the other day for around $30! You can check those out here.

But what about the groomsmen? Wouldn’t buying suits for them be too expensive? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

Chris consulted his groomsmen about his decision and about ⅓ of them already owned plain black suits and the rest were totally fine with purchasing one. While this might seem like a lot to ask, remember this –  bridesmaids have to buy their dresses and the cost can range anywhere from $100 on (unless you’re a super savvy shopper). And when we did enquire about tux rentals at Men’s Wearhouse, it was around $180 for something that wouldn’t be tailored to fit properly and the guys would never get to wear again! At least bridesmaids can keep their dresses if they want to wear them again – or can try to sell them (probably more likely in most cases).

I’m definitely glad we decided to go the route of buying suits. It sounds like it’d be so much more complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t really have to be if you know where to look. Stay tuned to see how the look comes together and where to find the best deals on suits for the groomsmen too!

introducing “savvy wedding wednesday”

When Chris and I first got engaged I was extremely overwhelmed with the cost of having the type of wedding we wanted. While everyone has different ideas about what “budget wedding” means (shouldn’t that really mean any wedding with a set budget?), and some might not consider our wedding a “budget wedding” at all, we’ve tried really hard to remain within our means and to save  money where we can.

In the beginning of our engagement I sought out all sorts of “budget wedding” advice, but was super frustrated when I realized so much of it did not apply to us. Having a backyard potluck wedding was not an option for us. Not only because that wasn’t exactly what we envisioned, but also because we don’t have a backyard or any relatives close by who might be able to help out. I don’t have a sister who is a baker, uncle photographer or nephew DJ. I’m not much of a DIYer, I’m not comfortable with having a family member officiate, and I love flowers.

Okay, so maybe I just sound difficult, but I really wondered if we were doomed to have a wedding that cost more than we were comfortable with. Of course I wish we could spend a little less than we are, but I’m also really happy with how everything is turning out and have savored the opportunities to save a bit when we can.

Anyway, I’m not an expert, but I thought it’d be fun to start sharing some of the ways I found to save money on our wedding, since I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with the same predicament.

Please check back later this week for the first installment of Savvy Wedding Wednesday!

Please don’t call them STDs (We’re Talking Save the Dates)

The first time I came across a post about “STDs” on a wedding board I was horrified.  What are they talking about? Why is this here? So many questions…  Thankfully my questions were answered when curiosity got the best of me, and clicked the link.  Apparently “STD” is a commonly used acronym for “Save The Date.” Hmmm. Let’s just say I won’t be using that acronym here, or anywhere for that matter.

Anyway, on the subject of Save the Dates, I’ve been starting to think  a bit about ours. Our wedding is still more than a year away, but since most of our friends and family are a plane ride away, we want to give everyone as much notice as possible.

We’re looking for something that’s clean, simple, modern and fun.  It seems like most people use engagement photos in one way or another for their save the dates, but we won’t be taking ours until later this summer, so that won’t work. The magnet idea is fun too, but it seems over played. And does anyone really want to stare at the magnet on their fridge for the next 422 days?

With that being said, I headed straight to Etsy (thanks to some suggestions from Kristy Meinhardt from Meinhardt Events), and found some great options.

Here are our favorites so far (which we’d customize to our own color scheme):

Modern Save The Date Card from Simplicity Papers

Summer Twilight Save the Date from Creative Start Design

Let me know what you think in the comments.  What did you do for your Save the Dates? (Just please don’t call them STDs!!!)

Mushrooms, Maple & Teriyaki

“Mushrooms, maple and teriyaki,” (I’m not exactly a wine connoisseur) was how I described the fourth (?) wine sample I tipsily sipped  and then proclaimed, “I like this venue.  I’m going to like the next one either more or less.  Let’s pick one today.”  My fiancé Chris agreed.  That was easy.  Continue reading