Now that the Save the Dates were designed and printed, the website was completed, the honeymoon location selected, the registries created and the mail merge finished doing my dirty work, I was ready to prepare the Save the Dates for mailing. Yay!

std01Ready to get stuff (get it?! stuff… hehe) done! // Personal photo

I grabbed a favorite blanket, turned on an episode of Castle (crime solving and puns – yes please!) and got to work. My supplies included my printed envelopes, my printed Save the Dates, stamps chosen by Mr. PB and an envelope moistener. I like to do all of one tasks at a time, so first up was stuffing. I purposely stuffed the envelopes so someone who opened it from the back would see the large football/ring picture first. After all of that was done, I let the envelope moistener do the next step. Don’t know what that is? Well, let me introduce you.

std02Conan wanted to help introduce you and the envelope moistener. // Personal photo

I bought mine from Office Max and two came in one package. It’s great because it has a little pad at the end, like the glue sticks from elementary school. You dab down a little on a scrap piece of paper, activate the moistener (which includes an adhesive – score!) and then squeeze just a little as you slide it over the sealant on the envelope. Boom, bam, done. No worries about having a Seinfeld-esque fate.

std03Notice the j&k as part of our return address? I’m serious about this branding stuff, people! // Personal photo

Now you may notice that I have quite a bit of Save the Dates left. Well, silly me, I forgot about the households that I will be sending multiple invitations to but only one save the date. So, I may have ordered over 100 Save the Dates when really about 70 would have been sufficient. I live and you learn, you’re welcome. On the bright side, I ended up with plenty of extra stamps to use towards other mailings like thank you cards and invitations.

The next day I headed off to the post office and mailed out the first official mailing for our wedding.

std04Action shot! // Personal photo

As silly as it may sound, especially seeing I had already done so many other wedding related tasks, there was something about mailing out the Save the Dates that really made the wedding start feeling real. I’ve thought about weddings and planned them in my head so many times that it takes something like sending out these tickets to remind me this isn’t all pretend. It’s really happening!

Did you send out Save the Dates? If so, did it make things feel more official to you as well?

Please tell me you’ve heard of a mail merge. It is the most fantastic, heavenly, delightful thing this side of peanut butter cups.

A mail merge can transform a spreadsheet of addresses into addressed envelopes in a matter of minutes. Labels, pens and hand cramps are no longer necessary. Sounds amazing, right?

The first thing necessary for a mail merge is a spreadsheet packed with the names and addresses of those you are sending something to. I wanted to be able to use one spreadsheet for everything we send out, so I separated each person into multiple columns in my Google spreadsheet. I’ve already sang my praises for Google but this is another time having things stored in Google Drive is extremely helpful. It doesn’t matter if you’re at your future in-laws, at work or at the grocery store, you can update an address right from your smartphone (assuming you have one). Anyways, back to the job at hand.

My address spreadsheet has 11 columns. This may seem excessive but there’s a method to my madness.

mailmerge01Sadly, these are just fake names and addresses for these wedding “guests” :P

Column A: Sort This column is coded so I can easily sort by which guests are friends of mine (J), friends of Mr. PB (K), his dad’s side (M), his mom’s side (L), my dad and step mom’s side (G) and my mom’s side (S).
Column B: Total This is the total number of people in that row. I did this so I could use the summary function once I was done with all the addresses and get a number.
Column C: Women This is the number of adult women in each line so I could get a potential guest count for the shower.
Column D: Family This column is the last name of the family so I could sort the addresses alphabetically by last name. If there is more than one listing of a specific last name, I put the first name of one of the people as well to help with sorting.
Column E: Proper Name (Invite) This column is the formal name for the invitation. We don’t have any doctors or officials on our guest list, so this was pretty straightforward. If there was a child living at home but over the age of 18, we still sent them their own invitation. Also, I made it a point to get everyone’s name to include them on the invitation; there’s just something about ‘and guest’ that I don’t like. Seeing we only had a select few people are invited to bring guests, this was easy to accomplish. Also, to continue with my efforts of branding, I used an ampersand for the names instead of and. Just a little something that I’m sure not many noticed but it made me happy.
Column F: Proper Name – Second Line This column is for the very few children that we invited to the wedding. I feel similarly about ‘and family’ as I do about ‘and guest’ so I wanted to make sure the little ones got some love as well.


