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Wedding Ideas

My Trio Rings Blog provides useful information about how to experience the timeless traditions of marriage on an affordable budget

How to Pick an Affordable, Designer-Look Diamond Cluster Ring

by Kelly Smith Tuesday, 17 May 2011 Wedding Rings

One of the most prestigious purveyors of diamond engagement rings in the United States is Tiffany & Co. But like most high-status jewelers, their products are not very affordable for most people. Fortunately, that does not mean that you can’t get a designer look at a lower price. Choose a quality real diamond cluster ring that looks similar to popular designer rings at a much lower cost. Here’s how.

Scenario 1designer-diamond-cluster-ring-2

The Tiffany Round Brilliant with Channel-Set Band Engagement Ring features a round-cut solitaire diamond set above a row of smaller diamonds set in a channel in a white gold band. It is generally paired with a matching wedding band with smaller diamonds set in the band. $10,300 is the starting price for this engagement ring without the matching wedding band.

My Trio Rings offers a much less expensive trio wedding ring set that has a similar design. The engagement ring is a diamond cluster ring that has a cluster of delicate, high-quality diamonds set in a circle above a row of smaller diamonds set in a channel. Both the ladies’ wedding band and the men’s wedding band also have a row of smaller diamonds set in a channel to coordinate with the engagement ring. The price for all three rings is less than $900, which offers a savings of more than $9,000 compared to the Tiffany ring, as well as including three rings rather than only one.

Scenario 2

designer-diamond-cluster-ring-1The Tiffany Novo Ring has one large diamond solitaire in an almost square-shaped cut with a stripe of smaller diamonds nestled into the white gold band. It is often paired with a coordinating wedding band that is embedded with a row of smaller diamonds. Just the Tiffany Novo engagement ring alone starts at $11,500 for a 1 carat diamond.

You can find a much more affordable trio wedding ring set with a similar visual impact from My Trio Rings. For less than $700, you can purchase a coordinating set for you and your spouse-to-be that includes an engagement ring and two wedding bands. The engagement ring is a diamond cluster ring with a large square-shaped diamond cluster in place of the diamond solitaire of the Tiffany ring. The engagement ring, the ladies’ wedding band, and the men’s wedding band all feature a similar row of smaller diamonds embedded in the white gold bands. This beautiful trio wedding ring set is just as beautiful as the Tiffany engagement ring, and it costs almost $11,000 less.

With My Trio Rings, you can get the designer style you want without paying a designer price.

5 Signs that You Are Ready to Propose

by Kelly Smith Tuesday, 17 May 2011 Proposal

ready-to-proposeMany guys have trouble deciding when it is the right time to propose to their girlfriends. Guys get a lot of ribbing because of this, but healthy fear of commitment is not a bad thing. You want to be certain that you are getting married for the right reasons. You want to be sure that you are choosing the right person to spend your life with. Here are some signs that it might be time for you to start seriously browsing diamond cluster ring sets and coming up with creative proposal ideas to make a commitment to spending a lifetime with your girlfriend.

1. You think about her all the time.

If you would rather spend all of your free time with the guys, then this might be a sign that you are not passionate about spending time with your girlfriend. If you have been dating for quite some time, however, and you are still excited about hanging out with your girlfriend, then that is a good sign that your relationship has lasting passion, and you might be ready to propose.

2. You like to talk to your girlfriend.

If you are equally excited about going to the big game with your girlfriend and accompanying her to a chick flick, then you have a healthy balance in your relationship. If you are just as happy hanging out, making dinner at home, and talking with your girlfriend rather than going on an exciting date, then you are more prepared for the realities of married life, and you might be ready to propose.

3. You can’t imagine life without her.

If your vision of your future includes your girlfriend, and you can’t imagine a future without her, then it might be time to take concrete steps towards creating that future together. If you know that she feels the same way, you may wish to start looking for the right diamond cluster ring to make your love official in front of your family and friends.

4. You share values and future goals.

Married couples don’t always see eye to eye on everything. However, if you and your girlfriend share similar values and goals, then you have a much more solid foundation for a strong partnership in the future. This is especially true for more potentially controversial issues such as money, religion, and raising children. If you are on the same page for important issues, then you might be ready to propose.

5. You have helped each other through stressful situations.


When you get married, you vow to be there for each other for better or for worse. If you have successfully helped each other navigate major life changes and other stressful situations, then you are more prepared to be supportive partners to each other when unexpected stress arises in your lives and in your marriage. Even doing something like taking care of a pet together or taking a trip together can help to show you whether you are compatible and supportive in stressful situations. If you are, then you might be ready to propose.

What are other signs that you’re ready to pop the question?

Photo: Patrick Tobin

Tips for Personalizing Your Budget Wedding

by Kelly Smith Friday, 13 May 2011 Wedding Ideas

budget-wedding-ring-pillowSuccessfully planning a wedding on a budget is all about prioritizing. In order to stick to your budget wedding plan, you will want to decide what parts of the wedding you most want to spend your hard-earned money on, as well as where you can economize. Some couples worry that a budget wedding will be less personal, since they have less money to spend on extras. However, by deciding what matters most to you as a couple, you are actually creating a wedding that is influenced more by your individuality than by popular wedding trends.

