Valve Corporation Wedding Cake Toppers

We love Half-Life. We love Portal. We love Portal 2. Valve Corporation wedding cake toppers were inevitable.

Orange and gray forever

Portal gun and crowbar together at last

Again, high excitability = no process shots. Please forgive my shame.

The cake is a truth

The cake is a truth

The cube and figures are polymer clay over a tightly packed foil base. My hands are strong now. Like, Rockbiter strong. Mmm, delicious limestone.

Anyhoo.

I baked the Companion Cube first so the figures had something sturdy to sit on. Yes, this means they have Companion Cube grooves molded into their cabooses. No, that is not a problem.

Groom Gordon's crowbar took damage. This is expected.

Groom Gordon’s crowbar took damage. This is expected.

I didn’t print out my Companion Cube reference and thus missed the center lines on each side before baking. Fortunately a little Sharpie fixes that right up.

For each figure, I worked from the feet up. I sculpted up to the waist, and then I baked that. Then I sculpted the waist to the shoulders and baked that. This worked great for preserving the stability and sculpt of the figure overall, but it did mean the Bride Chell feet got a little toasty by the end.

Hobbit feet up in this piece

Hobbit feet up in this piece

I justify this by saying Chell’s feet would probably get grubby running around those experiments, Long Fall Boots or no.

I finished the faces last which really gave me a chance to concentrate on them.

Unity!

Unity!

The characters were originally designed to hold hands and look back at the viewer, but only if they’re sitting on a certain face of the Companion Cube and if you mess with them just right.

On the day of the wedding, due to venue snafuage, it was up to two kind and loving friends — my Original Heckling Partner and her sister — to choose how the figures should sit. And I like what they did much better. It seems more sweet and tender and fun to have the figures reaching out for each other. (And it’s probably a major reason they didn’t get knocked over.)

Stability is key

Stability is key

Today the figures are sitting behind glass, so the cat can’t get to them. In this way, follow-through is very important.

DIY Wedding Bathroom Emergency Kit

As I’ve said, I’m a fan of gift-wrapping cardboard boxes for instant fancy baskets. So it was an easy thing to put together a wedding bathroom emergency kit.

Wee paper dress optional

Wee paper dress optional

What went in it:

  • Chewing gum (mint and fruit!)
  • Laundry stain wipes
  • Contact lens solution
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Hand lotion
  • Ibuprofen
  • Effervescent antacid
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Chewable antacid

Other things that could have gone in it:

  • Mini hairspray
  • Mouthwash
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Safety pins

It’s a very easy and rewarding place to go overboard. Stuff did get used. I brought the remainder to work, where it’s still getting some mileage. There’s no wrong place for fruit gum, yo.

Low angles rule

DIY Wedding Shirt and Dress Origami Escort Cards

You cannot give a woman a budget and a year of lead time and not expect some papercraft all up in this piece. Thus the origami escort cards.

(There is also a tale of venue snafu and caboose-saving, but it must wait for another day.)

How to make some super bananas escort cards

Names have been changed to protect the innocent

The origami will fit just fine in place card holders. I knew I wanted to display mine vertically, since table space was limited.

Display Stand

So when our duplex-mates attempted to throw out a mirror frame, I was all like, “Nuh-uh, you are getting repurposed as heck.” Me and the groom picked out some soft green paint, and over the next couple of days I primed and painted the frame in the driveway, leaving plenty of distance from cars and using ample drop cloth to keep our landlords from murdering me.

Apparently I was too excited to take process photos. Be assured it was as gripping as spray-painting a wooden frame can be. Here is a photo of the finished product instead:

Low angles rule

Low angles rule

Knowing we had about 70 guests, I got my tape measure and made marks for twelve evenly-spaced rows. I figured I’d staple-gun ribbon in a grid and clip the escort cards to the ribbon with tiny clothespins.

Once I saw the grid and its space limitations, I realized each card couldn’t be more than two inches wide. Maybe they could be more vertical?

They’d end up looking something like shirts on a line.

Hmm…

Origami Escort Cards

I knew origami shirts existed. Maybe I could do dresses for the ladies? Is it OK to enforce a gender binary if it’s super cute?

I don’t know. But I decided to do it.

