This is normally a blog that talks about saving money and personal finance. Every once in a while I talk about spending money, mainly with two goals in mind. One, to get people thinking about money in positive ways while still being responsible. Two, because sometimes a person is actually thinking about doing some of the things I talk about, and maybe once they see it in writing they’ll decide “nah”. If they still decide to spend that kind of money, at least they can’t say they had no idea what they were getting themselves into right?

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This time I’m going to give 11 ideas for having a lavish wedding. This follows up on posts I wrote last year on tips for keeping wedding costs down, where I talked about my own wedding almost 20 years ago, as well as 10 other ideas on how to save expenses on one’s wedding. Hey, gotta have a bit of fun sometimes, right? Here we go.

1. Purchase a great wedding ring. This is one time when women should let their men go to the store on their own to shop for the ring, making sure the men know their finger size. Men tend to spend more money on things they don’t know a lot about, especially if they have the money to spend. It wouldn’t hurt your case to walk by a jewelry store here and there while in a mall, admiring certain styles of rings.

2. Purchase a great wedding dress, but make sure it’s shiny and sparkles. You want to feel like Princess Aurora or Sleeping Beauty or any of the other Disney princesses, and though you’ll look great in any wedding gown you wear, imagine how you’ll capture everyone’s eyes in a dress adorned with Swarovski crystals. Make sure to buy it from a famous designer; after all, you’re out to impress.

3. Don’t get just one limousine; get three. You may need more, but you need at least three to show the entire community whose getting married. You need one for your wedding party, one for your family, and one for your spouse’s family. If you have a large wedding party, you might need another limo; bigger family, more limos.

4. Go all out for decorations in the church. You want real flowers and a mixture of colorful satin and lace touches. That’s just not enough. You need a customized, painted runner made of cloth. You need scented candles to be lit during the ceremony along the aisles. You want plants, and you want symmetry. You also want to hire someone else to put them all up; you have better things to do with your time.

5. Don’t hire a singer; hire a choir.

lavish weddings

Everything sounds better with more than one voice, even if that voice belongs to Mariah Carey. Whether they’re singing with an organ or a chamber orchestra, having at least 8 voices singing will impress everyone. Get them to sing the wedding procession in its original German for an extra touch that not all princesses would be allowed to have (because the wedding march most people know is from a secular classical piece, Lohengrin by Wagner, rather than a liturgical piece, which wouldn’t be allowed in a Catholic service).

6. Release the doves. It’s not a lavish ceremony without having some birds flying off the first time you step outside as man and wife. You may never see them again, but who cares; you’re rich!

7. Select a large reception hall that also offers spectacular views. Anyone can rent a reception hall that’s totally closed in, but what if you can find a location that sits on a waterfront? What if you can find one that looks out over a valley, or towards the mountains? Maybe you can find one with panoramic views. Whatever you can find, make the experience more than just the norm, even if the norm is in the ballroom of the most expensive hotel in town.

8. Don’t just hire a band; hire an orchestra. There are larger groups of musicians that play at weddings for people who can afford them. They come with their own singer and conductor, and can usually play all sorts of musical styles. You may not be able to enjoy the latest rendering from Lady Gaga, but it’s hard to boogie in a spectacular wedding dress anyway.

9. Three course meal? Try seven courses. Of course you’re having a sit down meal; that wasn’t even questioned. If you really want to stand out, you can’t have just three courses. You need the salad course; the soup course; the sampler course; the first meal course; the second meal course; the palate cleaning course; and the first dessert course. First dessert course? lol

10. The desserts room. That’s why you have the first dessert as part of the meal. This allows the full table to sit together and enjoy a full meal, including dessert, before people start to move around a bit. A desserts room holds people in check, along with drinks of course, while the couple gets to have some time to mingle with the crowd. We’re not just talking 3 or 4 choices either; the most lavish wedding I ever went to had at least 50 different desserts in the room; wow.

11. Time for the cake. When the wedding cake is finally introduced, you know that the end of the wedding is near. You don’t want a regular wedding cake; you need tiers, and you need presentation. You need at least 7 tiers to show what you’re worth; 10 would really make you stand out. It needs to be designed, not just have frosting and roses; fondant will be your friend. You also need to have either a fountain or ice sculpture somewhere close; you can afford it.

If you have the money to show off, do so without reservations or shame… just make sure you have the money. Here’s something to think about. Weddings of the rich often mean many of the guests have money also, and they won’t want anyone after the fact thinking they’re cheap. It’s possible that you might make all of your money back, and then some. One of the lavish weddings I went to resulted in cash and checks of almost $80,000 for the bride and groom; I almost felt bad only giving them a wedding photo album. 😉

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I recently redesigned my home office, which hadn’t been touched in just over 10 years. You might imagine that it cost a lot of money, and if I’d had the room and space and unlimited funds I might have been willing to spend it. Since my office is relatively small, and it was near the holiday so I didn’t have a lot of monetary discretion, my wife and I completed the job by imploring some inexpensive touches that I’d like to recommend to you.

1. Find inexpensive rug remnants

new inexpensive rug

I needed to replace the rug in my room for more than one reason, but most of the places I went to had rugs of the wrong size and cost nearly $400. Then we went to a local rug store that sold large remnants and I found one that was pretty close to the color I wanted. It turned out to be 8′ x 10′ and it was selling for $125; that’s a major steal! I needed a foot cut off the 10′ side so I paid an extra $20, and with tax the total bill was just under $170. If you don’t have a vehicle to cart around something that big you might have to pay extra for delivery; luckily we had that covered.