Be certain to allow a little wiggle room in your wedding budget for some personal touches. Pick an inexpensive diamond cluster ring set that truly reflects your personalities. Select a creative wedding venue that is meaningful to both of you. And consider small homemade touches that show your guests who you are as a couple. Etsy.com is a website that sells a wide variety of handmade treasures made by talented individuals. On Etsy, you can choose beautiful and inexpensive items to give your budget wedding a personal flair. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Wedding Ring Pillows


Ask your ring bearer to carry your diamond cluster ring on a custom-made pillow that reflects your family background or your personal style. For an old-fashioned wedding, how about a vintage lace pillow? You might like a simple burlap pillow to coordinate with your chosen color scheme at your green wedding. Or search for a pillow that celebrates your ethnic background, such as a sari-inspired ring pillow.

Wedding Cake Toppers

Forget the molded plastic wedding cake toppers, and opt for a more personal option. Consider custom-painted (yet inexpensive) wooden figures that are designed to look like you and your spouse-to-be. If you have decided to opt for a tower of wedding cupcakes instead of a more traditional wedding cake, you might want to choose cute paper cupcake toppers to insert into the cupcakes. Or you might prefer to choose cake toppers that match your wedding location or theme, such as a pair of lovebirds or a pair of lobsters for a beach-themed wedding.

How do you plan on personalizing your wedding while sticking to your budget? Share your creative ideas in the comments!

How to Choose Budget Wedding Rings

by Kelly Smith Tuesday, 03 May 2011 Wedding Rings

budget-wedding-ringsFor many couples, one of the most confusing parts of deciding to make a life together is choosing the right budget wedding rings. Shopping at a traditional brick-and-mortar jeweler can seem easier at first, since there are people right there to answer questions, but in actuality, such jewelry boutiques are usually more expensive than online jewelry stores, and the salespeople can be much pushier. If you want to save money, your best bet is choosing a reliable online jewelry store with an excellent customer service record, such as My Trio Rings, where you can find high quality but inexpensive wedding ring sets crafted with conflict-free diamonds. Here’s what you need to know.

You may have heard a lot about the 4 C’s. These can seem confusing, but basically these are the standard indicators of diamond quality and price.

1.    Cut indicates the shape of the diamond. The most common cut is the round brilliant cut, which is designed to make a diamond even brighter by creating more surfaces to reflect light, thus making the diamond appear shinier.
2.    Color refers to the color of the diamond. All diamonds are not exactly the same color. There is actually a spectrum between stones that are entirely clear in color and those which are more yellowish in hue. Most people prefer a more colorless stone, which is indicated by a letter that is earlier in the alphabet. More yellow stones are described with a letter that comes toward the end of the alphabet.
3.    Clarity describes the imperfections of the ring. For a ring with fewer flaws, choose a ring that is described with an F or IF.
4.    Carat weight means the weight (and hence size) of a diamond. Larger diamonds are usually more rare and thus more expensive.

Now you can use your knowledge of the 4 C’s to help you browse inexpensive wedding ring sets and purchase your budget wedding rings online without needing to speak to any pushy salespeople. Generally, the best way to save money on real diamond rings is to purchase diamond cluster rings, which group several smaller diamonds of a lower carat weight to get a higher visual impact at a lower price. Since the diamonds are smaller, it is less expensive to group higher quality stones together. In other words, the diamonds in diamond clusters are likely to be more clear in color and have fewer imperfections since they are smaller and less expensive.

Another excellent strategy when you are hoping to save money on budget wedding rings is to select trio wedding ring sets. These inexpensive wedding ring sets include three coordinating rings: a woman’s engagement ring, a woman’s wedding band, and a men’s wedding band. Since they are manufactured, packaged, and marketed together, it is usually much cheaper to buy them together rather than shopping for three separate rings.

Royal Wedding Fever? Fun Facts About Kate’s Diamond Cluster Ring

by Kelly Smith Tuesday, 26 April 2011 Wedding Rings

royal-diamond-cluster-ringThe biggest wedding news of the year is the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which will occur at 11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time on Friday, April 29 in Westminster Abbey. After dating for some seven years and privately discussing marriage for about a year, William reportedly proposed to Kate on a holiday to Africa with friends in October 2010. According to interviews, William carried his mother’s diamond cluster ring in his pocket for a few weeks before the proposal, waiting for the right moment, but Kate was not expecting William’s romantic proposal since they were visiting Kenya with friends. Their engagement was announced by the royal family on November 16, 2010.

The ring that William used to propose to Kate is his mother’s engagement ring, an 18 carat sapphire ring surrounded by small diamonds. This diamond cluster ring has sentimental value for William, and he told Britain’s Sky News that his use of the ring is his way to include his mother in the excitement of his upcoming marriage, even though she is not alive to celebrate William and Kate’s union.

William and Kate met at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. They began dating in 2003 after living together as flatmates with a group of friends. In the early days of their courtship, William tried to impress Kate with his cooking, but Kate frequently had to rescue his meals from burning on the stove. Kate was initially nervous about meeting William’s family, but she says that both Prince Charles and the Queen were very welcoming to her when they first met.

Kate Middleton’s use of Princess Diana’s diamond cluster ring to symbolize her engagement to Prince William is certain to inspire wedding ring designers to create affordable wedding rings that imitate the style of that engagement ring as well as Kate and William’s wedding bands. As a result, couples who are looking for affordable wedding rings will be able to commemorate their love in royal style. It is likely that as soon as Kate’s top-secret wedding dress is revealed, designers will create more affordable copies of her style so that even couples who are planning a wedding on a budget can have a fairytale royal wedding at an affordable price.

