Monday, July 29, 2013

Seriously?!

I interrupt this "I'm 11 days from the wedding and so insanely busy so there's even less chance I will blog until after the wedding and honeymoon are sadly over" silence to share a "SERIOUSLY?!" moment.

Back in late March, I contacted all 5 of the caterers that our wedding venue allows us to use.  I quickly narrowed it down to 2 based on initial pricing and set up meetings with both of them to discuss things in depth.

One of them - the one I did not select - met with me but then took over 2 weeks to send me a quote. Even then, I had to call her again to ask when I was going to get it.  Then, things on the quote were wrong - they weren't what I'd discussed with them in the meeting.

When I called to discuss it, she acted as though she didn't have time for me and also told me she doesn't usually do tastings.  Weird.  When the call ended, she asked me to email her everything we discussed so that she could send an updated quote.

I had made my mind up before we got off the phone that we were going with the other caterer who had responded promptly, had us sample even more than what we had asked to sample, and was just so stinking nice and actually seemed to value our business.

Nonetheless, I emailed her the info and asked for an updated quote.

That was April 3.

I never heard a word back, which confirmed to me I had made the right choice in hiring the other folks.

This weekend, this lady called and left me a message saying she just wanted to check in and finalize details with me for my wedding next weekend and get the contract and deposit taken care of and to give her a call back.

Ummm... SERIOUSLY?! You waited almost 4 months and then at 13 days before my wedding decide to call me to see if I want to work with you.

I'm currently drafting an email to her (as a reply to the last email so she sees the whole chain) to let her know I got her message this weekend and decided when she never responded to my last email to book someone else back in April.

I mean, WOW.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Becoming a Stepmom

I know I'm not blogging as much these days, but I've mentioned here and there that I am becoming a stepmom to the most awesome 5-year-old ever when I marry Adam.  While it's not "legal" until the wedding day, I'm already 100% part of this kiddo's life as he is mine... and I can't tell you how amazing it feels to know that he loves me and to love on him.

We get to spend a decent bit of time with him this summer, which means some time where it's just him and me hanging out while daddy is at work.  We're learning new things like how to swim underwater, how to spell and write our last name, how to tie his shoes, etc.  We are doing science projects and making crafts.  We're watching a lot of Goosebumps! (Do y'all remember that show from Nickelodeon? It was more silly than scary, and he eats it up!)  But mostly we're just hanging out and enjoying summer life.

There's nothing sweeter to me these days than when that little voice says, "Melanie?" and I say "yes?" and he says, "I love you." And most times also grabs me for a kiss...

I'm so excited to be a part of this little man's life and to help his daddy shape him into being an amazing man!

Here are just a few photos from the week before last when he spent the first of three weeks we enjoy his company with us this summer!


We went to the library and got a ton of books and movies!
 

When I was doing Insanity one day, he decided he needed to try it and do some of the stretches!
 

Putting daddy in a fort
 

Ready for a science experiment
 

Excited about the Wizard's Brew we made
 

Playing at Monkey Joe's
 

Yep, I love this kid
 

The family ready to see Monsters University
 

Visiting daddy at his work
 

Enjoying a sundae at an old-fashioned ice cream and soda shop

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saving Money through Negotiating and Customer Service

So planning a wedding is expensive.

Actually, life in general is expensive.

But I've definitely been learning some important tools to how to mazimize your spending and savings as I've been wedding planning and merging my life (and income/outflow) with Adam.

NEGOTIATING

Do NOT be afraid to do this.  I have yet to pay full asking price for anything related to our wedding.  I have asked every single vendor one simple question: "How can you help me make this something I can afford?"

The biggest way we have saved a TON on our wedding is by getting married on Friday. Our venue, photographer and videographer automatically gave us a discount for having a Friday evening wedding as opposed to Saturday. I've also used the fact to my advantage when negotiating prices with other vendors, pointing out to them that they could still book a wedding on that Saturday if they so choose.

For others, it's that I've named a price and asked them what they can do in line with my vision for that price.  Generally, what they suggest is perfect, and then I'm not overpaying.

I've also been able to negotiate some better rates by working with folks that people I know well have recommended to me.  I like to think of it as a friends and family discount.  I've been able to negotiate better rates than listed for our cakes, DJ, my dress, bridesmaid dresses, groom and groomsmen tuxes, and more!

All in all, our wedding is still going to cost more than I care to admit.  Part of me feels foolish spending money on such an event, but then I remember I've been dreaming of this day for YEARS and it's important to me and is a celebration of our love and will be worth it.

