the wedding chronicles | decision #8

THE PAPER

of all the things that i’ve somehow been mostly undecided on, the “paper” aspect of our wedding is the most unexpected.  when i talk paper, i mean save-the-dates, invitations, programs, menus, the works.  it’s interesting because when it came to the venue, the dress, and other things, i (and where applicable, “we” with phillip) have been able to make a decision and move on to the next item on the lengthy to-do list.  however, this one has tripped me up somehow and it kind of cracks me up!

let’s take the dress, for example.  after picking out my wedding dress, i came back to the condo and threw away all my magazine tear-outs that were wedding dress related.  i didn’t want to see something different than what i picked and then start to second guess my choice.  wouldn’t that just be the worst?  why yes, it would be!  so, why can’t we pick an invitation?  well, i’m thinking it might be because we kind of worked backwards in the process, but i’m betting we’ll get it sorted out soon enough.  so, do you want the whole story?  okay, here’s the whole story.

after picking the sites for our ceremony and reception, an easy thing to start doing was looking at invitation designs.  although i would have loved to give a local artist our business, it’s just so darn easy to go online and browse through hundreds of designs and colors.  for phillip and me, minted.com is where we landed to start perusing our options.  it ended up actually being a lot of fun at the start because we got to order free samples of some of our favorites so that we could check them out in person.  when we unfortunately weren’t in love with any of our first 10 free samples, we ordered 10 more.  it’s hard to resist when they make it so easy with those promo codes!  with 20 different samples on our hands, we took them to the venue and, after much deliberation, settled on a design that would work well with the theme of our big day.

that should be it, right?  wrong!  well, we then needed to pick out something for the save-the-dates, which had to be going out soon (six months ahead of the wedding date to be exact per all the magazine articles i have read).  i didn’t want the save-the-dates to be too matchy-matchy with the invitations (i write this as if someone would actually care), so we went with something that was simple but still formally styled for our guests.  i liked it, phillip liked it, so we ordered 100 of them!  they shipped in quick fashion, we addressed each and every one of them and ended up actually putting them in the mail today.  also a good thing, right!  mostly yes.  i say mostly yes because in looking at the save-the-date designs my eyes wandered and were caught by all the new invitation designs i hadn’t previously seen.  heaven forbid we go with the one we already selected!  however, phillip humored me and let me order another group of 10 samples that i just cannot wait to see.  the best part about it all is that we now have the save-the-date design that we can put side-by-side with the invitation to see which ones really suit each other.  perfect!

now, i don’t doubt at all that someone reading this is thinking “really, kelsey?  aren’t you overthinking this whole situation?”  you are precisely correct that i absolutely am!  like many aspects of a wedding day, some of the finer details you spend your energy on likely go unnoticed by the masses.  however, here is the catch:  things that are cheaply done (or done without much thought) are noticed (and usually not in a good way) while things that are nicely done but not typically memorable (like the design of your save-the-dates and invitations) aren’t usually commented on at all.  interesting situation, yes?  i couldn’t agree more!  now, i’m not at all advising you drown your life savings to get the most expensive invitations you can find, and everyone has their own style and budget that will determine what they can and cannot do.  it really should be simple in that you should do what feels right to you and choose something that represents you and your fiance and your wedding day vision.  for me?  i fully admit the pickle i am in over our invitation design is purely one of my own making.  however, you wanted the truth about this whole “planning a wedding thing”, and this is my verison of it.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #6 and decision #7

THE COLORS & THE BRIDESMAID DRESSES

about a month ago my mom and i took my bridesmaids kari, jamie, and sarah out to go shopping for their dresses here in atlanta.  we fueled up with an energizing breakfast at the local flying biscuit and then headed to the salon to see if we’d have any luck.  i was certainly hoping that would be the case considering that sarah was moving back to california and that football season would easily get in the way of scheduling more appointments that worked for everyone.  i’ll spoil things right now and tell you that with a group of supportive girls around me, we made easy work of finding looks that flattered everyone.

tiaras for everyone!

