Truly Engaged: Registering Outside the Box

Categories Wedding Planning

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.

Wedding Registry Gift ideas

With less than four months until our wedding day (gulp!), Tim and I have been immersed in one of the more fun tasks on the to-do list: creating a wedding registry!

While browsing registry checklists for inspiration, we ran across all the classics — from colanders and cutting boards to bed skirts and blankets. (Let’s not forget all the wedding “wares”: silverware, cookware, kitchenware…) I have to admit, it’s fun to meander down the aisles and go <beep> with the scanner—it’s like “pinning” for gifts!

However, as we began shopping and scanning, we realized that while the classic essentials are nice, we don’t necessarily need (or want) everything on those lists. We also felt that these lists no longer applied to our more modern relationship, lifestyle and habits.

We realized we wanted to expand our options and create a registry that not only reflects what we need, but also who we are and what we enjoy. Just like every other aspect of our wedding, we wanted the registry to feel personal, meaningful and relevant. In other words, we wanted it to feel like “us”.


Here are some ways we’ve been working to achieve that goal:

Creating an Online Registry

While we like Target, Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, etc., these stores don’t always carry the more hobby-specific items that Tim and I might enjoy. Therefore, we decided to sign up for MyRegistry—a website that allows you to add gifts from any site on the Internet. We even downloaded a button to add to our toolbar–that way you can quickly add to your registry from any website on the Internet. We really like having the freedom and flexibility to “register outside the box”. For example, I added a women’s hiking daypack from REI since Tim and I love to go hiking.

Other non-traditional registry websites allow you to register for your honeymoon (Honeyfund) or for enriching experiences (Cloud 9 Living).

Note: We’re still registering at two department/national stores, so that guests who prefer the traditional, in-person shop-and-buy experience can do that, too.


Adding Gifts that Reflect Our Current Lifestyle and Future Aspirations

Tim and I have been trying out different idea-generating methods to help brainstorm gifts that will be meaningful, relevant, and enriching to our lives as a married couple.

For example, we browsed pictures of us together and rummaged through my “boyfriend box” (yes, I can proudly admit to still having one) to jog our memory of fun dates and activities we’ve done in the past. We asked ourselves: What sort of gifts might help us create more happy, enriching memories like those?

We’re also exploring the idea of registering for cash gifts towards enriching experiences. For example, we’d love to go on a hot air balloon ride, so MyRegistry allows us to add a “cash gift” and label it “Hot Air Balloon” so that guests know what their money will go toward.


Thanking Guests for “Experience Gifts”

Although we might not cash in our “experience gifts” immediately, we will still send a thank-you note soon after receiving it (we practice good etiquette!). However, I’ve been thinking of a neat idea: sending an additional thank-you note after we have done the actual experience. For example, we could mail a postcard or photo card of us actually doing the experience (ex. hot air balloon ride), with a thank-you note attached or on back.


I’m curious about how other couples are personalizing their wedding registries. Have you recently registered for your wedding? What tips/ideas do you have for personalizing the registry?



Hey all–we’re kicking off summer with a June Giveaway on Facebook! MagnetStreet Weddings is giving away 300 Wedding Programs to one lucky Facebook fan. Enter here!

Have a great weekend everyone.


Truly Engaged: Disconnecting to Stay Connected

Categories Resources

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.


Meeting with vendors. Finalizing the guest list. Ping-ponging emails back and forth with my wedding party…. With so much to plan, pick out, decide, and do, I’ve realized that it’s far too easy to make “wedding planning” the starring role in my life–and more importantly, my relationship. Laughing and lounging get replaced with planning, prioritizing…and let’s not forget pinning!

Once I even caught myself zoned out at the computer, “pinning” my way into zombie-like state while my fiance–the love of my life–is merely yards away, fast asleep in our bed because he grew tired of waiting up for me. (Not a high point for me.)

I’ve realized that I have to stop being a “bride” and start being a better partner. That means regularly “disconnecting” from the wedding planning in order to reconnect with the whole reason my wedding even exists: my my partner, my lover, my best friend for life.


Below are a few ways we’ve been able to take regular “time-outs” from the wedding in order to stay connected and close with each other.

Photo courtesy of


You’ve Got Mail

Sure, there are texts, tweets, and emails–but to me, nothing beats a little love note sent by hand from the heart. There’s something very romantic and intimate about a hand-crafted note.

My fiance and I bought these adorable little mailboxes from Target around Valentine’s Day–we  have them displayed on our end table in the living room. Whether it’s a poem, a piece of candy, or a motivational pick-me-up after a bad day, Tim’s little love gifts never fail to make me smile. My heart goes aflutter whenever I see flag flipped up! We’ve even gotten a little creative with what we can fit inside the miniature mailboxes. (My proudest achievement:  a tiny puppy stuffed animal that barks “I WOOF you!” when squeezed. Success!) Life gets busy, but these little gifts are a way to say  I love you, I’m thinking of you, and you are important to me.


