Friday, July 26, 2013

moving on, moving out.

movingout2 movingout1 movingout3 Sitting in our nearly empty apartment and the only word I can honestly think of to describe the scene is bittersweet. I believe it is in my nature to be sentimental, even about the most inconsequential of things. However, this feels big. Our first apartment together is in boxes, the walls are nearly blank, and the furniture is gone. All that's left are memories, piled into little corners. Some will be forgotten and others will come with us. Walking to my sister's house for dinner will no longer be a part of my weekly schedule. We won't take evening walks on campus anymore, or go to the co-op down the street to buy our lettuce and dried goods. We are on the brink of the next chapter in our lives. A beautiful, amazing, incredible chapter. The view looks good from here. But that ultimately means that we're closing another chapter. A beautiful, amazing, incredible one. That view looks good from there, too.

Inevitably, growing pains happen. They make things seem more real, more monumental. And that's okay. At least, I'm learning to be okay with it. The truth is, I don't want this chapter in my life to end. At the same time, I'm so ready to embark on our next journey, to take the next step. The horizon is saturated with possibilities, all of which I want to explore. I am straddling two realities, and they're both beautiful.

Most of my friends have left our college town. It is a skeleton of what it used to mean to me. The memories are what I'll truly cherish and I'll bring most of them along, hold onto them until I need room for the new ones. Of course, some will stay forever. Saturday mornings at Starbucks with Jeffrey, Wednesday night breakfast-for-dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, spontaneous lunch dates with friends after summer classes, impromptu marathon trips to the mall with my sister, walks to Chipotle with Jeffrey and Woody, studying in the college of education's library. They are all memories that perfectly summarize my time here in this little town where I learned to be an adult, while still carrying the heart of a child. Our experiences are only as meaningful as we allow them to be and all my experiences here in this little town feel big and meaningful. People always say that college is the best time in your life and I'm not sure I really understood that statement until the moment our furniture was being dragged from our first home together. Down the steps, into the truck bed, onto the next home.

It is a big disconnect right now. Transitional periods have always been difficult for me. Mostly because I can't put the puzzle pieces together, get an idea of the big picture. At least have some idea about the path I'm about to take. It's okay to be uncertain. It's okay not to know. It's okay to take a leap of faith. All things I'm telling myself to remind myself that change is good, it is necessary, it is a breath of fresh air for the soul. Incredible things can happen when you least expect them.

* Photos from our Portland honeymoon, taken at Wahkeena Falls and Forest Park.

Monday, July 22, 2013

getting happily married on a humble budget — the specifics.

I hope that our last post about getting married on a humble budget was helpful or, in the very least, comforting. It can be done! I think that's the most important thing to remember throughout the whole wedding planning process. Beyond that, you'll have a new spouse at the end of your wedding day. What more could you ask for?