Are you planning to watch the royal wedding this Friday? Are you hoping to find ideas for your own nuptials?

Budget Wedding Dos and Don’ts

by Kelly Smith Thursday, 21 April 2011 Wedding Ideas

budget-wedding-dosWedding planner Lindsay Averette knows both the smart ways to save money and the essential splurges for couples planning a wedding on a budget. Keep reading for the final installment of our wedding planner interview series. For more expert advice from Lindsay about sticking to budget wedding plans, check out the following previous posts: Budget Wedding Tips from a Wedding Planner, More Expert Budget Wedding Tips, and 3 Budget Wedding Tips from a Professional Planner.

What DIY wedding projects do you recommend?


While DIY is often a dangerous approach to such an important day, there are some things that might be fun projects for you and your hubby-to-be. If you’ve got crafty genes, creating table numbers and escort cards is an easy printable project. I’ve often had grooms who really want to be involved, so for outdoor ceremonies they have built their own wooden ceremony arbors or wedding signs. Keep in mind the value of your time when you take on DIY projects as part of planning a wedding on a budget. The money you save may not be worth the time you put into the project.

What should couples not attempt to do themselves?


Oh, where to begin? All of the major things that contribute to the success of a wedding—catering, photography, entertainment, flowers—shouldn’t be DIY’ed by you or your friends, even for a budget wedding. I’ve mentioned the reasons for some of these already in previous posts, but there are professionals in this industry for a purpose. There is so much risk if you don’t hire a wedding professional. The cake your friend made falls apart before you even get to cut it. Even though you’ve checked and rechecked your iPod sound system, it fails right in the middle of your first dance. Friends and relatives have pitched in to make the food to serve, but they seriously underestimated the amount of food, and half of your guests are starving. Quality does not have to equal expensive.

Is a wedding planner an important investment for couples on a budget to make?


Yes and yes. And I promise I’m not just saying this because I’m a wedding planner. I will say that I don’t think a full service planner—from start to finish—is always necessary. However, I do always recommend a day-of or month-of coordinator. There are certain things brides, grooms and family should not have to stress about or coordinate on the wedding day itself. If Aunt Sally sends you and your wedding party down the aisle, how is she supposed to see all the action herself? If you don’t have a coordinator and the DJ announces the cake cutting, where’s the bride? Oh, you’re in the bathroom. The coordinator would have delayed the announcement until you were ready. If there is not already a coordinator with your venue, the easiest decision you should make is to hire one. Even if you are planning a wedding on a budget, the success of your wedding and the smiles on everyone’s faces should far outweigh the money spent on hiring a wedding planner for a few hours.

Lindsay owns and operates LK Events and Design, a wedding and event planning company in Richmond, Virginia.

Photo Credit: lilszeto

Creative Budget Wedding Guestbook Ideas

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 13 April 2011 Wedding Ideas

Budget-wedding-guestbookSmart couples in the process of planning a budget wedding recognize the need to prioritize their wedding dreams in order to stay in control of their budget. Many couples prefer to spend their money on big-ticket items like a professional photographer, a beautiful bridal ring set, or a gourmet wedding cake. It is easy to forget how quickly the cost of the smaller details adds up in a budget wedding. One easy way to save money is to get creative with DIY wedding projects and materials you already have on hand. A unique and inexpensive wedding guestbook, for example, might be as close as your desk drawer. Here are a few creative ideas to get you started.

1. Decoupage your own photo book.

Find an unused composition book in your desk, or buy one inexpensively at a local office supply store. Collect photos of you and your spouse to be. For a more formal black and white look, xerox the photographs, and decoupage the black and white versions onto the guestbook. Mix your own decoupage solution by gradually adding water to white glue until it reaches a texture that is easily spreadable with a paintbrush. Paint the surface of the composition book with the glue solution before placing a photo. Once the photo is positioned, paint over the entire top of the photo. Repeat until the front and back covers are covered with special memories. Let dry completely before use.

2. Invite guests to write on index cards or recipe cards.

Find or purchase a stack of index cards or recipe cards, and put a small stack on each table at your budget wedding reception. Instead of the standard guestbook station, ask your family and friends to fill out an index card for you during the reception with a favorite easy family recipe on one side and their wishes for the bride and groom on the other side. After the wedding, you can store the cards in a small filing box; you could also punch holes on the sides of the cards and tie them together with piece of ribbon.

3. Ask your guests to sign scrapbook pages or a photo mat.

Set out a couple of pages of wedding-themed scrapbook paper and high-quality pens for guests to sign papers that will either go straight into your wedding scrapbook or could also be framed and displayed. If you know that you’ll be displaying your guests’ wishes in your home, ask guests to sign a large photo mat with a thin black marker or pen. When your wedding photos are printed, choose your favorite one to frame with the signed mat. Consider picking a black and white close-up photo of you and your new spouse holding hands; it will show off the bridal ring set surrounded by heartfelt messages from your wedding guests.

What are your creative ideas for a budget wedding guestbook?

Photo Credit: Corey Ann

How to Create a Budget Wedding Registry

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 13 April 2011 Wedding Registry

budget-wedding-registryPart of planning a wedding on a budget is searching for high quality services for the lowest possible costs while prioritizing your needs and desires. Similar skills are needed to create a smart budget wedding registry. You will need to consider that many of your guests may also be trying to cut costs. It is smart to list gifts in a variety of price ranges to that each guest can purchase a gift that is within their comfort zone.

