Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wedding Secrets

It's PostSecret Sunday again my dears! They're not very positive secrets, but as I like to say, any wedding news is good news.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Become a Budget-Savvy Bride (Tips 6-10)

More tips for the Budget-Savvy Bride (continued from here)...

Budget Bride Tip #6- Flavored Favors

If you absolutely insist on giving favors, at least make sure they're the edible kind. Buy candy (in the colors of your wedding) from the dollar store or supermarket and put them into little fabric bags for your guests to take home. Unless you plan on spending some serious money on favors, no one will remember or treasure them anyway. A small jar full of all one color jelly beans at each place setting can add a pop of color to the table.

Budget Bride Tip #7- Buy, don't rent!

This may seem counter productive to your budget at first, but buying things like linens online and then selling them after the wedding takes place may actually save you money in the long run.
For example: Brown satin linens for a 90" table were quoted at $9.00 each for rental and only cost $10.00 each to buy. Selling them for even half price after the wedding would mean a savings of 4$ on each linen!
This doesn't just work for linens, if the vases for centerpiece are expensive to rent, buy them at discount stores like Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls and sell them after the event! It's money in your pocket darling.

Budget Bride Tip #8- Be a Daily Reader

If you're like me and you've been obsessed with,,,,, and (to name a few) since you knew your fiance was *the one*, then you're well on your way to becoming the ultimate budget savvy bride. This is because you know what's out there, you know the vendors in your area. You know who's worth the money, and who has no business charging such ridiculously high fees. You've got the lay of the land and you know how to work it.
Being an obsessive reader of everything wedding takes dedication, but it definitely pays off. For more on this see the next tip!

Budget Bride Tip #9-  Enter. Every. Contest.

Even one freebie will cut down on the cost of your wedding. Many of the blogs and websites listed above offer contest or hold drawings for free give-aways. I have already won my invitations from Hello Lucky! through a giveaway on their blog. Below is the invitation that I chose. 

My advice is simple, enter. If you win, awesome! If not, you didn't lose anything.

Budget Bride Tip #10- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly!)

Although this may seem completely against everything that obsessed brides everywhere stand for, the truth is that all of this 'fluff' is extra. As long as I leave my wedding married to the man I love, I'll be happy! Not only that but all the people we love and adore will be there, that is the best gift anyone can ask for. Remember what matters and don't stress out about things like not having the perfect color sashes on your chairs because they weren't in the budget. Make the wedding about your love. Love is what you will remember about the day. Love is the most important element. And hey, it's free!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Wedding Secrets!

It's PostSecret Sunday! I've gathered more wedding secrets to share with all of you. Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dance Lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio Dubai

This weekend has been awesome. MW and I took a stand-up paddle board lesson with Surf Shop Dubai on Thursday, which rocked. We got an incredible tour around the Burj Al Arab and spent an hour and a half paddling around the Dubai coast in perfect weather. The only downside was that I left the camera at home so we relied on the couple in our group to take photos and send them to us. Nothing yet but I'm still hoping to see them in my inbox soon!

Another fun thing we got to do this weekend, and yes it's wedding related, is take a private dance lesson at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Souk Al Bahr at Dubai Mall. Arthur Murray has studios all over the world and offers lessons in an impressive variety of ballroom dance styles. We did a forty-five minute session and got to learn the Foxtrot, the Waltz, some Salsa, the Merengue, the Tango and a few basic dancing moves. It was an extremely productive lesson and I don't doubt that they could help us prepare an incredible first dance. Our introductory lesson was only $30.00, but actual lessons run much higher. I'm not sure on pricing within the United States, but here's what we were offered here in Dubai...

Location: Dubai, UAE
Venue: Arthur Murray Dance Studio
Product/Service: 10 private dance lessons at 45 minutes each
Price: $889.00
Verdict: Waaay too steep for our student budgets, but SO much fun!

