Category Archives: Finances

How to Know You’re Ready for Marriage

You’ve dated around, had a couple of long-term relationships, and hopefully figured out which qualities are important to you and what makes a relationship work. Now you’re faced with the inevitable question, “Am I ready to get married?”

For women, the most important signs are:

  1. You share similar goals.  If you and your guy have different priorities, you’re going to end up being disappointed. For example, a woman called my show the other day complaining that her husband had moved their family 13 times in as many years to satisfy his appetite for wanderlust (which is a HORRIBLE thing for kids).  Before you consider marriage, ask yourself and your partner about where you want to live, if you want to have kids, and religious views.  Find out what the deal breakers are.
  2. You don’t want to change him.  Similar to buying a dress from the store, when you get married, you take your man “as-is”.  Sure, you might be able to tweak him a little bit, but you can’t fundamentally change him.  If you don’t accept that, you’re going to end up frustrated and bitchy.  You don’t have to adore everything about him, but you do have to make peace with the fact that on Sunday afternoons it’s him and ESPN, and you’re not going to change that.
  3. You connect on more than just a physical level.  A very small percentage of marriage is spent in passionate lovemaking.  You need to know that you can have fun together and enjoy each other when your clothes are ON.
  4. You can see past your wedding day.  Many women are bridezillas: They are so focused on their wedding and being the center of the universe in their stunning white gown that they lose sight of their fiancé and the whole concept of marriage.
  5. You can talk to each other.  You know you’re ready to get married when you can talk things out rationally (without yelling or screaming) and not let issues get pushed under the rug without being resolved.
  6. Everyone you know says your guy is fab.  It’s fine if a few family members or friends aren’t huge fans (you can’t please everybody), but if everyone you know hates this guy, they might be on to something.  Your family and friends know you, and they can look at the situation objectivity. If they’re reasonably nice people, pay attention to them, otherwise your marriage is going to be a constant acid drip.

Guys, on the other hand, start feeling ready for marriage when the singles scene just doesn’t appeal to them anymore, and they stop wanting to bed hot girls that they can’t have conversations with afterward.  Men have biological clocks, but it has nothing to do with making babies. It has to do with being financially stable and settled in their careers.  Most college educated men don’t consider marriage as a possibility until at least 26, and they don’t enter a phase of high commitment until the ages of 28-33.  Guys who have gone to graduate school hit their commitment peak even later (30-36).

Here are some signs that a guy is NOT ready to get married:

  1. He’s financially unstable. If a guy is still struggling to pay his bills, he’s not ready to get married or take on the extra burden of a family.  In addition, if he buys a very expensive car for himself instead of saving up for a ring or your future, he’s not interested in marriage.
  2. He won’t commit.   If a guy is unable to commit to a job, family or friends, then he can’t be counted on.
  3. You have to talk him into it.  If he says he’s not interested in getting married, don’t try to change his mind – believe him.
  4. He calls his married friends “losers” or “stupid.”  A guy who thinks having a family is cute is much more ready to become a husband and a father.
  5. He continually makes you cry (and I’m not talking about tears of happiness).  If he’s unreliable, abusive, a liar, a cheater, or a flirt, you need to divorce yourself from this relationship BEFORE you’re married.

Above all: use your brain.  Don’t get married when you’re in the throes of the early stages of a relationship. Fantasies are not the stuff that long-term relationships are built on.

13 Things to Discuss Before You Marry

We all get nervous before big moments in our lives.  When you start school, graduate, or arrive for the first day of a new job, your stomach is sure to be doing flips.  So when you get married, it’s only natural and normal to feel some anticipatory anxiety.  However, there’s a huge difference between a few pre-wedding jitters and getting cold feet.

Getting cold feet is a message from the inside that you may be making a mistake.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks ignore this feeling because they think:

1. “It’s too late. We’ve dated for so long, and I have too much invested.”

2. “I don’t want to be alone.”

3. “It’s too embarrassing and/or expensive to call off the wedding.”

4. “He/she is really nice, and I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.”

5. “He/she will change after we get married.”

How can you avoid getting cold feet at the altar?  Go through at least six months of premarital counseling.  Oftentimes people ignore doubts, red flags, and gut feelings because they don’t discuss their issues and concerns BEFORE they get married.  By seeing an expert who specializes in premarital counseling, you’ll go over things like:

1. Money. How do we spend it?  What about savings? What about budgets? Who takes care of the money?  When it comes to money, there are two types of people to varying extremes: those who like to spend and those who like to save.  It’s extremely important to discuss finances and prenups (which I think are absolutely necessary in second marriages involving children so that the kids are protected).

