Casual Friday No. 2

wonderful-spring-blooms-picjumbo-com

Happy Friday, everyone! I had intended for these Casual Friday posts to be a more regular blog series, but I just haven’t kept up with it. I’m hoping to try again to make them at least a monthly post. I enjoy being able to just throw all kinds of thoughts and links together in one post without over-thinking it.

So, grab some tea or coffee and let’s chat!

I’m going to work over the weekend on a series of posts for our wedding photos. I think I’m going to break them up into four posts: “First Look,” “Getting ready,” “Ceremony” and “Reception.” I can’t wait to share them all with you. I’m so, so happy with how they turned out.

I went to see “The Glass Castle” this week. It was so good, but definitely pulled at your heartstrings. I shed more than a few tears—especially toward the end. I never read the memoir that it’s based on, but I’m thinking about going back and reading it now. I’m always a sucker for a good non-fiction book. I love reading about things that actually happened and hearing about other’s life experiences.

I am so ready for fall. I may or may not be wearing booties and a scarf today. I’m just trying to will the 80 degree weather away with my fall wardrobe. I’m just craving the dark, vampy colors of fall, warm drinks and sweaters!

I’m about to enter the last year of my twenties this month! My birthday is Aug. 29. I’m thinking about making a list of things I want to do this year. I think it would be a fun way to say bye to this decade. It’s been a good 10 years, but I’m actually so ready to move into my 30s. I might be the only person to say they are looking forward to turning 30. I think I’m going to write a whole post about reflecting on my 20s.

I’ve been trying to read “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff and I’ve had such a hard time getting into it. We’ve been going to the library more and I picked it up on a whim. I have to return it in a few days, so I’m hoping I can just knock it out. It has some good reviews, so I’m hoping it gets better.

We had a couple of friends visiting last week and went to the Chris Stapleton concert at Keybank Pavillion. It poured rain for the first half hour or so, but then it cleared off. We were soaked, but it was so worth it because he was SO good. I would definitely recommend trying to see him in concert if you like his music.

Have a great weekend!

Advertisements

Niagara Falls Honeymoon recap

20170726_184619

Deciding to go to Niagara Falls on our honeymoon was sort-of a quick decision. We had been talking about wanting to go somewhere this summer, but hadn’t decided on a place or time. I already had a week off scheduled at the end of July, so just a few weeks before that we were driving and just casually talking about where we could go. Eric suggested Niagara Falls and I quickly realized that would be perfect. A few days later I booked us a hotel and it was set!

Niagara Falls is only a four-hour trip from Pittsburgh and so easy to get to. We stayed on the New York side because Eric doesn’t have a passport. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and I’m so happy we did. It was one of the nicer hotels on the New York side and it was walking distance to everything.

20170725_203027

First night: view from near the visitor’s center

We arrived on Tuesday evening and immediately went down to see the falls. They are so crazy to see in person. It’s amazing to think how much water is rushing over them each day.

On Wednesday we bought adventure passes which included admission to five of the main attractions plus unlimited rides on the trolley for $45.

We did the Cave of the Winds, which takes you right under the falls. We had so much fun doing this that we almost went a second time. It is definitely windy though and you get really wet. Luckily they give you disposable sandals and a poncho.

Resized_20170726_125605Resized_20170726_125559Resized_20170726_125945

These three are from the Cave of the Winds

We also went to the aquarium, which was kind of underwhelming. It’s pretty small and didn’t have a ton of exhibits, but they did have some really cute seals.

We walked over to Goat Island, which has the Terrapin Point lookout over the Horseshoe Falls. It’s a great view from there.

20170727_134836(0)

View from the Maid of the Mist

We spent some time exploring some of the town and found some neat artwork. There were definitely some run-down parts of the city that you could tell had been neglected for the more touristy area.

On Thursday we went to the wax museum, which was equal parts interesting, terrifying and hilarious. It’s a very old museum and some of the wax figures are bit off. It’s pretty dark and creepy in some parts, but I’m glad we went.

We also did the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you down into the Niagara River and right near the falls. It was such a great view of them. After that I took a quick trip over the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. Since Eric didn’t have a passport, he stayed at the hotel.

20170727_150531

View from Canada

I spent about two hours in Canada walking around. Everyone says the Canada side is so much better, but I didn’t really think so. I found it to be much more touristy than the U.S. side and so much more crowded. The view from the Canada side is unique because you can see all of the falls at once, but honestly, I felt like we got really great views on the U.S. side.

20170727_141656

View from the lookout coming back from Maid of the Mist

On Thursday evening we had dinner at the best restaurant that was a couple of miles out of the tourist area. It’s called The Griffon Gastropub and it was so amazing. They had tons of beer on draft and the food was so, so good. I had a steak sandwich with a side of their mac and cheese and Eric had a shrimp po’boy. We literally stuffed ourselves. It was the best meal of the whole trip.

Overall, it was so nice to get away with just the two of us. We hadn’t taken a vacation together in five years! We are definitely going to try and make it a point to get away more often, even if it’s just for a weekend.

How we had a wedding for less than $10,000

wedding

Photo by Liv Hefner Photography

I always knew I wanted to do a breakdown of how much our wedding cost because I wanted people to know you can still have an amazing wedding on a budget.