now, before i get into all the juicy details about the bridesmaid dresses themselves, let’s talk about another wedding decision that oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with them:  the wedding colors.  if i’m being honest, my ideas about the colors for our wedding have changed nearly a countless number of times.  first it was oxblood and sage (inspired by a wedding magazine article), then it was pretty yellow roses that caught my eye at church, and then a pale pale green i thought was certainly the way to go.  this was all fine and well until kari, jamie, and sarah all started trying on dresses for me and i realized my color vision was a little off.  although the pale and dusty green i picked out was pretty in my mind, in person it didn’t quite match what i was picturing.

thankfully the salon had rows full of dresses and i was grateful the girls didn’t mind trying on dress after dress.  sometimes that’s what you have to do to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.  plus, seeing a dress on your body can be much different (and sometimes much better) than how it looks on the hanger.  i mean, you might as well try on as much as you can while you’re there and make the most of your time!

when shopping with your bridesmaids for their dresses, here are a few bits of advice.  if you and your girls are anything like me and mine, many of them (if not all of them) have different body shapes.  what this means is that a single style might not work best for everyone.  now, if your vision is for all the girls to wear the same dress, just know you might hit some snags in this regard.  and, if that is the case, it’s extremely common these days for girls to wear different style dresses that complement one another and oftentimes also the bride’s dress (such as the neckline or cut or fabric).  this can help your bridesmaids feel their most beautiful because they’re in a dress that makes them feel comfortable and confident.

next, unless you want everything uniform, maybe entertain the idea of putting the girls in different shades of the same color or even different colors altogether that go with your overall theme and vision for your wedding day.  this one is totally personal preference and all i’ll say about my girls is that they look like perfect angels in gorgeous shades of blush.  🙂

and finally, as mentioned in previous posts of the wedding chronicles, remember that the decision is ultimately yours as the bride.  it is extremely kind to be sensitive to your girls’ preferences and opinions (and i’ve always appreciated when i’ve been treated this way as a bridesmaid), but it is your wedding day after all and that’s what is most important.

the wedding chronicles | decision #5

THE WEDDING PARTY

although a necessary decision to make, choosing who will stand next to you and your fiance on your big day might not be easy.  now, phillip and i are lucky in that we were sure pretty early on who we wanted up there at the altar on our wedding day – the people most important to us!  however, i feel like i can safely say the same is likely not the case for most couples.

when it comes to the wedding party, most often family is involved to some degree, and even though family should be supportive to whatever the bride’s and groom’s wishes are, usually feelings and emotions drive actions rather than logic.  it’s a very fine line because the people closest to you have helped mold you as an individual and, quite possibly, mold you as a couple as well.  so, it makes sense that you may want their opinion.  however, where do you draw the line?  do you ask a certain person to be in the party because a family member says it would be a nice gesture?  or do you pick, maybe, a college friend because that person has been like a brother/sister to you?  if any of you reading this have already had your wedding, i’m sure you’ve encountered a situation similar to what i have described.  and for those of you yet to cross this bridge, i will give you this advice and leave it at this:  i encourage you to do what you feel is right as far as who and how many people are in your wedding party.  after all, it is your day and the vision you have as a couple should be what comes to be.  however, i also advise you to tread lightly, respectfully, and maturely when you are asked why you have made the choices you have.  be prepared for the fact that everyone might not be on board or in favor of what you have decided.  feelings may be hurt and you might get pressure from folks to change your mind.  at the end of the day, though, all that matters is that you are happy, and that should be enough reason for anyone to understand and support you both on your big day.  on this decision, i wish you the most luck i can.  🙂

weekend warriors

recently my mom spent a couple of her final summer days at the condo with me before getting back to the school year grind at omhs.  while in town, she was kind enough to help us out with some home improvement chores that have been on the list a while but sometimes always seem to bump down in priority as the days come and go.  as a result, phillip and i rode her wave of can-do inspiration and completed a couple other projects on our own!

first up was the shower stall in my bathroom.  now, when you think about showering, you likely are getting in and out and moving on with your life.  naturally you probably don’t think twice about the condition of your shower unless it really is in despair.  for the perfect example, take my shower.  off the bat nothing appears glaringly wrong.  however, it had now come time that the bad grout job done by the previous homeowner be rectified.  enter phillip, me, a very sharp blade, and some very affordable sealant.

before we could apply the good stuff, we first had to get rid of the grody gunk that was already lining the corners of the stall.  thank goodness i have a strong live-in fiance for times just like this one!

