Love

The Real Cost of a Wedding

As a newly engaged lady (OK, now I'm married--I started writing this before the wedding), I've been thinking a lot about what everything for weddings cost. The venue, which vendors you use, the catering costs, the decorations... Do you hire a wedding planner, or do you do it yourself? Do you hire a videographer and a band? Can you do all of it without causing major stress on you and your future spouse? The photos your friends will like on Facebook need to be envy-worthy, right? So you need to spend all of your time, energy, and money on this one day. The wedding is the most important thing, isn't it?? I mean, how are people supposed to value your decision to marry the one you love if they don't either attend or see THE MOST fabulous party pictures on social media?? It's way too easy to get sucked into wanting a picture perfect wedding and letting that desire overtake your happiness. It's your marriage that really matters. Yes, your wedding is the first day of your marriage, so it's very important, but don't let the cost (literal or figurative) take over what matters most. 

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

The truth is, things WILL go wrong, whether you spend $100,000 on your wedding, or $1,000, so spending more doesn't mean perfect. Right after we got engaged, I was in an airport in Ohio and wanted to treat myself to a bridal magazine while I waited for my flight. I opened the pages and practically drooled over the perfect floral arrangements and the gorgeous table settings for formal and funky receptions alike. I started getting knots in my stomach because I knew I wanted my wedding to be the most beautiful and special and memorable, and from what the magazines tell you, you'd better be willing to sell a kidney to pay for it. For instance, this particular issue had an article titled "Spending Wise - Budget Friendly Weddings". The wedding they highlighted was a $50,000 party!!! That, dear friends, is a nearly $3,000 more than the average household income in Georgia for our current year. Perhaps for some, $50,000 on a wedding IS budget conscious, and in that case, good for them! But for the overwhelming majority of people, that either is not possible or feels wasteful. The average cost of a wedding in Atlanta is a little more than half that $50,000 price tag at $28,659. And $28,659 is nothing to sneeze at! That's quite the investment!

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Keep it Low Key

There are a lot of options for keeping your wedding low-key and high style while not spending more than more families make in a year. And there's good reason for doing that. Here are a few things to remember to keep your budget and sanity in check while you plan a wedding.

  • A wedding is a celebration, not a competition. I know this is insanely obvious, but you can do low-key without feeling the need to outdo the couple that got married before you. The less stress, financial and otherwise that you put on yourselves, the better off you will be to start your marriage as a happy, well-adjusted couple.
  • It is worth an investment. So yes, it's crazy to spend your life savings and then some, but it is the most important day in your lives together, so it's worth making a fuss and setting aside some time and money if you are able, within reason of course.
  •  Keeping it small means more time with your guests. A bridal party of 30 people is going to be more expensive. A guest list of 600, even more so. The smaller the party, the more special details you can add without breaking the bank, and the more you'll be able to talk to everyone.
  • Keep it casual. A backyard barbeque can be every bit as special as a fancy affair. Keeping it casual may mean you can afford more guests, and who doesn't love a good backyard party?!
  • Stop feeling obligated. You cannot invite every single person you've ever met nor should you feel obligated to make everyone happy. I'm a big believer in general etiquette. If you don't know an etiquette rule, you can almost always figure it out by thinking "Am I being greedy?" "Am I striving to make people comfortable?" "Am I providing for the basic needs for this event?". BUT there some exceptions. You can't feel so tied down by what is expected that you get yourself into a bind. Whether that be that you feel like you HAVE to have personalized wedding favors for each guest or maybe that means your MIL expects filet when your budget is more like Chick-fil-A. Do what is true to you!
  • DIY is more fun. It's more work, but you can make your decorations, invitations, etc, and not only save money, but it gives you more control over the look of your party--you just may need more friends to pitch in to help :) For our reception, we're having various friends and family to help us set up and we could not be more thankful! Some of those same selfless loved ones, all of whom are EXCELLENT bakers (I've taste tested their baked goods, so I know!) are making desserts for our cake table. Homemade is best anyway. 
Image via MOD Weddings

Image via MOD Weddings

Pick Your Venue Carefully

  • Select a venue that doesn't pin you in. The wedding industry is hot. Anything titled bridal or wedding is about 5 times as much as that same item without "wedding" in the title. Ex. Wedding cake: $3,000. Birthday cake: $600. Many venues require that you use one of their selected caterers, you can't bring any food of your own in and they require you hire a bartender. Some even have rules about the photographer you can use! Be sure to check out all of the requirements and the vendors they recommend before signing on the dotted line. If you have a healthy budget and want to be hands off, this type of place is less stressful to use, so it may be a good option for you.
  • Have a party size in mind before booking. This part is really tricky. How do you know who can come that far in advance? You can't. But what you can do is have a maximum number in mind and stick to it. It will be hard, but everybody has to do it--even weddings with a party of 350 feel like they've left someone out. You will be much happier with a venue the appropriate size than feeling cramped or one that feels vacant.
  • Select a venue that gives to charity. Maybe not applicable to everyone, but to me and Victor, this was important. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunities we do and want to give back as much as we can. An added benefit when you rent from a charitable organization is that part of your rental fee is tax deductible. Win win! 
Via Junebug Weddings

Via Junebug Weddings

Elope!