I used these common dollar-bill origami shirt instructions and these less common Inklings and Yarns dress directions derived from a video tutorial by How About Orange. The patterns turned out to be simple and pretty easy to pump out.

Seriously can't stop folding.

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I ordered paper in these solid colors and these washi style patterned colors.

The trick was getting paper the right size. The shirt folds down much smaller than the dress. I ended up using 4″ x 4″ (10 cm x 10 cm) paper for the dress and 6″ x 3″ (15.24 cm x 7.62 cm) paper for the shirts.

Yes, I had to cut down many pieces of nice washi paper to get the right size for the dresses. No, I couldn’t figure anything to do with the excess.

With measuring tape for, you know, scale.

Adorbed.

It took three or four hours of folding, which goes great with a season of Better Off Ted.

Assembly

Using an extra-fine Sharpie pen, I wrote names on the front and the table numbers on the back. Even with the permanent marker, until the ink dried it was possible to smear them, so I had to take care and not rush. Also, your hand can tell when you’re trying to write carefully and will make you skip consonants at every opportunity.

I hung all the cards alphabetically by last name. Then I wrapped the frame in garbage bags and strapping tape until it was nice and secure. It made the journey to the wedding intact — unless I only think that because someone saved my bacon without my knowledge, which is very possible.

Voila!

It has a certain zazz.

And this chair fit the bill just right to hold it

When I got to the reception and found that two clever guests launched a trend of wearing the escort cards as nametags!

Cropped to protect the innocent.

Fun as heck.

It was a rad bonus and a double hoot. I recommend it!

I just gave myself diabetes.

DIY Origami Wedding Favors with Candy

No, I am not done with the twee papercraft. Yes, I know it is getting a little wacky. But here are the origami wedding favors.

I just gave myself diabetes.

8-bit motif optional

Origami

I ordered three packs of Japanese Tant Origami Paper in blue and used all the pastel shades. Also I notice I did this in May of last year. It’s possible I had some excess excited energy to work off.

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The container is the famous origami star box.

Born to fold, yo.

I used 6″ x 6″ (15.25 cm x 15.25 cm) paper.

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I crimped the petals for general fanciness.

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And I applied some glue stick to keep the petals stuck.

The Tags

Midi music not included

Small to encourage you to make your own.

I ordered the tags from MyOwnLabels.com. They come pre-perforated with a little white string to tie them on. I ordered small cellophane bags from them, too.

The Candy

Exclamation points are always in fashion

Sassy phrases at your discretion

I went with custom-printed M&Ms. I poked around and figured the most cost-effective way to do this was to order 5 lbs. of blank white M&Ms from A Candy Store and 2 lbs. of multi-colored custom-printed M&Ms from the M&M website

Do place your orders like a month in advance, since they will take time to arrive and assemble.

Assembly

The M&Ms come with a little measuring scoop. You should wash it before using, but don’t be like me and dry it in haste. You will end up with damp M&Ms and be quite unhappy with yourself.

It took 2 or 3 hours to put them together. Pretty simple!

Sandalwood scented fans also not included.

Rings not included.

Now go get ’em!

So snugglesome!

DIY Wedding Papercraft Programs

Again, you cannot give a woman a to-do list and a year of lead time and not expect some wedding papercraft programs up in this piece.

Rotate!

Names blurrified to protect the innocent

I considered a lot of options for programs. Fans are cool, and seed fans are super cool. But I couldn’t justify the cost and materials of printing them — not to mention we were expecting only 70 guests, which is a scant number for a formal print job.

Somewhere — and for the life of me I can’t track it down again — I saw someone post about a rotating dial program. This person’s even had a pocket for bubbles. I’m going to keep trying to find it so I can credit it. Holler if you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, The dial thing was charming as heck and seemed like a fun thing to do for a ceremony with a small wedding party.

I put the names of party members (parents, officiant, maid of honor, best man, musician, etc.) radially on one side. On the other I put the actual program, a drawing and an expression of gratitude to all our guests.

Designing

I worked up everything in Illustrator, taking madd advantage of its rotation and font tools. I worked from the same template for both dials and prayed I got everything right so the circles would all match up. I must have been careful enough, because they did.

