20 Questions: 5 years old

[SIDENOTE: these are Jerek's karate clothes from when he was this age!!!]

December is almost over and I've pretty much failed at my vlogmas/blogmas goal [such is life!]
Tracen turned 5 on the 21st and it was such a fun day, minus when I got a migraine that didn't go away for almost a week.

Last year I started a 20 questions post I saw on Pinterest so to keep up with traditions here is this years 20 questions answered by my most favorite 5 year old, Tracen!

[You can read last years 20 questions here]

December 21, 2015 || 5 years old

1. What's your favorite color? GREEN
4. What's your favorite TV show? MAX AND RUBY, I JUST LOVE THOSE GUYS!
5. What's your favorite thing to eat for lunch? LUNCHABLES ON BRING YOUR ON LUNCH TO SCHOOL
6. What's your favorite outfit? A GREEN SHIRT WITH LONG SLEEVES
7. What's your favorite game? I SPY
8. What's your favorite snack? PRETZELS 
9. What's your favorite animal? MONKEY
10. What's your favorite song? TWINKLE TWINKLE
12. Who's your best friend? SKY!
13. What's your favorite cereal? CHEERIOS , NO MILK 
14. What's your favorite thing to do outside? SWING ON THE SWINGS 
15. What's your favorite drink? APPLE JUICE AND LEMONADE
17. What do you take to bed with you at night? BLUE BLANKEY- BUT YOU LEFT IT AT SCHOOL
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  PLAIN WAFFLE
19. What do you want to eat for dinner for your birthday?  MACARONI 
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A GROWN UP KID, CAUSE I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU BUT STILL HAVE FUN

If you read last years responses you'll see some things haven't change! His sweetness is still there and his love for his family is stronger than ever! Hug those kids man, they grow up wayyy too fast!

Printable 2016 Calendar

With 2016 almost here I knew I needed to find a new calendar for my dressing room/office wall. The one I was using was a printable that I found on Pinterest last year. I liked the simplicity of it but for this year I wanted to try my hand at making my own. I was so happy with how they turned out so I figured I would add to my Etsy shop for anyone interested in it as well.

I have mine hung by a clipboard on my wall so it's easy to change out every month but you could easily frame it and use a dry erase marker to cross off the days. The boxes are not really big enough to write notes but that is not what this calendar is for. I have a planner in my purse for that, this one is for quick references on what day it is and as a decoration to my gallery wall. It is not meant to be written on but if you would like to, go for it!

You could also attach this to your cabinet at work or fridge by a magnet. One of my favorite months is April. No it's not my birthday, it's our wedding month! I thought the couple under the umbrella was cute and had a wedding feel since we are getting married in April so I thought it was fitting. Printables are great because you can print them on regular basic paper or take the PDF files and have them printed at Kinkos, Staples, etc on nice card stock, the option is up to you!

Don't forget to follow along on Instagram because I plan on adding more printables along the way. From time to time I'm going to have 'free printable days' where for 24 hours I open them up to print for free and you don't want to miss out on that do ya!

Happy 5th Birthday Tracen

Keeping it short and simple today because I have a birthday boy I need to eat ice cream with!

5 years old, how is that even possible! I've been feeling really emotional lately about this number so you can just watch the short video I made for his birthday instead of listening to me cry about how grown up he is! If you haven't read his early arrival birth story you can read that here, an unexpected but much anticipated early Christmas gift!

I also suggest watching his 4th birthday video maybe first for a bunch of throw backs as well! You can watch it here.

If you share a December 21st birthday with Trace, happy birthday!

Motherhood and Friendships


High school is different than college and college is different than parenthood.

Acquaintances are nice to have but friends are even better. 

I've had a wide range of friends in my life for as long as I can remember. In high school I never felt clumped into a category. I had friends I played soccer with, friends in band, theater, choir and cheer. Friends that didn't play a single sport, friends that liked to stay in and not go out on a Friday night. I had friends still from elementary, friends from other schools and friends that went too church.

