I How I Planned a Hassle-Free Vow Renewal in One Week for Only 22$*

Well, it’s now been a whole five years since Mr. Strange and I were married. And for almost all of that time, I’ve been grumbling bitterly about our wedding. I won’t bore you with the details but let me just say I wanted a do-over. I mean a second do-over, because the two sides of my family are like oil and water and I needed a chance for my dad to be included, too. Well, it happened, and the ironic thing about weddings is it’s the kind of thing that you really do get better at with practice. Now that we’re at #3 I think it’s safe to say we’ve gotten pretty damn good at this.

It started a week before. Our fifth anniversary was coming up, and we wanted to make it special, though our finances were hardly improved since we did the real deal. On that quiet Saturday at work I got into the planning mood, and just out of curiosity I Googled “cheap wedding venues in Winnipeg.” Literally the FIRST suggestion to come up, on Yahoo Answers, was a place I’d never heard of called Pineridge Hollow just outside of town. It’s a restaurant that also includes a clothing and furniture shop, and gorgeous outdoor surroundings specifically intended for weddings. I looked up the place online and really didn’t need to look any further. We made a reservation at the restaurant for 15 people, and didn’t ask for any set-up. A Facebook event was made and that was about it until the day of the event itself. Let me dissect the rest before I go on to describe the evening.

Invitations: None = 0$. We just created a Facebook event like all the kids are doing these days.

You gotta like free.

Rings: We’re already married, so we already had them and didn’t need a ring pillow either. Free again! But if this is your first wedding together, here’s where you can get some unique and affordable options.

Decor: Nothing but nature, baby. And centerpieces? Nah. 0$.

Mr. Strange’s clothes: Nothing but what he already owned; nice black pants, a blue button-down from our real wedding, and a nice hat that he wears often. 0$.

Wedding dress: Years ago I saw a beautiful pale pink cocktail dress online going for just $108. Things sell-out often on that site, so I couldn’t afford to put it off. Because I owned this for so long before the big day, had worn it twice already and will definitely wear it again, I’m not counting it as an expense. It couldn’t be more perfect for the occasion, but in the end I just pulled this out of my closet. 0$.

Veil: I didn’t wear one then, and I didn’t wear one now. $0.

Shoes: It takes a mighty special pair of shoes to not leave my feet beaten and bloodied by the end of the day, and when I find them, I stick with them. Who wants to pay for pain? I’m not a masochist. I wore my everyday shoes, even though they’re black and didn’t technically match my pastel dress. 0$

Hair and makeup: I did this myself instead of visiting a salon, and accessorized my hair with a gold hair vine I wore on our wedding day. I bought nothing new. 0$.

Jewelry: You guessed it, I didn’t wear anything new here either. I wore some “diamond” studded fake tapers (I bought them before I actually started stretching, and if I didn’t wear them now I probably never would) and a key necklace my brother made for me many years ago.

DJ: Music wasn’t involved in this particular vow renewal, but if it had been I would have DJ-ed myself with the help of an iPhone. 0$

Photography: Mr. Strange brought his fancy camera along and we all took turns shooting each other with it. More time would have been nice for this, but oh well. 0$

Food and alcohol: We were at a restaurant and all ordered for ourselves. As a gift, my dad covered the two of us on his bill. So with that, 0$

Wedding cake: We could have ordered dessert with our meal, but we were all full. If this had been a bigger event, I would have bought a lot of cupcakes. But as it stands, 0$

Venue: It does get used for “real” weddings frequently, but as far as our small group was concerned this was little more than some people going to dinner. We also didn’t ask for any special set-up, so the venue fee was 0$.

Officiant: As ours was not a legally binding ceremony, we printed our original wedding ceremony, changed a few words, and had it read by a very good friend. 0$

Other: Vow renewals don’t have wedding parties, which means no bridesmaid’s dresses, groomsmen’s suits, and other various things. While real weddings usually have these things, they’re not a necessity. If you’re broke, consider keeping the wedding party to a minimum and letting them wear their own clothes.

Flowers: this was literally the only true expense in our entire event. They came from the grocery store, and I tied them with gold ribbon from the dollar store. total cost: $22.