Printing

I got almost all our printing (save-the-dates, invitations, RSVPs) done by Overnight Prints, and the programs were no exception. (Overnight Prints asked me to share their current coupon codes, which you might enjoy.) I ordered the pieces as postcards, which is possibly not the best choice for everyone. The paper is VERY hardy and tough to cut with a X-ACTO. Even with scissors, it was hard to get a smooth edge on the circles, but they still turned out all right and I don’t think anyone noticed, or at least I never heard, “HEY, THESE CIRCLES AREN’T VERY SMOOTH.”

However printing the pieces as postcards meant the resulting programs were VERY sturdy, which was great. If you aren’t sure what kind of printing or paper you want to go with, I encourage you to experiment to see what gives you a nice, secure dial but is still easy to cut.

Use caution with box cutters or XActo knives or whatever you got

Cat optional

Assembly

I cut the straight lines and dial cut-out with an X-ACTO and mat — the rest with scissors that probably could have been sharper.

If you’d rather see these instructions as a video, this (this Papercraft Poseability video is pretty hand.

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Cut the little pieces first

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Like so. Note the round hole in the center of the dial.

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Cut out a rotor gizmo and the button like so. I printed the outline for these just off to one side of the back of the program — but, uh, didn’t take a picture of that side. My bad. But note the center circle of the gizmo is the same size as the hole in the dial.

IMG_5156

Fold up two opposing petals of the gizmo and apply glue stick (mine was purple)

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Glue those two opposite petals to the center of the face with party names

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Crimp the remaining two loose petals

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Squeeze these through the hole in the dial

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Flatten it out

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Like so

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Apply glue stick

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Stick on the button. This holds the dial open and looks polished

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Solid.

It took about an hour to do ten of these.

I recommend seasons of Archer for this also.

Display

I a-a-a-almost bought a bunch of little baskets for all the weddings holding-twee-items needs. But then I was like, dude, I don’t want to have to sweat collecting these all later (little did I know certain caboose-savers would sweat it for me, but, again, that is a story for another day.)

So snugglesome!

Cardboard + wrapping paper = good times

Naturally the boxes the postcards arrived packed in from Overnight Prints were just the right size for holding the stack of programs. So I just took my roll of nice wedding wrapping paper and wrapped that cardboard box! A little tissue paper and the programs were nice and stable and vertical and ready for plucking.

And guests could still fan themselves if they really got the notion.

To Pete Yorn on This, My Wedding Day

Dear Pete Yorn,

I’m getting married today. This is thanks in part to you and a song you wrote twelve years ago.

We’ve met only once, a passing greeting after one of your shows, the kind of exchange you must have many times a day with many strangers.

But you are a musician. And music has consequences.

You made a song called For Nancy (‘Cos It Already Is). It’s pretty great.

You cannot be making songs with dynamic range and driving riffs and walls of sound and not expect them to Velcro all over the life experiences of strangers.

My particular connection comes from 2008, moving cross-country to Los Angeles in a Jeep Cherokee so packed it rode low in the back.

Jeep Cherokee stuffed

Note the wheel wells

On a pile of debris on the passenger side, Jake the dog perched with a concerned expression.

Jake dog concerned Jeep Cherokee

Jake has concerns.

The Jeep A/C would freeze up after twenty minutes of use — then you had to thaw it for forty. The stereo was busted. I brought a boombox and an iPod.

I was super broke and newly single.

I had no job prospects.

I’d just turned thirty.

Thirty is too old to be moving cross-country in a Jeep, you might say.

I thought so, too.

For various reasons, for about an hour across Arizona, I listened to sad songs on repeat and cried.

Arizona Highway 40

HWY 40 through the Instagram filter of salty contact lenses

Somewhere around Flagstaff I let the next song play.

It was yours.

Sure, the lyrics to “For Nancy” aren’t all sunshine. But tell that to the hook:

“Convince yourself that everything is all right. ‘Cos it already is.”

Damn if it didn’t improve my memory.

I remembered Sam and Anne, who showed up with no warning, no provocation, to help me pack.

Jeep Cherokee trunk packed

Without their help this would not have been possible

I remembered Carol and Joe, who set me up with the summer job that meant I had money to live off of for a couple of months.

I remembered Drew, who offered me a dog-friendly place to stay for a few days.