For those who are getting hitched on a serious budget, here are five more specific things we can share that might help you. Each wedding is different and that means that these ideas might not be at all useful to you. I hope, though, that by reading through these, you'll get an idea of what you might be able to do to help your budget breathe a sigh of relief.
details23 1. Consider booking a venue that has seating readily available (and is included with the venue). Renting chairs and tables is expensive, which is a cost that might not occur to you immediately. You might walk into your dream venue, discover that it has a reasonable price, move forward with the booking, and suddenly discover that you need to seat your guests somewhere. It is an inevitable cost and is notoriously pricey. Jeffrey and I rented a venue where tables and chairs were copious and available for our use at no extra charge.
reception24 2. Forego a traditional DJ. This is a suggestion that might not work for everyone. If your reception is centered around dancing, then it may be important to you that you have a DJ who's in charge of the the music and the announcing. However, because our reception didn't have a dance (we played shuffleboard), we didn't feel that it was necessary to hire a traditional DJ. Instead, we asked a family friend to be in charge of music. We sent him a list of bands/musicians we liked and between him and my dad, they created a giant playlist that basically just streamed through our entire reception. He was in charge of playing the processional and recessional as well.
details9 3. When it comes to flowers, think creatively. The flowers were one of my favorite pieces of our wedding. I couldn't have imagined our space without them, and we wanted a lot of flowers. I think florists are supremely talented at their jobs, but we simply couldn't afford for one to be in charge of all our flowers. Our bouquets and boutonnieres were done by a florist, but we bought the rest of our flowers through Trader Joe's. We originally explored the idea of using a farmers' market vendor (that's what my sister did), but there was not a consistent vendor at our market, so we chose a different path. However, if you can find one, that's the route we would have absolutely chosen had it been available to us.
reception28 4. Go a non-traditional route when it comes to food. We wanted to serve pizza at our wedding from the very beginning. (We also entertained the idea of BBQ.) It's our favorite food and we wanted it to be part of our day. We chose to order our food from Cappy's Pizza and the staff was accommodating and willing to serve us, even though they don't typically do weddings. Jeffrey's aunt was gracious enough to make the salads, which I believe saved us some more money. Because we didn't choose a traditional wedding caterer, the price was significantly reduced. We provided the dishware and cutlery, but that was no problem compared to what a traditional catering service would have costed. We made the desserts ourselves, which was another way to lower the cost of food. In addition, we also did not serve alcohol. Neither of us are big alcohol drinkers, so we didn't feel it was necessary. This was a personal choice and wouldn't work for everyone! However, it saved us a great deal of money, so it's something to consider. :) (Another good option may be purchasing the alcohol yourself, instead of offering an open bar.)
portraits4 5. Get married on a not-Saturday. Because weddings typically happen on Saturdays, venues know that they can mark their prices up on those dates. However, if you choose another day of the week to get married, you'll likely get a discount. We got married on a Sunday. We looked at a few different venues before we chose ours and consistently found that prices were less expensive on not-Saturdays.

There are plenty of ways to live within your budget, if you're willing to think creatively and approach things from a different angle. While it may be initially more time consuming, it ends up adding a special touch to your wedding and makes things unique and personal. I think our wedding ended up being a great representation of who Jeffrey and I are as people and that was largely due to the fact that we were very involved in all aspects of our wedding. We had to think creatively and it ended up serving us well!

Monday, July 8, 2013

getting happily married on a humble budget.

portraits6 Dear readers, Today I'm writing to talk to you about getting married. Aw, sweet wedded bliss! Holy matrimony is such a beautiful thing and the planning process can be beautiful, too. These days, I believe the wedding industry makes consumers feel as though they must spend a fortune to have a ceremony and reception that celebrates the love between two amazing people. I disagree. A wedding will be beautiful no matter what you spend, simply because of what it represents, so don't let the industry get you down!

Note: If you have the funds and desire to host an elaborate, extravagant, blow-out party, then please be my guest! This post is not meant to condemn the choices of others or make you feel as though your deepest dreams and wishes for your wedding day should be left at the wayside while you pursue a totally different path that doesn't align with your vision in the first place. Instead, I want this post to be a beacon for a couple, like us, who were given a budget that was perfectly generous and kind, but were made to feel otherwise in comparison to today's expectations for what a wedding should be. (By the way, a wedding is a celebratory ceremony that binds two people together in a beautiful and life-changing commitment. Its goal is to celebrate the two people who are making the choice to be life partners forever. Please don't forget this in the process.)

With all that said, I hope you'll approach this post with an open mind and remember that no matter your choices, your wedding day will be a beautiful reflection of the both of you and will result in the most amazing commitment between two people, lovingly crafted for one another in a divine and perfect way.

My first suggestion is to plan your wedding together. In today's society, the wedding is typically targeted at the bride, and while I think that's quite lovely, I believe that it's a bit misguided. The wedding is meant to celebrate the love of two people, and I think it's really magical when the planning can reflect that. Plus, planning together can be such an intimate and beautiful way to begin your life journey together. Again, this is merely my suggestion and there is no rule book for wedding planning (I wonder if I'm going to feel the need to explain myself after every paragraph!).