2. How alike are you?  People say “opposites attract,” but that only works for magnets, not for people.  The more you have in common with your partner, the better. You need to discuss your backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, and dreams for the future.  What are your views on loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger?  What behaviors are off-limits?  You should talk about all these things and never assume they will change after you are married.  If you want something about them to change and it doesn’t, don’t get married!

3. Communication skills.  Many people come from families where they really don’t communicate.  They don’t sit down calmly and honestly speak the truth.   You and your partner need to be able to say to each other, “These are my expectations, hopes, dreams, desires, etc.,” and then ask if they are reasonable.  If your partner says, “I would like to have more freedom, come and go as I please, and not have to call when I’m going to be late for dinner,” then you know it’s a good idea to call it quits.
It’s vital to assess how someone communicates before you get married.  Some people use communication as a destructive tool to get what they want, and others use it to hurt their partner or justify themselves when they’ve lied or misbehaved.

4. Life outside of marriage.  Which hobbies and activities are you going to do together and which are you going to do separately with friends?  Am I not going to be able to ride my motorcycle because you don’t ride?  Some people are so insecure, possessive, or demanding that they won’t let the other person have a life.  Many women, in particular, don’t want their men to have guy time (which can be very disastrous).

5. Do you want to have kids?  How many? What does discipline look like? Who’s going to take care of them? What happens if one of you has fertility issues?  Are you open to adoption? Having two people cooperate to raise a child is a huge deal.  Compatibility issues in how you parent can lead to big problems down the road.  This is why it’s important to look at each other’s family dynamics.  People develop a lot of neurotic tendencies from their childhoods that may never change, such as how loving or attentive they are. Observe how your fiancé/fiancée is with other people’s kids.

6. Employment.  Do you travel a lot for your job? Do you plan to relocate often? Do you stay at the office late? Do you have any time for family?  Certain jobs (trucking, medicine, law, military, etc.) require a lot of commitment.  You have to analyze yourself and ask, “Do I want to marry somebody who isn’t going to be home at seven every night?  Do I want my spouse to be just visiting when he/she walks in to the house?”

7. Sex! Find out what each other’s fantasies are.  If their fantasies include small farm animals, you know to hit the eject button.

8. Daily life: Who’s going to be responsible for which household chores and bills?  Are you actually going to raise your kids, or are you going to farm them out (so that when you’re old and decrepit, they farm you out)?

9. How committed are you to the relationship? With looks, health, abilities, kids, finances, and family, there are many changes, phases, and challenges in life.  Are you committed in the relationship, or are you just a fair weather spouse?  I would say that about 70 percent of divorces result because people are not committed to a relationship – when it’s not going good, they find another place to go.

10. Personal space.  Everybody needs time to be alone with their hobbies and thoughts.  A lot of women have trouble giving their husbands personal space.  Guys are generally relieved when their wives want to go spend the day with their girlfriends: “That’s wonderful honey, are you sure you don’t want to go for the weekend?” = “Yes! No nagging for six hours!”

11. How are you going to keep the marriage exciting?  What’s your idea of a good time together? Is it hanging out with a lot of people? Watching sports? A candlelight dinner? A walk in the park? Soaking in the tub together?  After they get married, many people say, “My husband/wife doesn’t do anything.”  Well, perhaps that’s because you guys never talked about what would be fun.

12. Family.  My advice: If you really, really, really can’t get along with his or her family, move 3,000 miles away.

13. Know your odds.  Statistics show that couples who live together before they’re married are more likely to get divorced. Couples who have been previously married and divorced are also more likely to get divorced.  Don’t learn the hard way by thinking “Well, we’re different.”

Hey Baby, What’s Your Credit Score?

I believe the answer to having a happy, long-lasting marriage is relatively simple:

First, no two people between the ages of 20 and 40 should date without having met each other’s families.  The man especially should meet the girl’s family and convince her father (hopefully there is one in the house) that he is a worthy competitor for his daughter’s hand.  Young women these days are far too immodest and free with their minds, bodies, and souls to have good sense about what they’re doing.  We don’t call it being slutty anymore – we call it “hooking up.”  We ought to go back to the days where a young man had to convince a girl’s family that he was worthy to court their daughter.