I remembered Sara, who gave me the confidence to move and did all the legwork to line up an apartment for us.

I remembered Dad, who gave me a little moving money even though I was THIRTY.

I remembered Jenn, who held my confidences.

I remembered Jake, who is the kind of dog that tolerates cross-country road trips.

I remembered Brandi, who showed up at 7:00 AM on my last morning to help me set up the yard sale that gathered the gas money I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Brandi, who hosted me and Jake the dog on our last night in North Carolina, braving excessive dog hair to provide me with a comfy couch, tasty stew and Duplin wine.

It’s easier to face the yawning abyss of uncertainty with an improved memory and a good song.

I convinced myself everything would be all right.

Was it?

In LA there turned out to be a kind circle of friends to welcome me with Famima!! and D&D.

In LA there turned out to be a job — the best job I’ve ever had. Every day I expect HR to pop in and tell me there’s been a mistake.

In LA all my debts are paid off. I have a car with a working stereo AND A/C.

In LA Jake the dog is still healthy, occasionally concerned, and much more silver around the lips and elbows.

Jake dog back seat

And he has much more room to sit

Almost three years ago, an unbelievably handsome man took me out to dinner. One day at a time, he proved himself to be the finest man I ever met. He must have liked me, too, because last year he asked me to marry him.

Today dozens of people who care about us have made their own cross-town, cross-state and cross-country trips to be part of our wedding day.

I would say today is the happiest day of my life, but honestly there have been hundreds of them.

The more I face fear, the better my life gets. And I’m so grateful I get to share it with this man.

I can’t wait to see what the big uncertain future has for us.

I still get scared sometimes. But then the hook comes in.

“Convince yourself that everything is all right. ‘Cos it already is.”

Thank you, Pete Yorn.

If you play “For Nancy” at a show and there’s a lady in a red dress dancing like a maniac… that’s me.

Many thanks,
Tory

5 Things to Do Before Addressing Formal Invitations

There comes a time in life when you are called upon to send formal invitations, whether it is to a wedding or a marriage-equality fundraiser.

What follows are steps to maximize mellowness while being afraid you’re doing it wrong and no one will want to be friends with you anymore.

addressing formal invitations
I can’t wait to learn how I’m doing it wrong
(via Found in Mom’s Basement)

1) Prioritize.

Also! The invitation is primarily a vector of information! This is easy to lose sight of when anonymous persons on the Internet claim that by addressing a married woman as “Mrs. Woman Manly” you are calling her a divorcĂ©e of ill-repute.

However more important than whether to spell out the number twenty is getting the invitation in the envelope and making the little mark on each RSVP indicating to whom it was sent, because I forgot to do that and it made me really mad.

The only line anyone is really going to read on the invitation address is the names. Narrow target. Vital target. I have to redo a couple tonight because it dawned on me I spelled two people’s names wrong. PARP.

So it’s worth reviewing your address list and asking :

– Who moved recently or is about to?
– Is Rob’s full first name Robert or Robin? Are you sure that’s how “Eleanor” spells her name?
– Who probably has a doctorate, but you’re not 100% sure because you’re an inattentive jerkface?


Make up for being a jerkface by cooking pot roast
(Via Intimate Weddings)

2) Give yourself plenty of resources.

Get plenty of envelopes and give yourself plenty of time to work on them. Planning for more than one session to work on them is dandy. Decrease likelihood of rage-quitting.

You may want

– A widely-spaced document of all the addresses, formatted like they will be on the envelopes, so that’s one fewer part of your brain you’ll have to use.
– pencil
– straight-edge
– eraser
– nice pen
– glue stick, in case you need to peel a stamp off one envelope and put it on another. THESE THINGS HAPPEN.

addressing formal invitations
This kind of straight-edge optional

3) Check a few different opinions on the “appropriate” way to address people, and figure out what YOUR opinion is.

Maybe you want to be extra-formal and extra-old-fashioned and call all the married couples “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly.” Go for it.

Maybe you’re throwing a more casual event and “Woman and Man Manly” is appropriate. Beautiful.

Maybe you want some formality but “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly” seems inappropriate for some of the people you’re inviting, and you want to see other common options. No problem!