Tip to Save for the Budget-Savvy Bride: If you're interested in taking ballroom dancing lessons but are worried that it won't be affordable, consider re-arranging the wedding budget. Spending two hundred dollars less on four aspects of the wedding would pay for 10 ballroom dancing lessons, experiences that will last a lifetime. It may sound tough but opting not to put sashes on 100 chairs, at $2.00 each would save you $200.00. Choosing to serve chicken instead of beef can easily save you $4.00 per plate. If you have 100 guests thats $400.00 in savings. There are dozens of ways to save without compromising quality. 

If $900.00 sounds completely ridiculous to you, then consider buying a DVD from an online store like this one, which would only run you around $30.00. Other options include; taking a group class at a local community center or hiring someone who knows how to dance to give you lessons at home. Either way, dance lessons are a must if you're a couple who likes to have fun. As for MW and I, nothing will stop us from being able to move it better than anyone on Dancing With the Stars. Now if only I could figure out where Julianne Hough gets her outfits from...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Real Dubai Engagement Party: Dina & Ahmed

I am so excited to share our first real event on BrideByYourSide! Today we have Dina & Ahmed's intimate engagement party at Raffles Hotel in Dubai. Keep reading to see Dina's advice on planning for future brides.
"Raffles Hotel in Dubai has a gorgeous view of the Dubai skyline from their pool deck. I think the important part of picking a location is if you can see your magical moment happening right then and there, then that’s the place for you. I venue hunted all over Dubai and nothing made me feel more sure than standing up on that pool deck months before. The lighting was exactly what I had hoped for.
I worked with the hotel to choose the cake design and flavor (vanilla caramel) which turned out absolutely delicious. The pastry chef at the hotel is very well known for his cakes and pastries, and with a good price, I went with the hotel chef on this one. Initially we wanted 50 guests but the number went up by the time the engagement party came around. Advice in this aspect: always expect no-shows.  And remember to review your guest list more than once.
Originally we were going to put together a playlist of songs and keep it playing throughout, since the event was more of a dinner. But in the middle of getting things ready, there was no time to approve an entire list of music so we hired a DJ. Live entertainment can be pricey, and the last thing you want to do in the middle of constant preparations is sit down and pick out four or five hours worth of music for your special day. Get someone to do it for you to make sure there isn’t a silent moment.Flowers at hotels can be crazy expensive, so I went to a local vendor in Sharjah (Note to those planning events in the UAE: Sharjah vendors are always cheaper and more than willing to come to Dubai. Don’t underestimate them). They had a sample centerpiece done for me from ideas I got online and voila! I had my flowers! Beautiful blue hydrangeas with purple roses, spotted with baby’s breath.
My advice to future bride is, research, keep your eyes open, ask a lot of questions, and go after exactly what you want. It's your special day and you have the right to do everything you want with it. I'm picky and was ready to do what it takes to bring the image in my head to life. It was stressful, but it was worth every minute. I wanted to feel like a Disney princess on my day and I can truly say that after all these years, Cinderella finally had nothing on me." -Dina

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Venue: Raffles Hotel Pool Deck
Guest Count: 60 people
Florist: May Flowers
Photography: Olivier Gallaud
Cake: Raffles Hotel Pastry Chef
Dress: Jovani

Monday, April 11, 2011

Twobirds Convertible Bridesmaids Dress

I am absolutely in love with the twobirds bridesmaids dress! It allows each girl to have her own style, and it is definitely something that can be worn again and again, because you never have to wear it the same way twice!

 Alyssa Milano's bridesmaids wore twobirds at her 2009 nuptials and many non-celebrity brides are following suit.

This convertible dress comes in twenty different colors and in varying lengths. It can also be wrapped in dozens of ways, so no two bridesmaids have to look alike. This photo from their website says it all...

Although I may want to purchase one of these lovely gowns for myself someday, I don't know how I'd feel about asking my bridesmaids to purchase a $310.00 dress-- no matter how many times they could re-wear it. Fortunately, many other designers are making convertible dresses at the moment. Keep on the lookout here at BrideByYourSide for a post on how to get your hands on a convertible dress for less. 