Column G: Casual Name – Family (STD) This column was intended for when the Save the Dates. For those that were going to receive multiple invitations because of children over 18, I didn’t think it was necessary for them to receive multiple StDs. So I went with the family name if there were multiples in this case. This also cuts down on the number of StDs you need to order.
Column H: Casual Name – Family (Thank You) This column has everyone separated out with their casual name (DJ Tanner rather than Donna Jo Tanner) for when we send thank you notes. I wanted to make sure the names are on the envelopes for the thank you notes, rather than just the family name.
Column I: Address This column is pretty self explanatory. If you are going to be doing a mail merge, be sure to separate Address from City, State Zip. You’ll see why shortly.
Column J: City, State Zip Another obvious one. If you want the zip code on a separate line on your envelope, be sure to separate that and add another column. Word to the wise: If you have any zip codes that begin in a zero (Britney Spears’ above, for example), making a separate zip code column could cause some trouble with the spreadsheet trying to remove the zero.


Column K: Female Only (Shower) This column is the adult women separated from the rest to help with the eventual shower addresses.

So now that you have all your addresses organized and in one place, it’s time for the fun. You cannot do a mail merge directly through Google Drive so you will need to download the spreadsheet you just created to use in Microsoft Office or Open Office. I’d be lying if I said I can walk you through a mail merge seeing I always rely on directions I find online. I have Open Office on my home computer and the directions I use can be found here. For those using Microsoft Office, you can find instructions here.

If you are doing addresses for Save the Dates, you would want to use the Column H: Casual Name – Family (Thank You), Column I: Address and Column J: City, State Zip. You also have the opportunity to insert your return address. When you select which fields to use during the mail merge, make sure you don’t select the blank fields if you have any in that column.

Once you’ve followed those instructions, you’ll get something on your screen that looks like this:


It will be in your default font type and size. You can customize this just like you would any word document. Feel free to change types, sizes and even differentiate between the name and address.


Here I changed the recipients name to a larger cursive type font and the address to a font I like better than the default. Follow your mail merge instructions to complete the merge. I always merge to a file first rather than printing directly. By merging to a file first, you can make sure you don’t have a font that is too large to fit a long name, an envelope that is missing a name or a zip code that is only four digits. You should get something like this:


Now all you need to do is feed the envelopes through your printer and viola! You have address envelopes that look like perfection!

Anyone else love a good mail merge like I do? Who’s brave enough to try it for the first time?

November to December is normally a whirlwind for me. I am a huge Christmas fan so a lot of my time and efforts go into find the right gifts, decorating the house, baking, crafting and making sure that everything is amazing for those who I love and who I call family and friends. The past month for me has had moments where I devoted time and effort to wedding related things (our invites, getting my dress ready, urging the groomsmen to get fitted) but above all, this past month has made me look at the wedding in a different light.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I started to feel some numbness in my feet. I shrugged it off as nothing worth noting but it persisted for a week and then two. So I called the doctor, have had a bunch of tests done and am still waiting a final verdict on what is going on with my body. At this point, it’s assumed it’s a bulging disc in my lower back. Throughout this, I’ve been forced to slow down, relax and try to focus on me a little bit more, give my body a rest. It’s also been emotionally taxing but Mr. PB, my family and his family have all been supportive and helpful. It’s scary not knowing what’s going on with your body but feeling the love around you definitely helps you navigate the course.

Another thing that happened this holiday season is a gift drive at my work for families in need. The organization I work for serves school-age children and some of those children and their families struggle to meet basic needs throughout the entire year, not just the holiday season. In alignment with me being honest, I know how those students feel and didn’t live the most luxurious life growing up with my mother. I sympathize with students who understand others have more than them, who have learned to appreciate small tokens as gifts rather than gaming systems and expensive boots and who have families that struggle to put food on the table. One family in particular struck a chord with me and made me realize that all the money that is going into the wedding is for one day, one event.