That’s it! Sunday morning we got up and went to the Pancake House for brunch, and while we ate Mr. Strange Googled on his phone (he’s such a rude fuck) for an open florist nearby. None were open, so, we headed to the grocery store. I had a small pink and white bouquet in mind, but grocery stores are not usually known for their wide flower selection. What they did have, I think since it was Pride day and it’s huge here, were half-dozen bouquets of rainbow-colored roses for $20. At the dollar store next door I bought two little spools of gold ribbon. When we got home I slightly shortened the stems and wrapped them tightly in the ribbon. DIY florist-ing, bitches!

They're gay, and they're spectacular.

They’re gay, and they’re spectacular.

If you’re curious how this is done and/or want to make some for yourself (of course you do), you start with white roses. Split the bottom of the stem into as many pieces as you want colors, and put each piece into a separate vessel of water, each with a different color of food coloring. As the roses drink up the water, they’ll soak up the color too, and 24 hours and some unicorn farts later, you’ve got yourself the coolest damn roses ever and a whole new way to honor Pride.

So anyway, I did my own hair in a very simple earthy style with just loose curls and a couple pieces on the sides pulled back with my hair vine pinned across the back, and did my own makeup with a little more care than usual. Mike got dressed too and we drove to the venue where we met up with my dad and the rest of our guests.

Pre-event selfie!

Pre-event selfie!

Pineridge Hollow is such a charming little place that I was a little bit sad I hadn’t known about it years ago. It was perfect, exactly what I’d always wanted. Simple, pretty, rustic, full of character, and with a huge outdoor element. Someone else was having a full-on wedding reception in a large tent behind the main building, but it was somewhat tucked away and none of us were in each others way – the area we were in had nobody in it but us. On the lawn and among the scenery we were able to spot no less than 7 wedding arches where a ceremony could be held, including stone steps, beautiful benches and chairs, and a small artificial pond with a little waterfall and a bridge crossing over it into a small space enclosed by… what would you call that? It was like a room made of branches with a couple lanterns hanging from the ceiling. It was the perfect size for our little group, and made it feel wonderfully intimate, so that’s the spot we chose. Theresa, who was my maid of honor at our wedding, read our original though slightly edited ceremony. It was meaningful but it was pleasantly short, just under 10 minutes or so. When it was over we high-fived. It was great.

We all goofed off with the camera for a bit, and at 6pm we headed in for dinner. We were lead upstairs to a minimalist room with hardwood floors, exposed rafters in the high ceilings, and huge windows. The food was gorgeous and delicious, and it felt amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were close to us, knowing they were there to help us celebrate our anniversary. It meant the world to me. My only complaint was that the food was painfully slow to arrive. It took an entire hour and a half. WTF! oh well, if that was our only complaint I guess the whole thing worked out pretty damn well.

Me and the girls

Being surrounded by some of my best friends in the world: Priceless

If I didn’t have such a difficult family situation, which pushed us into eloping, I can honestly say this is exactly what I would have been looking for the first time around. The guest list would have been bigger, we would have sent out proper invitations, and we would have been the ones in the big tent pumping awesome self-DJ-ed tunes. But essentially this was perfect. It was so simple and relaxed we could just focus on how it felt to enjoy each others company. My dad finally got to see us take our vows. It was awesome. I would totally do it again.

Now of course I realize that the chances of anyone recreating this down to the last cent are slim to none, but I hope there are still some ideas in here that you may find helpful. The most important thing about planning a wedding is to prioritize. Think about what really matters to you, focus on that and don’t sweat the rest. Your wedding is over so damn fast, but hopefully your marriage lasts forever.

IMG_1898-Edit

 

 

*Goddamn, that Asterisk makes this look like a shady sales deal. I promise it’s nothing sinister. I just need to mention that if yours is a legal ceremony, there will be some fees involved with that. Then probably rings, and maybe your dad won’t buy you dinner. Plus our guests paid for their own food. Really though, when you consider the cost of the average wedding, this amount is quite negligible.

Advertisements

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend – Thursday and Friday

I already know this is going to be such a long post, it’s going to have to be a series. We only did about half the things there were to do at Viva, but it was still the most incredible time ever. Next year I hope I don’t miss anything. Now I just have to tell you about all of it, because you should totally experience this trip. That is, if you like feeling like you traveled back in time to a 1950s world that was way badass. Who the hell doesn’t?