If the thought of making everyone happy with the type of dress, ceremony, music, etc. stresses you out, do what's best for you both. Elope! My husband and I chose to do this, not because anyone was pressuring us to do anything we didn't want to do, or because we don't love our family and friends, but because for us, the best thing was a private, intimate ceremony between the two of us. We could focus on our love for each other, and apart from all other distractions, commit our lives to one another forever. We chose to get married in Iceland, where we also wanted to honeymoon. A two for one! Now, when we celebrate with family and friends at our reception this month, we will be able to enjoy our party in casual style and we'll be able to even set up some decorations ourselves since we'll have a little more free time that day. Elopement isn't for everyone, but it's an option that you can consider for a meaningful, intimate wedding ceremony between you and the one you love most. 

The real cost a wedding varies greatly from couple to couple. For some, $50,000 is reasonable, for others, a simple courthouse wedding. My point is to please, do what makes you happy and what feels right for you as a couple. Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, it should be all about your love, your relationship, and who you are as a couple. Don't let trends or Pinterest or other people's expectations change the way you marry your spouse. Everyone will be supportive if you're true to yourselves.

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Next week, we'll post some of the "how tos" for how to elope, specifically to Iceland. It's easier than you think, but having a little guidance helps even more! 

Icelandic Adventures Through the Seasons

2016 has been a very exciting year for us here at Ends In Style! Christina has now made three trips to beautiful Iceland, one with me (Susie) and Victor for our elopement which she photographed!
Clearly, Iceland is near and dear to our hearts now and we want to share with you why we love it so. We also encourage you to book a trip and see if for yourself! We do our best to take beautiful pictures and to describe things in a way that makes you feel like you're there--but they cannot do the real thing justice! 
We'll help you prepare for your trip and have the best time possible. We're bringing you a series of posts in the coming weeks about traveling to the country that droves of people are flocking to, and with good reason! 

Posts you can look forward to are:

Iceland in Spring: 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

  • What to do 
  • What to see
  • What to pack
  • Where to stay
  • Advantages of visiting in the spring
  • Preparing for your trip and more!

Iceland in Summer: 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

  • How to make the most of the warmest Icelandic weather
  • Capturing the golden light
  • Places to visit while you can (some places are only open in summer)
  • What to eat
  • Maybe even a stop in Greenland :)
  • Advantages to visiting in summer
  • Best short hikes and more!

Iceland in Fall: 

Photo by Susie Prince

Photo by Susie Prince

  • What to pack
  • Getting around
  • Best ways to see the Northern Lights
  • Tours that are worth the money
  • Self-guided tours you HAVE to take
  • Advantages to visiting in fall
  • Where to stay

And Finally....

Eloping in Iceland:

  • Why we chose to elope (and why you may want to as well)
  • Best places to take wedding photos
  • Pros and cons of wedding sites
  • How to get paperwork in order to make your marriage legal in the US
  • Gorgeous photos by Christina of me and Victor (she's a wiz with light!)
  • What to wear and what not to wear for an outdoor Icelandic wedding
  • Luxury stays for your honeymoon 
  • Flower options, and more!!!

We look forward to sharing all of this with you and hope you'll be inspired to take a trip to a country that has captured our hearts and is beautiful and magical enough to make us want to go back in the dead of winter!

You Are SO WORTH LOVING

We are in an era of negativity in so many ways. It's so easy to get sucked into political smear ads. So easy to start with the self-loathing when we look at the magazine's covers in the grocery store check out lines with some gorgeous model or actress who just had 3 babies but also somehow has abs and you have lemon bars in your cart...for example. This didn't happen to me last night...of course not!

These are the really small negatives that come at us compared to the bigger problems in the world. Some people deal with so much more! Domestic violence, racism, bigotry, depression, political oppression, poverty, hunger, the list goes on and on and on. But we have been so encouraged by what is happening in response to all of this. POSITIVITY! And the permission to love yourself and to know that YOU ARE SO WORTH LOVING!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Did you ever think there could be a store that sells love and positivity? East Atlanta Village just welcomed the So Worth Loving to its eclectic streets and you definitely need to stop by. The name may sound familiar to you because we've gushed over them before: here and here. So yeah, we like this brand.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

It's such a beautiful store and their message is really great. It's pretty simple, too. By wearing your heart almost literally on your sleeve, you're reminding everyone you pass that they're worth it. Encouraging others to consider that they matter, no matter what they're going through or how they've been treated. That's a message and a store we feel really good about supporting and hope you will, too. Plus, the t-shirts are incredibly soft!  