It’s a Date!

I value fitness, so I try not to miss my weekly Pilates class. Awhile back I realized: Why not dedicate that same regularity and commitment to my relationship? I figure, if we’re about to embark on a lifetime of commitment, the least we can do is commit ourselves to a couple “mini dates” per week. That’s why we have developed Pizza Wednesdays and Sunday Strolls.

Pizza Wednesdays includes a take-and-bake pizza from Whole Foods (spinach feta, preferably) and either a movie, a board game, or just some casual conversation (no wedding talk!). No matter how busy the week gets, I know I can count on Pizza Wednesdays to keep me connected with my love.

Our second weekly tradition, Sunday Strolls, entails a sunset stroll around the nearby lake. If the weather is bad, then we walk around the track at the gym. Getting outside the house (and couch/computer/TV) really helps us focus on each other and touch base with the non-wedding aspects of our lives. Whether we’re talking about career goals, a current event, or something totally silly, it’s great to just engage in a conversation that doesn’t include “the W word”.


Seize the Moment

In addition to weekly “mini dates”, my fiance and I have learned to seize the moment whenever we find ourselves with a free couple of hours. I’m a bit of a “planner”, but with our lives getting busier and busier, I’ve learned to embrace–and even enjoy–these spontaneous dates that spawn from our rare moments of free time.

For example, if we find ourselves free on a Saturday afternoon, we might simply walk out the door and go browse the consignment shops near our place. Or, we might drive to the global market nearby to check out a new ethnic eatery. Often times, these “unplanned dates” turn out to be the most relaxing, fun, and enjoyable dates of all. To quote John Lennon: “Life happens while you’re busy making other plans.” For us, love happens while we’re busy planning a wedding! :)



Are you engaged or recently married? How do (or did) you “disconnect” from your wedding planning in order to stay connected and close? I’d love to hear your ideas!


Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings


Mini mailboxes photo courtesy of Me and Him


Truly Engaged: New vs. Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

Categories Dresses + Resources

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.

A bride may have found her true love, but she is still out there in the world searching, dreaming, and waiting for “the one”….or, in other words: the perfect wedding dress.

Well, at least that is how we all see it in movies, right?

In truth, I’ve always secretly feared wedding dress shopping. To me, it feels a little bit like speed dating–if, of course, your date was a dress and was being carefully watched/judged by 3-5 close friends or family members.

Lately I’ve been looking into a modern, untraditional idea: buying a pre-owned wedding dress online.

There are a few reasons I’m intrigued by this idea:

  • I like the “history/story” behind vintage or used clothing
  • I love finding great deals on good designers (just snagged a neon floral Rachel Roy party dress for $25 at a consignment shop!)
  • I’m trying to be more eco-friendly with my clothing choices
  • I want to save money to use toward adding some cultural, DIY flair to my dress

Fortunately, there are a handful of websites out there that allow past and future brides to sell and buy pre-owned wedding dresses–perhaps because of the tough economy and the rising trend of vintage/antique fashion.

To help me narrow my shopping focus, I’ve created a list of dress priorities:

  • Flattering fit/size (I’m barely five feet tall, but I’m also curvy)
  • Simple silhouette that can be easily altered/adjusted (to add some DIY flair)
  • Good quality fabric, beadwork, etc.(can’t look “cheap” up close)

However, since this is such a big wedding decision, I’ve been asking myself: Should I buy a pre-owned wedding dress? Is it the right choice for me?

To help me decide, I crafted my own list of pros and cons to buying a pre-owned wedding dress:

Pre-Owned Wedding Dress: Pros

Good Condition: Although not “brand new”, pre-owned dresses are typically only worn a few times, and by only one bride (unlike sample dresses, which could have been worn by many different brides).

High Quality, Low Cost: There are a few designers whose style/quality I really like, but unfortunately, their prices are outside my budget. However, pre-owned designer dresses are often sold at 40, 50, even 75% off the original price.

Ability to Splurge on Other Details: By spending less money on the dress itself, I can transfer those savings toward other details that are important to me–such as incorporating aspects of an Indian saree into my gown (my fiance is Indian Jamaican).

Promoting “Green” While Wearing White: I’m trying to be more eco-conscious with my clothing, and buying a pre-owned dress would allow me to reduce my own waste by reusing someone else’s dress. Plus, after my wedding, I can recycle the dress further by donating it or re-purposing it into a summer or cocktail dress. The dress gets to enjoy a long life filled with lots of love (now that’s a fashion trend I can definitely follow!).