Second, all couples should spend six months in premarital counseling before they tie the knot.  Roughly 20 percent of people who go through premarital counseling realize they’re not a match, and the other 80 percent enjoy better marriages.

What it really comes down to is choosing wisely.  If you’re not being treated well two years into the courtship, you should hit the eject button.

There are many factors to choosing wisely.  Men, for example, need to discern whether or not a woman is going to take care of their babies (i.e. suckling them at her breast and not farming out motherhood to a nanny or day care center).  However, one quality that is constantly overlooked by both men and women is their date’s credit score.

Credit (especially for men but also for women) is an important attribute.  There are now sites such as creditscoredating.com and datemycreditscore.com which help people make sure they’re connecting with somebody who isn’t in debt or irresponsible with money.  This is especially important for young people who may bring tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to a relationship.

The New York Times recently interviewed more than 50 daters under 40 from around the country and found that many of them regarded a good credit score as a prerequisite for a good date.  No kidding.  What is the point of being with someone who is totally irresponsible with money and can’t support a family?

As the Times reported, “It’s a shorthand way to get a sense of someone’s financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person’s sexual past.”  Some people may think this vetting process goes too far, but I disagree.  According to an article in Time magazine:

“Landlords and lenders may look at your credit score to help determine if you are worth taking a chance on.  Even employers may do a credit check on you.  Why not a prospective mate?  How you handle money says a lot about your ability to be organized and responsible.  Why would anyone with options risk falling for someone likely to bring heavy debt and poor spending and saving habits to a [marriage]?”

I’m thunderstruck at how many women call my program with some variation of, “We’ve been dating for two years, but he never has any money because he spends it all on (fill in the blank).”  I mean please.  Too few women show any sense these days.  That’s why I think marriages should be arranged again.  I know it sounds terribly insulting, but it’s true.  The divorce rate would plummet.

If you have poor credit, read this Time article for tips on how to improve it.

Day Cares Don’t Care

When it comes to the crucial age of being a new little person on the face of the earth, not even the best center-based day care can provide children with what they really need.  Kids require one-on-one, loving care that responds to them individually.  Spending hours away from home prevents little children and parents from establishing the intimate and emotional bonds necessary for both the parent-child relationship and the child’s overall development.
 
I consider day care to be neglect and child abandonment.  There has been sufficient research over the years demonstrating the negative impact of day care on children.  Here are just a few negative facts about day care from a website called “Daycares Don’t Care.” ()   I have promoted it many times because the creators are very scientific in their research:

* “Kids do not learn social skills through interacting with other kids any more than children learn to play the piano through interacting with other musically illiterate children.  Children learn social skills through observing and emulating adult behavior”.
 
* “The typical day care center provides the stimulation and educational opportunity of a day in prison — and spreads far more infection and communicable disease than the county jail.”
 
* “Saying, ‘My kids went to day care, and they turned out OK,’ is like saying, ‘Some kids went to orphanages, and they turned out OK.’  But who would want to deliberately put their kids through that?!”

* “A religious institution’s day care (Bible Day Care) is no better. Whether it’s in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, it’s still a day care!  Even worse, many states exempt religious child-care programs from inspections and regulations that other day-care programs are subject to.  (By the way, are you sure the day care is really part of your church, or is your church just renting space to your day care?)”

It doesn’t even really matter if the day care is licensed or state approved: 

“Child abusers can easily craft neatly-typed resumes with impressive-sounding references…Even for facilities that are licensed and inspected, breaking the rules usually means little more than a slap on the wrist. The unfortunate truth is that even demonstratably bad day-care centers are unlikely to be shut down.  Though criminal-background checks are required of workers at licensed or subsidized child-care facilities, even a jury’s conviction doesn’t necessarily put someone out of the child-care business. Child-care inspectors…bend over backward to give day-care providers a chance to correct a problem – sometimes they bend too far – but it is very hard to take someone’s license away once it is granted.” 
 
I once saw a video of a licensed day care in Detroit where a 9-year-old boy was beating the crap out of toddlers and kicking them like a ninja. And what was the day-care supervisor doing?  She was just standing there, doing nothing.  She was arrested, of course, but that won’t be able to fix the damage done to those traumatized little kids.

