Honeymoon Planning for Opposites

Travel, wedding
Ryan and I are a classic case of opposites attract. While we have a lot in common, we also seem to balance one another out. While I think we should go hiking for a month in the Amazon, Ryan more practically suggests a weekend camping trip and a tropical resort. Less chance of Malaria that way.
So when it came to planning our honeymoon my adventurous nature thought something along the lines of backpacking or hiking for a week seemed like a great vacation. Ryan disagreed.
Ryan’s idea of a great honeymoon meant another cruise like we did two years previously, with all of our needs met and no need to go anywhere or do anything.
While I didn’t hate our cruise, it would not be my first choice in travel again. I wasn’t keen on hoards of wealthy Americans being dumped off to gawk at poor foreigners that moved chairs for pennies and had minimal rights. This is an argument for another day, but long story short, I wanted something more engaging and more cultural.
To find the happy medium, we needed to narrow down a world of choices. In retrospect I don’t know many people that would find camping for four days, hiking 30 miles, and not showering in that time to be particularly romantic.
At one point we talked about Japan, but when we realized the cost associated and the jet lag that would be involved in a week we knew that it wasn’t the best option.
So we had a lot of extremes and needed to find a middle ground. For me, in many ways, the honeymoon was almost the more important part. We wanted an adventure to really remember and we wanted something we could realistically ask for presents for.
This opposite thing actually comes in handy, as we tend to be able to find a healthy blend in our lives. I want to fly off to Madagascar, and Ryan reminds us that we really only have the money for Mexico.
Which brings us to Mexico. Where we will be headed to in about a week, and where we will get to stay for a week. We have picked a resort in Playa Del Carmen, all inclusive. Meaning Ryan has the ability to sit all day, read a book, eat, and sip margaritas. While I have the ability to explore some history, culture, and a chance to really embrace one place. We both love the beach, and outdoor adventuring such as snorkeling, swimming, ATV’s, and jet skis. Which the resort and our excursions will cover. There are cenotes and resort performances that embrace the Mayan culture of the region. All around, it gives us the chance to get something and everything we actually want.
Ultimately, it means compromise, and though that word is tainted, it meant trying to combine our interests into one perfect trip. My advice is the following:
1. Research what is available, and keep looking for the best rate and things to do.
2. Make a list of “musts” and decide how to hit all of those points.
3. Find what you both have in common and find somewhere that you can hit those and that also has something for each of you.
4. Ask a travel agent, read magazines, shop for deals, and see what you find. We found our resort through Southwest Vacations at a great price and with fantastic reviews for what we wanted.
5. Ask friends and family where they have been, what they liked, what the options are to customize a vacation.
6. Finally, if you can’t decide somewhere, ask for money and save it until you can figure out where to go. There is no harm in waiting a month, 6 months or a year or two until you can take the best trip possible.
Happy Travels!

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Weddings are meant to be several things.
1) A celebrating of two people in love
2) A public declaration of love and/or a bond
3) A reflection of a couple and their life together now and in the future
All of these things are true and should be the core of the wedding planning process.
So let me remind you, that it’s about you and your partner, so that means you can have what you want. There really aren’t any hard rules to a wedding, not legally (check your state/country maybe?) and not necessarily culturally. While we like to throw traditions around like a crucifix in the exorcist, the truth is that traditions bend and change with time and that means its okay to make new traditions or throw them out completely.
My examples are as follows:
Ryan is a huge Star Wars Fan, so we included these elements. We had a Millennium Falcon crashing into our cake, and our entrance included Ryan in a Darth Vader Mask to the Imperial March. I am a huge Alphonse Mucha Fan so we included his artwork as a “theme” with vibrant florals and romantic outfits. We also got married in October so we utilized the autumn and Halloween vibes of that time of year.
Finally, we’re both Harry Potter nerds so we did some photos with our wands that we are so excited to get from the photographer.
It ended up being a perfect blend.
Other things we changed:
-Both of my parents walked me down the aisle, which is common in the Jewish tradition, but not so much in Protestant/U.S. Midwestern style.
-We used a Quaich (Scottish/Gaelic tradition) which meant more to me because of my travels to Europe instead of a candle, rope, sand or other ceremony. (This also comes from most of my family coming from the British Isles, specifically Scotland)
-We used music we liked that was not traditional for our ceremony and dances because it had meaning to us, and others enjoyed it having a stamp of cleverness, humor, and wit to it.
-We started our ceremony with the ceremony from the Princess Bride, the cool kids got it, everyone else was confused. But it made us happy. We also had one of my best friends marry us, making it even more special.
-We never said “I do” because it seemed to simple, so we wrote our own vows, exchanged rings in a traditional manner, and sealed it with a kiss.
-I said vows to my stepdaughter because I am marrying her too, for better or for worse, for sickness and in health (do you know how much kids can puke?!?)
-We did first look photos so that we looked our best and so we had more time just to have fun, this helped calm our nerves for the ceremony too. As best friends, you want to be near them at exciting time.
-One of my sister’s acted as one of Ryan’s groom’s attendants. This was awesome because it showed just how closer everyone is. My sister also looked BOMB in their suit and makeup.


