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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our new home.

Want to take a tour?

Ok, here we go...

Oh wait. First, a disclaimer. We moved in 4 days ago. That has to count for something. If there are things on the floor or a lack of curtains on the wall, you'll understand, right? Ok, thanks.

The living room.

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The kitchen and dining area. We love all the white and so much light that comes in! God has so blessed us.

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Another view of the living room (and the front door).

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View from the kitchen window.

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Guest room (obviously not finished... it's going to be green soon!).

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Ohhh yes. One of my favorite parts.

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Hallway leading to bedrooms.

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View from the front porch.

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Glimpse of the guest bathroom. It's obviously not finished yet, but I had to show off the new shower curtain that Grandma and I made. I love, love, love it!! Thanks, Grandma!

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Our adorable back deck.

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The sunroom - with the most amazing view! I could only show you the clean part of the room. The rest is a catch-all for now. Oh, and we got that corner cabinet a few days ago on craigslist for a steal!

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Our bedroom.

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View into the laundry room and pantry (and sunroom to the left).

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My new craft room doesn't look that great yet, but trust me, it's going to be one of the best parts of the house one of these days. I can't wait to put it together. It'll be my little sanctuary.

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Can't leave out our new neighbors. We do have other neighbors. They're less hairy.

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Shawn trying to make friends with our new neighbors.

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That's better.

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So I wasn't kidding... we really do live in the country now!

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It really is this beautiful.

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Look at that TREE! Fall has decided to make a grand entrance.

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And last but not least, our sweet neighbors' tree swing! Yeahh!!!

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Even Mom, the photographer, had to take it for a spin.

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Have I shown you enough to make you want to visit us? I hope so. Please, please, pretty please... if you're reading this and we know you, we probably want you to come visit us. Actually, I'm sure we do. So please come. We'll show you around quaint Franklin antique shops, roast marshmallows in the chiminea, cook you a fine Southern dinner... whatever you want! We even have a guest room!

Ok, I hope that sounded desperate enough. We miss you, Chicago people. And you, our family in two different countries (and a state that's far enough away to feel like a different country). And you, Texas friends. I'm sure I'm leaving someone out. But we do love you and want you to know that our guest room is now open for business.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Home, Home on the Range.

I'm sitting in a rocking chair on our new front porch, listening to the crickets chirp, looking out at acres of beautiful land and trees in gorgeous fall hues. We live in the country now. I can't say I thought I'd ever say that (quite the change from our last apartment, obviously) but it already feels like home.

I promise to take some pictures of our new home soon - it is so charming - but for now, I wanted to catch up with some other pictures I've taken over the last week or so. With no internet for a week, I definitely have some catching up to do!

Last Sunday, our family friends Michael and Jan invited us to their house for a bonfire with their church small group (which Mom and Dad are a part of). It was in Columbia, Tennessee and Dad and Shawn decided to bike the 27 miles there. What studly men.

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It was the perfect, crisp fall night. Surrounded by lots of familiar faces and a few new ones, we sat around the fire, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and ate "hobo stew."

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Mom is the ultimate kid magnet. Here she is with sweet Olivia. All night long, we heard the kids calling, "Miss Mel! Miss Mel!" although it sounded more like "Miss May-el!" with their sweet southern accents. Adorable.
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Has anyone heard of "hobo stew" before? I hadn't, but I loved the idea. Everyone brings a can of something that would go in stew (beans, tomatoes, meat) but they take the label off and dump it in. It's a complete surprise what it will come out like. Apparently, it was very good!
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Let's just say, Mom likes her hot dogs very well done.
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More like charred. See exhibit A.
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After the sun went down, Dad pulled out his famous accordion for some campfire songs.
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We sang more kid songs that anything (which was fun because everyone knew them!). "This little light of mine," "If you're happy and you know it"...
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Oh yes, and the Hokey Pokey. :)
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We ended with "Kumbayah" (how could you not?).
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What a beautiful night.
Thank you, Hayes family.
And thank you, Tennessee, for welcoming us so well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saving money on your wedding.

My best friend Jessica is getting married in March, and as we've been talking about wedding planning, I wanted to share some ideas we had from my own wedding on saving money.

Weddings are expensive. But I don't have to convince anyone of that.

While in the planning process, we (Mom and I) found that if you were willing to spend a little extra time and creative energy, there are so many little ways to save that really add up.

Let me first encourage you that as a believer, your wedding is about exalting Christ and celebrating His faithfulness in your life to bring you and your husband (or wife) together. Keeping this perspective is so important and it really does help in the planning process. If all the details aren't perfect but your wedding is a worshipful experience for you and your family and friends, what more could you ask for? Our hope was that people wouldn't even remember the details, but would remember that they were drawn closer to Jesus at our wedding.

