As I have more and more friends and relatives getting married and starting to have kids, I wanted to do a post with some of my favorite things and biggest things learned from the last few years. I’ll probably update this from time to time and link back to it in my monthly post whenever I do.
Think big but also practical! I think I was a little too practical. I didn’t want us to be given all the fun stuff and have to go get the practical stuff ourselves, but I also didn’t want to have to choose between things we weren’t given. But it’s amazing how much people want to give you. So don’t worry about registering for that BlendTec (especially because it can be blender, food processor, and ice cream maker all in one)!
Think about what you want your home to be like – what it looks like, how it functions, what sort of things you want to use it for, what you want on your counters… and that will help a lot. I had registered for a stand mixer, hand blender, blender, and hand mixer, and we ended up returning the hand mixer because I figured I just wouldn’t use it – and I haven’t missed it and am glad for less stuff.
Speaking of hand/immersion blenders, make sure you have one on your registry! I use mine more than I ever thought I would, mostly since we don’t have a lot of counter space and our food processor is an attachment on our mixer and it’s a pain to get it all out for one thing (see above note about what you want on your counters!), so I use the hand blender a lot: soups, smoothies, sauces, dressings, eggs, batters… I probably use it almost every day. And they also make them with mini food processor and whisk attachments, which would be even more useful and multi-purpose. For $20-40 bucks it’s hard to beat!
My other favorite things in the kitchen:
– canning funnel (I buy a lot in bulk, so this is almost a necessity to transfer things from the bag to the jar)
– custard cups (for holding snacks, sauces, etc)
– shot glass measuring cup (for small amounts of liquid)
Prioritize your top 3 things and work the rest around it. This is especially true regarding the budget, but really goes for everything. We really only had two things, the people and the photography. We were willing to cut corners in other areas if needed to have what we wanted there, even to fly people out (which we didn’t end up having to do).
Delegate! I learned this before planning my own wedding from watching my sister plan hers. People were telling Cait to not have anything to do the week before the wedding, and while she was still doing odds and ends, most of what was left to do had been delegated to others, so she could relax and enjoy her wedding day. I did this as much as I could, though I only flew into the US the week before so I did have some things left to do. But thanks in large part to my aunts, cousins, bridesmaids, and few other friends, I was able to not worry about anything on the day of.
Budget: we were slightly limited on how we could have a more budget-friendly wedding because we weren’t getting married in a town either of us were really from, so we couldn’t get friends or church family to do a whole lot as far as DIY, decor, food, etc. was concerned. And because it was a relatively small town there weren’t many venue options. But our reception venue provided a fair amount of decor and would do the decorating with their decor for you, which helped a lot, and my aunt did the rest of it (mostly putting out favors, picture frames, and the ivy wreaths that went around the mirror plates and tea light holders the venue provided). The downside was that we had to use their caterer, which was more expensive, but in the end both venues worked out to be around the same price but the one did the decorating for us so it won out. At the ceremony venue, we wanted to keep decor simple especially as we had a larger wedding party. But a few days before the wedding, the church called us and asked if we wanted them to leave up their Christmas trees, which were just decorated with white lights, and we said yes and it really added to the woodsy feel we wanted. We really couldn’t have made either venue work the way they did – perfectly – without the help of my mom’s sisters!
I considered using silk flowers as it would have been the cheapest option, but timewise it didn’t sound like a good plan, so we supported a local business and friend of my grandmother’s (since we were getting married in her town) to do dried flowers for our Winter wedding. Another friend of my grandmother’s loves to make cupcakes but didn’t want to do everything required to be an official business, so gave us a really good deal on our cupcakes, which were absolutely delicious, and made us a small cake we could cut.
My dress was tailor-made in Dubai, which is cheap in Dubai! But before I found a pattern I liked we were looking on Etsy since I knew I wanted something vintage-y and under $300 and something I could wear again. In the end fabric was about $50 and so was the tailoring!
Our invitations and bookmarks (favors) we designed ourselves, using a pattern Ezra had woodburned into a box for me, and a friend who had done a lot of graphic design in the past vectorized my pencil work and made it look professional, and then we looked at various places online to get a good deal for printing.
For a guestbook we got a nice box, 3×5 cards, and pens at Target, and people could put prewritten cards or what they wrote on our cards in the box. We also had some scrapbook cardstock with things like “Names for our future kids” “things we should do in our first year of marriage” “things we should learn how to cook” etc. written on them, which was really fun to look over later.
We kept an excel document with wedding gifts listed on it, with a separate column for cash and checks so we could add up that and use it for furniture and items from our registry we hadn’t been given.
Except for S’s crib and our electric piano, ALL of the furniture we have purchased since we’ve been married has been from Craigslist, and we’ve gotten some beautiful, solid wood pieces that way for a really good price. Our piano we bought new at Guitar Center, but scored a big discount because they only had the floor model left, so they priced it as if it had been damaged even though it wasn’t.
When unpacking, the first time I just put things where they fit best in cupboards, but found a few weeks later I was moving things around again. So when we moved into our second apartment, before I put anything away I thought about where I would be using what and tried to put things accordingly – so plates were closest to the table, cups by our water filter, mixing bowls by the pantry, pots by the stove, etc. Not everything fit where it made the most sense, but I was much happier.
Chores were not hard for me to divide up, but it was so easy to not keep up with them because with only two of us things didn’t get dirty very fast. But I did find it was so much nicer when I did at least a touch up on things when I was “supposed to,” having made a chart that meant all of the major places – floors, bathrooms, laundry – got done every week. I also have a monthly and yearly list I rotate through to get things that don’t need cleaning every week. But I haven’t been very good about that since we have never lived anywhere for more than a year yet and we’ve always known that and so since we have to deep clean when we move I don’t bother doing it in between moving in and moving out.
We mostly use cleaners that we make ourselves. The recipes for toilet cleaner and the all purpose cleaner I use come from this book, which I cannot recommend enough (my favorite essential oils are from Plant Therapy!). This website also has lots of good info on safe use of essential oils.
Window cleaner seems to be the trickiest one to get down, but I have found this works best. This or oxiclean free work well for bleach and getting stains out (Just don’t use essential oils in laundry unless you will wash on very hot before putting in the dryer). A soak in a bowl with oxiclean works wonders on most stains! For oil stains we’ve usually rubbed baking soda in and then after a little while sprayed with hydrogen peroxide and then washed a bit later. This is great for cleaning tubs, essential oil not necessary.
I used to use liquid castile, diluted, for dish soap but found it didn’t really get things sparkling clean, so we just use regular dish soap, but do use diluted castile in foaming dispensers for hand soap.
And did you know that cleaning your washing machine is a good idea?
We use this for our toothpaste, this if we want it to actually be paste. This is what has worked best for us for dishwasher detergent. I don’t recommend making your own laundry detergent.
Cleaning glass shower doors.
Since I’m talking hygiene and recipes for that sort of thing, for my hair I use a shampoo bar and rinse with ACV or kombucha. Ezra and S use a Kirk’s Castile soap bar, which is what we all use on our skin. Once or twice a week I use a sugar scrub on my skin, mixing grapeseed oil and sugar into a paste and then adding essential oils based on various needs – the book mentioned above helps with knowing what to use. I oil cleanse 2x a week if I remember. See here and here.
One of our favorite healthy food resources is Azure Standard.
Let me be a Woman (Elisabeth Elliot)
When Sinners Say I Do
This Momentary Marriage (John Piper)
The Hidden Art of Homemaking (Edith Schaeffer)