For all these, after much searching, mistake-making, raging, re-searching and re-doing, About.com has far and away the most detailed, practical and well-organized article on formal address that I found. They even have examples! Blessed, blessed examples. Whoooo.

The upshot is that politeness is key, and the most polite thing to do is address people in the way they’re accustomed to being addressed. That way the grandparents can be “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly” and your college friends can be “Mrs. Woman and Mr. Man Manly” and NO ONE DROPS FROM FRIGHT AT ALL.

Whatever you do, don’t take the first Google search result you find and treat it as gospel. Nope. Only a very foolish person would do that. A foolish person with a huge grudge against Martha Stewart now.

addressing formal invitations
I didn’t have an opinion about Martha Stewart before, but now I do and it is rage

4.a) If you’re using handwriting, pencil some guidelines on the envelope.

Yeah, it took time and challenged my phobia of prep work, but it was worth it. Having guidelines to follow made the aesthetic difference between “invitation” and “threat from crazed fan.”

4.b) If you’re using handwriting, practice a little.

I know what cursive capital “J”s are supposed to look like. I’ve made my share of them in my day, though that day was twenty-six years ago. But holy cats my hand forgot how to make them. It took a few to learn, and I wish those few hadn’t been on pre-penciled, pre-return-address-labeled envelopes.

addressing formal invitations
I probably should have looked this up before

5) Let it be.

Of the wedding invitations I’ve received, alas I don’t remember how the couple chose to address the envelope. What I do remember are the contents — each individual approach — which always reflected the balance of sophisticated-charming-traditional-creative-formal-informal-serious-playful that was right for each couple.

That’s the take-away.

I hope the same is true for my recipients, and they forgive the many eccentricities and cursive “J”s about to appear in their mailbox.

Cost-Effective Weddinging Part 2


Image via an alarmingly gauche eHow post

All RSS feeds forgive me for yesterday’s post of this in-progress.

A friendly friend told me she dug Cost-Effective Weddinging part 1 and it takes so little to stoke my ego like a wild inferno so here is a follow-up. If this makes your eyes roll back in your head feel free to skip. There will be more silly drawings coming along shortly.

This post is accompanied by GIS results for “money+wedding.” Stock photos on the subject are a surprising market.


Repurposed, reusable and same cost as fresh flowers? Not bad.

Excessively Handsome Manperson’s willingness to marry me is a Huge Freaking Deal. Embarking on this life commitment is a Huge Freaking Deal. Joining our families is a Huge Freaking Deal. The idea that friends and relations would even be willing to gather across thousands of miles is a Huge Freaking Deal.

But the wedding part itself is A Real Small Deal. For various reasons of family and ritual and public dancing we have decided to do it, and we take seriously the responsibility of not making it a hot pointy knife in the eye of our guests, but otherwise it is A Tiny Deal for sure.

So while I respect the institution, I mock the trappings. The institution doesn’t check The Language of Flowers to see if hydrangeas say the right thing.

Anyhoo.

With four months to go until weddinging, and complete willingness to elope at the snap of EHM’s fingers, deposits on venues and photographers notwithstanding, everything that can be done this far in advance is done. The books have been balanced. The stickers have shocked. Verily there are some things that are too damn high and some corners that are getting thoroughly cut.

May the following findings be entertainducational.


Via iStock photo – HOW DID THEY DO THAT WITH THE RINGS?

STUFF COSTING IRRATIONAL MONIES

  • Dress I did go for the dress that was twice what I meant to spend. Eeeeeeeee. Part of this is $45 in shipping (with garment bag! So that’s reasonable, right?) Part of this is $75 in sales tax, which I HATE until I remember I have voted for sales taxes, and a floofy wedding dress is exactly the sort of luxury good that rightly screams “tax me.” I am conveniently rationalizing this expenditure because 1) my physique is… ah… nonstandard, and 2) I know I can sell it afterward for at least half what I paid. I know this because I really tried to buy one second-hand, but the few that go up for sale get snarfled up like hot Jell-O in a summer camp relay race.


    Via Homemade Gifts Made Easy
    . Not terribly relevant, but very cute

    Until I do sell it, the total means it will cost at least $125/hour to wear. This dress’s time is apparently as valuable as a licensed cognitive behavioral therapist. Make of this what you will.