In college I still held onto some friendships from high school, but as some started to fade new ones grew and blossomed. There were many times friendships started over, rekindled and revived simply by a course of events, a communication barrier that was broken and then fixed.

Then there are others that faded further into the realm of darkness. There's been a few times where I wish I would have stepped back, and fought harder for friendships because like all things in life, some things are worth fighting for. Without dwelling on the past I've learned that like high school and college, life after parenthood will change too. 

After graduation you are faced with the ever revolving question of "so what's next?"

It's a question I consciously have to make sure I don't ask others, that one question haunted me for many years. As I slaved away at a tanning booth, office job and a restaurant, all at once, I saw friends landing "real jobs" and it was a constant reminder that I still felt lost in the post college tornado; desperately wanting out.

I've since landed a job that I currently call my career so that question no longer weighs on me.

Having kids before majority of my friends did though. You will find many meme's that say things like "want to know who your true friends are, have kids." While I believe this is semi true I think it really depends on where you are in life.

When I had Tracen I was 25 and most of my friends were either single, just getting engaged and still going out a ton. It was lonely on my end. I was at home most nights, not making great money and if people called it was 10 minutes before they were doing it.

I needed things to be scheduled, a time frame to follow, to allow me to coordinate who will watch Tracen. No one understood that, no one but Jerek. I remember many nights crying to him, wondering if things would ever change. Then one day things just got better. I started understanding that some nights people weren't calling me not because I had a baby but because they too were just staying at home watching Netflix. I started making sure I reached out as well, planned things and kept in touch.

Friendship is a two way street. You are not allowed to each give 50%, you must both give 100%.

Now at 29 with two kids Jerek and I do our best to each go out with friends while the other stays home. We rely on family 100% for date nights so we make those count. Our friends stop by and hang out for a bit to see us and the boys and catch up. While they may never realize how much it means to us, it truly does. We may be wiping someones ass but your 30 minute stop ins are like a breath of fresh air!  We try and make trips to friends house when we can, we plan brunches, cider mill and shopping trips. We put in the effort to see each other and while some months are harder for me to keep in touch than others, I know that my girlfriends understand and thats why my friendships I have currently are strong.

Perhaps you just had a baby and are feeling stressed, remind yourself that it's better to have 4 quarters rather than 100 pennies when it comes to friends. Find your people and put in the effort, no matter how busy you think you are, no matter where you are in your life, make the effort, find your village.

The best way to read blogs

Years ago I discovered blogs. I had no idea what they were to be honest, I just thought it was cool that I had Googled 'how to ____' and I found real life answers. If only years ago I had known about Bloglovin.


Back in college I use to bookmark all the blogs I would find and when I remembered I would check back in. I found it stressful though because I would always be "behind" on all the post and subsequently would end up not reading them anymore.

Three years ago I was in the process of doing research on how to start my own blog when I stumbled upon the wonderful site/app called Bloglovin.

What is Bloglovin you ask? It's a tool for you to keep up with blogs! A way to manage all your feeds in one place! You can follow ANY blogger {whether they are signed up on it or not}. It's a brilliant tool and one for the OCD organizational junkie like myself.

No more bookmarking blogs and forgetting to read them, Bloglovin keeps everything in one place for you. You can set reminders when new posts go up to have an email sent to you daily or weekly. If you ever find a blog and they don't have a Bloglovin button that takes you directly to there page you can still follow them it just takes one extra step. You will need to go to Bloglovin yourself and search there blog name and then add to your reading list. Most bloggers have a Bloglovin button though you may just not know it! They are either a heart, a plus sign or a 'B' icon (mine is a heart which is their old icon I believe.)
Recently they also have made it available for you to install a widget making it even easier for people to follow and get emails sent directly to them if they'd like.

You can also save posts you want to later and share posts with others to read.


You can also discover new blogs on the site by checking out the EXPLORE tab in Bloglovin. From time to time I go through my list and unfollow blogs that no longer post or that I have lost interest in. Refreshing your reading list is good to do and allows you to clean house and discover new bloggers at the same time.