All that said, there's still a lot of planning to be done. So here are a few thoughts that I hope may help some brides to be (Jessica, Melissa, Allison...):

1. For us, having the wedding and reception in the same location saved money.

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To be honest, I wasn't real keen on this idea at first. I really wanted the wedding and reception to feel "separate." But looking at the pros, it was really worth it. First, we only had to rent one venue! Second, our guests didn't have to wait for hours for the reception to start. We chose to take our photographs before the wedding* so that after the wedding, we'd have about 15 minutes to turn around the room for the reception. It was all planned out and only took that amount of time. The guests just stayed in the room and when it was ready for the reception, we all made our entrance. I think you also get a better retention rate for guests that way. We were lucky that our venue allowed us to have the wedding and reception in the same huge, gorgeous room - I realize other locations may not be as accommodating.

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Reception in the same room.

2. Buy your wedding cake at a grocery store bakery.

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Seriously. We got our red velvet cake from Publix (a grocery store) and chose a very simple design, then had our florist reserve some leftover flowers from the bouquets. Our good friend Cindy arranged the extra flowers on top, and it looked much more expensive than it actually was!

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3. Make your own invitations. We decided to save money - and have fun - by making our own "save the date" cards and our own invitations. They turned out completely unique and much more affordable. For our save the date cards, we printed them at Kinko's, but for the invitations, we used overnightprints.com. What a great resource. You can design your own invitations using Photoshop or a web design software, upload your design, then have them sent to you for a great price.

4. Make your own boutonnieres.

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Because we knew what our colors would be in advance, I made all of the boutonnieres and corsages two or three months before the wedding. I went to Hobby Lobby, picked out an assortment of fabric flowers, some fabric tape, and some ribbon, then spent an afternoon putting them all together. There were quite a few boutonnieres to make - all the groomsmen, the fathers, the grandfathers, the pastor, the ringbearer, the ushers, other family members and corsages for the grandmothers, guestbook attendants, and other family and friends who were helping with the wedding. If you're spending $10-12 on each boutonniere (and usually more for a corsage), it adds up pretty quick. But by making our own, we figured each one cost around $2 when all was said and done. Can't beat that! And with the leftover ribbon and flowers, I decorated baskets for the flower girls!

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5. Decor. We were lucky that our amazing location didn't need much decorating at all, but what we did do we either borrowed or picked up at a thrift store. You probably know someone who has gotten married recently and has tons of leftover vases, hurricanes, or other table decor (people buy it and then it sends in a garage for a while). Maybe your church will let you borrow or rent what they have. We also used little crystal bowls on the tables that were filled with red candy. We bought the bowls for 50 cents each at a local Goodwill. All that to say, there's really no need to spend a ton on decor!

6. If friends have volunteered to help you, take them up on it (without taking advantage of them, of course). My grandma, for example, is an amazing seamstress and made my veil for a fraction of the cost, and it was just what I was envisioning.

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She also made the flower girl dresses which saved their mom lots of money, too.

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7. I've heard of a trend recently of having two dresses - one for the wedding and one for the reception. I can't imagine doing that myself, but I understand wanting to look a little different. For our wedding, I decided to change the color of my sash (the red was actually what originally came with my dress), take off the veil, and put up my hair before the reception. Shawn took off his jacket and wore a red tie for the reception. It was so fun to enter the reception looking more relaxed and fun. And it didn't cost hardly any money to change it up! Speaking of the sash, my ivory-colored sash could have been purchased at the bridal shop for over $100 (no thanks). Instead, we found the same satin ribbon at an upscale fabric shop and had it cut to size.

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For the flower in my hair, I found one I liked at Hobby Lobby, cut it off its stem, and glued it to a hair clip. Easy and cheap!

8. On saving money for your attendants:

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This was important to us, for sure. For the bridesmaids, it meant making their jewelry instead of having them buy it (which was fun and unique anyway), letting them choose their own gold shoes, and finding a dress that was on sale. For the groomsmen, we put together their ensemble (that was not rented) for less than $100 and they were able to wear all of it again! By just having some creativity, it's possible.

9. Lastly, how not to save [your parents'] money:


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Let your little sister catch the bouquet, then get married 8 months later. :)

Thank you, family and friends, for making our wedding the BEST day of our lives!
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I hope this inspires some of you who are in the midst of planning that it can be done for less. :) And if you have any questions about anything I posted, feel free to email me!

* About taking pictures beforehand... I highly recommend it. Not only are you able to have a sweet and somewhat private moment with your husband-to-be with no one else around (except the photographer, in our case), but you are able to spend the day with him enjoying your family and friends. We are so glad we did it this way. We took pictures in the afternoon, then before the ceremony, we hung out with all of our close family and friends and ate and talked before the ceremony. I hoped it wouldn't take away from seeing him for the first time when I went down the aisle, and I can honestly say it didn't one bit. And then we didn't have to take pictures after the ceremony - so I was free to cry during the ceremony because the pictures had already been taken. :)

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Hanging out with our favorite people before the ceremony. Priceless.