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How We Threw A Chic, 200-Person Wedding On An $8,000 Budget
12 July, 2019
The average age for a woman to get married in the U.S. is nearly 28. I just got married in May of 2019 at the age of 21, just three weeks after my college graduation. And according to The Knot, the average U.S. wedding now costs around $30,000.
My husband (a 22-year-old, also below the average marrying age) and I planned our wedding and related festivities on a budget of just $8,000, which we were privileged enough to receive from our parents — a luxury many do not have. Regardless, we were working with a small budget when compared to today’s standards.
Big weddings are not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. For the cost of a marriage license, we could have gone to the courthouse with a witness, and that would have been just as much of a wedding. However, it was really important to us to threw a celebration that all of our friends and family could take part in. For a guest list of 200, that meant some serious money-saving moves.
Here are six ways we made our wedding budget work for us, and made the day as sustainably chic as possible as well…
Door To Grace: Creating Space
April 25, 2018
A room full of girls laughing and cracking jokes, the silence of a sincere passing on of truth and wisdom, the warmth of a community gathered around the dinner table; this is hope in Portland, Oregon.
Portland is home to bridges, books, and brews. And since 2011, it has also been home to the Door to Grace Day Home, a space to provide young survivors of commercial exploitation with healing services and a place to call home. I could try and encapsulate all that Door to Grace is in my own description, but I think it is put best in the words of Roxanne Weiner. Roxanne is the Director of Programs and Case Management at Door to Grace, whom I had the privilege of interviewing for this piece.
Q: Each time I have visited Door to Grace in Portland, I have been inspired by hearing many stories of surrounding sexually exploited children with love and care. Can you tell me a little bit about how Door to Grace got started?
A: Door to Grace started in 2009 after a group of individuals came together to create awareness (about sex trafficking) in the city. In those gatherings, it was decided to form a 501(c)3 with the intention to provide shelter and services to girls who were victims of sexual exploitation.
Many of those individuals spoke with various survivors and they began to notice a common theme in each of their stories. While these women had moved from place to place throughout their life they all longed for a safe and loving home. Door to Grace had the desire to create that space for them. In 2012, the Day Home was created with all of the important aspects of a home -- a kitchen with food, a dinner table to eat around and hang out, cozy couches, an open door, and most importantly the building would be filled with familiar faces.gatherings, it was decided to form a 501(c)3 with the intention to provide shelter and services to girls who were victims of sexual exploitation. Many of those individuals spoke with various survivors and they began to notice a common theme in each of their stories. While these women had moved from place to place throughout their life they all longed for a safe and loving home. Door to Grace had the desire to create that space for them. In 2012, the Day Home was created with all of the important aspects of a home -- a kitchen with food, a dinner table to eat around and hang out, cozy couches, an open door, and most importantly the building would be filled with familiar faces…
Telling Stories Ethically: A Resource Guide
August 07, 2018
As Dressember advocates, it is our job to be storytellers. When we don our dresses, we take on the responsibility of sharing about Dressember’s purpose and cause: seeing the end of human trafficking, by fighting for the dignity of all people. One of the most impactful ways to help others understand what Dressember is fighting for is by sharing the stories of those affected by human trafficking or those benefiting from one of the Dressember partners.
In our fight for the dignity of all people, is it possible that sharing these stories could actually strip away dignity? YES. That is, if we are not careful with how we tell those stories. Rachel Goble talks a lot about this in her Ethical Storytelling community. This past fall, I had the opportunity to visit the organization that Goble helped start in Chiang Rai, Thailand, now named The Freedom Story. While there, I heard about their beauty from ashes experience with ethical storytelling.
The Freedom Story first started as the documentary The Sold Project. The original documentary was filmed nearly a decade ago when Rachel and her American film team visited a rural village in Thailand to show the gruesome effects of sex trafficking.
Their original intentions were good, but they now recognize the potential destruction that telling those personal stories could have had on the lives of those they were trying to help. As a part of this change of mindset, they changed the name of their organization to a more empowering name and pulled together resources to build a community centered around telling others’ stories the way we would want our own to be told.
