Don’t Dread the Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

Wedding dress shopping is a little girl’s dream! That dream quickly becomes dread when reality hits and we go in and see the price tag associated with many of those dresses: Hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In most cases this is a one day event and the million dollar dress will be hung up for all eternity. For a big day your big dress doesn’t have to have a big price tag. There are a plethora of options that can help you save HUGE on a gorgeous gown for your big day.

We often look down on the used dress but let’s think about that for a minute. Often we rationalize buying an expensive gown because we think we will pass it down to our children one day. First, how frequently does that actually happen? And, second, isn’t that a used dress? Yes, there is a different connotation there but even so, it is not new. Let’s not knock it before we try it…on, at a price more pleasurable to our pocket books.

There are many sites online or boutiques/thrift stores that you can scour for the dress of your dreams. The “dress styles of the year” are designed by bridal magazines and the wedding industry to fool brides into thinking they have to purchase a brand new dress that matches the current trendy styles. Don’t buy into the consumerist mentality. Go out and choose a dress that suits you.

 

My advice is to go to try on many different dress styles to find the one that makes your heart sing and then go and scour those used dress websites or thrift and boutique stores to find the one that works for you at a fraction of the  brand new dress price. Even with alterations included you will come out way ahead.

It may take some self talk, but buying a used dress as opposed to a new dress will bring life once more to a dress that is meant to shine and not hide out in someones closet forever. Take a leap, go try on a used dress to get the feel of it, and you just might fall in love! What are some other places you have found to look for wedding dresses that don’t cost an arm and a leg? What are your thoughts on used wedding dresses? Let us know what you think in the comments below. We look forward to the discussion. Til next time Pengminions!

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Don’t Go Home to Visit Friends & Family, Meet Them Somewhere!

by Richard Furleigh

Going home to visit is a wonderful thing, getting to reconnect face to face with family and friends is a special time to say the least. The only real downside with this is you’re going back to a place that typically is unchanged and unless there is just some wonderfully amazing thing that you have to have in your life, there isn’t much more other than visiting those people that makes it worthwhile.

Instead why not have a destination visit home?

One of the ideas Kristen and I have been kicking around for a little bit is getting together with my parents (who still live in Texas) and rather than going to go visit them, having all of us meet up somewhere new! This idea struck us as we were talking one night and Kristen was lamenting the thought of going back to visit. “It’s not that I don’t want to see your folks, but your hometown is so lame.” In fairness, she is 100% correct on that one. “Why don’t we just go somewhere else and we can all meet up and hang out there?” And thus a grand idea was born.

Rather than have one set of people go to the other, have everyone meet up at a destination outside of their homes! Travel isn’t super cheap, so this lets us kill two birds with one stone in the sense of traveling to a place we want to visit, and getting to spend time with the people we love. On top of that, getting to experience new and exciting things with them will make the trip that much more memorable! I could go back to La Porte, or we have fun in Hawaii and talk about our lives there. Call me crazy but one sounds a lot more fun than the other.

Of course you want to take the time to get input from as many parties as possible before deciding where exactly you want to go. For example we have decided to go on an Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2018 with my family. Both my Mom and sister were excited about the possibility of seeing whales, Kristen gets to check another state off her list, my Dad loves boats and wants to visit Alaska really bad, and I’m looking forward to the off boat excursions that we can do in the wild north. So there is something for everyone to be excited about.

Are there any friend or family visits coming up for you? Try to change it into a group vacation instead! Rally the troops and find a place everyone can find something fun to do. It promises to be a much different time than a typical visit back to the homestead. Until next time Pengminions!

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Why Kristen and I Almost Didn’t Get Married (For a Good Reason)

by Richard Furleigh

The decision to get married is a big one; one of the biggest of your life. The decision to spend the rest of your life with one person is daunting to say the least. Now, Kristen and I love each other (a lot) but when talking about the rest of our lives we had a serious debate whether we wanted to get married or not. We definitely wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but the question was the paperwork behind it.

It wasn’t until more recent history when governments at a local and state level began requiring licensing for marriages; starting around the mid 19th century.  Prior to that announcements in newspapers or by word of mouth in communities was accompanied by a simple ceremony without all the lavish trappings of modern weddings.

For Kristen and I it came down to a few things. One, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and didn’t need a piece of paper telling us that. Two, those pieces of paper do cost money to get in addition to the time required to go get them processed. So in many respects it just felt like an unnecessary step in our lives.

The United States however thinks otherwise in many respects. Unless we wanted to jump through a ton of other legal hoops at various points in our lives, being married is one of the only ways to ensure life with your chosen partner is smooth in the legal sense. End of life care, life insurance, health insurance, taxes, offspring rights, even renting an apartment all become massively more difficult to navigate if you are “together” but not married. On top of that, with our name change we would have had a harder time convincing a judge to allow it.