This is mine, so if you clicked on it, then you would be taken to my blog via Bloglovin and have the option to press FOLLOW and I'd be added to your Bloglovin list. It's easy to create an account and you don't have to be a blogger yourself, it's a simple way to keep everything in one place.

Most of the blogs I read I also follow elsewhere, Instagram, Facebook or Youtube so I usually see when they post on other forms of social media. However when I'm busy at work and not online for many many hours I turn to Bloglovin to keep me updated. I mean, I NEED to know if Little Baby Garvin is pregnant again ya feel!

So sign up for Bloglovin here and then add me to your reading list! You can always find me updating on Instagram and Facebook too if you aren't feelin another user name and password combo!

How to raise your second child better

People always say you shouldn't compare one kid to another. They will always be different. Tracen and Skylor are almost exactly 2.5 years apart and I'd like to think I parent them exactly the same. The truth is I don't.

Since Tracen was our first and with about .01% of our friends having kids I basically winged the hell out of everything. I walked into Target and legit just scanned stuff that looked like we would need to take care of a baby. I didn't look at reviews, didn't ask any other moms and barely took the stroller for a spin around the store before registering it. This is an absolute result as to why I hated almost all of the baby stuff I had with Tracen. When I found out I was pregnant with Skylor, I researched and read every single review there was. People would have thought I was a first time mom.

The differences between Sky and Trace begun the day I gave birth to Skylor.  Their births could not be more different and the days after were 100% opposite as well. {Here are Tracen and Skylor's birth stories if you haven't read them.}

Tracen never latched on so I made the decision to strictly pump. And pump my brains until I couldn't any longer I did. That shit is EXHAUSTING. With Sky I tried much harder with nursing and was able to stick with it longer but it was still a struggle and I still ended up pumping all the time. With Tracen he slept in his crib from day one and we WOKE him up to eat every three hours (dumb dumb dumb!) With Sky we bed shared and co-slept and we fed him only when HE woke up (hello 5 hour stretches of sleep from about week 2!)

With Tracen we made him a different meal other than ours every time he ate, with Sky he eats what we eat and eats EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. With Trace I wore him a hand full of times with Sky he's constantly strapped to me. I was the one that put Tracen to bed from the beginning and 99% of the time I still do or he has a complete, over the top meltdown. With Sky, we take turns but most nights Jerek puts him to bed. On the nights that I do theres no fight from him, just hugs and him BEGGING me to put him in his bead.

If you talk to parents that have more than one child most would probably tell you this is normal. You learn tips and tricks from the first one and swear you're going to do things differently the next time around. The problem I have is when people say that they are going to raise them "better."

The difference between the two shouldn't be measured and 
compared in a way that they are the same, because they are not. 

You should do things deferentially to make things work cohesively with your growing family, not because you think you eff'ed it up with the first one but because you are constantly learning. No one can quite say they know what they are doing their first time around, even if you are Jamie Grayson or Michelle Duggar.

I have no regrets with the way I've raised Tracen, we get complimented DAILY on how polite and respectful he is. Although meals and bedtime are a struggle we're working on it! I knew with Skylor that I wanted to change these two areas and for good reasons. Not because I wanted Sky to be the 'better eater' or the 'better sleeper' but because I've learned things from the first time around. I cringe when I hear people talk like this, as if you made a mistake with your first and are trying to redeem yourself or something?

Parenting is like being in school 24/7. You learn things in your freshmen year and apply them to your sophomore year {or hopefully you do.} You are constantly studying for the next test they are going to pull on you, cramming late night for an exam and you always have to be on your toes in case they ask you things like 'why don't you have a wiener like me mommy?' or 'how did I get in your belly?' Cause that shit happens, a lot!

Just remember that if you don't know what the hell you're doing the first time around, you might not the next time around either! Do know that you have the option to start over the next day and work on things. If all else fails, grab a glass of wine and watch these, because I have no idea what I'm ever doing either!