I'd like to give you five pieces of blanket advice that can really relate to and help to guide any wedding planning, but were especially helpful to us and our modest budget. This advice can be modified to meet your needs, so take it or leave it and, by all means, please make it your own!
details33 1. Make decisions. The decision to plan a wedding to celebrate your nuptials comes with a slew of other decisions that will make your head spin. This was the most overwhelming part for me. I felt that no matter how many decisions I made, there really was no end in sight. My advice is that you go with your gut and make decisions based on what makes you and your new spouse happy. When Jeffrey and I made decisions, we almost never backtracked and we felt that much better when we could cross something else off the list. The longer we mulled over something, the longer it became a burden or a frustration and wedding planning should not be like that. It should be exciting and fun! So trust your initial reactions and move forward from there.
details18 2. Start big, get small. Determine your budget and then decide what you want to give the most money to. From there, lay out your groundwork. We knew that we would end up spending most of our money on the venue, the photographer, and the food. Then, we moved step by step to flush out ways to make our budget the most sensical and logical for us after we had set aside money for the biggest things. By the way, your big ticket items might not look exactly like ours. For instance, I know plenty of brides who spend a larger portion on their dress and I think that's absolutely wonderful! Do what's best for you! (If you're having trouble even picturing your budget, programs like this are extraordinarily helpful and can make you feel a great sense of peace with the money you have to spend.)
3. Just ask! Here's something I think most people don't understand about the wedding planning industry: Most vendors know that they're working with human beings who are embarking on one of the most important moments in their lives and they want to help. Imagine that! We asked several questions throughout the planning process and often times people were willing to meet us halfway, whether that was monetarily or just helping us to make our vision a reality. For example, I asked several wedding photographers if they could work with our budget, and many of them tried really hard to make that happen. Ultimately, we chose one photographer, but we were pleasantly surprised by how often people truly wanted to accommodate us. (P.S. This won't happen every time and that's just the way it is, but put yourself out there and you will be rewarded by the kindness of others.)
details12 4. Be resourceful. If you do have a small budget for planning your wedding, then there will be times when you have to work harder and think harder and be willing to see things differently. This is a blessing! You will be so grateful for your wedding and you will be invested in all the details. It really does provide for an intimate and exciting experience! I knew from the beginning that I wanted our space to be filled with flowers (and Jeffrey agreed with this vision), but flowers can be expensive! We opted for flowers from Trader Joe's (with the exception of bouquets and boutonnieres)— which we bought at a very reasonable price — and they worked out marvelously. We chose the flowers we wanted (from the colors to the types) and put them in the bottles ourselves. We also received our flowers on a Thursday and were married on a Sunday. For your own peace of mind, I would not recommend such a long stretch, but this is just proof that you can think creatively and have things work out wonderfully. My sister, mom, and I also made all of the desserts. Thankfully, my sister graciously offered to be in charge of the planning and decorations for that, which was a burden lifted from our shoulders and added a special touch to the sweet spread. You will be blown away by what you can accomplish when you have to think outside the box, my friends. I promise that it truly is a blessing and privilege to be so involved in every aspect of your wedding.
5. Accept help. I don't mean monetarily. What I do mean is that people will come out of the woodwork to lend a helping hand and you should feel extremely blessed by that (we did!). It made our wedding feel so special and intimate and heartwarming. I truly would not change it if only for this simple realization: Your loved ones want nothing more than to be helpful. We did not have a wedding planner (and that is another expense I would totally forego, although that is my personal opinion), so we relied very heavily on the grace of others. They did not disappoint and that is such a special memory from our wedding that we will cherish for the rest of our days.

Ultimately, your wedding is about you and your new life partner. The two of you will make choices and the rest will fall into place. Whether you're planning a black tie affair or a small, quiet chapel wedding (or something in between — like ours!), your wedding should be a true reflection of who you two are, as a couple and as individuals. I wish you peace and happiness as you embark on this new journey that kicks off a lifetime of marital bliss. Good luck and congratulations!