Ethical storytelling resources available to the public include a pledge you can read and sign, a podcast, a webinar, and various guides and codes of conduct. Reading through and signing their pledge left a major impact on my life…
Deeply Rooted Magazine
God’s Perfect Timing
09 July, 2015
“Good things come to those who wait.” It is likely that you have heard this said many times before. The expression is meant to push us to pursue the virtue of patience. However, this way of thinking seems to stand in stark contrast to the world we live in now where we are so used to speed and the mindset that if we wait too long, we will never reach our hopes, goals, or ambitions. Truly, this idea of holding out for the good things is very biblical. I have seen this come true in my own life as well as being a major theme in God’s Word. This is stated so perfectly in Psalm 27:14 where David the Psalmist urges us, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).
One of the longest periods that I have experienced waiting was ultimately for a good thing, but God had way better planning for that experience than I could ever have hoped for. Ever since I was 13, I have felt the desire to go on an overseas mission trip. I felt it was something God was putting on my heart and honestly, I liked the sense of adventure that I thought was sure to come with the experience of serving God in a foreign place. I prayed a lot that God would soon open up a door for me to go, but the waiting wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; at times I became impatient or felt roots of distrust popping up in the back of my mind.
There was even a point about a year or two into the process where I was sure it was “the” trip. I signed up for it all sure and hopeful, only to be denied a spot on the team. At this point, I started to question him. God, is this really your plan for me? Is this ever really going to happen? It was that same summer that I was also turned down to be a helper at my church’s summer camp. Little did I know, God had other plans for me that summer, and still so much more to teach and prepare me for. During the time I would have been at camp, God had another type of service in mind for me within my own family. My younger sister and I didn’t exactly get along well at that time, and we ended up having an opportunity to connect that very week. One of her best friends had suddenly moved away, and she turned to me for companionship and comfort. During that surprising week we were simply blessed with the quality time people often find hard to fit in in this world filled with distractions. God placing me there at that exact time of need for her was something I could never have planned out on my own.
Though that week didn’t play out like I had originally hoped, it was a time where I could distinctly see God’s hand working in my life. I learned to trust that God’s plans for my life are really there to prosper me and to give hope (Jer. 29:11), even when I don’t know the reasons for the things that happen. God knew and planned for that—something only he could do.
The small things for God’s kingdom can sometimes have just as big an impact as the seemingly big ones. After that, God still had a couple more years of teaching me patience and coming to him in prayer before his bigger plan for me would finally be revealed. Finally, last year, it was time for God to lead me overseas. Fall of my junior year, I went to a random meeting to hear from people who were planning a mission trip to the Philippines, a place I had never even thought about going before. It was right then and there that I felt that gentle nudging. “It’s time, Reagan. This is what I have prepared you for.” God had me wait, because he knew when I would be ready to serve him in that way; he knew when my heart would be in the right place, and he knew just when and where I was needed. I have learned to trust in his far superior timing, even when it is not even close to being easy to do so. I am so thankful for the amazing experience he allowed me to wait and hope for.
If my own story doesn’t already show you that God has people wait for the good things, all you need to do is look through the pages of his trusty Word. Right after the fall of mankind, a coming Savior is promised already in Genesis 3:15 which tells of Jesus coming to crush the evil one and absorb the sin that has taken root in the world. His people wait years upon years for this promise to be fulfilled, much much longer than I had to wait to go on my trip. However, the same things happened in the peoples’ hearts. They waited, they prayed, they doubted, became impatient, sinned some more. Eventually, in perfect timing, the foretold Savior came. In Luke 4:18–19, Jesus finally declares that this is God’s timing for the Messiah as he reads the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (NIV).
If God’s timing worked out for the salvation of his children, something as big as that, we must be able to trust that it will work out in our own decisions, big and small alike. So whether we are waiting on a job, college decisions, a spouse, a mission trip or even just a chance for a break, we must be willing to trust that God’s timing in the matter is truly the best for us. It may be very difficult or even discouraging at times, but when his timing comes through, what he has waiting for us will have been well worth the wait.