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wooh!  i think i just broke a mental sweat watching phillip – good work, honey!  the next part was the more fun part, which was watching our quick weekend improvement come to life.  with a little elbow grease the shower was looking like brand new with some fresh grout from top to bottom in those corners.  now, we weren’t exactly going for perfection, but to the naked eye, things look much better.  i think i feel cleaner already!

with one bathroom marked off the list, we kept the good mojo going and took on our next project in phillip’s bathroom.  a pretty small space to start with, my mom commented that getting rid of this floor-sitting shelf and adding some shelves on the wall would help make the bathroom feel larger.  although it looks pretty compact and out of the way, we didn’t realize until we were done how much more open everything now feels in there.

so, i was off to ikea to find us some wall shelves to replace these shelves.  i wasn’t quite sure of what i wanted but then, out of nowhere, i spotted exactly what i must have.  before i got too excited, i made sure to double-check the shelf size against the wall measurements i’d written when i was at home and…it would work!  even though this new shelf was much longer, only one certainly wouldn’t do.  and, since when decorating things often work better in sets of three, three new shelves are exactly what i took home with me.  i even got lucky and found a very similar shelf being used in one of their many display spaces in the store.  instant inspiration!

i barged in the condo door and was bouncing with excitement about my fortunate finds.  “we must complete this project right away!” i hollered at phillip.  and, like any loving partner, he gladly obliged.  in our case, we were literally working with a blank space just above the lovely yellow tile and the toilet.  doesn’t it just look like it was meant for something more than being a white wall?  i couldn’t agree more!

after very carefully reading the instructions and inspecting the parts and hardware we would need, we got to work.  i was phillip’s trusty assistant and photographer for most of the afternoon, not wanting to miss a beat of the action or a moment of the fun.

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as phillip was putting up the final shelf, i was too overcome with excitement and energy and had to turn away until it was complete.  once ready i opened my eyes and hey, what do you know!  they look perfect!

a big hug and quick kiss later, i shooed phillip out of the bathroom, eager to give these shelves the finishing touch.  after shuffling things around quite a bit and then shuffling them around some more, i finally ushered him back in so that we could stand back and admire our work.  i’ll say, there’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment, even for something as “small” as new shelves and a spruced up shower stall, so i’ll take that joy any day.  what’s next, you wonder?  well, it’s your turn to get out there and go all hgtv – we know you can do it!

showered with love

last weekend our crew had the privilege of showering our close friends kyle and liz with love and gifts in anticipation of their baby girl, due in just a few short weeks!  the day was perfect with friends, family, games, delicious food, and refreshing beverages.  with kari, kyle, and phillip by my side, i learned about the key elements you must have for a successful baby shower.  in no order of importance, they are as follows:

#1 – choose a theme.  if you’re short on inspiration, asking the mom and dad to-be for decor ideas they have for the newborn’s room is a great place to start.  you don’t have to get too specific (even a color theme will do), but i’ve found a general theme of some sort helps put you in a good direction for other parts of the party you’ll be planning.  i myself am dying to throw, attend, or be given a winnie the pooh themed shower some day.  just saying!

#2 – pick out and send the invitations.  now, on this one i personally went a little overboard and designed some custom invitations on vistaprint.  i know it’s so easy these days to do electronic invites and rsvp’s, but i still think there’s lots to be said for hand-addressed envelopes with personal greetings.  but hey, maybe that’s just the old soul part of me talking.  also, it’s hard to resist invitations when they’re this cute – just look at those squishy little animal faces!

#3 – decide on the menu and beverages.  of course this part of the planning depends on the time of day and how long you expect the shower to last.  will folks already have eaten lunch and not be hungry?  do you need to fire up the grill for a cookout or will finger foods do?  regardless of how much you do/do not do, i’d recommend making/getting the mom and dad’s favorite foods if you can find out what they are.  doing so adds a personal touch and will really make them feel special.

#4 – figure out how much decorating you’ll need to do.  this one will depend greatly on the space you are using to host the event.  if you’re having a “destination” shower at a local shop or venue, there might be enough natural decor or beauty that you don’t have to do much.  or, if you have a blank slate, you might want to get creative.  of course, all of this also depends on your budget (kari was the pinterest queen on this one!), but believe me that whatever you are able to do, the parents to-be will be overwhelmed simply by the gesture of the shower itself.