  • Hair Including the hair trial (did you know there is such a thing as a “hair trial”?) and gratuities, my hair will cost $25 per hour of anyone getting to see it. Oh, my God, I wish I hadn’t calculated that. I conveniently rationalize this expenditure thusly: I have hair best described as “cobweb blond,” whose modes range from “lank” to “extra lank.” I am paying for it to look good, but mostly I am paying not to have to do it myself.

STUFF COSTING REASONABLE MONIES

  • Cake I swear I would bake if there were time. There will not be time. We are doing cupcakes to maximize multi-flavor trying and young-child hyper-making.
  • Invitations Overnight Prints, yo.
  • Anything else paper Kinko’s, yo.
  • Reception Food/Booze People are coming from across the country, after all. Jet lag requires protein. Plus it’s not a wedding unless you can tell what time a picture was taken just by looking at it.
  • Next-Day Brunch We lately went to a wedding where, over the course of many engagement and marital events, the bride’s parents fed us five times. FIVE TIMES. I respect this highly, though I could never hope to duplicate it. However we can at least do some super-casual second nosh in the morning. Elevensies? Yes.

STUFF COSTING SMALL MONIES

  • Lodging We looked into reserving a hotel block. In the region, one reserving such a block accepts responsibility for 90% of the cost of the reserved rooms, which requires coordinating potential guests before invitations even go out. It also assumes all the guests want to stay in the same place. It seemed much more prudent to just give guests all the information we could and let them Do Their Thing.
  • Transportation Our transportation approach may be described as “here is a cab number” and “I believe so-and-so is staying at the same hotel” and “I can scoop you up in the Pontiac.”
  • Venue Ceremony and reception at the same place, which is a restaurant. Can’t. Recommend. Enough. Madd props to EHM’s older sister for figuring this all out over two years ago.
  • Makeup I have Ben Nye and latex. I could go as a zombie if I wanted to. But probably I will go as fixative, primer and false eyelashes, because the day is long and the photos are digital.
  • Flowers Every bride needs one last-minute DIY project to bitterly regret. This will be mine. HA HA HA. Actually, of all areas to attempt this is the safest, and truly I’ll need something to keep my hands busy and there are only so many napkins to doodle on ONLY SO MANY.


Quick sidebar to comment on the post this image comes from, which I understand is linkbait and not supposed to be actual useful content, but still typifies most “Money-Saving Wedding Tips” posts — here are the useless tips the thrifty couple finds everywhere:

  • Get married not on the weekend. If you were willing to do this, you were doing it already. This “tip” is like telling someone Jewish to “try the BLT.”
  • Use email instead of invitations. Again, if you were willing, you were already doing this. More useful would be “here is the cheapest place to get quality printing online” (answer: Overnight Prints)
  • Shop around for a cheap dress. THANKS FOR THE PRO TIP.
  • Invite fewer people. Actually the best advice in the list, but more useful would be rules-of-thumb to use as a starting point, and elegant ways to discuss things with those not invited.
  • Have your wedding in a church around a major holiday so the place is already decorated. What. I don’t know a lot, but 1) churches are already pretty because that is their job, unless their job is to be unpretty, in which case some flowers ain’t gonna help, and 2) how much money are you hoping to save on decor that would justify setting the date for it?

So I end this rant by presenting:

SEVEN TIPS TO ACTUALLY SAVE MONEY ON A WEDDING

  • As a couple, figure out what’s not at all important to either of you. This will be a surprisingly short list. It will save you 2.5% of your budget.
  • Do what you can to pay cash instead of credit. Start saving for it on your first date. Stop eating so many Quest Bars, although they are delicious. This will save you save you 15-25% but never show up in your budget.
  • Get married somewhere with a low cost of living. I don’t know how much that will save because we’re not doing that.
  • Pick a venue with an occupancy limit. This is the best guest list control. Save 10%.
  • Get married at a restaurant. This seriously saved us 25% of our budget.
  • Don’t tangle with lodging. You are too old. Make up for it with gift bags. Save 8%.
  • Have lots of talented, spirited friends willing to donate their arts and energies. This is just basically rad, and what I’m most grateful for.

A-a-a-and spent.