Month: March 2012

Say Yes To The Dress

Thursday was the four month mark until our wedding. My to-do list is still a mile long and I’m starting to feel the pressure of working two jobs, taking classes, and planning a wedding. According to theknot.com, I still have 138 items on my checklist, and according to my planner, I still have 8 tests this semester, plus a pile of lab reports to complete. And in less than two months I will be a college graduate with no job, so let’s add that to the list of things to accomplish.

It may seem like I am complaining and wallowing in a pool of stress-induced self pity, but I am here today to give an update on my wedding plans thus far. I’m happy to say that I have booked a venue, spoke with our officiant of the ceremony, started the guest list, booked a photographer, booked the rehearsal site, asked my best friend, my future sister-in-law, and two cousins to be my bridesmaids, and……

I bought my wedding dress.

Of all the premature wedding planning I have done, wedding dress dreaming has not been one of them. When I began dress shopping I didn’t have much an idea of what I wanted. I knew that I’m not a fan of strapless. (I just don’t feel like I have very good looking shoulders, is that a weird insecurity?) I also knew that don’t want to look like a princess. (None of this poofy-froofy, tule-explosion of girlyness.) And lastly, I wanted white, because I deserve it. So I needed to find all of this for under the magic price of $300.

Let’s talk about my budget for a second. Did you know that the average price of a wedding in the United States is $25,631 these days? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that kind of cash laying around. In fact, the majority of young couples in the midwest don’t, and I’ve found comfort in stressing about my strict budget with other frugal brides (“I’m worried we may have to go to Branson for our honeymoon.” “I never realized cake was so expensive!”). But don’t begin to feel too sorry for me, because I am extremely fortunate to have parents that have been saving for this for a few years. It’s no 25 grand, but it is a huge blessing.

I tip that I received early on was that when working with a small budget, decide what your priorities are. Do you want an amazing venue? Do you want a feast? Do you want to pay for all the bridesmaid dresses? Do you want an extravagant wedding gown? We evaluated all of these aspects and decided that the venue was the most important to us. Therefore, a large portion of our money went towards an amazing venue that we both love. But splurging on a venue means that we need to cut corners elsewhere. A wedding dress in the United States ranges between $875 and $1,458. I wouldn’t want to spend this much on a dress I’ll wear once even if I did have the resources to, so I decided my budget would be set at $300, preferably closer to $200.

I thought this was going to be a lot easier than it was. Some places scoffed at my small price range, some offered me bridesmaid dresses in white, and some only had a few to show me, mostly being strapless. After a couple days of looking I began to get very discouraged and wondered if I was being too picky or too unrealistic. Also, part of the stress of finding a dress was the fact that I had less than one week to find it. I was on spring break and due to my short engagement, I needed to find one right away in order for it to be altered by summer.

I made a long list of places to go on our third day of shopping. That morning I prayed that God would bring me a dress. I said, “I know this is really insignificant and probably very worldly, but it’s really important to me that I find a dress that I love and can afford, so if you could help me out with that today, that would be great.”

My mom, best friend, and I were geared up for a long day of wedding dress shopping. Our first stop was Wedding Expressions by Geri in Lees Summit. I had called Geri the previous day and was told that she had a handful of dresses on sale. When we arrived I told her that my budget was $300 and I wanted white. She brought me the three white dresses she had on sale and told me she would bring the price down further for me. One I didn’t even try on, the second was okay, but the third was perfect. It was exactly what I had been looking for. We looked at the price tag: $1050 on sale for $800. Ouch. I knew that even if she was willing to come down, it would be a stretch to make it under $300. As mom and I were discussing it, Geri came back into the room and told us that she would give us any of the three dresses for $200. We couldn’t believe it. Was this lady serious? What’s the catch? But there was no catch. So I walked out of there with with a dress for 80% off.

Moral of the story: it’s not silly to pray for your wedding dress, you can find your dream dress on a tight budget, and I definitely recommend Wedding Expressions by Geri.

Your probably wondering what this amazing dress looks like. Well you’ll just have to wait until July 29th to find out.

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A Love Story

I have news that makes me very happy. On March 2nd, Brad Bartlett asked me to be his wife, and I said yes, of course.

Now begins a whirlwind of planning, budgeting, and dreaming. We’ve decided on a short engagement, and have set our date for July 29th at the Weston Red Barn Farm. I am very excited to blog about each step of my engagement, wedding planning, and marriage preparation. To begin, I thought I would share our sweet proposal story.