Pre-Owned Wedding Dress: Cons

Blind Shopping/Buying: It’s definitely a risk to invest in a dress that I haven’t even seen or tried on–not only because of the fit, but also because of the quality/condition. However, some sellers do accept returns (knowing that brides are more likely to buy if they have the option to return), and I could narrow my purchase choices to returnable dresses only.

Pre-altered: Chances are that the bride had it altered to fit her individual body, which makes it hard to know the true size/fit, despite the dress and street size listed. However, many brides post pictures of them wearing the gown, which helps me see if her body type is similar to mine.

No “Brand New” Sparkle: The simple truth is this: the dress isn’t new. It’s already been purchased and worn. For something so personal and intimate as a wedding dress, buying it “used” might not feel as special and unique. And like many brides, I do want to feel special and unique on my wedding day.

So, there they are: my pros and cons to buying a pre-owned wedding dress. I’m still making my final decision, but this list has really helped me see the bigger picture to make an informed decision. Maybe you can use this list as a starting point to create your own pro/con wedding dress list.


Are you a bride who bought or sold a pre-owned wedding dress? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the experience!


Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings



Truly Engaged: Avoiding Wedding Budget Blindness

Categories Budget + Resources

I’m getting married! Now what? Truly Engaged is a new blog series written by Rachel, our *newly engaged* staff writer. As she wades her way through the wedding planning process, she’ll be sharing some of the emotions, inspiration, and insight she uncovers along the way.


Pretty soon after getting engaged (and actually, even before I was engaged, since I write for MagnetStreet Weddings), I found myself being slowly submerged in a beautiful sea of all things “wedding”: wedding blogs, glossy magazines, and TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “My Fair Wedding”.

Of course, I can’t forget the newest (and most addictive) species in the wedding sea: Pinterest! Don’t get me wrong: I love Pinterest and find it incredibly helpful for capturing inspiration and ideas. However, while pinning pretty pictures of custom cake toppers and sparkling Jimmy Choo wedding heels, I often forget to picture the actual price tag behind all these glittery items.

I’ve realized how easy it could be to go temporarily “budget blind” while planning a wedding. I knew that I needed to get a firm grasp on values–not only monetary values, but personal values, too. I knew I needed to clearly define what was most important to me and my fiance on my wedding day.

After sitting down with my fiance, we nailed down our top priorities. Now, just because an item is a top priority doesn’t mean we have to spend “X amount” of dollars on it. If I can snag a great deal on a top priority item, then wonderful! (I’m a bride who loves a bargain.) However, these items are important enough that we are willing to spend more money on—if need be.

That said, we do have money set aside for the top items, and any surplus will go toward the items farther down on the list. (After all, I’d hate to get distracted by a couture gown, only to realize I ran out of money to hire, or pay, my talented and reputable photographer—something that is much more valuable to me when I don’t have my “wedding budget blinders” on.)




Our Top Wedding Values : 

The Big Three (Must Have)

1. Venue: Booking a venue that matches our personalities, passions, and life as a couple. The overall vibe is very important to us, and that begins with the location and venue.

2. Officiant: Hiring an officiant that is open-minded, OK with interfaith weddings, and allows us to create a highly personalized ceremony. We come from different backgrounds and want to have a ceremony that is meaningful, unique, and honors our beliefs and backgrounds.

3. Photographer: Hiring a photographer that can produce beautiful, vibrant photography—especially candid shots that capture emotion. I don’t want to stress about whether the photos come out great or not–I want to enjoy my wedding day with the full confidence and comfort in my choice of photographer.






Inspired by: Romantic Mason Jar Wedding Stationery


The Middle Three (Prefer to Have)

1. Attire: We don’t need our wedding apparel to be couture or trendy, but we do value quality clothing that captures our creativity and culture.

2. Food: As Indo-Caribbeans, Tim’s family loves spicy, flavorful dishes. We hope to find a caterer that specializes in these dishes.

3. Stationery: As a writer for MagnetStreet, I’ve come to really value high quality, personalized stationery that I can infuse with my own creativity and personality.


The Final Two (Good to Have)

1. Music: I love music, and come from a musical family. Since I already know some good musicians for the ceremony and/or reception, I put this farther down on my list. But, if I didn’t know any, then I would’ve put this item higher up.

2. Decor: My fiance and I want vibrant colors and a cozy, yet eclectic ambiance. But, we’re willing to accomplish this through DIY and browsing thrift stores and wedding consignment shops. For us, the general mood/tone is more important than the types of materials used to achieve it.


I’d love to hear from my fellow brides and grooms out there: What are your top priorities? Or what methods have you used to help prioritize your wedding budget?



Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

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