Sometimes people argue that kids from very poor families benefit from being put in day care early on.  However, research shows that the “benefit” has nothing to do with any inherent merits of day care.  For these children, day care may have a positive effect on their language and cognitive skills because they are not experiencing that development at home.  If the child comes from a stable home with caring parents, then he or she receives no benefit from day care.  
 
Now, it would be mean to blame parents who want the best for their kids and truly have absolutely no alternative but to send them to day care.  In fact, I have recommended day care if you know that you are a sucky mother.  However, whether you’re doing it out of necessity or not, it doesn’t change the fact that day care is not a good thing for kids.  I have tremendous compassion for mothers who don’t have options, but you can’t say, “It’s a good thing for kids,” simply because you don’t have options.  It may be unpopular or frustrating for parents to hear because they are struggling with finances, feeling worried about their careers, or simply having a difficult time raising their kids, but that doesn’t make it right.  

As it turns out, most women who are stay-at-home moms are from modest-income homes.   This debunks the argument made by a lot of women who say they “have” to work out of economic necessity.  Statistically, more women whose husbands earn less than the median income are stay-at-home moms.  Therefore, what it really comes down to is a question of values, and taking care of children simply doesn’t seem to be a value of upper class or upper-middle class families.

 
Essentially, parents think they can do whatever they want and their kids will be fine.  However, we know that’s not true.  Having your infant or toddler at home being cared for by either a loving parent or grandparent is the ideal.  Whether that’s possible for you or not, it’s still the ideal.  We shouldn’t disparage it simply because people feel like they don’t have options or feel guilty about it, especially when, more often than not, it is possible. It just takes proper planning and sacrifice.

For more information about how day cares don’t care, click here.

 

Single-Income Families Are Still Possible

I can’t tell you how many times I have been doing a public appearance when some woman in the audience has stood up and started yelling at me for saying that moms should stay at home with their kids.  I remember one woman in particular who said, “I’m at work from 6 in the morning until 8 at night, and I am a very good mother!”  I paused a moment, and then responded, “So, if you did not go in to your job from 6 to 8, could you say that you were a good employee and an asset to the company?” 

She just looked at me with her jaw hanging open. 

Many women try to justify not staying at home with their kids, but being a mommy is not something you should hire out.  Why?  Let’s assume for a moment that I wasn’t there for one day of my son’s life.  Instead of staying home, let’s pretend that I got up, went to work, and came home right when he was going to sleep.  Should I say that’s the right thing to do just because I want to justify my actions?  Of course not.   Yet, there are women out there who attack other women for being stay-at-home moms because they are not at-home moms themselves.  That’s what the “mommy wars” are all about: working mothers who choose not to be at home with their kids attacking those who make the sacrifices.  A lot of young men and women are being brought up by feminists who say that a woman being protected and provided for is a waste of her life.

I won’t lie – it’s very hard to live on one income.  Trust me.  I’ve walked the talk and know how difficult it can be.  I remember very clearly walking into inexpensive malls with my kidlet and crying because I couldn’t buy him a second pair of shoes.  But for better or for worse, I wanted to be a mommy.  When my son was little, I would take care of him all day and then go to work around 9 or 10 at night.  When he was old enough to go to school, I transitioned to going on the air during the day.  By doing that, I got to reap the rewards of being there for him and having all of his influences come from me.  

Even though becoming a single-income parent requires a lot of sacrifices, it is doable.  In order to make the transition, there are a few things you have to do in advance: 

  • Make sure you’re marrying someone who is on the same page as you.  I talked to a couple one time who were both letter carriers.  What they did was put the wife’s salary in the bank for one year and didn’t touch it.  When the year was over, they had no outstanding debts and realized that they could get by on one income.  She quit her job, got pregnant, and became a stay-at-home mom.  So, before you even think about getting married, you need to discuss the future and make plans. 
  • Build up some emergency funds and backup cash. Similar to the couple I just mentioned, spend a year living on only one income, eliminate any outstanding debts, and pile everything else into a bank account. 
  • Don’t buy new cars. You hear about new cars being safer and more convenient, but don’t be fooled. There are plenty of safe, roomy, and convenient USED options.   You don’t want to have to pay the price of a new car (which drops in value the minute you roll out of the dealership), or take on the cost of new car insurance either.
  • Don’t attempt to compete with two-income families.  The reason why they have disposable income may very well be because they’re neglecting and abandoning their children.  That’s not a tradeoff you want to make. 

