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Why Engagement Ring Insurance is a Scam

21 Dec

According to Glamour/TheKnot, hubbys-to-be spent an average of $5,392 on engagement rings in 2010.  When you’re dropping that much dough on a single, shiny item, it’s only natural to assume that it should be insured.  During my wedding planning process, I read several articles urging brides to get an engagement ring insurance quote as soon as possible. Heck, The Knot goes so far as to include insuring your ring as a “to do” on their wedding planning checklists.

Per The Knot, you can expect to pay a replacement cost premium between $1 and $2 per every $100 of the ring’s value.  If the ring costs $5,392, you’re looking at a payment somewhere between $53.92 and $107.84/year.  That may seem like a pretty good deal – paying roughly $100/year to replace your $5K engagement ring.  But if you lose your ring (or it suffers some traumatic injury courtesy of the garbage disposal), is a replacement ring going to be satisfactory?

There are certain things that can be easily replaced if damaged (a car).  And there are others for which insurance is a no brainer (your life, your home).  But an engagement ring?

Your engagement ring can never really be replaced.  Sure, you can get another ring, but the sentimental value associated with that significant moment in your life is limited to the original.  This is not as simple trading one Honda CR-V for another (even if it’s a newer model). Once the ring is gone, there is no substitute.

And if you lose your engagement ring, why would you even want a replacement? I guess you could be greedy and use this as an excuse to upgrade if you weren’t totally satisfied with your first one…but it’s not the ring your fiancé/husband got down on one knee to give to you, and it’s never going to be. 

As with most policies, engagement ring insurance is fear mongering at its finest.  And, if you asked my husband to weigh in, he’d say that purchasing an engagement ring policy creates a moral hazard (i.e. that women with insurance aren’t as careful with their rings as those without). My advice is to save your money and just take care of the ring you’ve got.

Forget China – Register for Your Honeymoon

15 Nov

Confession: I moved in with a random guy I met in the grocery store after only four months of dating. Sound crazy? I know. If this wasn’t my life, I would have said I was totally nuts. Definitely not recommended. But since this is my life and I know how the story has progressed since then (wedding!), I can talk about how this accelerated approach to relationships results in a prime piece of wedding planning advice.

Since the initial merger of crap in January ’09, my (now) hubby and I have moved two more times. The initial consolidation was the worst. I had a fully furnished 670 square foot apartment and he was introducing his half of an 1150 square foot apartment. This was a very volatile time in our relationship, since as you might expect people who have only known each other for four months are still feeling each other out. Trying to decide whose plates to keep wasn’t just about who had the better plates – it was about asserting yourself as a strong female who didn’t need this boy to come in and save her and replace her perfectly fine Target bowls with his trendy bowls from Ikea. My stuff is just fine!! But I digress…

These moves from an extremely crowded 1-bedroom apartment to a slightly less crowded 2-bedroom apartment to the current cozy townhome on a street that no one’s GPS can seem to find resulted in further and further consolidation of stuff. Sometimes you decide that you hate everyone’s stuff and just go out buy a new meat tenderizer. It happens. But the key is…for today’s modern, cohabitating couples, many of these home furnishing battles are waged well in advance of him putting a ring on it.

Once we started the wedding planning process and realized we would be paying for the vast majority of the event ourselves, we really hunkered done and started saving. We gave a little thought to the registry and started to go down the obvious path that leads to a price gun and Crate and Barrel. But as we went through the store, very few things jumped out at us. We were also dealing with the hard truth that you can only fit so many wine glasses in a townhouse kitchen. So we registered for some house accessories (including what we affectionately refer to as the “baby bathtub” for alcohol) and went home.

As the financial pressures of the wedding began to mount, we wondered how the hell we were going to pay for a honeymoon. The wedding wasn’t going to be until October, which meant that we would be hoarding the (embarrassingly and unacceptably) few vacation days we had until then. We were going to need this vacation by the time it rolled around. Badly. And then we found the answer in one of my several volumes of wedding porn – register for your honeymoon!

Talk about killing two birds with one stone – what a completely genius idea! We already had a fully furnished home – so what was the point of having our friends and family buy us stuff we a) didn’t want and b) really didn’t need. Don’t people want to buy couples stuff they can enjoy? The next day we embarked on the honeymoon registry process.

We decided to go with the Grand Hyatt Kauai and it was possibly the best decision we’ve ever made (besides getting married, of course). The registry is set up for you to list several different items at different price points for your guests to purchase. The choices ranges from room costs to meals to pool drinks to spa treatments. You have the ability to adjust the pricing of each item, so even if the place you want to stay normally goes for $400/night, you can break up the price increments for a “romantic beachfront suite” into $100 increments to make them more accessible to your guests. It’s an easy way to ensure there is something available for your generous family members to buy as well as your buddies who are just getting out of school.

