How to Have the Frugal Wedding of Your Dream

Weddings and engagement parties are expensive. Adding the cost of a honeymoon onto the tab makes the idea of spending money on getting married particularly unattractive. However, destination weddings or engagement parties can keep the costs lower and add the honeymoon into the whole package.

Forget the US, Give Australia a Go

One of the easiest ways to save money is to make the money go further and be worth more. While it sounds like asking for a magic money tree, currency conversions provide this.  With $1 dollar currently equivalent to $1.34 in Australia, traveling to the land down under becomes even more attractive. Although places like England, France, or Italy may sound traditionally romantic, the US dollar doesn’t stand up as well to the British pound or the Euro. This means that a single dollar doesn’t count for as much when traveling there. If you want your wedding and engagement party budget to feel larger, Australia is the place to be.

Although the idea of an international flight might seem too much for the wallet, roundtrip flights to Australia can be found with a little research and patience. When thinking about the idea of a destination weddings or engagement parties, most people would think that the Caribbean would be the best place. However, the Caribbean is almost as expensive to fly into, and the US dollar doesn’t go as far. What this means is that for a couple wanting to fly somewhere exotic, Australia provides the best benefit overall.

Final Stop: Australia, Brisbane

Now that you’ve decided on Australia as the destination, the question becomes what destination is best. Sydney or Melbourne might seem alluring since they’re the first cities that most people associate with Australia.  Over the last twenty years, however, Brisbane has seen a revitalization making it the best of the three capital cities in Australia. In fact, over the course of the last few years, ambitious chefs have started moving to Brisbane to start new restaurants that are raising the bar for the foodie experience there.

This means that there are now a multitude of cool, new places to hold your reasonably priced destination wedding or engagement party. Whether you’re looking for something classic or something more urban chic, Brisbane has something to meet your needs. Traditionalists can find high tea served and treat their guests to something that mixes the modern into the quintessential experience.  For those looking to give their guests a unique foodie experience, check out the options for wedding and engagement party venues in Brisbane. Whether sitting down to a traditional experience or something more chicly modern, Brisbane has something for every taste.

For those couples looking to cut down on cost while still having a unique wedding or engagement party experience, destination weddings are rapidly becoming the most obvious choice. Finding the right destination, however, means thinking not just about the cost of flights, but the cost of food and boarding, as well. Brisbane and its reinvigorated urban culture provide the perfect option when combined with the current currency conversion rates.

 

Image source: Factory51, wedding venue in Brisbane Australia

 

Can people please stop getting married and graduating

polygamy ninja

Not only did I commit my life to Girl Ninja on August 8th 2010, but I apparently committed it to about 20 of her best friends and a bunch of high school students too. I seriously can’t believe how many parties we have on our calendar. It seems like every week there is a birthday, wedding, or graduation party to attend. Three parties, back-to-back-to-back, yesterday.

To help ease my “party overload anxiety” I made, what I thought was, a reasonable proposal. I ever so politely asked Girl Ninja to reduce the number of friends she has. I thought we could make this reduction process fun by inviting all of her friends over to the Ninja house and host some type of NFL style friend draft. Just imagine, “…and in the first round of this years NFL (Ninja’s Friends List) Draft, Mr and Mrs. Ninja would like to befriend…enter dramatic pause here… Will and Whitney!”

I think it is a stellar idea, unfortunately, I couldn’t get Girl Ninja to go for it. This means we will probably be attending 436 different functions over the next year.

Being that I like to make things as simple as possible, I’ve thrown out the idea of a a “one size fits most” (yes, I stole the idea from the tag on my fruit of the loom underwear) gift giving policy.

Essentially we would operate on a cash or no gift policy for all parties we attend. Weddings and birthdays get cash, high school graduations get a “Congrats” card.

I’d love to say we’d give each of our high school students $20.14 (their graduation year) with the card we give, but that’s just not practical when you are attending a dozen of so grad parties in a two week time span. Hence the reason I vote “no cash” for graduation.

For weddings, obviously there is not much thought behind a $50 cash gift. But who doesn’t love getting cash? I can’t speak for Girl Ninja, but my favorite wedding gifts weren’t the kitchen gadgets, it was the cards with green pieces of paper inside them 😉

spatula gift

Now obviously if we have a specific gift in mind for someone, we would get it for them. The cash option simply takes the burden off our shoulders when no one present seems any better than another. ex: Should we get them two C&B plates or two C&B bowls.

Something tells me Girl Ninja will be resistant to this system as she is all about the sentiment and creativity when giving a gift, and let’s face it, cash isn’t creative. We’ll see if I can force her convince her to come to my side.

Do any of you operate under a similar system? Do you have a set dollar amount you give for friends’ weddings, birthdays, etc? For weddings, do you typically get things off the registry or stick to cash/gift cards?

We presently need presents.

I admit it. Girl Ninja and I have been terrible wedding gift givers as of late. In fact, we are four wedding presents behind, with the most overdue gift being 10 months late…and counting.