#5 – get all the help you can!  putting on a baby shower might not sound like it is a lot of work, but believe me, the to-do list tends to grow quickly and kind of sneaks up on you.  knowing that, i highly encourage delegating and making the event a team effort.  that’s what fiances and husbands are for, right?

#6 – make sure you make it easy for your guests to find your house (or wherever you are hosting the shower).  for example, darling balloons that match colors of your theme, wrapped sweetly around the mailbox.  believe me, there’s nothing worse than driving circles around a strange neighborhood while squinting to read street numbers in a place you’ve never been and all the while sweating through your cute shower outfit because of the humid georgia summer.

all credit goes to phillip on this one!

#7 – i think we’d highly recommend planning for at least one game.  it’s a great way to bring the crowd together, especially if you have guests from different areas of the parents’ life (you know what i mean, work friends and then the college friends and then the high school friends and then the family).  the game doesn’t have to be complicated or even last that long, but it brings some variety to the party.

#8 – take a bundle of awkward photos of the guests of honor as they open every single gift.  and then!  upon revealing each gift, gush over them all with “ooohs” and “awws”.  i think this is actually a baby shower law, and we do not apologize for all these pictures.  🙂

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and just like that, once the tissue paper settles and the toys are toted away, you will be done throwing the baby shower of the year.  but, i have good news for you – the joy doesn’t end there.  soon enough, there will be a whole new life to be thankful for, and i suppose that’s what all of it is about after all.  🙂

#carveyourpath

i have been looking forward to writing this post for a long time now.  the reason i’ve had to wait such a while is because i couldn’t get the product i want to write about until just recently.  you might be wondering how that is possible since everything you could ever want is available with the touch of a smartphone or by quickly visiting a website to place an order.  well, the reason i couldn’t just summon this product to my doorstep is because it’s only available in florida for the time being, and now that the suspense has built up greatly, i’ll tell you that what i’m writing about today is jacksonville’s first craft vodka carve.

vodka?  yes, vodka.  if i’m being honest, i wouldn’t consider myself passionate about vodka in really any way, but the reason this vodka is so interesting to me is because a former classmate of mine at uga is the founder!  paul grey and i had a handful of classes together for our mis major, and although i doubt he even remembers me among a sea of faces, i recognized his face immediately once he started promoting carve back in 2014.

i had reached out a couple years ago, asking if online ordering was available for the product, but the answer unfortunately was no.  they weren’t that big just yet, so i’d have to wait until my next trip to jacksonville to give the drink a try.  but, in a fortunate turn of events, my boss ended up moving to fernandina beach and so sweetly brought back a bottle just for me!  thanks, clinton!

after letting the carve chill in the freezer, phillip and i busted out the lemonade to make ourselves a perfectly refreshing drink in this hot, humid georgia july.

the smooth carve with the tart and sweet lemonade was just what the doctor ordered.  easy to drink and no burn, phillip and i happily sipped them down with no trouble at all.  now, i’m sure there are all sorts of distilling buzz words i could throw out there so that it sounds like i know what i’m talking about, but i’m not going to try and fool anyone.  carve was a great mixer for our summertime drink, and i would be happy to purchase another bottle again if it means i get to support a fellow uga alum.  go dawgs!

phillip <3s #carve!

the juice you chew

okay, before you go running for the hills about a post called “the juice you chew”, i implore you hear me out on this one.  this past saturday i was at orangetheory with our coach alana, and after a sweaty 55-minute endurance class, we were stretching when she said she had a treat for us.  ooh, there’s nothing better than a hard-earned treat!  well, i couldn’t quite hear everything she was saying about this chuice stuff, but the bit i did hear was something along the lines of “you take a sip, you chew, take a sip, chew, so on and so forth.  it’s only 150 calories per bottle and it is healthy!  the chewing process helps you digest your food, and having something in a bottle for on-the-go lifestyles is perfect.”  out of respect and intrigue i figured i had nothing to lose, so i made my way to the front of the class to grab a bottle for myself.

now, i’d be lying if i said i wanted to chug it down right away.  the thick texture and very green color had me a little worried that i might not even be able to choke down a swallow of the stuff.  however, i’m usually down for trying something new at least once, so i went for it.

