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Category Archives: Wedding plans

Wedding Details: The Invitation

I thought I’d start my wedding posts at the beginning: the invitation.

The invitation

The invitation

When you’re doing a certain theme for your wedding, the invitation is the first representation of that theme that your guests will see.  Therefore, in my opinion, it’s important to make sure that the invitation makes an impression.

Our wedding, as you can tell, had a library/book theme.  To keep with the theme I decided that a library card would be a cute way to send out our invitations while still conveying the necessary information.  And because this wedding was being done on the cheap, that meant I was designing, writing, and printing the invitations myself.

As with all things I do, I began with research!

Here is a lovely example I found on Etsy:

Graham and Olive Stationary

Graham and Olive Stationary

The Graham and Olive Etsy store has very unique, beautiful invitations and sundry items.

However, this example (and the many I found like it) were for Save the Dates.  I was not going to send out a Save the Date! In fact, the fewer people who came to our wedding, the better! Seriously.

Using this Save the Date as an example, I came up with my own version.  But first I needed supplies:

1. Library cards

I considered using a template and printing on card stock, but I’m super computer challenged when it comes to downloading and then utilizing things like that.  So I opted to do it the hard way.  Yay me.

Library cards from the Library Store

Library cards from the Library Store

I purchased two packets of library cards, each containing 50 cards, from the Library Store via Amazon.  Each pack was 2.99, plus shipping and tax.  The total was $14.42.

2. Library Card Pockets

I’m sure I could have made these, but really, why would I? The time of construction and cost of the paper would have been at least equal to, if not more than, the buying the pre-made product.

From Ideal School Supply

From Ideal School Supply

Again I purchased two sets of 50, each for $4.49.  This time shipping was covered by my Amazon Prime membership, so the total came out to $9.70.

3. A Template

This was the part of the project that perhaps took the longest.  I didn’t have a template available (mostly because I can’t figure out how to download and integrate one into my computer) so I had to make my own.  This meant measuring the card and creating a word document to the size of the paper, the width of the internal margins, and then the width of the lines on the card.  Fun stuff.

Here’s what I came up with:

Home-made template

Home-made template

Even doing all this, it took several trial and error attempts with the printer to make sure everything lined up.

4. Date Stamp

My mother bought this for me so I don’t have to count it into my budget! yay!  I used a typical date stamp you would find in any office, library, etc. to add the dates of the RSVP deadline and the date of the wedding to the card.



There were two reasons I chose to do it this way: 1) I couldn’t figure out how to add letters going horizontal like that on the template; 2) I liked the authentic look of it, like you would find on a traditional library card.

5. Library Stamp

Again, I don’t count this into my budget because I’m a huge nerd and I’ve had this stamp for years.

My personal library stamp

My personal library stamp

As Connor and I say: BOOM BABY! I’ve had my own personal library stamp for my ever growing-home library for at least 5 years.  It’s pretty nerdy and pretty awesome (just like me! heehee).

Library Invitation Card

Library Invitation Card

Last, all I had to do was assemble all these pieces together and I was done.

All in all, the invitations cost $23.82.  If we factor in a percentage of the ink I used, I feel comfortable rounding this up to an even $25.00.  Not too shabby!

The best part of the invitation project was how much I enjoyed the finished product.  It was exactly what I had envisioned! It perfectly encapsulated the theme of the event, as well as my personality.  I was also pleased with the response to the invitations.  Nearly everyone who received it commented on how much they liked the invitation, particularly impressed by its uniqueness.  The fact that I was able to create a product that was so well liked for such a small amount of money truly made my heart swell with pride.

Next, all I had to do was bring that same level of personal investment and attention to detail to the rest of my wedding. No pressure!


An ending and a beginning

Weddings are often put at the end of movies, at the end of plays, at the end of books, as if this single event was the culmination of a lifetime.  There’s always a feeling of “ta da!” like some magician was pulling back the curtain to reveal a happily married couple and end scene.

But we know better, don’t we.  Or at least we learned this lesson along the way.

With my first marriage and it’s wedding, so much time, effort, and emotion was built into the wedding that there was a feeling after it ended of “now what?”  Every little girl dreams of her big fairytale wedding and I’d had mine.  And what was I supposed to do now?  We hadn’t talked too much about the marriage part.  It was just assumed that things would go on as before.  But that never really works, does it?  Things change, people change, and we weren’t really prepared for that as a couple.

The second time around the wedding was so much more about putting a stamp on a paper and celebrating our relationship, than it was about some giant event.  Our wedding was extremely personal.  It was exactly how we wanted it to be.  My flu-ridden son slept between us both on our wedding night and the night of our reception.  We walked our three dogs before dropping them off at my parent’s house.  We rushed to get them as soon as the party was over.  The day after the reception we did laundry, cleaned, and went to a family birthday party.