If you have questions or are seeking more specific advice (or if you simply want to chat), please, PLEASE email us. It would be our pleasure to talk to you and we love to hear from our readers: hellolivedin[at]gmail[dot]com

I could also craft a post that tackles more specific advice for getting married on a humble budget. If that would be helpful, please let me know in the comments!

Happy wedding day and beyond! XO

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

writing and journaling and sharing your heart with others.

I sat down in the mood to write a blog post, but without much in mind to write about. Lately I've been thinking about journaling — the real kind, with pen and paper — it's something I haven't done in quite some time and, honestly, something I've never done regularly (even though I've always wanted to). I recently read These Is My Words by Nancy Turner (if you know me personally you already know that I've been touting its brilliance since the moment I finished it) and was inspired by the main character's perseverance in journaling through many seasons of her life (it's not a real diary, as the story is mostly fiction). I remember the feeling I got when I read Anne Frank's diary, like I was glimpsing a tiny piece of her heart and the feeling is like nothing else I've ever experienced. It's the same feeling that washes over me when I walk through a historic building or see an exhibit that houses historic artifacts or artworks. It's a sense of connectedness that is not exactly like conversation. I think it's because the journals and the artifacts and the artworks give the viewer (or reader, as the case may be) a look into something that is private and deeply personal.

I just subscribed to receive emails from a slew of people (like Lena Dunham and Kirsten Dunst) that were sent in confidence and they interest me so much. (Read more about how you, too, can subscribe here.) I think it has something to do with seeing the inner workings of someone else's mind exposed, even if only briefly. I like to know things about people. I am deeply curious about the people who I know and love (and those I don't know that well, too). I think this is a human need, but maybe some need it more than others. Connectedness is highly important to me. I can't stand conversations that seem to progress superficially, which occasionally leads me to over share and recount details of my life that might be better kept private. I think that that need is what even encouraged me to start blogging in the first place. I loved the community of blogging — the chance to get to know someone in a different state, a different season of life, sharing a different viewpoint. I am a textbook introvert, but blogging has always felt natural to me. Writing has, too. I can express myself much more clearly through written word, which has its own advantages and disadvantages.

I'm so curious to know how you share your heart with others. Is it through speaking or writing or music or art? Or do you prefer to keep your heart close to you and not share it at all? I'd love to know a bit more about you, my sweet readers! xo

* Photo from our time at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon.

Monday, July 1, 2013

simple things.

^ I love gardens after the rain. They always seem so happy and wild.
^ Our Just Married sign still posted on the back of the bus.
^ I love the rain. It quenches my thirst and renews my spirit. Always.
^ Back porch living is the order of the day when I'm home at my parents' house.
^ His sloppy little beard after he takes a drink of water. (P.S. Have you noticed that the frame is always a little blurry when this specimen is posted? It's because he's never still.)
^ This book is stunning and pulls at the heartstrings in all the best ways. If you know me personally, then you likely know that I am not generally a reader of sad books. I can get swallowed up whole by a sad story line, but lately I've been trying to expand my horizons and I think it's good for me. This book, in particular, is quite sad, but absolutely beautiful.

Other simple things we're grateful for:
• Cell phones, so that I can talk to Jeffrey while he's away.
• Social media. The entire world waffles on the idea of it (I'm part of that, too), but lately I'm feeling truly grateful for the way it can connect me to people who I may otherwise lose contact with. What a blessing.

I wish I could put into words the way my heart hurts over the loss of 19 brave firefighters who gathered their courage to fight Arizonan wildfires in the name of protecting others. The truth is, there are no words. I think that's part of a tragedy — no words to smooth it over or make it better. Bloggers are often criticized for saying something about a tragedy and then moving on. I understand that sentiment. Sometimes it does feel superficial, but please know that I am praying and sending all my love and support toward the families and friends who greatly need it right now. I will continue to offer words of peace and encouragement and calm in the moments when I feel it deep in the pit of my heart. xo
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