Friday Faves

This Vlogmas/Blogmas business is hard stuff I tell ya! I failed for Day 3 yesterday because we went to the local Christmas tree lighting, which meant the boys were up late and crashed as soon as I hit the pillow.

This weekend we don't have much plans which I'm very excited about. We got our basement flood situation figured out and need to start the cleaning, demoing and redoing of the basement so I guess that is really what our weekend will consist of I suppose.

A while back I use to do Friday round ups but got away from it and I'm not why because I love reading them! So I decided it's coming back and it shall be called Friday Faves. Centered around five round ups of our week, recent Pins I'm loving, clothes I'm lusting over, you get the point. Friday's for us are very chill and very relaxed once we all get home from work and daycare. They are full of pizza and beer and couch snuggles with the boys, I mean they aren't called Pizza Party Friday's for nothing!

1. I've been working on editing a few videos that you will see this month and they are ones I'm really proud of. A photography video, a 2015 video and Tracen's 5th birthday video, look for those coming soon! In the meantime I've been re-watching videos from the last few years and basically just crying. With all the horrible news flying around lately I find it reassuring to watch something that makes me happy.

2. Lately I've been thinking about doing a 30 item challenge like my fellow Michigander blogger, Tieka, is currently doing. I mean, I pretty much wear the same 30 things anyways! I've been de-cluttering my wardrobe and life lately and what better way to start the year off than that.
3. People keep asking me what I would like for Christmas and I really don't NEED anything. Well besides new cookie sheets because the ones we have stress me out. Besides that, nothing really. I do WANT (not necessarily NEED) a new bag for work. I'm really loving any of these below. So family members if you need an idea, here ya go.

one | two | three | four

4. Christmas is like what 20 days away and with Cyber Monday and Black Friday over with I've been working double time trying to get everything ready and shipped out with the tee shirts in the shop. There is still time to order if you missed out, the cut off is Monday the 7th to ensure enough time for printing and delivery. If you don't need for the holidays then you can order whenever you'd like!
5. For the last few years for Christmas we have done the 4 gift rule for the boys (and a stocking.) We do something you can read, something you need, something you want and something you eat. Last year we did a big gift for both of them (the kitchen) as their want and they loved it. This year I'm not really sure what to do to be honest! I've been picking up stuff for their stockings on my many trips to Target but I'm at a lost on the something you want part. I know I should listen to what they say they want but Tracen wants like $150 lego sets that are for 10 year olds so that's out of the question. If you ask Skylor he just wants to watch PJ Masks, ALL.DAY.LONG so unless I want my kid to turn into a vegetable I'm fresh outta ideas! We have so many toys and we've been selling and giving away a ton lately that I just don't know what to get them. Our thought was a 5 in 1 play table like this one but Jer thinks it might be a too old for them still. Leave ideas on what you are getting your kids (boys or girls) and maybe something will spark my brain!

Happy Friday and have a beer for me wontcha!

December Goals

Hello, it's me.

Adele anyone?

Anyway! It's monthly goal time! I've been slacking on the monthly goals the past few months because my to-do list has basically been a million goals of things that need to be done.

I wont recap the last few months because if you've been reading or watching the videos, you basically know what we've been up to! If you didn't see yesterday's post/video, I'm doing Vlogmas/Blogmas where I will be posting a video or blog post everyday until Christmas, so fun right!

Lets get started!

1. Tracen's 5th Birthday- HOW. How do I almost have a 5 year old. I start to cry just thinking about it. If you want to watch Tracen's 4th year video I made for him you can watch it here or below.

2. Try www.everydollar.com: I read on a mom group I'm on that it's like the Dave Ramsey envelope thing but no envelopes. I mean WHO REALLY HAS CASH ANYWAYS! I've tried Minted.com before and didn't like it because I had to change all my transactions and it just took a lot of time in my book. I'm sure I'll report back to you on how it is, or if you have used it before/do use it, comment below and tell me the pros/cons, I'm all ears!