Brad and I had been talking about marriage for a while and had even looked at rings back in November. I had been trying to figure out what day it would happen, and I estimated it would happen the weekend of March 9th.  I knew that he was going to propose sometime soon, so of course I consistently had my nails perfectly polished, in case my estimations were off.

Friday night we had made plans to eat at the BBQ Barn in Bolivar and see The Lorax in Springfield, so I didn’t expect a proposal. It was about 6:30 and I was cruising Pinterest while waiting for Brad to pick me up. I suddenly got a knock at my door, which was odd because he normally just comes in. I answered the door and there stood our former boss and now-friend, Holly. I was surprised to see her standing there, holding a large envelope. Of course, my thoughts immediately went to the beginning of a proposal. I quickly pushed it out of my mind, wanting to avoid jumping to conclusions. I invited her in and she told me that Brad wasn’t thinking BBQ that night and had other plans for us. I obviously knew something was up at this point, because Brad is always up for BBQ (I mean we are from Kansas City.) So she gave me the envelope and inside was a canvas with a note and a couple of pictures attached. This was the first of eight notes. Throughout the night, I would find that these notes were a story I knew well. They began with how me met, then progressed to details of the beginning of our relationship, to how it grew, and finally to where we are now. Brad told this story as if to our future children (ya know, How I Met Your Mother style.) Also with each note was an additional note to lead me to my next destination.

The second stop in my journey was to the SBU Sells Administration Building. Brad and I met at the Call Center, and we would occasionally sneak out and sit on a bench and chat. That bench held the next large envelope containing the next piece of our story and a note directing me to the Jester Building.

The Jester Building is the home of the SBU library, where we used to try to study together, although we usually ended up just talking and getting nothing done. I walked into Jester and was happy to see Molly. Molly and her boyfriend Matt have been very good friends to Brad and me. I spent many lab periods talking to Molly about my budding relationship with Brad a year ago. Molly had the next envelope and I was directed to the home of James and Leslie Shuler.

Brad and I had the opportunity to travel to Africa together over Thanksgiving break. James went with us and we have been privileged to have the Shulers as friends and mentors in our relationship. I arrived at the Shuler residence and rang the doorbell. I could hear their kids cheer, “She’s here! She’s here, Dad!” The three kiddos welcomed me inside and watched intently as I opened and read my next note. James couldn’t wipe a huge grin off of his face, but he played it cool.

I was sent to the K-Life house in Bolivar. Brad and I love to take walks when the weather is nice, and the K-Life house is one of the first places we walked together. There is a picnic table where we could sit and talk and enjoy being outside. I found my note on the picnic table. I was freezing by this point, so I quickly ran to get my envelope, and ran back to the car to read my note in the warmth. I was surprised to see that I was being sent back to my apartment.

I arrived at my apartment and found a dozen roses laying with my next envelope. I quickly put them inside, not bothering to put them in water, I was in a hurry! At this point I had been running around Bolivar for quite some time and I thought he would surely be at the next destination: Playter Park.

Playter Park is another place Brad and I often walked to. It is a small park that is not very well known so we usually had it to ourselves. There is a pretty gazebo there and one of our favorite places to get away for a couple of hours. I found yet another envelope and no Brad. I was surprised by my next (and hopefully final) stop.

Many people did not approve of Brad and I’s relationship as it was beginning. It was a difficult situation, and Brad was not very welcome at my apartment. (This situation has improved immensely, no worries.) There were a few times in which after having a great time in Springfield, we weren’t ready for our date to end. Unfortunately, Brad lived in the dorm and we didn’t feel comfortable hanging out at my apartment. So we would get some coffee and stop at a small town outside of Springfield called Glidewell and sit on the top of his car and star-gaze and talk. This destination was a good 20 minutes from Bolivar- the longest 20 minutes of my life. I knew he had to be there, and I was right.

I pulled up and found him standing among candles with his car playing one of our favorites songs. I walked up and he asked me to sit with him on the afghan I had made him. We talked a few minutes, then he read me the last note. We stood and he told me beautiful words of how he had fallen in love with me and wanted to spend the rest of his life loving and taking care of me. Then he got down of one knee and proposed. I said, yes, of course.

The rest of the night was a blur of phone calls, Chipotle, tears, laughter, and coffee. I am beyond blessed to be marrying a man that loves and encourages me with the love of Christ. I am thankful for this man, and I cannot wait to call him my husband.