Plus, we were selective as to where we spent the most.  The photographer, videographer and my gown were our largest expenses... and seeing as how the pictures and video (where I'm wearing the dress) are what we will have to remember the day by? Totally worth it.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

I do not believe in being negative and complaining all the time.  However.  If you receive poor customer service when you have paid good money for something, I think you should always kindly and respectfully speak up.

Case in point: I bought an item on etsy to be used as a gift for Adam's son for the wedding.  It turned out perfectly, but there was a serious lack of communication from the seller throughout the whole process.  I have neutral feedback on etsy.com, and explained that the item was great and had a good value, but that it was frustrating to feel like we didn't get the answers to questions we asked along the way.  The seller contacted me, apologized, and issued a refund back to my card for half of the item's total amount.  Sweet!

Case in point:  I received an item at my lingerie shower that I wanted to get in a different color.  When I went to the store, I found the same item in another color and went to the counter to swap it out.  They wanted me to pay them $16!  It turns out the color I had been given was a "summer color" and the color I wanted was a "fall color."  I asked to speak to a manager and explained that I understood there are new colors each season, but that I felt this was an even exchange since it was the exact. same. item.  He quickly agreed (or maybe he was just uncomfortable being in the lingerie department), and I walked away with the nightgown in the color I wanted at no extra charge to me.

Case in point: We discovered that we needed to replace the hard drive in my old iMac we had given to my mom.  Adam used to work for Apple and knew the ins and outs of such a procedure.  We bought the hard drive through Amazon for half the rate a store would have charged, and we took it to the Mac Experience store instead of Apple, as it was the same replacement for half the price.  Ultimately, it took 3 days longer than they quoted.  Then, WE had to call THEM to ask if it was done yet.  Then, they said it was done and to come on by.  We left to get it, and 30 minutes later when we got to the store they told us we had to wait for them to finish it up.  I asked to see a manager and just politely expressed that it was all a bit frustrating and that he needed to know I desire better communication when we are choosing them to provide something we could have done elsewhere.  I never even asked for anything, but he refunded us half of the price for replacing the hard drive!

FINAL TIPS

I think the key is to always be nice.  Being a born and bred Tennesseean, I like to think I know how to turn on the southern charm.  I always try to be as sweet as possible, but I am very direct in expressing my concerns and desires.  I'm not going to beat around the bush, but I also won't ask for something that's outlandish.  For example, I didn't ask the manager of the department store where I was swapping lingerie to give me another item... I just wanted the same thing as I had before - same brand, same original ticket price - but just in another color.

I love coupons and sales, but those just aren't always available.  And I don't mind paying for quality products and services.  But I think it's important to 1) never be afraid to ask if someone will take less or will work with you on pricing (heck, you may not even want everything they're offering!  See if you can cut some items and also cut the price!) and 2) never be afraid to express when you feel you've been taken advantage of as a customer and see if they offer to make it right.. and in some cases, just ask them to make it right!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bachelorette Party in Nashville

A few weeks back, my baby sister and two bridesmaids/best friends planned a fantastic bachelorette party and lingerie shower for me in Nashville!  It was so great to be back in my favorite city and having some fun on Broadway, and I felt so lucky as I looked around at all of the amazing women I now call my friends.

We did dinner at Puckett's, did the lingerie shower thing (and games!) back at the hotel room, and then hit up The Stage and Honky Tonk (where I was pulled on stage along with another bride out that night).  It was SO much fun, and it got me all the more excited for the big day!


Playing the "guess who brought this pair of panties" game. 


My Before photo
 

All of the snacks and the wine bottle party favors!


Cute cookies
 

One of the most creative gifts
 

Some of the gals who joined us
 

Dancing on stage at Honky Tonk
 

Me with the other bride on stage
 

My somewhat staged After photo... I was really ok with the exception of my feet hurting like crazy from wearing heels all night!
 

Probably the "real" After photo... me leaving a voice mail on Adam's phone to tell him how excited I am to marry him in August!

Monday, July 1, 2013

My First Bridal Shower

Last month, some very kind family members hosted my first bridal shower.  It was a lovely afternoon with tasty snacks, a mimosa bar, some close friends and family (all female for this one), and some amazing blessings we received with the gifts folks brought.  I am so thankful to have so many wonderful people in my life to celebrate with as the wedding date approaches!

Here are just a few photos from the day!