Wedded Bliss: How I Planned a Wedding in Two Weeks and for Less than $1000

This month we did a thing. We got married! We have lived together for over three years now and have been talking about getting married for about 1 1/2 years , but something always comes up or makes it too complicated to set a date. We finally decided that for financial reasons it would be best for us to get married before the end of the year with a very simple ceremony where only parents were invited and later on plan a big party with all of our friends and family, kind of like a belated reception.

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So, when Jason’s parents told us they were coming down for a weekend this fall, I called my mom and told her that we wanted to plan to have a wedding in two weeks. She was able to find flights for her and my grandmother so that they could be there and I got started planning.

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We ordered rings. On Amazon, of course, since we buy everything on Amazon including our household furniture and beds! Diamonds are not my favorite stone (I actually prefer my birthstone, rubies), so we were able to find me an engagement ring for under $150 and I managed to find a wedding band that matched the engagement ring perfectly for less than $150 as well. My husband decided to order a silicone wedding band for around $40, since he uses his hands so much at work and at home. I told him that I will get him a nicer ring for when we go out and for special occasions for one of our anniversaries. Boom! Rings done, and on the cheap too!

Next we went to go get our marriage license. It only cost about $45 for our county. Once I had that I was found a notary who would come do there ceremony at our house for about $125. We had Ms. Sonita Leaks perform our wedding. If you live in the Greenville area of South Carolina, I highly recommend her. She was very professional, submitted our paperwork in a timely fashion, and was very accommodating with our pup being so exuberant during the ceremony. She even stayed after the ceremony to take a few photos of us all. She was very sweet and made our special day perfect.

All that was left was the food. We ordered from our favorite barbeque place, Henry’s Smokehouse. I spent about $90 on pulled pork, baked beans, mac and cheese, cole slaw, and iced tea for 10 people. And everybody enjoyed the food.

As far as my dress, I had an off-white dress that had not been worn yet that looked fantastic with my cowboy boots. Jason wore his favorite button down shirt, nice jeans and his going out boots. We didn’t have to spend any money at all on special clothes since it was just our parents and us in our backyard. My aunt and grandmother took care of a boutonniere and bouquet for me. They also arranged a few vases for our dinner table. Other than those few flowers, we didn’t have any other décor since it was a beautiful fall day and the changing leaves were more than enough color. We also decided against hiring a photographer since everyone who was there had a camera and could take pictures and share them with us.

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Our wedding was exactly like us: simple, intimate, and fun. I am so glad we went this route instead of a big, stressful wedding. I will make sure to post once we have the “reception” with family and friends and how that goes.

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Why I decided to join the Y

Since moving to South Carolina and starting a relationship three years ago, I have steadily been gaining weight. Now, I am not overweight by any means, but I have had to buy new clothes every year and that can get expensive. Plus, I am worried that if I continue this trend, eventually I will become overweight and that is just not an option for me. I am not vain, but my body image does have a direct correlation with my self-esteem and confidence.

After purging my closet and drawers of all the clothes that did not fit me anymore, I got a little depressed and pissed off at myself. I have always been one of those people who could eat whatever they wanted and exercise sporadically if I wanted and be just fine weight-wise, but it seems that the older you get, the less that is possible, especially when you have a desk job that leaves you pretty inactive all day. So, my current health goals include maintaining my current weight by exercising more often and making better choices when it comes to eating.

I decided that, in order for me to meet my health goals, we needed to get active this year. We have been trying, but being active on just the weekends isn’t enough. Especially when the weather makes it impossible for us to get out of the house and actually do active things like hiking or biking.

I tried working out with workout videos at home, but I just have a hard time staying motivated when nobody is doing it with me. And I mean like right next to me. I crave a social situation in order to work out. So, I finally took a look at the gyms in my area.

I have never been good at going to the gym. I am not good at independently working out, and I haven’t been able to find a gym buddy. Also, I usually feel really out of place in the gym. I always feel like people are watching me and judging me.

One of my friends recommended that I get Jason to work out with me, but that just wouldn’t work for me. He work out completely different than I do because his needs are different than mine. I need people with like-minded health goals and interests to work out with. Some of the gyms closest to where I live didn’t offer any kind of group exercise classes. Others were just so far outside of my price range (I am on a budget here after all)!

After a lot of searching I finally decided on the YMCA close to my job. I had been there before when I first moved here. I went with my aunt to a Zumba class and had a lot of fun. I like the atmosphere there; it doesn’t feel as much like a meat market like some of the other gyms I have been to. Also, the locker rooms are nothing fancy, in fact they remind me of the P.E. locker rooms in my high school! I figured it is the most comfortable I am going to feel. It’s in the mid-range for prices I was willing to pay for a gym, they offer classes, and have a pool to exercise in. Plus they waived my joining fee!