i cannot even begin to tell you how pleasantly surprised i was, but i shall try!  first, i enjoy kale, so getting to chomp on it along with some crunchy pine nuts didn’t phase me at all.  and, along with all the other fresh fruit and vegetables, it was quite a flavor explosion.  also, i don’t usually have a texture aversion when it comes to what i eat, so that was something i didn’t really have to get past.

i will say that drinking (or maybe eating?) chuice isn’t the most graceful of acts, in that sometimes you’re slurping up a piece of vegetable while also trying to sip.  just imagine that while trying to drive home.  oh, and here’s a pro-tip when enjoying chuice:  be sure to shake after each sip to make sure the thinner liquid actually mixes in with all the more solid ingredients.  the reason i say this is because if you do not you’ll end up with a big clump of vegetables and fruits at the bottom of the bottle that you cannot get out, which is a shame because all those vegetables and fruits are so tasty!

now, you might be thinking “eh, that evergreen flavor doesn’t look like my cup of tea.”  well, have i got news for you!  they also have one called heart-beet!  seriously!  i cannot make up this stuff, and you all know how much i love beets, so i am convinced it is fate.  you can purchase chuice online or, if you got to their locator page, you can find a store near you where you can indulge.  lucky for me there are plenty of nearby whole foods that carry them, so i just cannot wait to stop by.  do your body something new and good and give chuice a try!

fabulous fabletics!

okay, loyal readers.  today i am finally going to bring you my uncensored, unbiased, and absolutely honest review of kate hudson’s fabletics.  it all started, actually, a long while back when kate began advertising on tv her activewear, fitness, & workout clothing line.  the commercials were and still are completely adorable and fully focused on the product.  and, something that’s even cooler now is that her commercials and website are promoting the clothes for larger ladies, aka real-sized ladies.  can i get an amen?!

so, after watching cute little kate run around with her besties commercial after commercial, i couldn’t resist.  the kicker that really convinced me to give in was their latest promotion, which is two pairs of leggings for only $24.  yes, you read that correctly.  usually one pair at a local athletic store costs at least thirty bucks.  so, two for even less than that seemed like quite a bargain.  plus, i’ve been wearing the same three workout outfits for longer than i’d care to admit, so the timing seemed perfect.

with that i signed up for my vip membership last week and had a fun time picking out which prints, lengths, and cuts i liked most.  and, of course, after you pick out your leggings you get special pricing on all sorts of other items.  so, it was easy for me to throw a tank top into my cart as well.  i mean, when the deal is too good to pass up, you must act on it!

i placed my order, shut my laptop lid, and waited with high anticipation for my package to arrive.  it took about a week to be delivered to my condo stoop, just in time for my 10:00 a.m. class at buckhead orangetheory.  for this morning’s workout i decided to pair my new aventura tank with the polly capri (i also can’t wait to try out the cherise legging, which was my second legging choice).  i loved the polly print on the website and, will confess now, that i also love it in person.  perfect for summer workouts!

polly print up close.

before i hustled out the door, i made the saddest attempt at a mirror selfie.  i mean, look at that awkward smile.  i honestly don’t know how people do this…

and then i asked phillip to take a more flattering photo that, with an undesirable upward angle, ended up being a little bit of a mess, too.

don’t fear, though!  my post workout pics are gnarly!

but, before we get to those, let’s talk about fit and performance of these two pieces.  first, the tank.  i ordered the aventura tank in an extra large (i usually wear xl tops and am bra size 36/38) and was quite thankful it fit just fine.  when i had taken it out of the packaging i was worried it was going to suction itself to every nook and cranny of my torso, but it actually fell on my body in a very comfortable way.

next, i also ordered the polly capri in an extra large.  after i snipped the tag off and began wiggling myself into them, i was quite worried they were going to be too small.  however, once i got them up and on, they felt secure and snug and in control.  the only concern i had was that as i sat to slip on my socks and shoes i heard the tiniest little tears, and my guess is some of the seam stitches were popping.  well, isn’t that nice.  let’s just blame this on the fact that they’re brand new and need to be worn a little bit?  sure, let’s go with that…