In addition, you have to learn how to be a “home economist.”  This is quite easy.  One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s actually women of more modest means who generally make the decision to be mothers when they have children.  There are many wonderful websites out there for at-home parents.  Just type “at-home parent” into your browser, and you’ll find coupons galore. 

I still use coupons to this day.  There’s no reason not to.  Just because you have some money doesn’t mean you should throw it away:

  • There are coupons for EVERYTHINGfood, clothes, pet supplies, computer accessories, and more.  Have you noticed when you order something on the net that there’s always a space to write in a coupon code?  The minute I see that, I think, “Whoops, I should have found one!”   I am always looking for coupons.  I don’t go to craft stores without them.  Art and craft places like Michaels have coupon specials going on all the time.  I always wait for the one that’s 20 percent off everything to stock up on the stuff I need (the key word there being “need” not “want”).
  • There are cash-back sites like Ebates.com, which give you money back on the purchases you make from your favorite stores.  There are also credit cards that offer cash-back incentives for the money you spend.  However, be sure to use these types of cards carefully. If you start spending right and left thinking, “Oh well, I’m getting money back,” you’re going to end up spending too much.
  • Look for restaurants that have family meals (“two-for-one adult meals,” or “kids eat free”).  Try to find coupons for restaurants as well.

Here are some more tips on how to become a “home economist”:

  • Pack lunches.  I’m definitely a “pack a lunch” kind of girl.  It’s cheaper, healthier, and you get exactly what you want.  For one thing, you can avoid buying all that flavor-injected meat and fish.
  • Shop at the Salvation Army.   You can often find new stuff like toys that nobody has opened.  Kids don’t have to know where it came from.  I once went to a really nice thrift store with a friend who was on a tight budget, and we got her daughter a bunch of nice tops and sweaters for only $25.  It was unbelievable.  They looked brand-new to us. 
  • Check your cell phone plan.  There are plans that include free calls to everyone on the same network.  Again, be cautious because a lot of them come with expensive monthly bills and long-term contracts.  
  • Participate in online barter groups.  These are very cool.  One participant wrote, “I’ve received clothes for myself and the kids, toys, musical instruments, books, movies, etc. all in exchange for things that I no longer need but are still functional and someone else can use.”
  • Homeschool your kids.  You won’t have to buy special school clothes, waste time driving to the campus, or be involved in school fundraisers.  And even more importantly, you can make sure your kids actually get an education. Imagine that.
  • Cook healthy meals. Preparing veggies and protein at every meal can be very economical, especially if you buy things in bulk at places like Costco.

You can find page after page of websites telling you how to save money as a stay-at-home parent.  No matter what your income level, it’s stupid not to use them:

  • On Stayathomemoms.about.com, one woman wrote that she doesn’t use the lights or the dishwasher, do the laundry, or consume much electricity during the day because it’s more expensive.  She does one load a day at 11 p.m.  She has a cup of tea and relaxes, throws the clothes in the dryer, and gets them out before the baby gets up in the morning.  That’s it.

The bottom line is that you need to care enough about your children to raise them.  If you can’t or won’t, then don’t have them.  And when you do decide to make sacrifices for them, don’t bitch about it – ever.  If you can’t go out and buy a lot of jewelry and clothes just think, “It’s a small price to pay to have peace, joy, and contentment.”  Being a full-time parent is a very rewarding experience for both you and your child, and with a little planning, you can not only stay at home with your kids, but you can enjoy the process too.  

Nightmarish Dream Weddings

The economy is really bad, and it’s not going to get better anytime soon.  Because finances are such an issue, practicality is especially important these days.  However, a lot of people still have delusions of grandeur about certain things like weddings.  Many of them watch too much reality television and get swept away by the fairy tale nonsense.   Instead of seeing a wedding as a stage for making vows to love, cherish, protect, hold dear, and support in sickness and in health, they (especially women) look at it as a major opportunity to be queen for a day.

The average couple spends $27,000 on their wedding. Talk about extravaganzas.  I think the reason for this is because women, in particular, are pressured by friends, family, and even strangers.  They are also victimized by media visions, such as all those incredible photos you see posted on Pinterest.  These kinds of things are what create the sense of fantasy and cause weddings to go way over budget. 

Sadly, what results is couples starting their lives together in debt and often without the resources to go on a honeymoon.  When you’re young, you already have a lot of bills.  If you’ve got $30,000 in student loans to pay off in addition to the wedding, you are not going to have enough money to live on.  Marriage is already tough enough without the added stress of money problems. 