Price: $310.00 for the long version & $270.00 for the short version
Verdict: Lovely, but pricey! Hmm.. Does it come in white?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Become a Budget-Savvy Bride (Tips 1-5)

Planning a wedding can be the most exciting, romantic and enjoyable time of your life-- it certainly has been for me, but it can also put you and your husband-to-be in debt from the get-go. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $24, 066. Let me repeat that. Twenty Four Thousand and Sixty Six dollars. And many of us will end up spending more than that.There are multitudes of ways to cut costs and still have a beautiful wedding. Follow these tips and you too can be a budget savvy bride!

Budget Bride Tip #1- Start Early!

Even before our first kiss, I knew my fiance and I would end up engaged someday. When he proposed, I was on cloud 9. I'd never been so happy. We decided to make our engagement a long one in order to have a little more stability before we settle down. This has worked out wonderfully as far as wedding planning goes because I feel very little pressure to get things done 'in time'. We have years to organize everything, but I've already done the bulk of the planning. I've  made more lists than you can imagine, and thought through every detail that can be done in advance. 

Not only will this greatly reduce the level of stress the week of the wedding, but it will also greatly reduce the cost. If you have plenty of time to plan then you can wait around for semi-annual sales, buy when you happen to have coupons, and sometimes get a discount for booking early. It's never to early to save! Leaving things to the last minute often means that they will cost more.

Budget Bride Tip #2- The Comeback of Carnations (and buying in bulk).

Buying in bulk may be the most money saving trick any bride can come up with. Ordering flowers online can be more risky, because you can't sure of what you'll end up with, but if you do your research and find a place with a good reputation you should be happy with what you get. It's extremely easy to make centerpieces and bouquets on your own, if you need help there are plenty of youtube videos to watch for instruction.

I understand the stigma that goes with carnations ("oh, they're so cheap looking"), but carnations are making a serious comeback these days! Check out these centerpieces made entirely out of, you guessed it, carnations! A budget-savvy bride could save a bundle from using carnations instead of a more expensive peony or hydrangea.

Budget Bride Tip #3- DIY (duh!)

There couldn't be a more obvious way to save money, do-it-yourself! Don't try to do everything on your own, that will just lead to stress-- but taking one or two large tasks and leaving the rest to professionals is often manageable. Never underestimate yourself. If you can bake a cake, then you can bake a wedding cake (assuming you want a simple design). If you can use a computer and printer, then you can make your own invitations. Although your budget may be tight, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity ladies!

Budget Bride Tip #4- Get a Planner

Having a wedding planner may seem like a luxury that a budget-savvy bride cannot afford, but the truth is that the right planner will be able to help you score discounts by using vendors that work often with him or her. A planner will also be able to give advice on where to buy the cheapest (fill in the blank)-- but most importantly they will help keep you on budget!

Budget Bride Tip #5- Timing is Everything

Consider having your ceremony in the morning, followed by a brunch or lunch reception. This will save you some serious cash simply because you won't have to serve a full dinner, and no one will expect a full bar at one in the afternoon. Baby quiche appetizers and belgian waffles are delicious and cost no where near the price of king shrimp appetizers and filet mignon! If the reception finishes by four o' clock, then you can even have an after party and still come in under budget. Check out these baby blueberry pancake apps! Adorable and delicious.

Check back in for Budget-Savvy Bride Tips 6-10 later this week! 

Happy planning ladies!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PostSecret on Weddings

I love PostSecret! And I love weddings. So today I've decided to gather some wedding secrets and share them with you. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Florida Wedding Venues

MW and I decided on Florida for our wedding for a few reasons. One of the major contributing factors was that it's a place where people can come for our wedding and a great vacation. Our guests can visit Disney World, Florida Beaches, NASA, Universal Studios, Sea World and many more interesting places.

Last summer I visited the Royal Crest Room in St.Cloud. It looks like an excellent venue, and the prices are extremely competitive. Jamie, the woman who showed my mom and I around, was friendly and answered all of our questions. Here are some photos...

Another venue that I'd like to see on my trip to FL this summer is Casa Feliz. Arthur's Catering is the exclusive caterer for Casa Feliz, and is said to be the absolute best in FL. I will definitely have to check it out. It looks incredible in photos.