Vegas from the plane. Turbulence makes pictures suck.

It started out pretty shitty. We had to take three planes to get there, and the first two were extremely boring, as plane rides often are. I remembered being completely enthralled by the scene below, but this time, not so much. I was just excited to be on my way. The third plane, that was different. It started out more social and fun than the others, because we were of course ALL going to Vegas. Drinks, cheering, a sexy dude from Brazil sitting with us. PARTY. TIME. But then it got windy, and the pilot warned us we were in for a rough landing. Yep. We bumped and jolted the whole way down, and then the landing…failed. It was so windy the wings of the plane were almost hitting the ground, so just seconds later the pilot was like “fuck that noise, I’m out” and did an emergency takeoff. Then all the lights went out. I don’t remember any screaming, but I wasn’t paying attention. Between the bumping, the Gs, and the tight turn back in for a second attempt, I was nauseous. I think we all were. Then it took forever to get our bags, and the shuttle ride to the hotel was a little rocky itself. Hey Vegas people: Stop running out in front of cars. Everybody else in the world knows not to do that, so catch up, will you? The rest is even more boring. I barfed, we waited in line for half an hour to check in, got dressed up for no reason, went down for food, and then decided to take it to our room and fall asleep. Thursday, over.

Hurray, I'm alive! I can drink and shop again!

Friday I felt better. I woke up at a decent hour, and let Angela sleep as much as she wanted since she hasn’t had more than 3 hours sleep since her son was born. When she got up we decided to get some room service for breakfast. Delicious food, amazing service, shit price. 45$ for two omelets and a pot of coffee. Never doing that again, nope. So while Angela was getting ready I facebooked with Mike and then we were off. To get to the Orleans where the events are held, we had to get on the Deuce, the double decker bus that goes down the strip, for 7$ for a 24 hour pass. That thing is SLOW. On the bus we met some nice local girls who explained how to get to the Orleans further. We had been told to take a cab from the end of the strip. They informed us we were being ripped off, that we should get off at Bill’s Gambling House and another bus would take us down Tropicana to the Orleans. This bus didn’t come. Finally the next one came and we got to the Orleans on day 2 at about 5pm.

We were a little overwhelmed at first. We were surrounded by awesome looking people swarming all over the casino (who suddenly made me feel VERY uninteresting) and were given a program of the events. With nothing going on at the moment but bands I’d never heard of, we went upstairs to check out the vendors.

Now this is going to sound a little sad if you’ve never been, but oh god, this was shopping heaven, and one of my very favorite parts of the whole weekend. Mix every kind of vintage reproduction, real vintage with nothing more recent than the 60s to wade through and wretch at, along with parasols, CDs, posters, hats, tattoos, a booth to get your hair done, and on and on and on. Wow. I was immediately drawn to the treasure hunt of real vintage, and scored big time. A 60s girdle, in fine condition except for a missing garter tab, in my size exactly, for five bucks. How the hell did that happen? Even the lady running the booth was surprised. But there it was. It was mine, and it felt as comfortable as a skirt, and was the most effective shapewear I’ve ever tried. So long, Spanx, you’ve been replaced, hard, and you’ll just have to move on. I also picked up two beautiful flower hair clips, also $5 (if you want to be a weirdo at Viva, just don’t wear a flower. I’m serious.), and a pretty white parasol for $15.

A quick trip to The Cosmopolitan, which is "just the right amount (ahem, plenty) of wrong" because all it is is da club with a pretty bead curtain and this shoe. We left right after this.

At 7, the vendors closed for a two-hour break, and we wandered back down to check the place out. We went to the gift shop, where I got another flower, and took pictures of all the Viva merch. I would have bought a poster, but it was 30$. Sad. Then we got gigantic daquiris in souvenir cups and checked out the pool. The Hula Girls were playing, and for the first time it really felt like we were on vacation. I don’t remember a ton else we did before we sat down to share some Mexican. I caught a sighting of Micheline Pitt at the same place. She looks like a doll.