In the end we did get married in Harris County, but only for the simplicity of legal processes throughout our lives. I really wish the US and it’s states made unmarried life for committed couples a little more accommodating in this respect because, as I stated, it really just feels unnecessary. We love each other and choose to be together and we don’t need a document to tell us that.

We do know there are couples out there who have chosen to go without that paper, and we would love to hear from you so some of our other readers can be informed too! What issues have you run into and how have you overcome them? Do you have any recommendations for others who may think about doing the same? Let us know down below and thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge! Until next time Pengminions!!

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Your Wedding Decor For LESS

What seems to be the most daunting task is also in my opinion the most fun when it comes to weddings. The decor. From picking colors to theme to the little details. These things can also often come at a hefty price. It doesn’t have to however. If you plan enough in advance you can actually do most if not all of it yourself. I know there is the dreaded “Pinterest Fail” but fear not; there are plenty of easy to do craft ideas that will save you money.

When putting together your wedding remember that all inclusive or renting might seem like an enticing option and my guess is, it is easy, but I have found out that when purchasing the items you need like chair covers, table runners, decorations, place settings at a similar price as renting would be it is more cost beneficial for you. When you are done with those items you can turn around and sell them afterwards. The awesome thing about that is even if you don’t sell every piece after your shindig you could effectively not pay a dime or at the very least much less than had they been supplied for you. These items you could even save for later use. Maybe you like to host brunch or a party; you would be all set. The best part is you spend less on your wedding!

a centerpieceLet’s talk about flowers. Most brides can’t wait to have fresh flowers throughout but we all know that those truly cost an arm and a leg. If you can’t live without and are determined to have fresh flowers for your wedding I suggest finding simple arrangements that you could do yourself or just a couple single flowers for your table settings. Rather than calling up your local florist try your grocery stores or budget stores that do fresh flowers, Sam’s, Costco, just to name a few. You should go ahead of time to order the flowers in bulk for the day you need them. Discuss with them the state (bloomed or not and how long before they do) that your flowers will arrive so you can make a decision on when you need your order to arrive and the care to take so they will be beautiful for your big day. This one thing alone will save you hundreds!

The decorations throughout don’t have to be lavish. If you are willing to have similar but not identical set pieces thrift stores are your best friend. If you haven’t figured it out yet; I LOVE THRIFT STORES! Have an idea for theme and you can find some great pieces at fractions of the price that will fit your style. Craigslist is another great resource. Like you will hopefully be doing, other brides will sell off their pieces after their big day. Another fun personal thing you can do is place tiny photos of your relationship on the tables; this adds a nice touch to let your guests into some of your adventures as a couple. It is also relatively cheap to do at Walgreens. You can even make your own table ornaments by saving glass sauce jars and fashioning them to fit your style.

Each of these are things that Richard and I did for our wedding and it came out beautifully. What have you done to save on your wedding decor or have you tried some of the things we did? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments! Til next time Pengminions!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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Hubris

“It’s often foolish pride that tells us we’re not wrong” – What If I Was Nothing? by All That Remains (one of my favorite hard rock love songs, who says headbangers can’t have feelings too?!)

When it comes to relationships I feel pretty confident in saying that this one thing more than almost anything else is the killer. Yes your ex’s of the past may have been slobs, or didn’t show they cared, or were too controlling, or any other slew of problems. But, peel back the layers however and I’m willing to say that a lack of true consideration for the other person stemming from an inflated sense of ego is at the root of it all. Even in my relationship with Kristen, which I think we work pretty well together most of the time, I see the telltale signs on both ends of arguments.

Acknowledging this lurking monster has been one of the greatest challenges of my adult life. Looking back I can see how this one thing has torpedoed past relationships with people, and strained others with family and friends. So what exactly have I been doing and how can it maybe help you?

  • For starters it helps to try to keep a level head before the real argument even starts, once things begin to go red it’s too late. Understanding that in most cases the other person isn’t genuinely trying to be mean, it’s just a matter of how you’re interpreting the situation that is leading you down this path. Back up a little bit and try to understand where they are coming from.
  • If you find yourself getting agitated during a conversation ask yourself why is it that you feel that way? Exploring the rationale behind your emotions is a powerful tool to not only understanding the situation better but understanding yourself.
  • Learning to take criticism (even about small things) is pivotal. People don’t like feeling like they’re nagging, but if something is out of place or unclean there is then good reason to bring it up. General cleanliness can make items easier to find for future use, and can lend to a general sense of well-being. Not helping the other person feel good about their living situation is selfish to say the least.
  • On the flip side of that one, learn to let some small things go. Not every blanket, shoe, and cup has to be put back 100% of the time. Much in the same way that letting go of your ego about not needing to “keep everything perfect” isn’t helpful; insisting that everything be in it’s perfect little place isn’t either  and can be just as selfish. Balance is sometimes found in the grey areas.