2. Contact paper might be your friend

Some of the furniture in my office needed an overhaul. Painting or staining wasn’t going to get it done, and though I’d gone out looking for a new desk, nothing seemed to capture the feel of what I already had.

My wife came up with the idea of contact paper, and we were lucky to find some that was not only large enough to cover the top and any other areas that needed it, but it looks like wood grain, which makes my desk look brand new. We were able to use it on a couple other things as well, and luckily enough it matches up well with some of my other wood furniture. The contact paper cost around $15 at a local hardware store.

3. Repurpose old picture frames

I wanted to add some new pictures to the wall, but I had no idea what to do. My wife came up with the idea of printing out some motivational messages in different colors and then blinging them up with tiny plastic stick on jewels. Next she took old picture frames that she’d saved in the basement and used those to enclose and hang the messages up behind my desk. Since we already had the picture frames we didn’t have to spend anything for that, and I printed the messages from my computer so that was free. The little jewels cost around $5 total, which she’d found at a craft store.

4. Sometimes all you need is a new perspective on what you already have

Years ago we placed furniture around the room without rhyme or reason and it turns out that almost none of it was functional or all that aesthetic. Because we had to take everything out of the room anyway because of the rug, we decided that almost everything was going into a different place. The only thing that’s still where it started is my desk, and even it’s been moved about a foot so I could add a second file cabinet next to my desk instead of all the way across the room. Now, all the storage space I need on a more immediate basis is within arms reach, while everything I only occasionally need is in a spot where I don’t need to see it until I need it.

5. Use a thick slab of wood as your office chair mat

One of the reasons I needed a new rug is that over the years my chair had ripped holes in it. A regular plastic floor mat didn’t work because the weight of the chair and my weight would dig divots into it within weeks. Still, I tried one of those and had to take it back the next day. Then I tried a bamboo mat, which was pretty nice, but it started cracking within a day.

inexpensive wood slab

My wife had the idea to run to the home improvement store and buy a large piece of wood that was at least 1.2″ thick. We found just what we were looking for and, even though we had to buy a full sheet, had it cut in half so that each piece was 4′ x 4′. It’s thick enough to hold my weight, it’s large enough so that my chair stays on it if I roll under the desk or anywhere behind or to the side of it. Also, because it’s wood, I wasn’t moving around on it as fast as I was when I was trying to use the plastic, which means I had control of my movements. My wife decided to bolster its protection a bit by wrapping it in the rest of the contact paper.

Here’s the funny thing. The wood cost only $33, whereas both the plastic and bamboo chair mats were $79 plus tax. Added to the other things we paid above, the majority of the design cost less than $300; pretty good, right?

Just to add this part, I decided I wanted to paint one of my walls white, since my office is red. Because of that we had to buy primer to cover the red and then we bought glossy off white paint. The total of those two items came to just under $75, but because we already had other painting supplies laying around we didn’t have to pay for anything else. Because we did the painting, this means that the entire cost of doing my whole office was less than $400! Because we didn’t get a deal on the paint I didn’t include it in my original costs, but because we saved so much on everything else it was worth it.

That’s all I have; I hope it’s helpful. What design ideas to you have to help make your work or personal space feel better at an affordable cost?

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We talk about debt all the time, in different ways. The country talks about debt as well. For years we heard about the debt President Bush left us in and the debt that President Obama has allowed to increase. Yet, when you look at it, debt isn’t bad across the board. Let’s take a look at it.

student debt slaughter -- valencia street postering thoughts, scott richard
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Having some debt is actually a good thing, if you trust credit reports and credit scores. Both seem to like individuals having debt, aka outstanding credit, and making payments on that credit. Strange as it seems, if you pay off all your outstanding debt and have none left over, suddenly your credit score starts going down. It seems like idiocy to me, yet it’s one reason why so many financial experts tell people to never cut up their credit cards, no matter how bad the terms end up being.

It works the same for the federal government. While no one wants the debt to be as high as it is, the truth is that countries trade in debt all the time. it seems that the country loves getting things done on the debt load of someone else. Think about it; every building that gets built is being built by a company that had to assume a certain amount of debt to build it. The stock market works on the premise that they play with other people’s money, and most of the trading is done not with real money, but perceived money, which in this case is a form of debt.

So, it’s not always bad… at least according some certain people…

When it’s bad is when the owner of the debt can’t pay on the outstanding balance. That’s when things start to cave in and the pressure builds. For nations that end up in this predicament, some of them just print more money, which leads to its devaluation. For the rest of us, doing that would put us in jail, so we then have to find other ways to work through the debt that we’ve accumulated. Having debt that goes into collections can impact your credit.

The best way for anyone to handle their debt, at least up front, is to never spend more than one can afford to pay on. People need to set limits on how much they’re going to allow their credit card balances to get up to in total. People need to set limits on how much “fun” spending they’re going to allow themselves to do when they have bills to pay. And people need to learn how to save some of their money for those times when they need an extra boost of some kind.

What this means is that ever-dreaded word budgeting. This is the only way you’ll know how much you have on hand, how much you owe to someone else, and how much is left for you to live and have fun with. That is, unless you’re like the couple that’s saving money to retire on at age 33 without budgeting because they can see how well their cash is growing, this should be your reality, at least in some form.

Debt brings a lot of pressure with it. More couples divorce because of financial stress than for any other reason, including infidelity. Feeling the pressure of not being able to handle one’s debt can cause depression and make some people act in irrational ways to try to make more money. Having a budget can show some people that they’re actually not in the kind of trouble they think they are, and if they are they can always find help.

How good are you at managing your debt?

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