What I’m Reading Wednesday

I. Love. Reading. Since college graduation, a real job, and a wedding, I’ve been reading less. However, like I tell my students, writers must be readers! I recently read Chronically Hopeful’s What I’m Reading Wednesday, and I was inspired to write my own. Maybe this will encourage me to finish the books I’ve begun and begin new ones! Fitting for my word for the word, reading is one of my priorities, and I hope to continue my “What I’m Reading Wednesdays” for the course of the year.

{Note: I may use affiliate links in this post. If so, I only link to products that I use and love. Thank you for supporting me.}

Personal


For my personal growth, I am reading One Flesh: The Secret to a Blessed Marriage by Roberto Hernandez. I have the honor of knowing Mr. Hernandez, and he is a wonderful man, husband, and father. As a newlywed, I find the information and encouragement in his book to be extremely helpful and God-honoring. I hope to write a full review in the future once I’m finished.

 

Professional

I am in the process of renewing my teaching certificate with a Christian organization. My state certificate does not expire for several more years, but at my school, I am required to have both. One of the books on the reading list is Teaching Redemptively by Donovan L. Graham. I have the second edition, and I am loving it so far. Graham encourages his reader to think outside of the box and to consider what may or may not be working in today’s Christian schools.

 

Faith

While I am not reading a traditional Bible study book at the moment, I am working through the materials at Her Binder Project. They release a new study for each month of the year for free! This month’s theme is “Behold.” I’m also reading Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby with my husband as our nighttime devotional. Finally, the Scriptures themselves! I recently wrote a post reviewing two journaling Bibles, and I am loving my new Bible.

What are you reading?

6 Things We Just Don’t Buy

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part one of a four part series on living frugally after the altar.

after-the-altar-how-to-save-money-as-a-newlywed-1

{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. The following items are things we just don’t buy, even in bulk, even on sale.

Flavored Coffee Creamer

I have sugar and half-and-half. I really do not need fancy flavored coffee creamers. Half-and-half is so cheap, and I could use regular milk or whipping cream if we had either of those on hand instead. Likewise, we don’t buy fancy coffee unless we have giftcards. $7 for a cup of joe is way too much, in my opinion.

Soft Drinks

Here in the south, we call any carbonated soft drinks “Coke.” Regardless of what you call them, we don’t buy them. I buy milk every other week, plus the occasional 100% juice or sports drink if I have coupon and/or its on sale. This means that I do not buy soda to keep at home in the fridge. In addition, we drink water when we go out to eat instead of coke. (Occasionally my husband will splurge on a sweet tea.)

Bottled Waters

We also do not buy bottled waters. Our water filter is excellent, and we use it to fill reusable water bottles. We use an in-fridge PUR 18 Cup Filter & Dispenser and love it.

Sweets and Candy

We save candy and other sweets for special occasions. Since we are both teachers, we often get candy and goodies as Christmas or End-of-the-Year gifts. This means that I don’t have to buy it myself! Also, I love baking, and baking your own goodies is a lot cheaper than buying them.

Memberships

We do not have memberships at gyms, warehouse stores, co-ops, organizations, aquariums/zoos/museums, or timeshares. However, we do have a Netflix account ($8 a month) and I do have a monthly magazine subscription (I paid $5 for the year!). I exercise at home with free YouTube yoga/pilates videos and walks around the neighborhood. We opt for free entertainment whenever possible. When we were getting married, we canceled all of our subscriptions and memberships, except for Netflix, and we reevaluated where our money was going. This has helped tremendously in getting us set up as a newly married couple.

Organic Everything

I love eating organic. I really do. However, it really only counts with certain food items, such as the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, as well as some meat products. It’s really unnecessary for everything in my fridge and pantry to be “all-natural,” especially with the hefty price tag.

Stay tuned next Monday for the second post in the series! What do you just not buy?

7 Tips for 2017 Brides

Right about this time last year, as my husband and I (both teachers) settled into Christmas break, we began to get a lot of questions about our wedding plans. We had just gotten engaged in October. There was a lot I didn’t know about weddings, but there were also many very helpful people who came beside us along the journey to our wedding in June and the beginning of our marriage. Since our wedding, I have been in, been to, or been behind-the-scenes for several weddings. I wanted to share some helpful pieces of advice, resources, and tips for brides that I have found extremely valuable.