It felt as if our wedding had just been some huge family party that everyone came to, like a confirmation or high school graduation.  And then life resumed.

Perhaps it was because there was no fairy tale this time.

Fairy tales are typically about single, starry-eyed young men and women looking for an epic love.  They’re typically not about divorcees with a child looking for a stable committed relationship, drama free.  Most of the single parents in fairy tales are tragically widowed fathers who end up  marrying a beautiful but cruel woman.

There really aren’t any fairy tales to describe the situation I was in.  Single working mother of autistic child seeks understanding, patient, practical man.  Not exactly the plot of a romance novel.

All this made it easier to see the wedding as just a stamp on a paper, as not an ending but a beginning.

There’s no epic-ness about our relationship.  No hills and valleys.  No drama.  No vase throwing, no screaming.  Our love is a simple country song.  We watch tv together, we take turns making lunches, we talk in embarrassing voices to our three dogs.  And I love him.  And I know that I love my husband more when he’s carrying my sleeping son up the stairs than when we’re sipping wine over a candle-lit dinner.  And I think that really says it all.


I have been running at level 6 on a scale of 5.  My brain seems to focus and my emotions feel fried.

There are too many balls in the air for even this practiced juggler to catch!

A wedding and a baby shower are in the works.  Each event alone requires seemingly hundreds of decisions.  And inevitably, as in my last post, when there are events, there are little dramas.

Some dramas are bigger than others, potentially life changing.  To deal with the fall out of my invitation decisions, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of friendship as an adult, particularly the nature of friendship for a stay-at-home mom to an autistic child.  Being the parent of special needs child means belonging to a very isolating world.  Our children keep us busy running from one therapy to the next, juggling meetings and reports and paperwork until there doesn’t seem much room for anything else.  For me and Connor, I keep trying to add to our already busy schedule.  I want to keep moving Connor forward towards our ultimate goal of mainstreaming.  I need to keep pushing him, keep trying new activities, new therapies, new ideas until we strike upon something that works for him.  And although this is best for Connor, it doesn’t really allow me to develop friendships with the other parents.

Most other parents of special needs children are dealing with the same issues, and the same potential social explosions from their own children.  Play dates have to be carefully coordinated and can be easily cancelled if a child’s behaviors are out of control that day.  Sure I have time to myself during the day, but who else does?  My Pilates classes are filled with retirees!

So time to seek out activities that will make me joyful!  I’ve signed up to volunteer with a few programs, as well as subscribe to a book club.  But not immediately since I’m in the midst of planning a shower and a wedding as well as parenting my autistic child!  And round and round we go until I feel just about to explode!

To top it all off my great-uncle passed away.  Nearly 90 and suffering excruciating pain due to cancer, he is much better off in the arms of our Lord than he was dwelling here on earth.  And though it’s hard to develop a close relationship with a man who devoted his life to serving the Lord, as well as his brothers and sisters, he was still a man I loved and respected.  He baptized me, he blessed me, he carried God’s love to me throughout my entire life.  And I miss him.  I will miss him.  I will miss him.  I will miss him until I join with him again one day in God’s presence.

So today while my flu infected son naps, I take a little time to just let myself feel everything and I don’t try to stop the tears.

A Question of Kindness

When planning a wedding there is bound to be some drama. Feelings will be hurt, words that were said cannot be unsaid, and friendships are tested. I just had no idea that this time around the pain would be largely mine.

A dear friend of mine is married to a man whose behavior at events (and in any social setting really) has been inappropriate to say the least. He is not an ideal wedding guest. For this and a variety of other reasons, my fiance did not want this man to attend our wedding. I cannot say that I blame him, nor did my feelings truly differ. The question then became what was I to do about it?

There was no longer an issue of this man attending. Even if I had longed for him to be there, my fiance did not want that. That’s really what it comes down to: do I choose the feelings of a friend or the feelings of my fiance? If I didn’t put the feelings of my fiance first then there wouldn’t really be any point in us getting married. We have compromised to make this wedding as small as possible while still including a vast array of friends and family, I could not begrudge him this request, especially since in my heart I felt the same way.

So what to do about it? Here were my options:

1. Not invite the couple

2. Talk to my friend and explain

I would love to be the kind of person who could just not invite them. I would love to take the path of least resistance, the path of passive aggression. But it’s not in my nature to do that.