3. Do 1 class a week at gym: I recently kicked LA Fitness to the curb and joined Lifetime Fitness on a crazy Cyber Monday deal. This gym is further away but I mostly did it because they have TONS of classes, sports and open swim/gym for the boys. Not to mention they can be in the kids area for 2 hours so I can get a good work out in, shower, blog, edit, whatever I want, it's like a built in babysitter! Still trying to get Jer on board but maybe when he sees we aren't home for hours and how much he misses us he'll join, Hint Hint ;) You are probably thinking what is ONE class at the gym going to do, but I plan on still doing a normal workout at the gym other days, I just want to push myself into trying new things and classes is something that always intimidate me but usually push me the hardest! Plus Lifetime has AMAZING classes to choose from!

4. No booze till New Years: I've done this many times over the last few years and it's worked out GREAT! I've been indulging in too much good beer and wine after dinner every night. We have this habit of grabbing a beer (or two) and watching Netflix till well past midnight and then are mad at ourselves for staying up so late. Lets be serious, we don't need to be drinking the extra calories with a wedding in 5 months.

5. Book flights for Mexico: I've been watching the flights and since they are during Spring break they are a little higher than I really want so I'm trying to work with my travel agent and find the perfect deal. My mom said that she read 56 days out is the "sweet" spot to book but there is NO WAY IN HELL I'm waiting less than 2 MONTHS to book flights. That just sounds stressful! I've heard to also wait till after Christmas/New Years so I might do that as well.

December is about to be over before we know it so make sure you are enjoying the time with your friends and family and not rushing through the motions during this crazy busy season!

Cyber Monday Deals Gone Crazy

Did you go out shopping on Black Friday? I did, but not at 4am like all you freaks, I was out at a casual 10am with the boys and my mom while Jerek worked. We hit up Panera for some brunch and snagged a M&M cookie to bribe the boys with for later. Then we headed off to Target and walked around like normal people because all you walnuts were fast asleep relishing in your $159 50" TV's and $10 blenders.

Now if basement remodels were on sale Friday I guess I should have been up and out at 4am because currently about 75% of our basement is sitting in our garage due to water in our basement. So if any of you guys happened to snag new drywall, flooring and paint on Friday and want to sell it to me at a discounted rate, I'M ALL FREAKING EARS.

Moving on from my basement pity party lets talk Cyber Monday deals! This is something I can get down with! When you shop from your computer, no one can tell you that you should be nice to the retail workers because they are sacrificing "their" time for you to shop. Side rant; did you know that there are people that are police officers, fire men and women, nurses, doctors, cafeteria works in the hospitals, clerks at 7-11 and CVS and many many other jobs that ALSO work holidays and are away from their families, hmm, imagine that.

Anywho, back to shopping from your computer braless.

When I sign up to be on store email lists I have a spam folder things go into through out the year. Occasionally I check when I'm looking for something that way I have coupon codes at my little finger tips, because paying full price is BS yo! When Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes along I stalk my spam folder and I mean STALK! Remember, just because you weren't at Target on Friday at 4am doesn't mean you can't score something online at Target on Monday, yaaa feeelll!

This year I'm scooping up some new pj's for my kids that grow faster then the weeds in between your driveway cracks. With our wedding trip a few months away the boys will be getting new backpacks to take with them as carry ons and since I don't do that characters that they will not like 2 months later, I'm getting them cute but versitile ones.

Jer may or may not be getting some new work attire but only if it can fit in these new stocking's I'm getting because we have a no gift policy between the two of us. And who could resist not picking something up for themselves, this shift dress is too damn cute! Tights and boots for the winter, wedges or booties in the spring

Also, don't forget to sign up for Ebates BEFORE you start Cyber Monday shopping! Each website gives you different amounts of money back on things you are ALREADY buying! Free money sounds good to me! 
Some sales I know that have already started below. Please leave any other good deals you know of in the comment section!