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the humble beet

folks, this post is dedicated to the humble, the delicious, the underrated and widely unknown beet.  i’m not sure i could pinpoint in time for you when and where my beet obsession began, but it feels like such a natural pairing to me and it’s almost as if i can never get enough!  i think if you were to ask my friends about my love for beets, they’d probably say the same thing.  i mean, it’s so known among my personal circle that whenever beets are on the menu at a restaurant, everyone immediately hollers, “kelsey!  there’s beets on the menu!  are you going to get them?”  and, i always and happily reply, “of course!”

i love my beets cold, cooked, or now, as i recently discovered, in cracker form!  that’s right, it’s the cracker i’ve been waiting for my entire life.  i was just doing my weekly shopping at the local disco kroger when i moseyed into the cracker aisle, trying to make a snack selection.  i could always go with the traditional cheez-its or ritz crackers but then a beacon of light shone directly in the right spot and called me to the good thins beet crackers.

i squeaked in excitement, left my buggie in the middle of the aisle, and rushed over to the shelf.  i could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing!  i immediately threw them into the cart and rushed home so that i could give them a taste.  now, as a beet-lover, i had high expectations for these crackers.  as i began to munch away, i was waiting for the classic beet flavor to hit me like a ton of bricks but it didn’t quite happen.  it really is more of a hint of beet after you take a few bites and, if you didn’t know they were beet crackers, you probably wouldn’t be able to identify them as such.  however, i am still ecstatic that the cracker industry is trying to raise awareness about this incredible root vegetable that really has so many health benefits and is quite versatile in the kitchen.  from gold beets to red beets, just cook ’em up, pour on some balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkle on some goat cheese and you’re good to go!  #beetsforlife!

the wedding chronicles | decision #2

THE BUDGET

one evening last week i was going through my wedding bag, getting things sorted and paperclipped, when i started to wonder what my next entry for the wedding chronicles would be.  with such a plethora of things i could start planning and describing, i thought it might be hard to choose where to go next, but as i looked through the many piles of carefully categorized ideas, it dawned on me that i had perhaps completely (albeit unknowingly) mistaken the venue as decision #1.  decision #1 truly, i think, should be…that’s right…the budget.  cue the dramatic music!

it’s my general opinion that no one really likes to talk about money, unless they have a lot of it.  i mean, i’m talking millions on millions, and since i’m not in that position, i don’t often bring it up in conversation.  am i the only one?  probably not, so maybe because we don’t usually talk about money i seem to have forgotten to mention it as one of the largest factors when planning your big day.

there are oodles of articles and books written about how to portion the money you have in the most sensible way.  for example, everyone these days says to not skimp on the photographer.  eh, that’s pretty understandable.  i’ll give them that.  however, the different percentage breakdowns you see online or in magazines should, i think, really just be a guide for how you and your fiance/fiancee decide to spend the money.  people also say that you should identify those aspects of your wedding that are most important to you and make those purchases worth your while.  for example, if you want live music over a dj on your big day, be prepared to spend a little more and cut back elsewhere.  or, if a five-course plated dinner is your style, understand it likely won’t come cheap.  i think that if you go into things understanding that wedding services are in high demand and, because of this fact, can charge a premium, you may not be as sticker-shocked as you would be otherwise.

and that brings me to a very honest realization i had early on in this planning:  the typical american wedding is expensive.  let’s say you’re feeding around 100 guests at your reception.  if you go on the more conservative end of the menu, you’re probably spending about $50 per person.  that meal, that one meal right there, is $5,000 of your budget.  yeah, it goes that quickly.  and that might not even include booze!  assuming that’s your thing.

regardless of what your budget is or is not, we must all keep in mind (brides, grooms, and guests, too) that even though the wedding is a large celebration of the vows you exchange with your husband or wife, it truly is a single day in the beginning of a long journey together.  yes, getting married at a castle might be your dream, but it might not be reality.  you might even glow the tiniest bit green with envy as you flip through magazines and shows, seeing couples with unlimited budgets.  however, try not to fret, because at the end of the day your satisfaction with what you can/cannot do will be largely influenced by your perspective on it all.  for phillip and me, we understand that we are spending a lot of money for this event.  we also know we could go over budget and spend more.  and, if we do go a little above, we’ll practice forgiveness because it really is the most special day in our lives so far.  however, i think the way a couple handles their money during wedding planning is a large indicator of how it will be handled in the marriage, and getting off on the right foot, happy with and thankful for what you could afford, seems like a pretty good way to start the rest of your life.