Friday, February 13, 2009


The House of Paine

When Robin and I started scouting around for reception locations we checked out The Barker Tavern in Scituate, the BU Castle in Boston, and Stonehurst, The Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham.

The Barker Tavern was a nice enough space but it felt too much like a hall to us. The one thing it really had going for it was that it was situated on a bay and had a lighthouse close by. Everything else was OK, but we certainly didn’t fall in love with the place.

Now I really liked the BU Castle. Robin and I both went to school at BU and we always talked about getting married at the Castle. The reception area itself was pretty small and the prices were all a bit out of our range but I was willing to cough up the extra dough to have the wedding at a place that actually meant something to both of us.

And then there was the Paine Estate. Stonehurst. We fell in love with that place the moment we laid eyes on it. The exterior was powerful and rustic, the main hall was everything we’ve ever wanted in a house, and all of the little side rooms had their own sense of charm and comfort. Stonehurst had one major thing going against it, however: its price tag was way out of our site fee budget.

But there were several bonuses that came with the site that allowed us to shave money elsewhere. The big money saver was the fact that we could bring in our own food and booze. Most sites we were looking at forced you to use a certain caterer and prices tended to start at $80 per person for the bare minimum. Forget cake and coffee and booze. We managed to look around and found an affordable caterer we like and now our food, booze, and dessert costs are close to half of what we expected to pay.

Another benefit of getting married at Stonehurst is that we don’t have to pay extra for a chapel – we get married at the site. We’ll be outdoors and in front of a beautiful dogwood tree. We save money on flowers, we save money on site fees, and, thanks to a Massachusetts law that lets anyone be a Justice of the Peace for a day for $25, we save money on the officiant as well.

And then there are the decoration and flowers necessary to make Stonehurst look aesthetically pleasing. You flipped through the pictures above – as you can see we’ll be saving money in that area, as well. Robin will talk more about that (that's a harpist article and a flower article she owes us, now).

So, yeah, our site fee was way out of budget. But it forced us to be frugal and imaginative with all of the other costs and now we’re at the point where we’re actually saving money by getting married in a place that’s flexible on everything. And the whole wedding’s going to have our own little creative spin on it, as well. I guess the take-away here is to look at the big picture. Sometimes putting more money down upfront will save you some bucks in the long wrong.

And that’s wedding planning recession style, right there.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The Registry is Live (or Wedding Planning Amidst a Global Recession)

We put a down payment on the hall, the caterer, the DJ, and the photographer and then two months later the country plunges into economic meltdown. You’d think waiting for ten years to get married would be the antithesis of bad timing but – yeesh!

We tightened our budget a bit, pushed the honeymoon back, and started finding ways to make the wedding easier for everyone’s weary pockets (including our own). It makes sense, after all – we’re inviting 100 people to our wedding and around 75% of them are probably coming from out of town. That’s already a pretty big commitment for people; we don’t want to make it any harder than it has to be. But never-the-less we had to register eventually and we now have live registries at Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon. We’re going to register at Macy’s, too.

Before I get into a lengthy blog post on the trials and tribulations of registering let me say that we just want you to come. Everyone should make that their first priority. Like I said, we’re keeping the guest list to a 100 people. We had to make some very painful decisions when it comes to first tier and second tier invitees and we really hope that everyone we invite can come up to Boston for what’s guaranteed to be a good weekend and a fun wedding on us. Ok, with that said…

We originally set up a registry at Target, figuring we could load it up with low-cost stuff, but the experience there left us cold. It was very impersonal and after we went through the store picking out the things we wanted we realized that we didn’t really want any of the stuff we registered for. Target’s good for getting things that you plan on replacing a couple of years down the line and that’s not what weddings are about. Weddings are about starting a new life and building a collection of stuff that the loving couple plan on keeping until they die (or at least the kind of stuff you can pawn for food if things get really bad).

So we went to Bed Bath & Beyond. We figured the 20% off coupons they routinely distribute in the Sunday paper would make it easier for folks who wanted to get us a wedding gift. We knew what we wanted – new pots, cutlery, bedding – all the routine stuff. When we sat down at the registry desk, however, the woman who was guiding us through the process (who was awesome, by the way) convinced us we should put some of the more keepsake-like items on our registry. The crystal and the picture frames and the high-quality glassware. We picked a whole bunch of things off their premium lists at first and then went home and took off some of the more ridiculous items like the $200 cheese plate and the $150 rose bowl. We like cheese and we like roses but…you know.

Then we set something up on Amazon. If it were up to me, the Amazon registry would be much longer and complete with things like the Deadwood complete season boxset and maybe some chrome truck nutz to hang off the back of my Matrix. But it’s not up to me so we stacked it with cook books, wine accessories, some electronics, and Wii Fit because, you know, I have to lose some weight.

We’re going to Macy’s to register but I imagine that registry would look a lot like the BB&B one. To be honest, our main motivation for going there is the fact that they give you free champagne to drink while you walk around the store. I like champagne. So does Robin.

And that’s the registry situation. Like I said, we just want you to come. But if you’d like to get us a wedding gift, please feel free to peruse our lists. And please, please, please take advantage of BB&B’s 20% off coupons. We can’t stress that enough. It’s partly the reason why we registered there so don’t let a great deal go to waste.

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