Right before your wedding, the Hyatt sends you a gift card for the total amount of gifts received through the registry. At the hotel you charge everything back to your room, and when you check out you hand them the card. It was so simple! I can’t emphasize enough how great it was to be sitting by the pool ordering another delicious $14 Mai Tai and not worrying about whether or not we were over budget. Your honeymoon is a much deserved opportunity to relax and enjoy yourselves after the months of toiling over the creation of a perfect wedding. It should be your reward for a job well done and, in all honestly, I had never been more relaxed in my whole life. Mission accomplished!

I know this type of registry is not for everyone, but it was the perfect solution for us. If you find yourself saying “I can’t fit one more coffee cup on this overcrowded shelf!” I would highly recommend asking your friends and family to contribute to what should be a beautiful start to your life together. You can’t go wrong on a free trip to paradise.

When it Comes to Groom’s Cakes, Go Big or Go Home

15 Nov

I’m from small town Connecticut and my husband is from Miami. Living in Houston has worked out pretty well as we’re right in the middle of the country and are only one direct flight away from both families. So when it came time to decide where we were getting married, we felt the safest bet was to host the wedding on our turf, deep in the heart of Texas.

Many of our friends and family had never been to the great state of Texas, so we knew that we wanted to incorporate several Texas-type elements into the festivities. We chose a venue out in the Hill Country, only served wines that we born, bred (and bottled) in Texas, and even took our engagement photos at the Texas State Capitol. Heck, we even had an armadillo at the big event (wish I could take credit…this was complete coincidence).

Another piece of Texas wedding tradition that I wanted to include was the groom’s cake. I am very lucky to have a husband that was extremely involved in the event planning process (sometimes more than I would have liked…do we really need to have an argument over the font for the place cards?) and this was one way to show my appreciation for his contributions.

The traditional groom’s cake has evolved over the years from a simple, one-tiered square chocolate cake to more complex, creative culinary delights. Many cakes now include the logo of their honey’s favorite team or showcase their favorite hobby or activity. My husband and I are both die-hard University of Florida Gator fans so I knew that would be part of the design. He was also very active in the school’s crew team and nearly all of his friends attending the wedding had rowed as well. I had my idea….but how would I execute?

Our wedding cake was being prepared by a fantastic local Austin bakery and restaurantand I was hoping, for simplicity’s sake, that they would be able to take on my complicated groom’s cake request. I had a vision in my head, but was struggling to find an example online of exactly what I wanted. It had to look incredible, or what was the point? I sent a note (see below) to our contact and kept my fingers crossed:

Note to Mandola’s Italian Market:
The best example of a rowing cake that I have seen is here. I would like to emulate this, but using a photo of Matt (rower all the way at the back of the boat) to show the colors that should be used (hooray Orange – Go Gators!). I would like the water to be a medium blue, but include an alligator or two peering up from water (just eyes and partial head showing, similar to photo here. The gator can look more cartoony (doesn’t have to appear menacing – like the ones we’ve purchased for our cake topper. We could even feature a little bit more of the alligator out of the water….but will let you decide.

Lucky for me, our cake folks were not terrified by my all over the place note and the obnoxious number of links and accepted my groom’s cake challenge. It took some effort on my part to trust that the cake would match the vision in my head (since I would not see the final product until it showed up at the wedding), but I knew that I had to take a chance. Go big or go home!

When the cake showed up at the wedding, I couldn’t have been happier – it looked even better than I had imagined! The rowers, the alligators…they were all there. And the best part….Matt was totally surprised! He had no idea that I ordered the cake (sneaky, sneaky) and said that it was one of his favorite parts of the whole wedding. I think we did Texas wedding tradition proud.

When planning your wedding there are many opportunities to insert your personality into the details, and the cake is no exception. Don’t limit yourself to one, beautiful-yet-probably-tame cake for the bride – go for the creativity gold and order a special cake for your groom. After all he’s been through in the planning process, it’s an easy and fun way to show him that, believe it or not, this is his special day too.

There’s Nothing Sexier Than Wearing A Wedding Dress You Can’t Pee In

31 Oct

If you asked me to describe my personal style, I would probably go with “low maintenance.” No fuss, just quick and easy. So when I began my wedding dress search back in February, I knew exactly what style of dress I was going for: something modern, sleek, elegant…but most of all, sexy. I planned on using my wedding day as the opportunity to show my friends and family that, believe it or not, I clean up pretty nice.

I started out by going to Borders and picking up a nice stack of what my husband affectionately refers to as “wedding porn.” Having watched more episodes of Say Yes To the Dress than I care to admit, I knew exactly what style I wanted – Mermaid. As I got deeper and deeper into the wedding porn, all the dresses I loved were from Mikaella. I harnessed the great power of the internet to find the closest distributor and embarked on my dress buying adventure.