This is especially embarrassing considering Girl Ninja and I got gifts from each of these persons on (or before) our wedding. Needless to say, we’ve dropped the ball major and after attending Girl Ninja’s older sister’s wedding this last weekend, we are ready to play catch up.

During our first year of marriage we attended approximately eleven billion weddings. The idea of picking a gift (even if off the registry) for reach of these weddings severely stressed me out. This is why I tried pitching the “cash only” gift giving policy. Whenever a birthday, wedding, shower, etc came up, instead of giving the person a gift they may not like, we would simply give them cold hard cash.

Girl Ninja obviously shut that idea down as it clearly showed a lack of effort and thought. So here we stand now, four wedding gifts behind, about to be at least a couple hundred dollars poorer, wondering what is the perfect gift that will say “we love you and we are sorry this is late” all at the same time?

Today, we begin our mission to be less-sucky friends to those we love most. Something tells me Pottery Barn, Crate And Barrel, and Macy’s Home are in my very near future. Wish me, and my bank account, luck 🙂

I’m four wedding gifts behind. Are you behind at all? Have you ever just NOT gotten someone (whose wedding you’ve attended) a gift? What dollar amount do you typically try to spend?

I want to marry 68% of you.

An updated throwback that should piss half of you off…

I’ll never understand why some married couples keep their finances separate (yes, that is me quasi-judging some of you). Maybe it’s the traditionalist in me, but when I asked Girl Ninja to marry me, I asked her to marry ALL of me. This includes (but is not limited to) my sense of style, my obsessive compulsive behaviors, my smelly farts, my sucky artwork, and of course my finances.

Before our wedding, I wrote a about how Girl Ninja was not only marrying me, but also my student loan (I think at the time I still owed about $10,000 to Sallie Mae). Whether she liked it or not, my debt was now her debt. A handful of commenters, however, disagreed. They felt that since I had acquired my student loans before I even knew Girl Ninja existed, they were solely my responsibility to pay back. One comment read, “I agree also that GN should have no part of your student loan. That was contracted before your marriage and is solely your obligation.”

Alright commenter, I’ll play your game. Going in to the marriage I was making $63,000/year. Girl Ninja was hovering around the poverty line bringing in about $20,000/year. My income was over triple hers. It seems that if I followed the logic of the commenter above and kept our finances separate, I would then have three times as much influence in our financial decisions, or at the very least, should be allowed to spend three times as much on miscellaneous categories like entertainment and dining out. If she has no obligation to my pre-marriage debt, what right does she have to my pre-marriage income? You can’t have your cake and eat it to.

I know Girl Ninja had no legal obligation to my debt, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have a marital obligation to it. The second she said “I do“, my debts became her debts. My income, became her income. And my love for California burritos, became her love for California burritos…oh wait…not so much on that last one, but you get the point.

I don’t even know how separating finances in a marriage would work. Do you literally say “Alright honey, you need to transfer $50 in to my checking account ’cause I just paid our cell phone bill”? Do rent payments get split right down the middle since you both share space equally or does the larger income earner have to pay a larger portion? How would it have even been possible for me to pay my debts back separately, since any money put towards that debt effects us equally regardless of whether it comes out of my account, her account, or a joint account? What is the point of separating accounts from your spouse?

Someone enlighten me? 

p.s. if you weren’t aware, I actually ended up paying off my student loans about a month before our wedding, so Girl Ninja never had to worry about Sallie Mae 🙂

p.p.s. I’m super pissed at Girl Ninja right now as she just committed the cardinal sin in the Ninja house. She put the toilet paper on the roll facing the WRONG way! Ugh, it ruined my night 🙁

The best man

So my former college roommate was a groomsman in my wedding two years ago. At my wedding he did a peculiar thing. He fell in love with one of Girl Ninja’s bridesmaids. Well, not just any bridesmaid, but GN’s older sister. They hit it off that night and started dating shortly after.

On Sunday, he stops being my old roommate and instead, will become my brother-in-law. How weird is that? I remember the days of running around in our underwear on our college’s campus, chasing lightning at 2am. I remember eating so many California burritos with this guy that I felt like my stomach was going to explode. I remember him buying me a tub of ice cream, chips, oreos, and a bunch of other junk food after learning Girl Ninja and I had a temporary falling out my Junior year of college in an effort to console me (picture from that night below)…

Yes, I am eating ice cream with a pasta utensil I was that depressed.

As weird as it is to think about this guy, who I know so much about being my brother, nothing creeps me out more than thinking about him being my children’s uncle. Seriously, not gonna let me kids around him unless I’m supervising. Just kidding...kind of. 

Since Girl Ninja and I are the only reason future brother-in-law met Girl Ninja’s sister, he asked me to be the best man in his wedding. I’ve been a groomsmen before, but this is my first time sitting in the big boy chair. It involves a bit more planning (we will actually be participating in bachelor party activities all day long today), I’ll be decorating their wedding night hotel room, and I of course have to give a speech (where I plan to share every embarrassing story possible about him), but in all, it hasn’t been too overwhelming.

I’m pretty pumped to be his best man and I hope I can live up to the title. Welcome to the family, brother. 