Mr. PB and I already have a plan on how to give back to others through our wedding (more on that later), but this was an immediate call to action that needed to be addressed. I had been having a hard time finding an affordable videographer in the Rochester area and when I did, the person I found was horrible with communication. Customer service is a huge thing for me so having the lackluster results was really leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I wanted the video services more than Mr. PB and really, I just wanted to be able to capture our ceremony, our toasts and our dances. I wasn’t even looking for a fancy pants edited video with music and such.

When I heard about this family, I suggested to Mr. PB that we take the money that we had budgeted for the down payment for the videographer and use it towards this family. Without hesitation, Mr. PB was on board and my step mom contributed as well. In the end, we were able to provide a large amount of items for the family, from home goods, kitchen items and holiday decorations to clothing, books and blankets as gifts. Christmas morning meant a lot more to me this year because I knew that family was feeling joy and love as they opened new items they deserved. For me, it was a moment to pay forward the kindness I received from multiple families as a child, when churches would bring us gifts and food boxes. It also was a moment to step outside the wedding mindset and make an impact on the lives of others instead of channeling that money towards something unnecessary for the wedding.

Even though I stepped away from the blog for a little bit, I am happy to be back and can’t wait to catch everyone up on some great wedding related projects that are done and even a few in progress.

Did you have an event during your wedding planning that helped to put things into perspective for you? Did you snap back to reality and realize there are other things that could use your attention (and money) more than wedding extras?

Do you know what that’s the sound of? A registry gun!

registeringI couldn’t resist the zebra print towels! // Personal photo

The only category left to tackle on the wedding website was Registry. Between college, moving to two states and living with Mr. PB for almost three years, I have accumulated a lot of home items. I always told myself that I’d put a Kitchenaid mixer on a wedding registry one day but Mr. PB gifted that to me our second Christmas together. A wedding registry intimidated me because I knew there aren’t a lot of items for us to put on it. The intimidation grew when I saw all of the suggestions on the web for the number of items to register for based on guest count – much more than I anticipated we could come up with.

With around 150 guests, that’s at least 120 items we should register for. // Source: It’s a Brides Life

We decided that we would do a traditional registry at a store, along with a honeymoon registry, like many other bloggers. The honeymoon registry would provide more options for our guests and to help make the honeymoon a bit more budget friendly.

After reading posts from many bloggers about the different honeymoon registries, I decided to sign us up for Honeyfund and pay the $45 for the premium site. By doing so, it gave the site a more professional and personal feel, which I feel will help those who are hesitant deviating from the traditional store registry. To find items to add, I scoured through different trip, restaurant review and attraction websites. Mr. PB even looked into some restaurants that he thought he would want to visit. When putting the items on our Honeyfund, I broke each item down into $20, $25 or $50 increments so people could contribute at varying levels. I also included a link to the place’s website (if available) and wrote up a blurb for each one.

honeyfundA sample of our Honeyfund // Source: Screenshots from Honeyfund

I added the cost in the description to help people understand why we want six $50 Disneyland items – because the total cost is approximately $300. And yes, you read that right, our airfare has already been fulfilled by some amazing family members! We were able to get the tickets at a steal (less than $600 total for both round-trip tickets!). Tip: Honeyfund will email you when someone purchases something off of your registry. If you decide to do a Honeyfund and you want the element of surprise to be kept in tact, you should set up a rule in your email account so the emails redirect to a subfolder.

As for our traditional registries, we went with Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. At first, we only picked out about 30 items from the two stores combined because everything we looked at, I figured we already had – plates, silverware, serving dishes, towels. After discussing with my MOHs, I realized that maybe it would be a good idea to upgrade items we already have, such as matching silverware vs. a haphazard collection, glass platters vs. plastic, coordinating towels vs. mismatched ones. With this thinking, we were able to increase our registry eightfold.


Real, adult items – upgrades from our current collection // Source: Screenshots from Bed Bath and Beyond and Target

Being the math and numbers lover I not so secretly am, I compared the number of items on our traditional registries and Honeyfund to the above chart. The result?

compareOur registry by the numbers // Personal Photo

So what did I deduce from this comparison? We registered for more items than suggested but the cost of those items is half the suggested value. What does this mean? Nothing, really. We registered for what we would like and/or need and didn’t follow any rules. Just another example of taking suggestions as just that, suggestions, not rules to live by.

How did you decide what to register for? Did you find a resource that was helpful when you made your registry?