Then we headed upstairs for The Jive Aces, the only band I’d ever heard of, unfortunately. They were goddamn amazing. In Winnipeg there are two kinds of music shows besides the concerts that come through on tour, which I only very rarely see. There’s mellow jazz, and grungy metal. I like the mellow jazz but it’s just so… mellow. The grungy metal I can easily do without. I have enough anger in my life already, thanks. So The Jive Aces were an entirely new experience, and completely blew me away. Here’s a bunch of older guys in bright yellow matching suits, with incredible showmanship, telling hilarious jokes and dancing their faces off on stage like they each just drank a case of redbull. And the audience was just as good. Here’s a room full of people in 50s clothes swing dancing, so hard you could feel the floor bounce. And holy crap, they were GOOD. I have the feeling that either they didn’t need that jive class being offered, or it was the best jive class of all time. So the whole room had essentially been turned into a 1940s/1950s dance hall, and it was completely surreal. Now it makes me incredibly sad that there’s no such thing as this back home, and I’m going to have to wait another year to experience it again.

The garden in the Bellagio

Once Angela got bored we went and found a second room full of vendors. The Stop Staring! booth was there, and who should we find there but Alicia Estrada herself, founder of the company and designer of all those gorgeous dresses. We really hit it off, we instantly got along famously. Alicia offered Angela a deal on a stunning dress, the sexy one shouldered red dress I have but in a metallic aqua color that went amazingly with her natural red hair. I told her she had to buy it, that every girl needs a stop staring dress, something high end that makes you feel incredible every time you put it on. Besides, when the hell are you going to get something like that for that price? I was thrilled that she did. And then she opened up the prospect of possibly modeling for the company one day. We were not humored, and I mean that in a good way. Now this is my kind of lady.

Next came the Layrite booth, and believe me, they’re getting a review as soon as I’m done yammering about my trip. I was going over the products, fine classic men’s grooming products, and mentioned that Lisa Freemont Street swears by the pomade even though it’s marketed to men, so of course I had to get it. So the guy beside me suddenly pipes up and says “Lisa Freemont Street? That’s my wife!” O_O He went and got her so I could meet her, and I immediately proceeded to make a gushing fan ass of myself. It was totally embarrassing. Ashley, I’m sorry, but you’re just damn cool. Because you’re not a real celebrity, because you’re just a super nice, approachable lady with entertaining videos who makes my hair boss. And that fucking rules. She was of course just as nice in person as she is on youtube, and she and Angela talked about being moms and going on vacation, so she made her feel a little better about taking some time away for herself. She even remembered my blog, from the post I made about her. I squealed like a little girl.

So finally it was time to go, and we ran around on the desolate street trying to find a bus stop. Thank god a nice lady kindly informed us that Tropicana is hooker street, and while waiting for the hooker bus we would get harassed because people would think we were hookers. So we promptly returned to the hotel, and took the shuttle back to Bill’s Gambling House on the strip, and explored a little before taking the Deuce back. It rained men in the Bellagio. We didn’t get back until probably 4am. We didn’t however act like hookers from hooker street, and avoided all roofies. Although we did wake up still drunk the next morning.

The ceiling of the Bellagio lobby. Yes, the ceiling.

To be continued!

Drawn and Plastered: Victorian Asylum, Part 2

Ok, so WordPress did not like me uploading that many photos. My browser is STILL recovering. So anyway, on with the rest! And I suppose I should also be including the list of credits.

Holly Halftone – Co-founder, photographer, promotion guru

Me – Co-founder, wardrobe, music, model “Penny Dreadful”

Sarah Putnam – Character model “Ophilia Opiate”

Pam McMillan – Character model “Patricia Pillbocks”

Alicia May – Model “Lilly Longbottom”

Angela Sutherland – model, and she sewed Sarah’s apron

Lovern Kindzierski – Artistic consultant, Holly’s dad

Todd Rema – DJ

Michael Dyck – Accounting, and my husband

On with the show!

Things start to get heated between Ophilia Opiate and Patricia Pillbocks

Patricia gets pantsed! It was impossible to keep my eyes off their antics.

My dad called this sketch "masculine" :S

I can't figure out how Angela managed to keep a straight face during the staged fights. She's good!

Oh no!

The doctor steps in to break it up.

Patricia is dutifully hauled off stage.

Ophilia weeps for the loss of her skirt.

This couple got engaged! How's THAT for creating inspiration?

Wow, what a great turnout!

This young lady with the camera was the lucky winner of our door prize.

 

This really makes me wish we had a group shot of the whole team.

Let the after party commence!

Woo! See you next month!