20 January, 201120 January, 2011 3 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
The cold, snowy weather has seemed to hit most of the U.S. this winter.  Instead of being lazy (which is sometimes nice to do), take advantage of it as prime wedding planning/preparation time.  
Where I live (New York City) we are expecting extremely cold weather this weekend.  I actually love being forced to stay in, during the winter.  I feel like I get so busy the rest of the year running here and there and trying to be super productive, its nice to have to stay in because of the cold. It is also an excellent time to knock some things off your wedding to-do list such as invitations, guest list, searching for ideas on-line, making a DJ/band song list, etc.  It feels so rewarding to be able to cross things off a list.  

Another activity I am looking forward to during my hibernation weekends is cooking.  I love trying new recipes, and I always try to make everything as healthy and with as many nutrients as possible.  I have dress fittings coming up so its also kind of necessary.  There are plenty of healthy cooking blogs on the internet that have some delicious recipes that are wedding dress friendly.  Some of my favorite sites are:   http://www.vitaljuice.com/entry_by_section/everywhere/recipe/all/all/1
It give you a chance to practice your wifely duties by cooking, and it would even be fun if you did it with your fiancee (even if you have to teach them, its a skill you can benefit from sometimes).

In addition to my wedding planning and cooking, I also use this as a chance to get some quality gym time in.  Trying new gym classes can always be entertaining, beneficial, and also wedding dress friendly.  Try something you have never done before such as spinning, pilates, yoga, zumba, or kickboxing.  Don't forget to have fun though!  

 Don't forget to allow some "you" time though to relax and read a favorite book or catch up on a favorite TV show.  During stressful or busy periods its necessary to allow some moments to do what you enjoy, otherwise you could burn out.
19 January, 201119 January, 2011 4 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
There are some changes that are going to take place once you get married.  You have probably been used to living on your own and having separate bank accounts so far, but once you are married, you are a joint unit.

There are of course benefits to being married such as joint tax filing and the double income.  However, you now have to think of somebody other than yourself when making financial decisions.

The best thing to do is have a discussion with your fiancee about their financial situation and goals. Here few questions that are good to discuss:

1. Do you have any debt (credit card, student loans, car payments, mortgage, etc.)?  If so, how do you plan to pay off that debt?
3. What are our financial goals for the next few years? Do you plan to buy a house, a car, or plan a vacation any time soon?
4.  How are you going to set up your budget?
5.  How are bills going to be paid?
6. Are you going to have a joint account or keep separate bank accounts or both?
7.  What if one of us decides to go back to school, how will we financially take care of household expenses and tuition?
8. What is the plan if one of us looses a job unexpectedly?
9. What are your career goals?  
10. If you plan to have children, what is the plant for maternity leave, child care, and jobs?  Are one of you staying home to take care of the children or are you paying for day care, a nanny, or will a family member watch the child?
11. If and When you do have children are they going to be going to private school or public school?  If they go to private school, what is the plan to pay for tuition?  Are you paying for your kids college?  If so, what is the plan to save for college?
12. How are you going to plan for retirement?
13. What are you going to do if an emergency happens and one of you are unable to work any more?  (Lets all hope that never happens, but its still good to plan)
14. What if another family member (parent, sibling, etc.) needs care, how will you handle that?

Its sometimes an annoying or tough discussion to have, but its good to strategize, compromise, or plan accordingly so you both are on the same page when facing these situations. 
18 January, 201118 January, 2011 3 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
Wait!?!?  I can rent a bridesmaids dress?  I don't have to spend $300+ on an ugly dress I am never going to wear again?  Sounds too good to be true!

RentTheRunway.com is launching a wedding site tomorrow.  Bridesmaids will be able to rent their dresses for a few days at the prices starting at $50.  Say good bye to ugly $300+ dresses!

Brides can also rent their engagement party, bridal party, and rehearsal dinner dresses on the site.  
12 January, 201112 January, 2011 1 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
With the beginning of the New Year comes many health/weight loss resolutions.  I would honestly say I am a health blog junkie.  I follow a few health and wellness blogs.  One of my favorite health and wellness blogs, Vital Juice promoted a few different cleanse/detox programs to help jump start the weight loss/wellness initiative.

There are many cleanse/detox options out there, but not all options are for everybody.  The purpose of a cleanse though is to give your digestive track a break for a few days and can often jump start healthier, conscious eating habits.  Most often claim to remove toxins, jump-start weight loss, bolster immunity, improve digestion, enhance skin and hair quality, relieve bloating, and reduce cravings and overeating.