No matter what gifts you register for, be certain to select items for your registry that will last a lifetime. Don’t choose trendy items or things you may not use. Choose well-reviewed, long-lasting products that will last a long time so that you won’t need to spend money on replacements a few years into your marriage. Smart registry choices now, while you are in the process of planning a wedding on a budget, can save you money in the future.

When you are selecting kitchen items to include on your budget wedding registry, you may wish to avoid nonstick pans which often get scraped up and need to be replaced within a few years. Possible alternatives include pre-seasoned cast iron pans, which can last forever if cared for properly. Stainless steel is another durable cooking surface that you may wish to consider. This is also a good opportunity to consider high quality glass bakeware such as Pyrex, or long-lasting stoneware casserole dishes from companies such as Le Creuset.

When selecting glasses and dishes, choose durable, well-made pieces that won’t show age. For example, white dishes are a good choice because they don’t show chips or scrapes very easily. White is also an excellent choice because it will always match even if your dining room décor changes seasonally. Don’t make the mistake of choosing dishes that don’t go into the microwave or dishwasher if you know you will want to have that option.

It is tempting to pick out exciting new appliances for your budget wedding registry, but it is best to avoid appliances with very specific uses that you may not use very often, such as a funnel cake maker. In general, it is better to choose items that will get a lot of use, such as blenders, crockpots, and toasters. Before you add anything to your registry, you will want to read reviews of that product to be certain that it will last you a long time. This is especially true in the case of appliances. It is better to ask Aunt Mary to buy you a microwave that is well reviewed for longevity than simply choosing the most inexpensive microwave you can find.

What are your best wedding registry tips?

Photo Credit: Jessica Spangler

3 Budget Wedding Tips from a Professional Planner

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 13 April 2011 Wedding Ideas


budget-wedding-photographyMy Trio Rings asked wedding insider Lindsay Averette for suggestions about how couples can plan a budget wedding without cutting too many corners. A wedding planner with her own event planning company, Lindsay knows where to spend and where to save. For more expert advice from Lindsay, see “Budget Wedding Tips from a Wedding Planner” and “More Expert Budget Wedding Tips.”

What splurges do you most recommend for a budget wedding?

Photography and entertainment. The photographs are how you’ll remember the day twenty years from now, when the special day is a distant memory. You don’t want to look back on blurry photos or heads chopped off because you asked a friend to take pictures, do you? Good photography doesn’t have to cost a lot. Shop around to find a photographer who offers a package that best fits your budget wedding needs. Some photographers will even let you pay for their services and a CD of the photos, and you can print the photos yourself inexpensively.

Entertainment makes or breaks a party. DJs are much more than someone who just presses play on an iPod. They read the crowd. They know what songs will get people dancing and what songs to avoid. If you have a friend rolling through your iPod playlist, there is liability of equipment failure AND the pressure to keep the dance floor crowded and guests excited for the next song. Even if you are planning a wedding on a budget, it is best to stick to a professional DJ.

What are your favorite budget wedding websites?

Etsy.com
is a great website to find cute and inexpensive handcrafted details like creative guestbooks, favors, cake toppers, and stationery. For gently used wedding items, the standard resell websites are ebay.com and craigslist.org. These are excellent places to find a wide variety of wedding items that were only used once. Two wedding-specific websites to buy and sell previously used wedding details are RecycledBride.com and WeddingBee.com. If you are planning a wedding on a budget, consider keeping some special memories but also re-selling some of your wedding décor and accessories to recoup some of your costs after the big day.

What are the most common unexpected wedding expenses?

Sales Tax/Delivery fees: Most vendors will quote you a price before they add in sales tax and fees. When planning a wedding on a budget, make sure you allow a cushion for these fees.

Gratuity: Traditionally, you tip catering staff, musicians, hair and makeup artists, and transportation providers. Don’t forget to budget a small percentage for gratuity, even if you are planning a budget wedding!  

Postage: After sending Save The Dates and invitations with a stamped response card, postage can add up quickly.

Lindsay owns and operates LK Events and Design,  a wedding and event planning company in Richmond, Virginia.

Trio Ring Sets to Suit All Tastes

by Kelly Smith Monday, 11 April 2011 Wedding Rings

Not every engagement ring is created equal. All women are very different, and they have very different tastes in wedding and engagement rings. If your girlfriend hasn’t dropped any hints about her engagement ring preferences, you may feel overwhelmed by the variety of options available when you shop for trio ring sets. When you are ready to propose, you may wish to look to your girlfriend’s taste in clothing and jewelry to give you clues as to what her engagement ring preference might be. If you’re still stumped, use this easy guide to get you started.

Simple Trio Ring Sets

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Not all women desire a loud, expensive engagement ring and wedding ring that will capture the attention of perfect strangers. If simple elegance and classic lines are more to her taste, look at an inexpensive wedding ring set such as this one that features a simple row of brilliant diamonds on each 10 k white gold ring. $489.99 is an amazing price for three conflict-free diamond rings that feature such timeless grace.

Romantic Trio Ring Sets

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If your girlfriend is a romantic at heart, you may wish to shop for memorable trio ring sets that feature softer lines. One lovely option is a 10 k white gold ring set that uses the beauty of nature as its inspiration. Delicately curving lines embrace real diamond clusters in a pattern that resembles flowers and leaves. For only $399.99, these beautifully romantic rings are sure to please your girlfriend.