-We let kids run wild at the reception. Though we had a kid’s table, kids want to be everywhere but where you stick them. So we let them go crazy (within reason) they danced, they took photos, they ate food, and they all left with giant smiles and glow sticks. Also, kids make parties better because they are so damn cute.
-We celebrated love triumphing over all other issues, moments, scary days, hard days, tears, death and more. Which is the ultimate battle.

How to Afford a Wedding

If you are engaged, or thinking of becoming engaged, or long term lovers wanting a wedding, you probably are in the process of being horrified at the expenses that come with weddings.
But wait….it gets better….
You will think you have a budget nailed down and then you’ll remember all of those people you haven’t paid yet. Like your hairdresser and makeup artist, your limo driver, your photographer, or the tips for wait staff at the wedding.
It’s fun! (I’m more sarcastic in this one)
Also, your budget will change because you’ll fall in love with a $3,000 dollar dress, or $500 veil, or want new shoes that are $200. No doubt there are ways to keep the costs low, and there are ways to avoid the wedding money pit. However, just be prepared to spend a lot, and maybe cry a little because of it.
Here are some tips that I found helpful, and discovered along the way.
1) Be realistic on what you can afford.
This is a huge one, I know of so many people that plan one wedding and then get sticker shock when they get the bill and their checking account can’t keep up. Even if you CAN afford a more expensive venue/photographer/florist be mindful that unexpected things happen. Our list of unexpected events included but are not limited to: $2,000 on car repairs/maintenance, $700 on medical bills, $1000+ court fees (custody agreement for my stepdaughter), $1000+ to help family members, being laid off of a job and much more. So, my advice is don’t kill yourself to have gold china-plated, when no one will really care anyway.
2) Plan to save more than you need.
See above for more information, but also because of extra costs, those get bothersome. It’s always better to have some padding in the checking account for unexpected events.
3) Ask for money instead of things.
Maybe it doesn’t seem personal enough, but we have lived together over five years, so having more “stuff” didn’t make sense. This is not true for everyone, but I found getting money a much better way to plan out what we need and how to spend it on experiences, such as our honeymoon. Sure everyone wants nice stuff, but I want memories more. PLUS they don’t go out of style in 10 years. This also helps with extra wedding expenses as many people will send gifts before the wedding and parents may be able to help more ahead of time (thank you amazing in-laws, friends and aunty)
4) Pin down a guest list and REALISTIC head count.
I messed this one up good, because we kept inviting people thinking many people wouldn’t come. Then all of the sudden EVERYONE was coming and we hit our venue capacity in NO TIME. SO, if you are planning, set a number to invite and ONLY invite that amount. Then check your numbers, check with relatives, ask many questions about how many children are coming etc. etc. etc.
This was the best part for me, personally. I made a huge amount of the things we used in some manner for the wedding. I made my dress, I put together the flowers for myself and the bridesmaids/attendant of honor + head pieces for the bridesmaids, I dyed white silk petals to orange, I stamped all the treat bags, I made signs, etc etc. I cut cost every way I could so that we could do more with food + fun. It ended up that everything looked REALLY nice too. I know not everyone is crafty, but with some patience, maybe some good friends, and some YouTube tutorials you could save THOUSANDS on your big day.
6) Be realistic on your limits.
Limits may be money, but also your patience, time, and mental fortitude for everything. So be honest about what you care about the most and what works the best for YOU to not be a crazy person. I didn’t do a seating chart, for instance, because everyone is an adult and could figure out where to sit/eat/get along with people. I also didn’t make centerpieces because the venue put out roses and I had some simple candle holders + Alphonse Mucha art work in frames. No one missed the centerpieces and then everyone could talk without a giant thing in the way and it made more room for the large group we had. I might also add, most people won’t notice or care or judge as long as the food is good, there is access to alcohol, and the music keeps the mood happy.