These are only a few of the tools I’ve employed, but much of it comes down to self monitoring. That in itself is another crucial tool for life but here it has such a profound impact, if you are honest with yourself and allow yourself to grow out of it.

The next time you find yourself approaching argument territory in life pause for a moment and ask yourself why? If you’re honest I bet you’ll find a completely different way to navigate the situation in a much more positive way! If you have any other tips feel free to leave them below! Until next time Pengminions.

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The Furleighs in San Francisco

When work inadvertently schedules you three days off in a row what do you do? Pack up the car, get a pet sitter, and take a quick trip of course! Following up on some of our travels I present to you our time in San Francisco.

Day one was venturing to the infamous Alcatraz Island. The island itself was surprisingly beautiful if you took away the giant steel and concrete looming over you. Getting inside to see the prison however was intimidating and even a little inspiring. If you’ve never visited it isn’t until once you’re inside that the true magnitude of the whole place hits you. It’s almost unsettling to think of the history such a facility has, and surprising some of the tales of reform that came from inside. One of the more dramatic stories from Alcatraz has nothing to do with it’s time as a prison, but after it was abandoned. First nation peoples took up residence for a period from November 1969 to June 1971 declaring the island belonging to all native people. We left the island and proceeded to walk, everywhere, for the rest of the day. Coit tower, Chinatown, and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

Walking through Chinatown was almost surreal, hearing almost no English being spoken around us and seeing almost all signs written in another language was a very different experience. While there we stopped by Boba Guys, which without a doubt had the best boba tea Kristen or I have ever had. We wrapped up at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, which is simply spectacular. The entire space made me want to perform a Shakespeare production right then and there. By the time we were done however I was tapped out, and we had to take a Lyft back to our car since I felt like I was about to get some massive blisters otherwise.

Day two started out with us at nearby Muir Woods national Monument, one of the last places on Earth with naturally growing redwood trees. The colloquial use of “walking among sleeping giants” was exceptionally apt here with trunks the size of cars that would then shoot into the sky making you hurt yourself in an attempt to actually see the tops. The adventurous penguins we are we ventured off onto one of the side paths to get away from the crowds and get into the woods a little more. It was well worth it as the beauty of the area revealed itself more and more in the quiet. Once we left there we hung out a little in San Francisco before heading to The Exploratorium and met up with one of Kristen’s friends from back in Victoria, Sarah.

I had never heard of The Exploratorium until we researched places to see in San Francisco, but I am so glad we were able to get there since it’s pretty much a giant science/art/physics/natural world playground for adults. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We parted ways with Sarah and headed off to meet another friend who lived in the area. We met with Sydney after she got done with her rehearsal for her show she was working on. The local bar we met at had a great vibe to it and had a stellar home made sour mix, which led to a phenomenal amaretto sour for Kristen. Our evening ended at a karaoke bar that was hosted by a karaoke DJ who also happened to play the harmonica, sing all the background vocals, and play the saxophone.

On our last day we finally got San Francisco’s famous crummy weather which was a bummer, but we came prepared! So we tossed on our rain gear and got out to Golden Gate Park for some exploring. We meandered about for a bit before going into the Japanese Tea Garden for some afternoon refreshments. The site was beautifully kept; flowers, koi ponds, manicured trees, and more awaited us as we walked the paths. After enjoying a pot of tea we headed across the street to the Botanical Gardens which had me entertained and Kristen mesmerized. The scale of the plants that thrived in such conditions was quite astonishing, and venturing to other parts of the world’s flora in such a small space was fantastic. We wrapped up our time in the bay by meeting up with Kristen’s mother and another friend, Dylan, for dinner and a stroll along the Ghirardelli Square toward the piers. After buying two pounds of sourdough from Boudin’s (all for me!) we said our goodbyes and it was back to Reno.

All in all our first extended trip to San Francisco was exceptionally amazing, full of adventures, and made even more enjoyable by our friends we met while there (thanks guys and gals!). Do you have any trips coming up shortly? Any places you think we should check out the next time we get down to the bay area? Let us know down below!

Until next time Pengminions!

 

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Your Wedding Day is YOUR Wedding Day

Your wedding day should be just that, YOUR, wedding day. A day for you and your future spouse to celebrate however you deem appropriate. Your day is NOT to please other people. In my opinion it should be a reflection of your love for each other and what you value. Not what your parents, your future in-laws, you other family, your friends, or anyone else believes it should be.