In addition, parents borrow on their homes or dip into their retirement funds to pay for their kids’ weddings.  It’s not all that surprising seeing that couples, on average, spend $12,000 on the reception and $5,000 for the engagement ring.

We really need to simplify.  Love is simple and sweet.  You’re planning a celebration of vows, not the Academy Awards.  At a time when the median U.S. income is about $45,000, no one should be spending $27,000 on a single event.  In one article I read, a couple said, “If it were up to us, we would have a taco truck and a DJ.”   However, instead, women spend thousands and thousands of dollars on dresses that they are (hopefully) only going to wear one time.  What happened to this being a touching and meaningful occasion? 

If you want to cut down on your wedding costs, here are some helpful tips:

1. Avoid wedding seasonWedding season is traditionally May through October.  If you get married off season, things will be a lot cheaper.  In addition, avoid the highest-priced time charged by reception halls (Saturday at 7 p.m.). 

2. Limit the guest list.  When your parents and friends want to bring people you’ve never even heard of, you need to tell them “no.”   Your mom or dad might object, “But, I do business with these people!,” however, the answer is still “no.”  There should be nobody at your wedding that a) you don’t know, or b) you don’t think is there to support your vows.  I know that’s a novel concept these days, but it’s an important one.  You shouldn’t be walking around the room wondering, “Who the hell is that?”  If your parents want to invite business partners or other friends, let them have their own party at some other time and invite all these extraneous people to celebrate that their kid got married.

3. Consider having a wedding buffet, luncheon, brunch, or just a dessert reception instead of a multi-course wedding dinner.  You don’t need to have a major sit-down dinner.  You also don’t have to go overboard with desserts.  Most of the time, people have stuffed themselves and don’t want to eat a huge dessert.  You could offer them cookies or other itty bitty things instead.  And as for the booze – buy it yourself.  It’ll be much cheaper than having a catering hall provide it.

4. Rethink the location.  Consider having your wedding at a national park or the beach.  Ask a relative or friend to use their backyard.  I’ve had several friends’ weddings in my backyard.  I said to them, “Do you know how much money you are going to save if you just have your wedding at my house?  We can rent some tables and spiff it up.   It has got a beautiful view, and most importantly, it’s free.  That’s a good price.”

5. Save on flowers and decor.  Instead of spending a ton of money on floral arrangements, buy some small, inexpensive vases and dress them up with ribbons and other accessories.  Then, get your flowers from the grocery store.  It’s as simple as that.

6. Cut down on attire.  Attire accounts for 10 percent of the average wedding cost.  Did you know that you can rent a gown?  Check out sample sales, department stores and outlet stores.  You don’t have to pay $2,000-7,000 for a dress you’re not going to wear again.  Even if you get divorced and remarried four times, you’re probably not going to wear that same dress. And, if you try to sell a $5,000 dollar dress, you may only get $750 for it.   It’s a ridiculous expense – rent a gown for the night.

7. Go for a DJ instead of live music.  Couples spend an average of 8 percent of their wedding expenses on music.  DJs are very popular these days, and they are much cheaper than hiring a live band.

8. Get an amateur to take your photos and videos.  Why go through all the hassles and fights you’re bound to have with a professional photographer?  Hire an amateur.  Check out the local colleges where people are studying photography and find somebody there.  Or, like one wedding I went to, put disposable cameras on every table so that your guests can take pictures of each other.  You’ll end up with quite a lot of pictures. 

9. Send your wedding invitations via email.  I recently got invited to a baby shower via Evite.  All I had to do was click “yay” or “nay” to RSVP.  It was very cute.  Something like that is a whole lot less expensive than the 42 different envelopes packed into one with all the tissue paper and stamps.  Forget all that. Use the net.

10.  Don’t have so many bridesmaids, and let them wear their own choice of attire.  It saves money and makes everybody happier.  Give them a color scheme and say, “Whatever it is, it needs to be ____ shade of blue.”  You can even send them all a swatch of that shade for comparison.  In addition, you only need to have one or two bridesmaids.   You are not one of the royals in England. 

Nowadays, people tend to spend more time on the desserts and who’s going to sit where than they do on what they’re actually committing to: their sacred vows.  Keep it simple, keep it sweet, and most importantly, keep it meaningful.