While I am sure most brides will not agree with this sentiment, I can honestly say that trying on wedding dresses was the easiest and most rewarding shopping experience I’ve ever had. Having an unusual body type – long legs, no torso, endowed chest – has made shopping for clothes no picnic. Not to mention the fact that what used to be a size 8 is now a size 12…it’s enough to make any normal size girl scream.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by my positive experience. These revised/ridiculous sizes apparently have some perks. Most stores carry this distorted size 12 as their sample size. So as I shimmied into the first dress and zipped up…there was no need for those jaws-like clips to pull in the dress. It fit like a sexy, modern glove. I couldn’t believe it! Other than the top being slightly large (shocking, as that is not my usual problem), the dress was perfect. It hugged every curve, showed just enough cleavage, and created the most beautiful silhouette. I knew from that moment that this was the one. I tried on a few more just to pacify my entourage, but there was no denying it – Mikaella 1406 was the dress.

After one of my fittings a friend asked me, “How are you supposed to pee in that dress?” I was immediately met with sheer panic. How was I going to pee in the dress? All of the things I loved about my choice were now causing me to freak out. The snug fit through the hips an upper thighs left little room for any type of maneuvering. Why didn’t the wedding porn warn me about this? People told me to make sure I could breathe in the dress, but this…this concern came completely out of left field.

I spent a good deal of time thinking about this dilemma. It was too late to choose another, more forgiving dress…so what could I do? The only partial solution I could come up with was to ditch the shapewear. One less barrier to entry (or exit, in this case) calmed my nerves a bit. I knew in a real emergency I could count on my bridesmaids to help a sister out. And they thought their responsibilities were limited to looking pretty and helping to package favors…

Now that the wedding is over, I realize why the wedding porn glossed over the potentially dangerous drawback of this sexy style: you don’t have time to breathe at your wedding, let alone drink. A few sips of water and three gulps of champagne during the celebratory toasts comprised my liquid consumption that evening. Crisis unintentionally diverted!

The moral of the story is – wedding dresses are not practical, but they are intended to make you feel your most beautiful. Sometimes that means suspending bodily functions for a few hours. Small price to pay for one of the most important days of your life. Embrace your sexy choice and just make sure you have few friends to help you balance and lift your dress over your head in case you find the time to enjoy more than one glass of champagne.

Wedding Songs Should Not Be Chosen During a Late Night Fast Food Run

3 Sep

When my fiance Matt and I first started dating we spent an evening out with friends at Anvil Bar & Refuge. After a few Singapore Slings and Blackberry Swizzles, we left in search of some late night munchies.

Note: This adventure predated the installation of El Real, so our 2 a.m. food choices in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood were limited. Please don’t judge.

I had learned earlier in the week that Matt had never eaten at Jack in the Box. I couldn’t understand how a 22-year old male had never enjoyed the establishment’s yummy curly fries, so I insisted we go to the franchise around the corner to feed our need for a greasy, unhealthy snack.

While waiting in the drive-thru, Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” came on the radio. This wasn’t unusual, as it was the summer of 2009 and the song was on constant rotation. What was unusual was the reaction the song elicited from the newbie couple just patiently waiting for their curly fries at 2 a.m.

Rather than just sitting there, we decided to embrace the song. We put our hands up ‘cuz they were playing our song….noddin’ our heads like yeah, movin’ our hips like yeah. Before we knew it we were belting out the song at the top of our lungs. When I look back at our relationship, this is definitely one of those moments where I thought, “wow, this could be the guy for me.” I know that sounds silly – it was such a trivial event – but when you meet someone that you can be completely and utterly silly with and don’t have to worry that they’re judging you – that’s something special.

Ever since that night we’ve joked that “Party in the U.S.A.” is our song. This was fine and had absolutely no implications for our relationship….until we got engaged.

We soon realized that our obnoxious yet playful tune would not suffice on our wedding day. For starters, you can’t slow dance to it. Second, it’s by Miley Cyrus (enough said). And third, my family (especially my dad) takes music very seriously, and choosing a mediocre-at-best, Top 40 hit by a Disney Channel starlet would be a huge blow. I can see my dad now: “Christina…why….why have you forsaken me? Did my taking you to the Voodoo Music Experience and Austin City Limits teach you nothing? Your horrible song choice has broken my heart. You are no daughter of mine!”

For 7 months we procrastinated making the commitment to a more age- and occasion-appropriate song. The long list of contenders for our new anthem was narrowed down to two. It was a close call between Boyce Avenue’s “Teenage Dream” (Katy Perry cover) and Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan cover)….but we went with Adele. The song is beautiful, the artist is relevant and it’s not overdone. We can’t wait to hear it played for us on October 22!

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