I know first hand that passive aggression is just as, if not more, hurtful that confrontation. The questions of why? the confusion, the wounded feelings are not something I wanted to impart to my friend. This woman has been a dear dear friend to me and has supported me through exceptionally tough times. My decision regarding her spouse’s attendance had nothing to do with her and everything to do with him. The least I could do was tell her that.

I was thus left with the only option left: confrontation.

I feel like many people assume confrontation means fighting or yelling, when in reality it’s just a straightforward expression of feelings and thoughts. There will most likely be hurt feelings but both sides will have been honest. I worried then about the words I would choose. I worried that I would fatally wound our friendship. I worried that I might never get a chance to speak another word to this woman who I loved so very much. Just the thought of hurting my friend made my stomach turn and my heart beat faster. I knew the risks I was taking by confronting her about the issue and I still had no choice but to go ahead.

After we had dinner one night I explained my position, emphasizing as much as possible my love and respect for my friend, my desire to keep our friendship alive, my hope that she would still attend but coupled with my understanding that she might choose not to do so.

I guess that what a big part of this came down to: I wanted to give her the choice. She could attend or not attend. She could maintain our friendship or not. She could choose to stand my her husband just as I was choosing to stand by my fiance.

Nothing about that conversation felt good. My heart ached, my body rebelled and tears involuntarily welled in my eyes. It broke my heart to break hers.

Since that day I have questioned and requestioned my actions. I have been attacked by friends who sought to defend our friend. I have felt abandoned by other in the wake of one of the toughest moral decisions I’ve had to make. And even though I have played and replayed and examined ever possible angle, I don’t know that I would have done anything differently.

It comes down to a question of kindness. Was it kinder for me to be honest? Would it have been kinder to exclude the couple all together? Should I truly have been kinder to my fiance than my friend?

As always when I am faced by these types of decisions, I ask my self what would Christ have me do? What is the Christian thing to do in this situation?

I’ve been struggling to come up with an answer. I have prayed and reflected. I have discussed it with my fiance and my therapist. I have borne the ache in my chest that I have lost my friend and I truly don’t know what the Christian thing to do was. I loved as best I could and caused pain as little as possible. That will have to be enough for now.

Don’t Kill the DJ

To say I obsess and I worry is a bit of an understatement.  When I get started on a project it often becomes all-consuming.  I mull it over as I’m walking the dogs, make notes while waiting during Connor’s therapy, rehearse parts of it in the shower.  It, whatever the project is, is always on my mind.

Planning the playlist for my DIY wedding is no exception.

We are not hiring a DJ, it’s not in the budget.  So I’m making a playlist.  And obsessing about it.

It’s on my phone now, so I can listen to it in the car and edit it.

I scour websites daily for advice on the best slow songs, the most requested dance songs, the best ratio of slow songs to fast songs.  I’ve read every article on the best playlists of 2012 I could find.  And even though I think I’ve finally finished editing and compiling it, I’m extremely nervous.

So here’s my strategy:

Start the dancing with fast, fun songs that are pretty universally known, from a variety of decades. 

I am doing roughly 15 fast songs to a set of 3 slow songs

I’m ending the night with songs that might be more favored by a younger crowd (ie more hip hop and some old school B.I.G. and Tupac).

Here are my problems:

Should I have more slow songs?

Is the entire list, equalling 3.5 hours of music, to long?

There are 3 songs with curse words in them, should I eliminate those all together?

Thoughts, comments, suggestions, all welcome.  Seriously, any help would be appreciated!  I don’t want anyone to be complaining about the dj.

Quick Plans

Well my wedding is in just two short months.  It was originally planned for May, but my fiance and I decided that we’d rather my sister didn’t go into labor at the reception, so we’ve moved it to March.  And I’m totally fine.  And everything is under control.  And I’m breathing…

And I’m a little overwhelmed!

I was doing fine until I made the to do list this morning.  It has 50-some items on it!  As Connor would say, “WHAT THE HECK, MIKE?!?!”

But it’s ok…it’s ok…shhhhhh…’s going to be fine….

So you’ll excuse me if my posts are somewhat sporadic for the next two months, I’ve got a few things to do….

At least I can cross one thing off my list this morning!  The invitations are done!

We’ve decided on a book theme for the wedding, since the fiance and I are both big readers.  The motto of the reception is “A New Chapter” since this is a new beginning for both of us.  We’re moving away from the past and starting the next phase in our lives.  Yay!

Everything at the reception will be done in book pages, typewriter type, and pops of color here and there.  Since I’m a librarian, library items will be a constant.

Take the invitations for example:

I used library due date book cards and card pockets (the card pockets cost $10 and the cards were $14.00).  Based on research, I designed the invitations myself.  Here’s the result:


I really love them!  Plus they cost me about $0.50 each!  Perfect!