This post may contain affiliate links. If so, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase from one of those links. Please see my policies page for more information.

Tips for Brides | Grace Upon Grace Today

1. Plan Early!

I used and loved this timeline planning checklist. It’s cute, printable, and FREE! (You do have to provide your email address.) You can store your checklist in a cute color coordinated Bloom binder. There are also so many useful smartphone and tablet apps to help with the planning process. I used Dwindle for our wedding day countdown and Microsoft Excel to keep up with our guest list. The Knot and Wedding Wire also have beautiful, useful apps. Amazon is my favorite place for registries. If you have not created an Amazon registry yet, what are you waiting for? Create an Amazon Wedding Registry!

2. Splurge or Skimp?Tips for Brides: Splurge or Skimp? | Grace Upon Grace Today

I began making a list of the items and services we needed to buy and rent for the wedding. The planner helped! With every item on my budget, I talked with the people who would make the purchase possible (my parents, my then-fiancé, myself, etc.) and decided on which items to spend the most money, and in which areas we would want to spend less. For example, we knew we wanted an excellent photographer and a beautiful venue. Those cost over $2,000 each. Then, we ordered food from a restaurant but did not pay for the expensive catering service. We ordered cupcakes from Sam’s Club instead of a cake from a bakery. I wore my mom’s dress and bought my veil online. Narrow down your big spending items so you have more money set aside for those, while spending less on the items that are not as important to you.

 

3. Easy + Customized Invitations

After you set a date and pick a place, you’ve got to order your save-the-dates, invitations, thank you cards, and RSVP cards (if you’re using them). To save money, we used postcards for our save-the-dates and shower thank-yous, but I also wanted nice invitations and ceremony programs. There are plenty of great resources for paper goods, but my absolute favorite is Zazzle.com. I bought all my paper goods there, and I had so much freedom to customize using the artist’s original design. At many stationery shops, online or off, you are unable to customize what you’d like. However, at Zazzle, I used designs from Jill’s Paperie and then adapted them very easily into exactly what I wanted. I have limited graphic design experience, but Zazzle made it so easy! (And they have MUCH more than just invitations. I even ordered our groomsmen’s ties from Zazzle!)

4. Counseling or Mentoring

Nothing in the wedding-planning process was as helpful as our marriage mentors. We found them through our church and grew to love them. A couple who has been married for a while, has kids, and can devote some time to walking through life with you is a great help, whether for formal mentoring or casual coffee together. We worked through the book Preparing for Marriage God’s Way with our mentor couple and recommend it.

5. Think of Your Guests

Yes, it is your and your betrothed’s special day. However, if your loved ones are traveling to your venue and buying you a gift, you need to consider them and their needs. Of all my tips for brides, this is one is probably the most important. Is anyone in a wheelchair? Provide special parking or a golf cart for transportation to an outdoor setting. Will it be hot? Consider buying fan programs (or make your own with this Wilton Print Your Own Fan Kit). Is it outside? Sunscreen and bug spray are thoughtful. Are there small children? Consider a children’s area or have coloring pages at your tables. One bride I knew had uncovered bales of hay as seating arrangements for her guests. Unfortunately, since the invitation was very fancy, guests thought they should dress up for the wedding. Can you imagine wearing your short cocktail dress and finding uncovered bales of hay as your only seating option?

6. Plan Ahead for Something Special in Your Wedding

Every couple has a special symbol by which to remember their wedding. Some use sand ceremonies, candles, or memory walls for loved ones who have passed. We went to a wedding that had guests write well-wishes and advice on small rectangles that the bride’s grandmother then sewed into a quilt. How delightful! At our wedding, we used a Unity Cross, both for the display and the during-ceremony event. I’m glad we did. It is such a special memory with a beautiful result that we can display in our home. The meaning behind each piece is so special to me. You can order your own, or check out the new Unity Hearts!

7. Breathe!

When you remember to breathe, you are a happier, healthier, more humble person, and that makes for a beautiful bride. Keep in mind that the goal is not a one-day wedding, but a life-long marriage.

Something goes wrong in everyone’s wedding. It’s impossible to have a “perfect” day. However, your celebration in the beginning of your life with your new husband is perfect regardless of how the day turns out. Take these tips for brides to heart, but don’t forget to celebrate your day!

The photos from our wedding are courtesy our wedding photographer: www.orpheusandaphrodite.com