My #1 piece of advice for you is to set your ground rules or share your plans early on in the process. Let those involved know how you feel and what your plans are, especially if you know that their opinions about your wedding day differ from what you plan to do. This helps to alleviate some of the potential blow ups during the process. Not to say that family or friends might not get upset but they should understand that it is your wedding and not theirs; you are inviting them to celebrate your union in a way that represents the two of you. They need to support and respect that. You also want to avoid surprises in the process especially “on the day of” revelations if at all possible. Luckily they don’t all end in disaster but heading them off ahead of time can save you a potential catastrophe.

Richard and I chose an extremely nontraditional route and it took us some time to figure out what exactly we wanted to do. We ended up having what we called a “Soiree” as our reception where we dressed up in fancy steampunk garb and celebrated our coming commitment to one another with family and friends, as a send off of sorts. This was on a Saturday and on Sunday, the 13th of April, we celebrate our anniversary and the day we chose as our commitment day. Spring forward 2 months and that is when we finally got around to filling out paperwork and having an officiant sign our licence for the silly government.

What is usually the ceremony part, our commitment day, was about us and no one else. We felt that at the end of the day no one comes home with us to make our marriage work and we wanted that to be our private event. Yes, family and friends are important and they influence our lives but they don’t live our life and so that is why we chose the reception as a way to include them in our union.

What did you do or are you planning to do that is a little or a lot out of the ordinary? Let us know in the comments section below. Next, we will take you on our journey of how we only spent about $4,000 for our whole shindig! Til next time Pengminions!

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It’s Wedding Season!

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Not my actual wedding dress

It is that time of year, spring/summer, when the weddings seem to be never ending. Every where you look there is another white dress by a costly designer, extravagant venue, artistic masterpieces for cakes, guest lists that go on forever. Bridal magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram all perpetuate this idea of what we “need” for a perfect wedding. The average cost of a wedding in the US is $35,329! You read that correctly. That is minimum $10,000 more than the cost of my Subi!

I am amazed at the amount of money people spend on their weddings. Why? Why are we spending so much money on these one day events? What does putting yourself in debt to start this brand new, beautiful adventure do for you? What is the meaning behind all of it? Are we really thinking about these things before we do them? In most cases I don’t believe we really ask ourselves these questions or give them much thought. This brings me to one of my favorite shows, Adam Ruins Everything, and I would like to share with you his comedic historical based video snippet on weddings.

When planning your wedding I implore you to question what you are spending your money on, ask yourself why, and whether or not it truly is important to you and your significant other. It is just one day, a special one but it shouldn’t put you back monetarily or be about things that don’t matter to you both. Spending more on your wedding makes it more likely to end in divorce, according to researchers at Emory University. Maybe think twice about the extravagance or pleasing others and focus on the things that are most important; the two of you.

These next few blogs I write are going to be about some of the decisions we made for our wedding day that might help you save or think a little differently and creatively when planning your special day.  Til next time Pengminions!

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Using Fear and Anxiety

Kristen and I don’t exactly live in the best part of town. As mentioned before, this is a conscious choice to save a lot of money each month on rent. Walking my dog outside last night I saw a man about 100 feet from me walking through our little parking area with something that resembled a large shop broom. I won’t lie, I felt a twinge of anxiety despite the fact that the man wasn’t particularly close to me nor had he even looked in my direction. He made his way along as Oliver stood there, peeing in the grass, and as I headed inside.

I thought back to other similar experiences when I was younger and how I wasn’t affected in quite the same way. I thought about the naivety that youth gives to us and how it empowers us to make bolder choices in life. I thought about how I’ve gotten older and sometimes that isn’t there in the same way. This seems to be a universal thing for people, and at least for me I think it has more to do with coming to terms with the reality of our world. We never know exactly how much time we have left so we become trepidatious, reluctant to pull the trigger on risky situations in life.

So how do we take this nervousness and make something positive out of it? In my  acting classes we talked about this often since we actors actually do get nervous. As well, in “The Originals” by Adam Grant, we get very similar advice on controlling it. Simply put, DON’T control it! It’s exceptionally difficult to stop a speeding car so instead of pumping the brakes in vain, redirect your energy. The best performances I’ve ever done, the best interviews I’ve ever had weren’t because I’m a zen master who can control his heart rate and cortisol, but because I was able to funnel the energy into focus, into excitement instead of fear, to embrace its chaotic nature and use it in a way that worked FOR me instead of against.

There are times in life when, as Kristen talked about earlier, that overcoming these fears is critical. So I add to that, embrace the fear, make it your tool rather than an anchor. It is not a perfect system, and I can tell you that there are times when it wins, but this is one tactic in my arsenal that I know works for me, and I hope it can work for you too.
Do you have any tricks for pushing through stresses and fears? Let us know down below, and if you know someone who has something big coming up (or maybe you do!) share this with them so they can have a little help too. Until next time Pengminions!

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