So that’s done…sort of of.  I just need to create the labels, stuff the envelopes and get them in the mail.  Easy peasy!

Then I can move on to the other 49 items on my list.


Say Yes to a Dress

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I’m getting married for the second time (huzzah!).  And like this second time around marriage will be very different from the first, this second wedding will be dramatically different from the first.

Though my first marriage didn’t work out, I will always have fond memories of my first wedding.  Like all first time brides, I was swept up in wedding fever.  We went all out!  (And by we I mean me, my mom, sisters, and aunts.)  Every detail was attended to, from the flowers lining the aisle to the thematic escort cards to the pillar decorations.  Nothing was overlooked.  And the day of everything was perfect.  The location was beautiful, the food was amazing, the drinks never stopped flowing, and everyone had a good time!  It was a wonderful wedding!  And it cost an arm and a leg.

This time around our budget is literally 1/6 of my first wedding budget and, unlike last time, the fiance and I are footing the bill.  So things are going to be pared down just a bit.  There will be no fancy location, lavish buffet, or unending alcohol.  This wedding it going to be simple and home-made.

The location: our backyard

The food: food trucks

Alcohol: BevMo’

Flowers, Decorations, Escort cards, Invitations, Photo Booth, Guest Book: DIY!!!

Photography: Stacee Lianna, who has miraculously agreed to work within our tiny budget!  (When she said yes I nearly started crying!)

The dress:???

Unlike the last wedding there will be no giant white dress.  I won’t be trooping my friends and family to endless bridal boutiques.  I won’t even be going to a dress shop myself! The dress will not be poofy and princessy.  It will not be dramatic and oh-so elegant.  It will not be bright white.  Now, I don’t begrudge anyone wearing a white dress to their second wedding, it’s just not for me.  Like this wedding, this dress needs to be simple, inexpensive, and totally me.

The other hitch is that we’ve decided to get married at the courthouse on a friday and then have a reception the next day.  So I need two dresses (and my dress budget didn’t get magically bigger! I have to get two dress for the same amount.  Or I can wear something I already have….yeah right.)

What I really want a dress like this:

However, $700 is a little out of budget.  Ok, it’s a lot out of my budget!  But it is so perfect.  Sigh…On to the real hunt.

To fit in my budget I’ve been shopping my favorite stores, especially the ones where I have credit (so that I can both use rewards and earn them).

First, I ordered this dress from

Rachel Roy Drape Neck Dress

This dress is perfect for an elegant courthouse ceremony!  (I also ordered this dress with a promo code and all of my rewards from the last year, netting me a 50% discount.) I would be very Joan Holloway in this dress!

Joan "Drop Dead Gorgeous" Holloway

Unfortunately, the dress didn’t fit quite right.  The waist hit just below my bust-line, which made the hips hit around my waist.  Being alternately too tight and too loose made me look like I was wearing a dress from junior high after a growth spurt.  Not exactly the look I was going for, and definitely not Joan.

So I ordered two dresses from Nordstrom, figuring one would fit the bill for a courthouse wedding.

Alex Evenings Lace Overlay Sheath Dress

Lovely right?  Well, the pleating just below the waist made my child bearing hips look even wider.  Additionally there are hundreds of shiny sequins that don’t show up in the picture, which made me look something like a Vegas lounge singer.  Not quite right for my wedding.

On the dress number 2:

Tadashi Lace Sheath Dress

Again, this dress is beautiful!  I loved it!  And then I put it on.  I now resembled a sausage being stuffed into its casing.  Maybe the lesson here was to stop ordering sheath dresses?  Despite my apparent mental self-image, I am not a size 6 with slender hips and small bust.  I am a very curvy size 10/12!  There is an 11 inch difference between my hips and waist, and a 10 inch difference between my bust and waist.  Sheath dresses are just not going to do it!

After another futile shopping trip to Macy’s, I began to worry that I would end up wearing a burlap sack!  The fiance kindly told me he’d happily marry me in my pjs, so I needed to stop stressing.

While that is a very sweet thing to say, I’m not sure I completely believe him.  I did, however, lighten up a bit and start looking for something simpler, more fitting to my body, and just more me.  I didn’t need a knockout dress for a wedding ceremony with the man I love and our immediate families.  They’ll be happy no matter what I wear.  To that end, I’ll be happy no matter what I wear.

With that in mind, I think I found a dress.  I tried it on this morning.  It fits perfectly.  It’s simple, it’s appropriate, and it is totally me.  Hopefully the fiance will agree!  If he does, I’ll let you guys in on the dress this weekend.  If not, back to the drawing board.  Finger’s crossed!