7) Vote with your money.
We knew our budget would be small, but we also knew that the money spent should go to something we care about. We both loved our venue, The Mercury Cafe in Denver, and we knew its importance to the community. They also only charged for food, linens, staff tips, and then our cash bar. This made everything more affordable and it literally made for the most beautiful wedding we could have imagined. Other places we considered were the zoo, local museums, a historic park etc. we just wanted the money to go to something that supports others and the Mercury Cafe has done that for over 30 years!
8) Cut what makes sense.
We started with a charcuterie and $1,000 on the bar + dinner. We ended with a cash bar and dinner, which there were leftovers of. The reason? We didn’t have an extra $2,000 for charcuterie and booze, or rather, we felt the money should be spent elsewhere. We’re glad we did, especially when we realized over half of the people coming didn’t drink (kids/medical reasons/sober) and that those that did would not mind spending $10-20 on some cocktails or beer. I wanted an open bar, but in the grand scheme of things it worked out just fine and no one complained.
On another level I ended up not scheduling the photographer for the “getting ready” shots and the hairdresser and makeup for everyone. First of all it would have been a logistical nightmare to get everyone in the same spot to get ready, second of all, as a photographer, getting ready shots are really hard unless your have a good setting. My apartment with five extra people staying with me, was not the place for the wedding morning. So we skipped it and had the photographer stay at the reception longer. Not to mention my dress required historic, and not attractive, undergarments that I frankly did not want pictures of.
9) Coupon, shop sales, dollar tree it.
My favorite thing for saving money was going after Halloween 2016 and getting kid’s activities for about $5. The second best part was couponing the crap out of JoAnn for everything from ring bearer pillows to garters and flowers. By using the 40% to 60% off coupons and shopping sales I probably only spent half as much otherwise. Also, the Dollar Tree filled in gaps for LED lights, ribbon, leaves for the flower girls, crayons for the kids table and much more.
10) Make sure its fun.
It sounds silly, because Bridezillas….AHHH (I’ll let you in on the secret that Ryan was way more stressed the week of).
But why have a wedding if its miserable? Yes I was stressed, and at times I wanted to give up, but most of all and overall I had fun making everything and sharing Ryan and I, and our weirdness, with everyone in a big, silly party. I will cherish all the love and family time for my whole life, and that made it all worth while.

Married…and Other Adult Titles

I got married about two weeks ago.Holy buckets Batman, that seems like a weird thing to say. But it’s true! On October 21, 2017 I married the love of my life, aka BAE of almost seven years in a really pretty ceremony and reception at The Mercury Cafe in Denver, Colorado.

Stefan Rodriguez Photography

From Stefan Rodriguez Photography http://www.stefanrodriguez.com/

Which is reason numero uno why I haven’t been active for so long, because weddings have this habit of completely taking over your life, especially the last two months before them.

Not only do you get the marvelous joy of all the planning, because I did it all myself, but you also get all the comments, and questions, and glueing and last minute sewing too.

It’s fun!

I don’t mean that totally sarcastically….

Overall the wedding was truly great, and we had a REALLY good time at our $10,000 day/party/event. But what was truly the best part, was that we were able to get to see and be surrounded by so many people that truly love us.

I promise to post more and now my husband and I will shortly return to podcasting as SJW and Apathy Man.

To come…. how to do a wedding + honeymoon for under $10,000 (total)

How to stay sane when planning a wedding

Why you should do the wedding YOUR way

Let your freak flag fly.

Write soon