TIPS, TRICKS, AND TINTINNABULATION (part one)
Hello all! Just like I promised -- a post! I have been very busy lately, and while my life has been super exciting for me, I couldn't really think of anything that ya'll would be interested in.
The Knight and I attended a beautiful Florida wedding and reception this past weekend, and it got me thinking about the whole whirlwind of getting married.
From most brides' perspectives, the wedding is definitely one of the most fun days, and it is hard to comprehend all of your guests not feeling the exact same way. From a guest's perspective, going to a wedding is sometimes fun, but also expensive and time-consuming.
Since I had a budget, an extremely short engagement (3 1/2 months), over 400 invited guests, and had to plan the entire thing by myself, I think I might have some tips for other bride-to-be's.
As a attender of many weddings and an obsessive bargain hunter, I also feel like I might have some good tips on buying wedding gifts. And so, today I will share.
The past 3 years have been the season of weddings for the Knight and I. He and I both attended a small Christian university in Nashville, and it is a well-known marriage factory. For example, during each year's Homecoming, our alma mater always has a "I Met My Mate at LU" luncheon, and it always has tons of people in attendance. It is really quite sad how many people leave my old college depressed because they didn't get married or aren't engaged by the time they graduated. I mean, really -- what are the chances that you are going to meet your future spouse at a college of only 2,500 people? There are way too many people who meet at LU and have no business getting married, yet they still do. But there I go on my marriage factory tangent, so I will stop. Now.
In the past year, the Knight and I have gone to at least 8 weddings (maybe even more -its so hard to keep track), and were invited to even more. It is insane how much we spend on wedding presents each year. Add in the weddings where either he or I have been an attendant, and you are talking about some serious bucks.
Because we are both in school and extremely broke (all the time), paying for these gifts is quite difficult at times. However, I have some tricks up my sleeves that have saved some cash in the long run.
TRICKS UP MY SLEEVE (as the guest):
1. After Christmas, hit the gift and home decor stores. Look for nice, generic gifts like pewter candle holders, table linens (I am addicted to placemats and napkins), various bowls, serving platters, and nice picture frames. In early February, stores are anxious to get rid of all of their Christmas merchandise, and by that time, the prices will be super reduced (I'm thinking like 75 - 80% off). Some stores that I like to peruse during this time are Yankee Candle Company, Kohl's, Tuesday Morning, and Kirklands. Stockpile these gifts until wedding season hits. While it might seem like a pain at the time to just store stuff, once you have a wedding come up, you will be so glad that you have all these gifts already paid for.
2. Get on Bed, Bath & Beyond's mailing list. Tons of brides register there because B,B & B will give you cash back on all your returns. Once you get on the mailing list, they will send you "20% off one item" coupons about every 2 or 3 months. Save these. I know that the coupon has an expiration date, but the stores don't ever look at those. Sometimes, I like to finish out a couple's registry by buying a few of the little things left (butter dishes, utensils, salt and pepper shakers) and use a coupon for each item. Again, the coupon says that you can only use one coupon per purchase, but the store never enforces this. I have stood behind a woman who literally used 16 of those coupons on one purchase because she was buying napkins and napkin rings.
3. Go to TJ Maxx, Ross, or some other similar store and buy a frame that is big enough to frame the couple's invitation. Make sure the frame matches the theme/feel of the invitation. Common sense says that you can't go wrong with a pretty silver or pewter frame. Anyway, frame the invitation. Sometimes the bride will purchase envelope liners in a particular color and/or the ink will be a nontraditional color. These are typically clues as to the style and theme of the wedding, so trying to pick a frame that complements these clues is always a wise choice.
If you are artsy-fartsy, consider gluing pressed flowers on the top or bottom of the invitation or using watercolors to paint a faint monogram on a corner. Someone gave my sister-in-law a framed invitation, and had glued dried flowers plucked from one of the table arrangements at her wedding. While I don't recommend going around plucking blooms from the arrangements in the middle of the wedding reception ("Scuse me bride, but do you mind if I take a couple of blooms from your bouquet?"), it was very sweet to always have a reminder of the flowers chosen for her wedding day right next to their wedding invitation.
One way to really finish off the invitation is to get it matted. Custom mats are very expensive, but stores like Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, and Michael's all have very nice ready-made mats which are much cheaper. The mat is another area you could embellish with paint or calligraphy to make the gift a little more personal.
4. Finally, I love to give linen embroidered guest hand towels with a couple of designer candles. It is such a sweet gift, and most brides (at least Southern ones) will appreciate the hospitable guesture. These types of towels (and the candles too) can be found at any small gift store. I especially like to find towels with a monogram. I also really like the Trapp candles. Most of their scents are very pleasant, and the smell from the candles is quite strong.
5. I guess my biggest tip is to not be afraid to dig in the Clearance Section. You sometimes can find some great stuff. And don't feel bad about buying something that is discounted as a wedding gift. The couple will never know, and even if they did, chances are that they are as money-conscious as you are. But do not get caught up on the savings, either. If you find something that is in the clearance area, examine it closely. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a gift that is broken or marred, having no idea where it came from, and not being able to return it.
Okay, those are some tips for wedding gift shopping! Hopefully, I'll have more time to write some tips for future brides that will save some money or at least some time!
TIPS, TRICKS, AND TINTINNABULATION (part one)
So says Artsy Fartsy at 10.7.06