Modern Trio Ring Sets

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For a truly unique but inexpensive wedding ring set with a more contemporary look, you may wish to consider a 10 k white gold set that features clean zig-zag lines with conflict-free diamonds nestled in between. The engagement ring also features a round cut diamond set above the other diamonds for greater visual impact and impressive sparkle. For only $619.99 for all three rings plus free shipping and an excellent warranty, this may be the ring set for you.

What to Pack on Your Budget Honeymoon

by Kelly Smith Monday, 28 March 2011 Honey Moon

budget-honeymoon-luggageOnce you plan the budget honeymoon (http://www.mytriorings.com/6-budget-honeymoon-tips.html) of your dreams, you will need to start thinking about what to pack. In general, it is a good idea to pack light, so that your new husband still has the energy to carry you over the threshold after carrying your luggage up to your hotel room. Here are a few simple tips for packing smart on your honeymoon.

Clothing


Check the weather forecast for your destination before you decide what to bring. Choose clothing items that are comfortable, versatile, and easily dressed up or down with simple accessories. Plan to bring light layers, even in the summer months when you may wish to put on a lightweight sweater over your sundress or shorts in the evening. If you decide to bring new clothing or new shoes on your budget honeymoon, be certain to wash new clothing and break in new shoes before you go. Most importantly, pack a change of clothes in your carry on luggage, just in case your checked bags are misdirected and you want to freshen up before they arrive. If swimming is in your honeymoon plans, consider bringing an extra bathing suit so that you don’t have to put on a wet bathing suit if yours has not fully dried from the beach the day before.

Jewelry


It is a good idea to leave expensive jewelry at home when you travel. Even if you purchased an inexpensive wedding ring set, you may not wish to risk loss, theft, or damage to your wedding jewelry. Some couples choose to leave their real diamond jewelry safely at home and purchase inexpensive fake cubic zirconia rings for travel. If you choose to take your wedding ring set with you, be certain to care for it properly.

Toiletries


Whether you are travelling to a strange city, a foreign country, or just a quiet bed and breakfast a few hours away, it is a good idea to prepare a small medical kit to take on your budget honeymoon that includes all of the prescriptions you need (or might need) to take, as well as your preferred over-the-counter remedies for common ailments such as upset stomachs or headaches. Depending on your destination, you may also need such items as sunscreen and bug spray.

Treats

If you don’t already have a good quality digital camera, this is the perfect time to get one so that you can start recording your memories of your new life together. Consider putting a camera on your wedding registry or buying one as a gift for your soon-to-be spouse so that you can record your honeymoon memories in photographs. Besides a camera, consider packing special treats to share with your spouse on the trip, such as gourmet chocolates, special champagne, or other favorite treats to share, in case you can’t purchase them at your budget honeymoon destination. You may also wish to prepare your own kit of pampering supplies in order to save money on spa treatments. Think about buying special lotion, bubble bath, or massage oil to surprise your new spouse.

What other helpful travel tips can you share?

Photo Credit: Celebratemanking

5 Creative Proposal Ideas for Easter

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 23 March 2011 Proposal

creative-proposal-easterHave you been thinking for a while now that you’re ready to propose to your girlfriend? If you can’t imagine living without her, and you are ready to commit to creating a life together, then it may be time to pick out an inexpensive wedding ring set and surprise your girlfriend with a proposal this spring. Proposals are common at Christmas and Valentine’s Day, so your girlfriend will probably be more surprised by a springtime proposal, such as a creative proposal on Easter. Easter is about a month away, so you still have time to pick out a beautiful wedding ring set and make a proposal plan. Here are some creative proposal ideas to get you started.

Easter Basket Proposal


Purchase an Easter basket and some Easter grass. Fill the basket with a variety of treats that will be special to your girlfriend, such as scented lotion, a pair of soft socks, a gourmet chocolate bar, a new book or movie, her favorite tea, a pottery mug, or even fun things for the young at heart, like crayons or a stuffed bunny rabbit. Purchase a pack of plastic Easter eggs. Fill them with a variety of Easter candies such as jellybeans or small chocolate eggs. Hide a wedding ring set inside one of the eggs instead of candy. Arrange all of the treats and plastic eggs nicely in the basket and surprise her with it on Easter morning.

Easter Bouquet Proposal

Consider a creative proposal at church. Many religious traditions ask that you bring or wear flowers to church on Easter morning. If you are celebrating the holiday together at church, bring your girlfriend a beautiful seasonal bouquet or corsage from the local florist or even from your own backyard. Use a piece of brightly colored ribbon to tie an engagement ring to the bouquet before you hand it to your girlfriend to carry.

Picnic Basket Proposal

Plan an Easter picnic with your girlfriend, and tell her that you will be in charge of bringing the food. Pack a picnic basket full of your girlfriend’s favorite seasonal foods that you either make yourself or buy from your favorite restaurant or deli. Some springtime picnic favorites include pasta salad, fried chicken, deviled eggs, and fruit salad. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of chilled champagne or sparkling cider and glasses. Nestle the ring box into the basket with the food. Spread out a picnic blanket at your favorite park or nature area, and ask your girlfriend to unpack the food. As she takes things out of the basket, she will be surprised to find a ring inside!