JCREW- take 30% off your purchase, including things that are never on sale! Plus 40% off all sale items. Use code HOLIDAY at checkout.

ANTHROPOLOGIE- 25% off everything with code SHOPTOIT

OLD NAVY- 40% off EVERYTHING! Use code BESTCYBER for Monday only

COLOURPOP- 20% off EVERYTHING! (No code needed)

Nume's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals continue through today for the following until sold out
Hairdryer's are $39, code DRYBOLD. 
Magic wands are $24.99, code CYBERCURL
White truffle hair collection (is normally $130!!!) is $29.99 for 5 products!!! 
Classic wands are $17.99, code SUCHADEAL 
Straighteners are $15.99, code BFIRONS

Last but not least my Etsy shop, East + Willow, is having 25% off the entire store with the code CYBERMONDAY at checkout! This goes for all the SALE items as well! All orders will be shipped out by December 8th with 2 day priority shipping to ensure delivery for the holidays. Check out the shop for more adult and kids shirts here!

Wedding Reception Outfit: Wedding Talk


Lets continue the pre-ception wedding talk shall we! Last week I shared all the details on the vendors we used including how much everything costs. While I was tempted to talk about clothes I refrained because well, the post was long enough!

I knew going into shopping I wanted to find something new for everyone to wear, something affordable and something we would wear more than just once. I really don't buy things anymore just for one occasion, they need to be multifunctional.

For the outdoor party I was trying to find something long, flowy and NOT white. As you can tell I got neither long nor flowy and I wore white. The reason behind this was because I couldn't find anything that I loved and was reasonably priced. I did find this dress and this dress but I wasn't loving either or price tag.
We got the boys and Jerek's outfits first. I wasn't feeling myself the day we went shopping, most likely I was on the rag and felt like a 1000 pound whale so dressing the boys was more fun at that moment. All three boys got their outfits at H&M with the exception of Jerek's vest and tie he already had that were from Forever 21 Men.
I wasn't going to have the boys match but it just ended up happening that way. The pants and blue shirts are different colors but ultimately, they have the same outfit on, womp womp. If we ever have twins (which secretly I want, you won't catch me dressing them them same, I'm just not really into the matchy matchy look)

Jerek bought new pants and a shirt from H&M and then used a tie and vest that he already had at home. How handsome is this guy!
As I shopped around for myself the more I thought about nixing the dress idea and getting a romper. You see, I still needed to be a mom and take care of kids that day so I wanted to make sure that if I was bending over I didn't have a butt cheek flop out or a post nursing nip slip, you know, casual things.

I ended up going to Forever 21 as you do, and found a little white romper. I was so against white at first because well, WHITE AND BOYS = ONE SLOPPY MESS! Not to mention I'm a slop kabob in real life so white is just not a good idea for me. Truth be told it could have been pink (ew) and I would have gotten it because it complimented my body SO well!

I self tanned the day before and if I'm being honest here, which I always am, I looked hawwwttt! My legs looked like I spent a week in Mexico minus the sun cancer of course. I've raved about this tanner many times, I even wrote a whole post on it because it's THAT great. You can check out the post here or stalk Loving Tans instagram because the before and afters are LIFEEE!

I'll definitely be bringing the romper with us to Mexico while we're there so it wasn't a one time outfit wear that I thought might be happening. At the end of the night everyone actually seemed to manage to not spill wine apple juice on their clothes so I was pretty happy with ourselves!

Hope you guys are having a great week and Happy early Thanksgiving! Don't forget I have a HUGE Black Friday sale on all the T-Shirts in my Etsy shop! The codes are good till December 1st so snag some house of boy shirts, kids, Olsen, Drake and Brunch tee's!

Huge Black Friday Sale

Hello and Happy Monday! Yes, HAPPY MONDAY! I'm here to tell you about the black Friday deals I'm having at my shop and lucky you, they start TODAY!