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Not only does the store carry their own brand of clothes that encourage and inspire, but they carry many other brands with a similar mission. Brands like Sseko Designs, handcrafted in Uganda. This brand inspires young women and provides them with a good income. So far, each woman who has worked here has gone on to go to college! They are such talented ladies, too. The pieces are gorgeous!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

The Giving Keys, founded by Caitlyn Crosby, is a company selling unique and beautiful necklaces with a message stamped onto old keys: "we are all like these keys - unique, flawed, scarred, and sometimes discarded by others.". Repurposed and celebrating the little "flaws" make these necklaces extra special.

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

So Worth Loving also carries TOMS, which you are likely very familiar with. They're a 1-for-1 company that donates one pair of shoes to people in need for every one pair purchased. One of my good friends from college interned with TOMS after graduation and designed a pattern for Mother's Day shoes, so if you see those, buy them! Still so proud of her! 

Korchet Kids is a non-profit and an unexpected mix of men who know how to crochet and teaching others the craft as well as giving them an opportunity to earn a decent living doing so. 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Also check out Luxe Apothecary, for women, by women, Belong Magazine, which celebrates creative entrepreneurship, Conscious Magazine, which changes the tone of typical magazines from surface-level to thoughtful conversation that can actually bring about change, and Happy Socks, a colorful and fun brand that brings happiness to ankles and smiles to faces all over.  

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

You're going to love So Worth Loving! Stop by and see them in East Atlanta Village at 535 Gresham Ave Atlanta, GA 30316. Tell them we sent you!

Simple and Relaxed Valentine's Day

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

A few Valentines ago, Victor and I had reservations at a nice restaurant in the city. It was a place where we had one of our first dates and so it was special to us. Unfortunately, it must've been special to everyone else in Atlanta also, because even though we had reservations at 8pm, we waited for our table for over an hour. Once we sat down to eat, the entrees we each wanted to order were sold out. 

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

This year, I think we'll keep it a little more low-key and have the entrees we pick to make at home. While going out is nice, keeping it simple at home can be just as special, if not more. Christina came up with this nice meal and how to enjoy it with the one you love, or with your closest girl friends! 

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Dinner doesn't need to be fussy to be special. Make your favorite salad, appetizer, and pasta dish for a hearty meal that isn't too heavy. Making multiple, simple courses gives dinner a fancy feeling without having to spend hours in the kitchen. More time to make moony eyes at each other!

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Make dessert fun and unexpected by dipping yummy snacks in chocolate! Refreshing orange or clementine wedges and pretzel sticks hit all the sweet, salty, and tart notes you crave!

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Having a Galentine's night instead? Pick up some cute V-Day tags like these from Target for serve as wine charms for your best friends.

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Keep things simple and make it buffet style. Everyone will appreciate that you've made a delicious meal, even if it was super easy to make! Using basic pieces you already have and adding in some sweet Valentine themed accessories add a really special touch. You can find these pretty heart napkins at West Elm.

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Dress up easy appetizers by making them bite-size and individual! Who doesn't love a ball of cheese on a stick, right?!

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Easy pasta keeps it low stress. Make your favorite one-pot pasta dish to make clean-up a snap so you and your friends can enjoy more time chatting and eating and less time scrubbing pots and pans. A fresh salad is a breeze to make and will add brightness to your dinner. 

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

Photo and Styling by Christina Wedge

What's better than a cupcake? A NAKED cupcake! Cupid goes around naked, so it's only fitting your dessert do the same on Valentine's Day. Top some rich chocolate cupcakes with these pretty little hearts from Target for an extra special presentation. 

We hope you have a sweet and Happy Valentine's Day!

Love Ya, Baby!

We are so thankful for each and every one of our readers, followers, and supporters. We love you! Happy Valentine's Day from the girls of Ends In Style to you.

If you need a few last minute Valentines, head over to Carson Bryce Trading Company in East Atlanta for some candy treat bags, or maybe some beautiful bath salts.

These pretty heart shaped bath salts or "bath bon bons" made with organic dried flowers and botanicals. Since Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, it's the perfect day to pamper yourself and enjoy a slow, relaxing day. Whether you're celebrating Valentine's Day or Galentine's Day, start it off right by treating yo self!

"Skip the chocolate and enjoy Sweet Treats for yourself for a beautiful bath. Our bath bon bons are super fragrant and chock full of skin softening ingredients. Drop in a tub full of water, relax, and enjoy!"
Photo by  Christina Wedge , Design by  Susie Roupe

Photo by Christina Wedge, Design by Susie Roupe

We love ya, baby!