Easter Bunny Proposal


Plan a creative proposal with the help of the Easter Bunny at your local mall. Take your girlfriend out to breakfast or lunch, and then suggest taking a picture with the Easter Bunny as a couple for fun. When you both sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap, pull out the ring and propose. If you can, warn the Easter Bunny photographer ahead of time so that he can be certain to catch the proposal on film for a special memory that will last a lifetime.

Easter Cupcake Proposal


Designer cupcakes are all the rage right now. Ask your local bakery to create two fancy cupcakes to share with your girlfriend for Easter dessert. Choose her favorite cake flavor, and ask the bakery to decorate the cupcakes in a creative way that incorporates the beautiful wedding ring set that you picked out. Serve the cupcakes after a special dinner at home, and surprise her with delicious his-and-hers wedding ring cupcakes.

Photo Credit: pamramsey

More Expert Budget Wedding Tips

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 16 March 2011 Budget Buy

budget-wedding-tips-from-wedding-plannerMy Trio Rings recently talked with Virginia-based wedding planner Lindsay Averette to find out how smart couples can spend their wedding dollars wisely while they are planning a wedding on a budget. Here are more of her insider tricks to saving on common wedding expenses.

Can you give any examples of ways that having a wedding planner can help cut wedding costs?

More often than not, a good wedding planner has established relationships with quality vendors. Because of this relationship and constant referral system, oftentimes vendors are willing to throw in an extra hour of services or give discounts on products to couples planning a wedding on a budget with a specific wedding planner.

Recent clients of mine had a specific price limit for budget wedding entertainment—including a DJ for their reception, as well as a ceremony musician.  The DJ that they fell in love with was in the top tier of professionals in our area and almost rounded out their entire entertainment budget. Because I had referred him on many different occasions, he threw in an extra hour of services to the couple for free AND, as he’s a booking agent too, he gave them a $100 discount on a harpist for their ceremony.

Do you have any other specific insider tips for couples who are looking to plan a lovely wedding at a low cost?

Aside from my previous major cost-cutting suggestion, slashing the guest list, the easiest way to plan a budget wedding in every vendor category is to cut costs by holding your wedding in the off season, and, even better—on a day other than Saturday! Many times business is slow for wedding vendors in less popular wedding months and are willing to give you a deal on their services in order to stay busy. However, if you’ve been dreaming of that outdoor, garden wedding on a Saturday in May, here are some other ways to save:

Flowers and Décor


Research the flowers that are in season during your wedding date and in your region of the country. If the flowers don’t have to be shipped, you save money! Lately, the trend is an earthy, organic look for floral design. Many florists are now utilizing bushes, trees, and flowers from local gardens. Take advantage of these local, homegrown goodies as a way to save money.

Oftentimes, post-holiday sales will strike and you can grab up some gorgeous vases, unscented candles, lanterns, and other non-floral décor for your budget wedding at a deep discount. Mix some non-floral centerpieces in and save money!

Food and Beverage

Don’t be fooled into thinking that buffets are cheaper than plated, served dinners—most of the time, they rival in price. The chef will often have to make a larger cushion of food in anticipation of Uncle Fred eating 4 plates at a buffet, versus only the one that’s served to him at a plated meal.

Serve only wine and beer, or wine, beer, and a signature cocktail. A full open bar is extremely expensive. If you are having an outside caterer handle the bar, check to see if you can provide your own alcohol for them. Oftentimes you can return all alcohol that’s unopened.

Cake


Sugar flowers and decorations are more expensive than non-edible décor. Also, if size doesn’t matter to you, opt for a smaller, simpler cake design and have a larger decorated sheet cake in the back to serve to guests.

Stationery


Skip the traditional inner envelope, ribbons, or paper folds. These invitations cost more to mail! If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, it is best to stick with a clean, single sheet invite.

Lindsay runs a wedding planning business called LK Events & Design in Richmond, Virginia. She has a few more budget wedding tips to share with cost-conscious couples in the coming weeks.


Photo Credit: Sugar Daze

Plan a Budget Wedding with an All-Inclusive Package

by Kelly Smith Tuesday, 15 March 2011 Ceremony

All_Inclusive_Bud-get_Wedding_DestinationPlanning a wedding can be expensive. Unless you’re planning to have a budget wedding in your own backyard and make a lot of the preparations yourself with the help of family and friends, it is all too easy to go over your budget. Since paying for each wedding service individually can add up quickly, some savvy couples who are planning a cheap wedding choose to purchase an all-inclusive wedding package to save money. Here are three ideas to consider:

1. Mexico Wedding


If you’re interested in a budget wedding at a tropical destination, consider an all-inclusive wedding package from the Grand Velas resort in Riviera Maya. For a little over $2,000, you can have a small wedding package that includes an officiant, flowers, a photographer, a wedding planner, a ceremony for up to ten guests, music, champagne, and even wedding cake. Just bring your wedding clothes and your spouse to be, and all of the arrangements are taken care of for you. A destination wedding like this also saves money since it serves as a wedding and honeymoon all in one. After the wedding, enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean, relaxing on the beach, exploring the jungle, and unwinding at the spa, all within a close proximity of the hotel.