Black Friday sales are getting earlier and earlier every year and while I'm always down for a good deal I can't stand sitting in line at 4am for a freaking blender, or better yet a TV that is only $50 less then normal price but everyone is popping boners over that 60 inch they just can't liiiiiveeee without! Barf.

So shop away in with no bra and yesterday's makeup on because I'm giving you coupon codes to use from YOUR COMPUTER! No waiting in line, missing work and hell I'm giving these codes to you 4 days before black Friday even begins! The codes are good from today, the 23rd and they are valid through December 1 so shop away!

All orders will be shipped out by December 11th (if not sooner) and arrive 2-4 days later depending on the post and where you live.

In case you missed my big announcement post I'll recap it now. Any shop orders that have come in from 11/2-12/1 will have 10% of the profits donated for gifts for the NICU babies at The Children's Hospital of Michigan, which my family will then contribute on top of that.

These meaning behind the shirts mean a lot to me. Being in the hospital with kids is never fun and over holidays is a million times worse. I want these babies to have a little something special from a fellow NICU mom who spent Christmas there almost 5 years ago. Hopefully the parents may shed a smile when they read the cards and see the gifts that all 43 beds at the NICU will be getting from us!


Buy 1 Adult shirt, get 1 Children shirt 50% off: Code BLACKFRIDAYADULT

Buy 1 Children shirt, get 1 Children shirt 50% off: Code BLACKFRIDAYKID

Buy 4 Adult shirts get $20 off: Code BLACKFRIDAY4SHIRTS

Spend $100, get $20 off: Code 20OFF


There are also still a few of the 'House of Twins' and 'House of Girls' shirts on sale right now that also are available to get in on the Black Friday deals!

All shirts can be gift wrapped and sent to whomever you choose (in the US) and a holiday card can be added at no additional cost. Please make sure you just leave a message in the notes and I will ship accordingly!

Please email me if you have any questions on sizing, colors, etc at eastwillowgrove@gmail.com

Wedding Pre-Ception Party + How Much We Spent


It's only taken me two months to gather my thoughts and share our wedding pre-ception party and I mean that in THE most sarcastic way possible. Here's to hoping it doesn't take me that long to post wedding pictures and the video after the big day!

Before the many photos lets talk details! I used social media for a ton of the planning aspects. I asked for vendor advice on Facebook and got so much help from fellow moms, brides and friends.

To plan the pre-ception I knew we needed a tent, tables, chairs, table coverings, catering, bathrooms and a bounce house, yes, I refuse to have bored kids at a party. We needed these things to stay on budget so working with family friends, off recommendations and DIYing was the route we went.

Starting off with the tent, tables and chairs. I checked into a few companies but went with a recommendation from our friends and we used C&N Party Rental. They were great to work with, drop off and pick up was done in a timely manner and I was able to add things on and take things off as I got a final count of people coming. We got 80 chairs, 12 banquet tables, 6 high tops, 18 table covers and a 20x40 tent all for $635!

For catering I knew I wanted to go with Dorsey Culinary School. How many of you knew you could use a school to cater your event?! My girlfriend used them for her wedding a few years ago and said the food and service was phenomenal and for an outstanding price. She has great taste so I contacted them right away. Funny story, I found out the catering manager is my 6th grade teachers son, small world! We went with the choice of 4 pass hors d'oeuvres, along with chips and hummus and artichoke dip to start with.
Followed up by an antipasta station that you see below. I was in awe of it really! It was THE biggest cheese and cracker platter you ever saw! I loved how it was basically a antipasta salad bar taken apart to munch on, so clever! For the main dinner we choose Que Pasa Mexicana! In honor of our wedding in Mexico and it being our favorite food; there was a selection of nachos, tacos, or quesadillas and all the toppings.

We also had chicken fingers and mac and cheese, because well kids man, kids. For dessert we did a sweet table dessert station that had mini mousse & tiramisu cups, mini cheesecakes, truffle fruits and chocolate dipped strawberries. I also was dead set on candy bar because my sweet tooth is HUGE. We did the candy bar on our own though because it was much cheaper to do so, plus I got to pick exactly the candy I wanted. I choose to pick candy I actually liked instead of following some color scheme, the last thing I want is candy left over that I'll never eat because it "went with my colors", so not practical people!