And our wedding was just that — amazing.

It was everything we had envisioned and went so smoothly. Everything was on time, done correctly and it even stopped raining in the afternoon — just in time for photos before the wedding — after storming all morning.

I always enjoyed seeing breakdowns of affordable weddings when I was looking, but often times found that couples were gifted a lot of big ticket items. That wasn’t our case. We were really only gifted a couple of things (which I’ve noted in the breakdown below). And, as I’ve mentioned before, we had a very small wedding with only 40 guests after postponing it.

It was really satisfying to know we paid for everything ourselves. We also paid cash for everything except the hotel room we stayed in for the wedding weekend. So we have come out of it basically debt-free.

We ended up spending around $8,000 for everything all said and done. We didn’t take a honeymoon right away, but we are planning to go to Niagara Falls later this month. We wanted the extra time to save up some money. I’ll save that for another post.

Wedding cost breakdown:

Dress: $1,500 (including alterations)

Veil: $108

Shoes: $50 (From Nordstrom Rack)

Eric’s suit: $200 (Dress shirt, tie, suit coat and suit pants all from J.C. Penny)

Eric’s shoes: $50 (gifted)

Food & alcohol: $1,800 (Appetizer buffet, coffee, tea and beer/wine)

Venue: $350 (gifted) The cost included linens, dishes, table clothes/chair covers and an integrated sound system.

Hotel for the wedding weekend: $800

Cake: $175 (included delivery to hotel on day of wedding)

Flowers: $300 (My bouquet, plus three babies’ breath bouquets for bridesmaids. Price included delivery to the hotel on day of wedding)

Centerpieces: Roughly $50, but paid for with gift card to Michaels (Glass vases with fake flowers and floating LED candle)

Other various decorations: $100-$150 (This includes mini chalk boards, mr & mrs banner, Fujifilm instax camera for guestbook, plus film, etc.)

Guestbook: $30

Hair: $75-including tip

Makeup: $450-including tip (I paid half of the cost for each bridesmaid to have their makeup done, plus mine)

Photography: $1,700 (This included an engagement session, two photographers at the wedding for 8 hours, rights to print our photos, plus a printed book of photos)

Favors: $30

 

Where we saved money:

No DJ: We made a Spotify playlist and played it through the integrated sound system in our venue. This easily saved between $500-$1,000.

No flowers as decorations: We used fake flowers in our centerpieces, which saved us so much money. It just seemed like such a waste of money for such a little amount of time.

Not serving a full dinner: We decided to do an appetizer buffet instead of a full dinner and I think it went over really well. We still had plenty of food. We served a garden salad with rolls, chicken sewers, mini meatballs, spinach dip, a cheese platter and pinwheel sandwiches. We also had some easy snacks that were left out all night like pretzels, nuts and chips and french onion dip.

DIY favors: We made little bags filled with wild flower seeds that people could plant as a way to always remember our wedding.

Let me know if you have any questions or want to know anything more specific. I hope this helps

I’m back (and married!)

bouquet 2

(My wedding bouquet)

Well, I didn’t mean to take two months off from blogging, but here we are.

Life got busy with work and wedding stuff this spring, and I just didn’t have any extra time for much else.

We’re married now (yay!) and finally settling into a less stressful and less busy routine.

Married life is great so far, but more on that later. I’m planning several posts about the wedding. The first post, going up on Monday, will be all about how we paid for it (mostly) ourselves. So, stay tuned if you want to know how we still had the wedding of our dreams for less than $10,000.

I’ve been brainstorming all kinds of posts to do over the summer, and I’m so excited to get back into it. I’ve been trying lots of new beauty products and would love to share my thoughts on them. I’ve also picked up some new summer reading, so I’ll be sharing my best pool-side reads.

Speaking of pools, I’m so excited that it’s almost summer. I’m very much looking forward to some lazy days by the pool – the first of which will be this Sunday because it’s supposed to be 95 degrees.

See you next week!

Wedding Wednesday: DIY Invitations

Invitation 3

I knew pretty early on that we wouldn’t be able to afford invitations from a professional printer or online store. The costs were just something I didn’t want to spend our budget on and they were creeping up to be hundreds of dollars. Although very pretty, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that when I’d rather spend that on something more tangible on the actual wedding day. I figure most people just throw invitations away anyway, so why waste that much money?

I ended up buying a kit from Michaels that matched our colors of gold and light blue. It was a BRIDES kit that was originally around $40, but I had a coupon that ended up making them around $20. The kit included 30 invitations, 30 RSVP cards and 30 extra cards for things like directions. This worked out perfect since we are only sending around 20 invitations.

Invitation 2

Invitation 1

The way the kit works is you go to a website that has the templates and you can customize it online and then download the PDF to print them. You can customize the fonts/wording, etc, which is nice. I did notice that when you change the font, it can mess with the spacing. That took some trial and error and still didn’t turn out perfect.

Overall, for the price I think they turned out pretty well. They definitely aren’t the most professional quality, but they look nice. They will serve their purpose and we can ultimately funnel that potential hundreds of dollars into something else like food or the photographer, which are more important to us.