2. Cruise Ship Wedding

If you are planning a cheap wedding and wish to have more guests but still would like to opt for a more exotic location, choose an all-inclusive wedding package on a cruise ship. Carnival cruise line is equipped to host weddings at a wide selection of ports, whether your guests are joining you on a cruise or are simply flying in for the big day. For a little over $1,500, you can have a wedding docked in a city such as Key West, Florida, that includes an officiant, a wedding planner, a photographer, a ceremony for up to twenty guests, music, flowers, reception food, a wedding cake, an open bar, and a champagne toast. After the ceremony, you can relax and enjoy your honeymoon cruise without having to lift a finger.

3. Las Vegas Wedding


Las Vegas is a popular wedding destination for many budget-minded couples. Many Las Vegas resorts offer competitively priced budget wedding packages. The Flamingo has a garden wedding chapel with a variety of all-inclusive wedding packages available. In addition to offering all of the standard wedding amenities, some Flamingo wedding packages also include spa credit and the free use of a limousine. After the wedding, enjoy your honeymoon in Las Vegas, where you can eat gourmet food, watch shows, observe wildlife, go shopping, try your luck in the casinos, or even just relax in the sun by the luxuriantly landscaped hotel pool.

If you’re familiar with other all-inclusive wedding packages, please leave a comment and share!

Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa

Creative Proposal Traditions from Around the World

by Kelly Smith Thursday, 10 March 2011 Proposal

creative-proposalYou love to spend time with her, and you can’t wait to spend your life with her. If you’re ready to propose this spring, and you are looking for creative proposal ideas, think about bypassing the more common down-on-one-knee proposal. Instead, consider modifying wedding and proposal traditions from other cultures around the world.

Rings of all kinds have been exchanged to symbolize engagement or marriage since ancient times. The Egyptians believed that the round ring symbolized eternity, and they advocated wearing the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand as many Americans still do today, because they believed that a vein in the ring finger leads directly to the human heart.

The first documented exchange of a diamond ring to signify an engagement occurred in 1477 when Austrian Archduke Maximilian proposed to Mary of Burgundy, but until the 19th century, engagement rings were not as popular as other engagement gifts, such as sewing thimbles or livestock. Since the 19th century, though, diamond rings have become the standard symbol of engagement in America. Today, 80 percent of American women receive (or help choose) a ring when they become engaged, and they wear a wedding ring set that includes both an engagement ring and a wedding band after the marriage.

Choose a beautiful and affordable wedding ring set that includes an engagement ring for your bride-to-be. Then read the ideas below to help inspire a creative proposal that your girlfriend won’t forget!

Chinese Proposals

The families of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be have traditionally been very involved in the proposal process. Once the couple decides to get married, the families often get together to exchange gifts: money wrapped in red envelopes, tea, wine, and sweets, such as a double happiness cake decorated with traditional Chinese symbols. If you want to modify this tradition, gather your families together for an Asian-inspired evening complete with a double happiness cake from your local bakery. Pop the question with the whole family there to share in your happiness.

Kenyan Proposals

Wedding and proposal traditions vary widely among different African cultures. In the Rendille tribe in Kenya, a man sends beads to the woman he is interested in marrying. If she keeps the beads, then the couple is considered to be engaged. The woman’s family then gives her a special ornament to add to her beads if they also accept the engagement. If you wish to copy this tradition for your creative proposal, consider purchasing a special fair trade necklace in addition to a conflict-free diamond ring.

Swedish Proposals

In Scandinavian countries, men and women often both wear a ring to symbolize their engagement. If you want to copy this tradition, pick out a ring for yourself to coordinate with your fiancée’s ring. This ring can double as your wedding band, or you could pick out another ring as a wedding band. In Sweden, men also give their brides an additional ring at the wedding, the ring of motherhood. If you choose to use these traditions, a more standard wedding ring set package would not work for you, but your jeweler might be willing to work with you to customize a set.

Women’s Proposals

Although it is still traditional for men to propose to women, there is one day a year when women have historically proposed to men. Ladies, if you want to propose to your fiancé, the traditional day is February 29. The English traditionally considered this day to be outside of law, which meant that it was a day when women could be free from conventional gender restrictions. The next leap year is less than a year away, so start planning now if you want to surprise your boyfriend with a creative proposal in 2012.

What are the most creative marriage proposals that you’ve heard about?'

Photo Source: APDK

4 Creative Wedding Venues

by Kelly Smith Thursday, 10 March 2011 Wedding Ideas

creative-wedding-venueWhen you are planning a wedding on a budget, you probably want to avoid country clubs or pricey wedding packages at expensive resorts as possible locations for your wedding. Getting married in a church is generally affordable, depending on the church, but some couples want to plan something more unconventional. Fortunately, there are many creative wedding venues for the budget-minded bride and groom, if you are willing to shop around. In general, the more you are willing to do yourself, the more money you can save. Here are four affordable, out-of-the-ordinary venues to consider:

1. Parks

Many municipal, state, and national parks offer excellent prices on facility rentals, especially if you’re willing to ask friends to help you set up for the big day. Plan an outdoor wedding beside a beautiful vista, and rent the adjoining picnic shelter for a nontraditional reception after the reception, such as a barbecue. Some parks also have cabins or lodges that could be a creative wedding venue option for an indoor wedding.

2. Gardens

Getting married at a botanical garden or a garden associated with a historic home is an excellent way to save money on decoration and flowers, since the flowers growing in the garden create a beautiful, pre-decorated venue for a wedding. Simply purchase a bridal bouquet that coordinates with the flowers that are in season at the garden, and you will be all set. Some colleges and universities also have gardens that might be available for wedding use. Consider renting a big tent for an outdoor reception.