Have you been a maid of honor, or best man before? Did the responsibilities that come with it stress you out? Isn’t being a groomsmen or bridesmaid the best, you get all the fun, without any of the responsibility!

Birthdays, and Weddings, and Gifts, OH MY!

polygamy ninja

Not only did I commit my life to Girl Ninja on August 8th, but I apparently committed it to about 20 of her best friends too. I seriously can’t believe how many parties we have on our calendar. It seems like every week there is a birthday, wedding, or other random function to attend.

To help ease my “party overload anxiety” I made, what I thought was, a reasonable proposal. I ever so politely asked Girl Ninja to reduce the number of friends she has. I thought we could make this reduction process fun by inviting all of her friends over to the Ninja house and host some type of NFL style friend draft. Just imagine, “…and in the first round of this years NFL (Ninja’s Friends List) Draft, Mr and Mrs. Ninja would like to befriend…enter dramatic pause here… Brandon and Lauren!”

I think it is a stellar idea, unfortunately, I couldn’t get Girl Ninja to go for it. This means we will probably be attending 436 different functions over the next year.

Being that I like to make things as simple as possible, I’ve thrown out the idea of a a “one size fits most” (yes, I stole the idea from my fruit of the loom underwear) gift giving policy.

Essentially we would operate on a cash only gift system for all parties we attend. We’d give something like $30 for birthdays, $40 for graduation, and $58.37 for weddings. It would seriously make life so much easier.

That said, it could definitely come across as lame as there is not much thought behind a $50 bill. But who doesn’t love getting cash? I can’t speak for Girl Ninja, but my favorite wedding gifts weren’t the kitchen gadgets, it was the cards with green pieces of paper inside them 😉

spatula gift

Now obviously if we have a specific gift in mind for someone, we would get it for them. The cash option simply takes the burden off our shoulders when no one present seems any better than another.

Something tells me Girl Ninja will be resistant to this system as she is all about the sentiment and creativity when giving a gift, and let’s face it, cash isn’t creative. We’ll see if I can force her convince her to come to my side.

Do any of you operate under a similar system? Do you have a set dollar amount you give for friends’ weddings, birthdays, etc? For weddings, do you typically get things off the registry or stick to cash/gift cards?

Wedding of epic epicness

Holy crap. I feel like I blinked and the wedding was over. It seriously went by so fast. Everyone told me to take a deep breath, go slow, and take it all in, but it’s just so hard when the day is as busy, hectic, exciting as it is. There are parts that I remember vividly, i.e. Mrs. Ninja walking down the aisle (yes I teared up) and parts I don’t remember at all, i.e. what song played when we cut the cake.

There are so many things that I could write about in regards to our wedding, but I’ll try and narrow it down to just a few things.

Dollar Dance:

Do you remember the little debate I had a few weeks back, asking whether the $$$ dance was tacky or reasonable? Well, you can call me Tacky Ninja ’cause we totally rocked the dollar dance hardcore. I’m quite glad we did because it gave me dedicated face time with many of our guests, but more importantly we walked away $600 richer at the end of it! Can you believe it?! Six Hundred Bones! Totally legit and I never got the vibe someone was dancing with me out of obligation or pity.

Wedding Cake:

If you recall from Mrs. Ninja’s guest post about our wedding, she shared that we were having a quasi-fake cake. The bottom three layers were all Styrofoam, and the top two layers were actual cake. Our cake ended up only costing $90 (instead of the $500 quotes from the bakery), but we definitely got what we paid for. The fake layer did not match the real layer. They were slightly different colors and the design was off. It wasn’t what we had imagined, but with a little bit of craftiness, Mrs. Ninja’s aunt was able to make it look half-decent. Fortunately, the wedding cake is not really something people remember about weddings.

Vows:

I don’t know if it’s weird to post up my vows to Mrs. Ninja here, but they are obviously a huge piece of the ceremony as it is a commitment of my life to hers. We both customized our own vows, so hers are different than mine. Here’s what I promised to her…

Mrs. Ninja, today in the presence of God, I give my life to you.

To be your husband, and your friend,

and to stand by you as we share our life together.

As Christ is to His church, so I will be to you,

a loving and faithful husband.

I will walk with you daily

and grow with you in mind and spirit,

When you cry, I will comfort you.

When you laugh, I will share your joy.

I promise to lead us towards Christ

and guide you according to His Word.

That through His grace,

we might grow together into His likeness

for as long as we both shall live.

Pictures:

This was the most important thing to me when it came to our wedding. We had seen our photographer shoot a few of our friends’ weddings, and knew we had to have him do ours. We paid a pretty penny for his services, but his pictures aren’t just photographs, they are ART!!!! We will get all the pictures in about 6 weeks, but he gave us a “sneak peek” of 34 pictures. Here are a few of ’em….

So there is just a glimpse of what my epic wedding of epicness looked like. I wish you all could have been there, but then again, I don’t. ‘Cause if you were at my wedding, that would be really weird, and kind of creepy. Maybe I can twist Mrs. Ninja’s arm into giving you a more detailed wedding play-by-play in the future. What went well at your wedding, and what didn’t? Any regrets? Any “must-dos?”