Preparing For My Sister's Upcoming Wedding

My little sister Lizzy is getting married next week. I... Uhm. Am really bad with dates. Like really, really bad. And I also have a bad memory. Combine the two and I either don't remember things, or I remember them incorrectly.

Lizzy is getting married on June 7, but we live in a country that writes dates with the date first and then the month. And I got a save the date from her months ago for 7.6.21 and though we discussed at the time that the wedding was in June, my brain remembered the number 7 and for months I thought the wedding was in July. And then 1.5 weeks ago (when I got the actual invitation, yea, we do things late around here) I was reminded that the wedding was in June, not July. Eek. Which meant that I didn't have much time to prepare for the wedding, and to be honest, I hadn't really set aside money in my May budget for wedding attire.

But what can I do? The wedding will be happening regardless of whether I had budgeted the money in May, so I decided to steal from my June budget for things for the wedding. But the other issue in not realizing that the wedding was so soon was that I didn't have time to order  wedding attire such as the drop earrings and shoes from cheaper places abroad like I did for my brother Josh's wedding, because even with rush shipping there was no time for anything to arrive before the wedding. 

So I had 2.5 weeks to go wedding shopping for the whole family. And trying to do it on a budget, without negatively affecting my mental health? Oh yea, that's fun. And the girls' dresses needed to be white.

Luckily I was already taken care of. I purchased a dress for myself a relatively cheap dress from Shein ($40) already months ago. I actually just intended it to be a dress for nice occasions, but when it arrived I said that it seemed tpo fancy for even nice occasions and I decided to save it for Lizzy's wedding. Locally for wedding attire, especially in plus sizes, $40 is ridiculously cheap and I am so excited to wear it.

But now it was time for the kids. 

I tried to see if anyone had dresses I could borrow for my girls like I did for my brother Dan's wedding, but didn't come up with any results that worked for us. However, a friend of mine was selling two dresses second hand that she'd used for a previous wedding for $15 each. Unfortunately, the dresses only fit my daughter Rose, not Anneleise, so I had to buy a new one for her.

Now let me talk a little bit about my philosophy and view regarding clothing.

I do not make my kids wear clothes they don't like. Growing up I had to do that a lot of the time (and I'm not just talking about my school uniform). My mother felt like focusing on our appearance was too materialistic so we were discouraged from expressing specific tastes in clothes, and we definitely weren't given the money to buy them. If we wanted specific things we were told it meant we had bad values that she didn't want to encourage.

For me, as an adult, I realize how much clothes makes me either feel good or gross. The right clothes can make you feel like a million dollars and the wrong clothes can make you feel lower than dirt. Knowing that, I made the decision that I would respect my children's taste in clothes. Yes, I teach them about budgeting for clothes. Yes, I encourage buying second hand to keep down costs. Yes, I encourage looking for sales. And my kids are good with that and understand that and my older two especially are good about budgeting especially with clothes. But I'd rather get them fewer things they feel good in, even if more expensive, than clothes that they don't feel good in. And usually we can find cheaper things that fit that...but when it comes to weddings, that does get a little harder.

I took my daughter dress shopping with me in the city, and acknowledging the fact that I didn't have time to shop sales, and I was stuck with what I could find in person and I didn't have a car to run around to outlets in far away places, I decided to try to look for a dress for her for under $40.

We spent 3 hours going into every single shop we found, attempting to find her a dress for the wedding. Many shops didn't have kids' stuff, or their clothes were $100 or more, or they didn't have anything that was appropriate for a wedding. Especially not white. Eventually, when I was really ready to give up, I saw a store selling fancy gowns (literally across the street from the bus stop we were waiting at) and I was sure it would all be way way way above what I wanted to pay, but surprisingly they had beautiful wedding appropriate dresses for $55. Yes, more than I had wanted to pay, but to be honest, I'm not sure where I could have gotten anything better with my time limitations (not to mention emotional limitations). There were some stores in other areas that we didn't check out that may or may not have had dresses her size more cheaply, but the style there was nothing like what my daughter would agree to wear so I didn't bother wasting time and energy at those stores.