3. Waterfronts

Waterfront locations are very popular as creative wedding venues. If getting married by the water is a priority for you, steer clear of fancy waterfront hotels or expensive wedding cruises. Instead, ask around about area parks that border a body of water or more secluded public beaches. You may also want to consider renting a pier that juts out into the water. For a smaller wedding, a reception at a favorite seafood restaurant within walking distance might be the perfect fit.

4. Backyards

If you are planning a wedding on a budget, having a wedding at home may be just the thing to keep costs down. Instead of paying a rental fee, use that money to spruce up your house and lawn. Clean up the yard and get creative with landscaping. Plant bushes, bulbs, and perennials to decorate for the wedding, cut down on your florist bill, and enjoy for years to come. If you choose this option, you will want to start planning the landscaping as soon as possible to make certain that the plants are well established before the big day. You may wish to choose the date for your wedding based on when your favorite flowers will be in bloom.

What are other creative wedding venues that you would recommend?

Comparison Shopping for Wedding Ring Sets

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 23 February 2011 Wedding Rings

BT133WA real diamond wedding ring set is an investment that will last a lifetime if you take proper care (http://www.mytriorings.com/how-to-care-for-your-wedding-ring-set.html) of your conflict-free diamonds. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to go into debt to purchase a wedding ring set that you will be paying off in small monthly payments for a lifetime. Smart couples will choose beautiful diamond wedding jewelry that they can afford, in order to start their marriage off on the right financial footing. By avoiding expensive brick-and-mortar boutiques and doing comparison shopping online, most couples can find the wedding ring set of their dreams without breaking the bank. Let’s take a peek at some of the options.

World Jewels


From World Jewels, the least expensive option is a 7/10 carat diamond wedding ring set with 14 K gold for $799.99. This price is for a diamond cluster wedding ring set that only includes an engagement ring and a women’s wedding band, not a men’s wedding band, which you would need to purchase separately. World Jewels offers free shipping and a limited warranty plan, but its cheapest wedding ring set option is still quite pricey.

Gordon’s Jewelers


Gordon’s Jewelers offers a lovely 1/4 carat diamond wedding ring set mounted with 10 K white gold for $579. This wedding ring set also only includes an engagement ring and a ladies’ wedding band. Although Gordon’s offers free shipping, the need to purchase an additional ring makes this an expensive option.

My Trio Rings

My Trio Rings offers a selection of different affordable trio wedding ring sets for under $500. These sets include the engagement ring, the ladies’ wedding band, and the men’s wedding band for one low price. One of the best deals is the 1/4 carat conflict-free diamond wedding ring set with 10 K white gold for $379.99. My Trio Rings offers excellent customer service, free shipping, and a strong warranty for every purchase.

Budget Wedding Tips from a Wedding Planner

by Kelly Smith Wednesday, 23 February 2011 Budget Buy


budget-wedding-adviceThere are many different ways to go about planning a wedding on a budget. Before you even get engaged, you should be certain that you are taking steps to start a life together on the right financial footing. I talked to wedding planner Lindsay Averette to find out more.

What are the best signs that a couple is ready to get engaged?

The easiest way to answer this question is with a question: are you ready to plan a wedding, or are you ready to plan a marriage? Often in preparation for an engagement or even in the actual wedding planning process, couples lose sight of what this monumental occasion really means. Would you be just as happy eloping as planning a huge affair with 200 of your closest friends and family? If the answer is yes, then you’re probably heading in the right direction.

It also probably helps if you’ve had the occasionally awkward but absolutely necessary conversation of finances. Let’s be real here: everything costs money. An engagement, wedding, and future cost money, and costs can escalate quicker than you think. If your financial priorities are parallel—with everything from home furnishings to future children’s college savings—you’re on the right path to getting hitched!

What do couples need to know about planning a wedding on a budget?

In a nutshell:
The guest list is a direct correlation to how much you’ll spend for the big day. Now I’m not telling you to dwindle your list of friends or go burn a bridge with that coworker of five years before you get engaged, but I am telling you that one of the best budget wedding tips is to be practical about who you invite.

In more detail:

With an engagement comes the overly excited Aunt Sally who will ask every question under the sun: “When’s the big day? Where will you have it? Who will you invite? I’ll send you my list—we can’t forget your great uncle’s best friend’s daughter, you know!” My advice to you is: prepare for the hot seat. Have a pow-wow with the people involved in the wedding, and I don’t mean just you and your fiancé. If Mom, Dad, or even Aunt Sally are helping pay for this affair, they are in on the action as well. This is a good chance to hash out wedding budget, as well as discuss ideas and expectations for the planning months ahead.

What are the most important budget wedding tips you share with couples?


It is critical that you make a list of priorities when planning a wedding. Would you rather have custom linens or an amazing photographer? Do you want your guests to eat, drink and be merry or must you have that one-of-a-kind designer gown? From your highest priority to the least important item on your wedding planning checklist, it’s vital to map out where you’ll spend your hard earned cash.

Once you’ve mapped out your budget, STICK TO IT. It is incredibly easy to let the excitement of planning a wedding reflect in your budget. Next thing you know, you’ve spent $400 on gorgeous matte satin linens, when your original plan was to stick with the linens included in your catering package.

Lindsay owns and operates LK Events & Design, a wedding and event planning company in Richmond, Virginia. Stay tuned for more insider tips from Lindsay in the coming weeks!

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