Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wedding Class 101: Accessorize Yourself

Today J and I have been married for 3 months, and in acknowledgment of this fact, I have decided to start a new feature here at KT's Refinishing School: Wedding Classes.

Once a month, on our monthiversary--its a word according to Urban Dictionary--I will hold a session featuring some tips (based on my own experience) for wedding planning. If you are not a bride-to-be, do not tune out: most of these tips can also be applied to any type of party so it promises to be an information-rich post for everyone!

This first class will focus on accessories, and how I was able to shower our bridesmaids with gifts without breaking the bank. The key to giving luxurious gifts without the price tag is to shop early and often. As soon as you have the specifics of the event (be it a wedding or favors for a birthday party) such as color, theme, and venue, start thinking (and looking) for accessories that would compliment the event. Keep a running list in your head (or a physical one on your iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, etc) of the types of gifts you are looking for. My list looked something like this:

1) Necklace and earrings that are wedding appropriate, but also something they would truly wear again
3) Something to hold their lip gloss, bobby pins, etc.
4) A just-in-case item such as an umbrella in case (God forbid!) it rained on our June wedding

Our wedding was in Omaha, Nebraska where J and I met and went to school. Most of our wedding party (including us!) were coming in from out of town, so it was really important for me to give them meaningful gifts that truly expressed to them how much it meant to us that they made the journey to be with us! Depending on your budget (and the deals you find) your list may include more or less items! I will also note that J and I were engaged for 20 months, which gave me a long window of time to find those deals.

With these ideas in mind, I began paying attention when I shopped at department stores and old favorites like New York & Company and GAP. I purposefully began looking at jewelry, handbags and accessories at each store I visited just to get an idea of what was out there.

Note: if you do not have 20 months to shop around (which you really won't if you are planning a birthday or dinner party), you may want to spend an afternoon (or several) with the express purpose of checking those items off your list.

After several weeks of looking around, I found the mother of all deals for the girls' necklaces. Double, interlocked rings studded with diamonds from Macy's. That's right, I said diamond necklaces. Sounds expensive, right? Well, check out the price tag: $7.50, marked down from $150.00. I am not kidding. When I saw the deal, I snatched up five for my 'maids immediately. They had been on the floor of Macy's for a while, as evidenced by their price, and were a bit tarnished. However, with a bit of my jewelry cleaner at home (which I got when J and I got with my engagement ring) they were as good as new! The necklaces were a perfect tie-in for what was going to happen in June: the joining of two lives and the exchange of rings! Lesson: Don't be afraid of clearance items just because they are a bit dusty or tarnished. One of the reasons they are on clearance is because they have been sitting on the floor for a while and the store wants to move them!

Because it was around Christmas time when I purchased the necklaces, Macy's also had some great deals on earrings. I was able to get the girls pink pearl earrings for 12.00 dollars each, which complemented our color scheme of champagne, light pink, shamrock green and ivory very well. For those out there who are registered at Macy's, I highly recommend considering opening a Macy's Star Rewards credit card if you do not have one already. In the time before your wedding, you will get five percent back in cash rewards after the wedding for all purchases you make with your card (not to mention a percentage back on all gifts guests purchase off of your registry). I always pay off my balance with my debit card immediately after I make a purchase at the Macy's counter so my card never even carries a balance. Lesson: Make your money work for you, whether through rewards programs like Star Rewards at Macy's or else online with places like Ebates. You are already going to be spending money. Make it work for you!

Note to those who may have be concerned with using a credit card or have CC debt: you may want to consider only using sites like Ebates that allow you to pay with a debit card, as opposed to reward credit cards like Macy's to limit your use of CCs.

With earrings and necklaces checked off my list, next up were some sort of purse or clutch for the 'maids to carry their cell phone, ID, lip gloss, etc. on our wedding day. On a visit to one of my favorite stores, New York & Company, I found camel and brown wristlets perfect for the task. Even better was their price tag. Right off the bat, the wristlets were half off. I also had a New York & Company coupon that also took twenty dollars off when I spent fifty dollars or more. Because I was shopping for clothes already (including an outfit for our honeymoon and the dress I wore to our wedding rehearsal) I was able to get the wristlets for 5.00 each, when their original price was 15.00! Lesson: double coupons and sales are your friend. Keep an eye out for great sales and don't be afraid to buy them months ahead of when you will actually use them!

Finally, I decided instead of a parasol or umbrella, a pashmina wrap who be best for inclement weather: chilly, rainy or sunny! When shopping with J's stepmom for his sister's flower girl dress, I came across yet another great deal: $9 pashmina wraps in the perfect light pink color! I quickly snapped some up, just in case! Considering I had seen others at shopping mall kiosks for $10 a piece, I felt better knowing that I was saving $6 total by getting them at a department store. The weather ended up being perfect for our wedding, but the wraps added a great little pop of color when the girls used them as shawls at the reception. Lesson: Small savings can really add up when you are purchasing more than 2-3 of the item!

So that's how, with a little hard work and diligence, we were able to shower our bridesmaids with gifts without breaking the bank. What do you think? Do you have any money saving tips or recent scores? As they say on YHL, share and share alike!

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