Then it was time for Lee. My son Lee is very exacting about the type of clothes he will wear and the cut. He would rather have 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants in a style he likes and do his own laundry to make sure he always has clean clothing than to have more clothes that are cheaper in a style that he doesn't like. But that means that when I do shop for him I know it'll cost more money. Especially when its dressy clothes.

So there's this store locally, lets call it C store, that has nice clothing and in a style that Lee really likes. I asked on some frugal groups for suggestions of stores that had similar clothing styles but cheaper than C store. I got a bunch of suggestions, and most of those chains have stores in a mall in the city near me. So I took Lee with me shopping and we checked out every. single. freaking. store in the mall. And either they had no dress clothes, or they were ridiculously expensive. Like a dress shirt for $85 being the cheapest shirt. Or pants for $100 or more. This included at the stores that people recommended as being cheaper. Eventually, I threw up my hands and said that's it, we're going to C store. So I went there and I tried to find the cheaper items there, but even the cheaper items there were pricey. At least we settled on a button down shirt for $28, which was 1/3 of what it was in the other stores. Pants were more expensive. We first tried the cheaper pants but Lee couldn't handle how they sat on him, so we tried another, also a dud, and finally when we found pants he liked, they cost $57 which was still cheaper than the other store. Lee ended up using a gift card he got for his birthday to that store to buy himself another dress shirt and some T shirts that were on sale. 

And Ike? He got Lee's hand me downs. To be honest, Lee is growing so ridiculously fast that his hand me downs are in perfect condition as it is, and this outfit was something he didn't wear often before he grew out of it, so it is an amazing outfit, also from the C store, and Ike is happy with it. (Lee is 5'8 and 13 years old. Ike is 11 and not far behind. This is an outfit I bought for Lee just a few months ago and it already fits Ike.)

The boys also wanted ties to wear with their outfits, so I stopped at a second hand store and picked up some ties, including a Pierre Cardin tie, after first discussing with my boys what types of ties they liked, and fortunately of the 6 I brought home, the boys each found one they like to wear to the wedding.

As for hair... like with the previous wedding I'm doing my daughters' hair. Now, however, with my daughters four years older, they are more particular about what type of hairstyle they want, and how exactly they want their hair to look. I looked at some pictures online with my daughters and they picked the style they wanted, and then gave me instructions on how to modify it for them (if at all) and then I practiced a few times. For this, I had to buy some hair donuts and some hair pins and hair spray, but those are relatively inexpensive and a fraction of the cost of paying someone to do it for them. So far we practiced a few styles, but this is what I'm probably going with for Anneliese. She loves it.

As for myself, I am trading services with a quality hairdresser so that we both get what we want from the other person, but neither of us needs to pay for it. :-D

My boys are wearing dress shoes that are hand me downs from their dad's friend (my boys are already wearing adult size shoes) and girls are wearing shoes that I recently bought them anyhow. I will be wearing some heels that I rarely wear that I purchased cheaply on my last trip to the US (and will be bringing another of the shoes from that trip to change into when my feet protest the heels). 

I attempted to look for cheap costume jewelry when I was in the city today but I struck out, so either I will look through my stash if I have something (even though most of mine have been broken by my kids) or I will attempt to find in another store.


If you've noticed...

Unlike my previous posts about weddings, I didn't call this "Frugally..." anything. Because while it could have definitely been more expensive, far more expensive, especially if two kids didn't get things second hand/hand me downs, and if I paid for updos for all the girls, I don't know if I could call this frugally preparing for the wedding. I mean in some ways my hands were tied because of how late in the game I started this, but I do think that for the situation I was in, I did a decently good job of making it be as frugal as I could have while still respecting my children's freedom of self expression and respecting my children's right to be dressed in clothes that they don't hate wearing.

Hopefully I'll have some nice family pictures to share after the wedding.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. It is so not easy to shop with and for our children, and you did an amazing job. I am so excited( trying to think of another word) to see the gorgeous updo for your daughter. I think if you took a few lessons,with hair, this hairdo thing might be a job for you if you enjoy it.

  2. SHEIN jas really adorable jewelry very cheap prices btw

  3. Fantastic job, especially since it was last-minute, a formal occasion, and kids! Also, amazed at how grown up Anneliese looks. Seems like she was just a toddler.

  4. Well done! You look great and I hope you have a wonderful time. So pretty!

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