There are fancy juices one can buy.  I know here in New York the Blue Print Cleanse is popular, as well as the Cooler Cleanse; however, these cleanses can get a bit pricey.  There are also ways to do cleanses on a  cheaper scale  on your own by just eating raw fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water.  One thing to make sure with whatever one you choose is to make sure you are getting at at least 900 calories a day.  If you drop below 900, this can often put your body into starvation mode and will make the cleanse not as effective.

A cleanse/detox could be just what one needs to jump start getting in shape for a wedding, just make sure you choose the right one.
7 January, 20117 January, 2011 2 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
As a bride we all know that its all about the dress!  The most exciting part of the wedding planning process is THE DRESS.

The Dress can get very expensive and some brides feel that it is a waste of money to spend $4,000 + on a dress you are only going to wear one day.

Well, have no fear because there are many ways to find The Dress for cheaper. Here are some ideas:

  • Ebay 
  • Sample Sales - these aren't always in New York (although that is where I live), your local Bridal Store will also have Sample Sales as well to get rid of last season's samples to make way for new ones. Dresses can often be found at 50-80% off at these sample sales.  You just have to be willing to make some alterations which could turn pricey.
  • The Aisle New York - an  on-line site that sells designer dresses at a discount.  Think Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang at 50% off.  This site also sells accessories such as jewelry, veils, headpieces, shoes, etc. Here is an invitation code: http://www.theaislenewyork.com/invite/courtneygrill/
  • Preownedweddingdresses.com - Hey, the were only worn once, and the other bride paid full price, therefore you don't have to.
  • Local Department Store - Check out your local department store.  Sometimes regular evening gowns look and can be used as wedding dresses and can oftentimes be purchased at sale prices.
     
10 December, 201010 December, 2010 Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
We recently sent our Save the Dates out, and I am so happy with how they turned out.  We scoured the Internet in search for a Save the Date idea the reflected our style and the style of our wedding, and we were able to find the perfect one.  When we found this style we loved, I got a price quote from the letterpress company that we worked with.  The quote was way more than double what I wanted to pay; however the vendor worked with us to bring the price down and have our Save the Dates still look exactly how we wanted. 
 
Here is what saved us money:
 
1. Not going with a lined envelope - they really don't need to be that formal for a Save the Date. Invitation yes, Save the Date no.  Going this route saved us half of the cost
2. Reducing the Save the Date "standard" size to a "reply" card size  saved a ton of money - There is no standard size in save the dates, so go a little smaller and it saves not only money on your order, but also oftentimes it saves money on postage. This saved us about $200
3.  Use one color for the images and wording instead of 2 or multiple and that saves quite a bit.  This saves about $150
4. Hand write your return address instead of having it printed and this saves $170
 
My personal note:  When looking for tips on etiquette I asked a neighbor who is close to my family about what is proper.  She told me that a "stamp" or sticker return address was not proper to use and that the only thing that would be appropriate would be to have the return address either printed or to handwriting it.  I figured if I hand-wrote my return address on each card, that would take a lot of time and it would make my hand cramp, so I looked up an embosser.  I found custom embosser's on-line for as low as $30.  The embossing looks elegant, classy, and professional and saves a ton of money vs. having the letterpress print it for you.
 
 
 
 
 

I cannot express how important it is to write Thank You notes promptly!  I haven't even said my vows yet, but I have attended enough weddings to know that it does go noticed when a thank you note isn't sent.

According to Emily Post, queen of etiquette, couples do not have a year's grace period to send thank you notes out.  All thank you  notes should be sent within three months receipt of the gift.  Ideally it should be sent on the day you receive the gift, but that isn't always possible.  

Depositing all your wedding gift checks less than 24 hours after you have said your vows and not sending your thank you notes out promptly is NOT OK.  

If you want find out more about thank you note etiquette, Peggy Post has come up with some good points on the Emily Post Website: http://www.emilypost.com/wedding-registries-gifts-and-thank-yous/167-wedding-thank-yous.  Its a good place to look for other wedding etiquette rules as well.   
Like Many Brides, I too am trying to grow my hair out long for my wedding, so I have more styling options for the Big Day.  I read many girly magazines for fun, and always find many of the hair tips interesting, but I always figured they wouldn't work on my frizzy hair so I don't try them, and I just continue to fry it with a flat iron.  However, lately I have been putting some of these expert tips to use lately.  Here are the expert tips and my findings: (Please note: I have naturally wavy/frizzy hair that is awful looking in its natural state)

1. Shampoo hair only once or twice a week - At first I thought that my hair would look crazy greasy and I thought this would be disgusting since I try to go to the gym every day.  To my surprise though my hair and scalp naturally adapted to the less frequent shampooing.  My scalp is far less oily than before, and my styling lasts longer because of it.  I still go to the gym and sweat and shower, but I only rinse my hair every day and put conditioner at the ends, and I still get the same results.  In addition, I have noticed less hair suck in my drain, and it seems healthier and has more volume!