In my usual planning fashion, I grabbed the group exercise schedules and color coded classes I was interested in in three categories: completely available, available for lunch break, and not available unless it is a holiday. I figure that this way I will know what my options are each week and I can pick at least three classes to go to each week. I love that there are so many options and I can switch up the type of exercise I’m doing so that I can stay excited about it.

I went to my first class this morning. A Sunrise Yoga that started at 6:00 a.m. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it, because I have a hard time getting up to an alarm clock in the mornings, but I made sure I went to bed extra early. I also think my excitement helped urge me to wake up to.

For an early morning yoga class, it was a lot more intense than I expected it to be, which is probably a good thing. If it had been more relaxing, I might have fallen right back asleep, which I almost did when we got to the Savasana portion of the session. I am almost positive my arms and butt will be sore tomorrow with all the planking and chairs we were doing!

I felt such a sense of accomplishment actually showing up to a class so early in the morning and making it through without falling asleep!

Now I have no excuses to not work out because my gym is right on my way to and from work every weekday. Also, when the weather is crappy I have no excuse to not stay active because I can hop in my car and go take a weekend class instead. I am 100% determined to make regular exercise a routine in my life.

Do you have any tips to help me get the most out of my YMCA membership?

Living on a Budget: Managing Entertainment

I am by no means starving or wanting for anything in life. I am extremely fortunate, and I know that. However, like most college graduates, I have amounted an impressive amount of debt and it has become our life mission to get out of debt, which means budgeting.

I hate the word budgeting. I’m not a shopaholic or a spend thrift, but I feel like I work hard for my money and should be allowed to get all the things that are going to let me enjoy the time I spend not working. While trying to pay off all my student loans, that just is not really possible. Not if I really want to make a dent. I have, however, managed to find ways to still afford some luxuries and that is what I want to share with you today.

There are four things I consider luxuries for spending money in my budget: music, movies/TV, books, and clothes. I have found a way to still access three of these without spending any money at all!

My biggest tip to those that want to save money and still have access to entertainment is to access your local library. Most libraries nowadays have access to a good amount of ebooks, music, and even movies and TV shows. My library uses several different sites.

For ebooks I use overdrive and can access over a hundred thousand books, not counting my prime membership books. I can check out all of their books for up to two. My library also lets us download 7 items from Hoopla each month which has access to music, movies, TV shows, ebooks and audiobooks. I’ll use Hoopla to download music and get 7 new albums each month!

Besides their online content, the library also has many DVDs of movies and shows that can be borrowed, as well as the books that you would expect. Most libraries also offer all kinds of programs that you can attend FOR FREE. I have seen adult coloring get together soon, quilt guild meetups, and even board game nights. There are lasses for different computer programs and other topics of interest locally.

Everyone says libraries are a dying business, but I can’t see how, if more people would take advantage of what they have to offer. What with the free books, movies and music, and our $8 a month Netflix account, the only thing I have to really curb my spending on is clothes. I still haven’t managed to find a lending service for that, but I’ll keep looking, no worries.

I’m back to writing and ready to explore!

It has been a while since I have kept a blog, but in that time I have moved to a whole new state and find myself wanting to write about my new adventures here.

Almost three years ago I moved from Miami, FL to South Carolina, and that in itself was a huge adventure. Once there, I met a guy and fell in love and we bought a house in the woods and I have felt like I’ve been living in a fairy tale ever since.

Now that we are situated in our new home, we have decided to really explore our surroundings. This past weekend we purchased some South Carolina State Park Passports and we are ready to get our adventure on!

The passport is a yearly fee that you pay so that you can gain entrance into all of the state parks without being charged the entrance fee. It ended up more economical as many of the parks charge $5 per adult and we were going to be paying $10 any time we wanted to go adventuring. Instead I plopped down my $75 happily and they gave us this fancy book with information about all 47 state parks and some of the things to do in them.

 

Apparently you can get this book stamped at each Park you visit and when you have visited all of the parks, they will send you a free t-shirt. So, or new goal is to try and visit all 47 parks to get our t-shirt, and I want to document our adventures along the way.

Sought Carolina is a beautiful state, and I can’t wait to share some details and photos about some of the amazing places you can visit while you are here. I hope that my posts to come inspire you to get out and go see some of the great outdoors near you.

For more information about South Carolina State Parks, visit  https://southcarolinaparks.com/

Interested in getting your own park passport, you can order your very own at any State Park in South Carolina or online here. If you don’t live in South Carolina, I believe that most states have similar programs. Check with the Park Ranger in your parks!