The catering part for about 85 people was $1762. Breaking that down it was about $20/person for hors d'oeuvres, pasta station dinner and dessert (candy was purchased separately) and to me $20 a person seemed great for all that food! What was also built into this cost was the two chefs that worked the entire function and not only cooked, they passed and replenished food and cleaned up the entire event.

The candy station jars were found at all different dollar stores and Salvation Army's and the candy was bought on Amazon and at Doc's Sweets by my mom and Tom (thanks for being so sweet guys, get it! Lord I'm funny) I can't tell you how much it all was but I want to say under $200, correct me if I'm wrong mother!

Speaking of my mom and Tom, because they were so gracious to let us use their backyard for the party their one rule was no one in the house. We all know that 85 people using the same shitter can get messy and that's just not something they needed to deal with. We also went by recommendation by my girlfriend that used the cater' and we used Jay's Septic Service. We got 2 standard bathrooms and hand washing station for $285. To be honest, we probably could have just used one but yolo ;)

Originally we invited 120 people with 20 of them being kids over 2 and I knew I didn't want them to be bored so a bounce house was always on the list. We also grabbed a bunch of little toys, play dough and coloring things for them to do so their parents had two hands free to eat and drink! We rented the bounce house from Acme Partyworks that Jerek's sister and wife had used for our nephews birthday before. We made sure to get the one that allowed grownups to go on, because you know, we are children at heart. It was $134 with delivery and pickup and then another $50 for the activities so call it $184 for the kids to give their parents a few hours off. While we anticipated more kids being there it was well worth it to have activities to keep them happy!

All the juice, soda, water, beer, plates, cups, and napkins were all bought at Sams club, Costco and the dollar store. The wine was from Trader joes and the keg at our local liquor store. I have receipts somewhere but it's almost 1am and I'm sitting on the couch typing this so my best guess is it was all under $500.


Tom had the backyard wired with surround sound so I hooked up my iPhone to a Spotify station and called it a day. I really wasn't too concerned as long as it was good music. Free, good, music people!

I did a whole post on the flowers because they deserved their own post! If you want to see how I only spent $130 on all the flowers and why you should hire Amy from MI Honeybee Flowers you can read the post here!

My mother is a wiz with a sewing machine. With that being said I showed her my Pinterest board with all the lighting and bunting hung in the trees and tent she went to work. At first I said I don't care what colors you do so she ordered fall fabric. And then I came in, being a bridezilla for about 5 seconds and changed my mind after she already ordered the fabric. So doing what any mother would do for her favorite daughter, she bought all new fabric and made over 200 feet of fabric bunting. She bought the lights on sale last day after christmas for a few bucks. She then took old barn wood, painted, distressed the parking signs and made us a sign for our house with our last name. I mentioned how great she is right??!!
Odds and ends we picked up through the month were probably about $200 I would say.

I planned a little each week over the last 6ish months. I did research when I had the time but used social media a lot to rely on others for opinions and references. Don't be afraid to do this either, after all, don't you want to know first hand about a bad experience!

I commend you if you've made it this far, I almost didn't. Over all, loosely summing everything up we (not including what my mom bought) spent about $3700. Personally I think this s great for a reception for about 85. We will still be have the wedding portion and reception to pay for in Mexico that is for about 25 people. I included all the pricing because I want you to see that things can be done on a budget and still be nice, tasteful and creative. Most people planning a reception aren't getting away with $3700 just for the booze for their guests!

As for the wedding, we have everything budgeted out to account for flights, the all inclusive resort and wedding reception but you'll have to wait till April to find out more about that! Thanks for following along on our wedding journey! I'd love to hear any secrets you did to save money on the big day, so leave them in the comments below and thanks again for supporting my family!