2. Try to avoid heat styling - OK so it is hard to completely avoid heat styling if you have hair like mine, but it can be reduced if you wait to heat style your hair till the last possible minute - let it air dry most of the way then finish it off with blow drying.  Also make sure your hair is completely dry before styling with hot curlers, a flat iron, or curling iron.  These products can cause water to boil on your strands and will cause damage.  If you are heat styling, try to also use a leave in-conditioner and a heat protector or combination of both.  Since I cut back on heat styling especially during the summer, I have been able to go longer between getting my hair trimmed due to less split ends.  Less hair cuts/trimming = less money spent = more money to spend for your wedding.

3. Eating a balanced diet with Protein and getting the proper nutrients can help hair grow healthier and faster - A few years ago I had a diet that consisted of mostly vegetables and carbohydrates and little protein.  At that time my hair seemed to shed all the time.  Last year I increased my protein intake when I was training for a marathon and my hair seemed to get thicker and stronger because of it.  In addition, a friend who is a hairstylist suggested taking pre-natal vitamins.  Some pre-natal vitamins can be bought over the counter at the regular drug store or health food store and I swear my hair has been growing faster since I have been taking them.

4. Use the proper hair products for your hair type - This does not mean spending a lot, but buy products that work with your hair type.  I have recently tried Moroccan Oil, it is quite pricey, but it has reduced drying time for my hair, which means less heat styling and damage.  It has also repaired my hair and makes it feel softer and stronger, and it reduces the frizz!  I am a product junkie, I have tried EVERYTHING, all brands, and all price points, and I am easily convinced by product claims.  I always expect miracles from these new products and am always disappointed.  I think I finally found something worth it though!  While the product is pricey, you only need a little drop.  Don't use too much.  In addition, it works as a few products in one - leave in conditioner and protector.  This product probably isn't for everybody, but it has worked for me and I am happy to recommend it. 

 
3 November, 20103 November, 2010 1 comments Post Comments Uncategorized Uncategorized
Weddings can be quite expensive, and it is quite easy to go over your budget or have additional unexpected costs pop up.  Here are some ideas to still save for the Big Day without altering your lifestyle:

1. Use Sites like Groupon.com for date night - sites like this are great ways to still be able to go out for a date night with your fiancee without spending a lot of money, most of the coupons featured are for 50% off and there are usually limited restrictions on using Groupon.com.  Similar sites include restaurant.com where you can oftentimes pay $2 for a $25 coupon to a local restaurant; however these seem to have more restrictions put on them, so I guess you get what you pay for.  (Referral Code:  http://www.groupon.com/r/uu877307)    

2. Another idea if you like to enjoy a glass of wine while out on a dinner date, would be to check out local BYOB restaurants.  Usually the food is exceptional at these places, because they have to have good food in order to stay in business, especially since they do not have the liquor to profit off of.  I have never been disappointed with the food at any of the BYOB restaurants I have been too.  A lot of them are on the smaller side, so they tend to have a romantic atmosphere.  

3. If you are planning pre-wedding facials or other spa treatments.  Use sites like Lifebooker or living social (all like Groupon.com) to purchase discounted spa treatments, these also can be used for your big day as well! In addition, some of these sites allow you to purchase these deals for gifts, which would be great for manis and pedis for your bridesmaids!

4. Start packing a lunch!  For the price you pay to go out to lunch for one day, you can buy groceries to make your own lunches for the whole week.  In addition, homemade food is always healthier than eating out, and  less calories/healthier food = You will look more amazing in your dress

5. If possible walk or bike to work.  You save money on gas, and you burn more calories = You will look hot in your dress

Also, I have kind of a backwards way of saving, but it has worked well for me.  I put a certain amount of money directly into savings as soon as I get my paycheck, that way I am not tempted to spend it on other things that are not a priority.  Saving this way forces me to budget and live off the rest of my paycheck for the month.  

 
In addition to planning our own wedding, Tim and I have had the opportunity to attend 4 other weddings this year for cousins and friends.  I love being an attendee.  I decided this year to cuts costs and wear the same dress to three of the weddings since none of the attendees would be the same - nobody would notice.  This is the dress I wore to three of them, the bottom is super cute - ombre hem.  I definitely got my use out of it.

However, if you are trying to save money and don't want to wear the same dress twice or are going to events with the same people each time try Rent the Runway.  You are able to rent designer dresses and accessories for a specific event and the cost is $50-$200 depending on the dress and designer.  It is also a perfect option for your reharsal dinner, engagement party, or bridal shower dress, and saves a ton of money especially if you are only going to wear the dress once.  You can get a referral to the website here if you would like too: http://www.renttherunway.com/referral/courtney.grill

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