Sustainable Wedding Ideas – DIY Wine Box

One of the (few) fun things about planning a wedding is seeing all of the neat stuff that other people do at their weddings. By this, I clearly mean all of the neat things that H shows me.  I don’t jerk around on once wed or in the wedding section of pinterest, but I do occasionally come across something that I think is pretty cool and will actually be fun and worth the time to do at our wedding.  Typically, this involves buying something that I deem too expensive for what I’m getting or just flat out rediclous, so I look at the idea, figure out what I really like about it, then trying to replicated the effect for a lot lower cost and environmental impact.  One of the best things that I saw was a 5 year anniversary wine box.  If you are not familiar with it, you get a box, put a bottle of wine in there, and you and your future spouse write letter to each other.  They are sealed off in the box until a pre-determined time (ours will be 5 years) and then on your chosen day, you read the letters, and open the wine and have a glass.  There are some kits out there, but they are like 50 bucks, and that’s without the wine.  I decided to make my own, so I’ll share the process with you – it was pretty simple and I did it with the tools and materials I already had.  The process is highly dependent on what you want – some of the boxes have special glasses with anniversary dates printed on them put in with the wine, and some do not.  Some have fancy double locking mechanisms where each partner gets a key, and some do not.  Some have very nicely decorated insides of the box, and some do not.  Honestly, it’s all up to you when you’re making the box.  I’m not exactly a master craftsman, so I followed the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid).  My box will hold 1 bottle of wine and two letters, and have 1 locking mechanism.  It will also be decorated on the outside, but I’m not sure how yet.  Here’s what I did to get started:

Determine the size of the bottle of wine, and the box.  I used a standard 750mL bottle of wine, but you can use whatever size you want.  Measure the bottle of wine, and write that down.  Make sure to give a few inches on each side of the bottle as well as the top and bottom.  For me, this gave me a box with the following dimensions: 15″ high, 6″ wide and 6″ deep.

Once I figured out how big I wanted the box to be, I started tooling around the scrap wood pile in my back yard (and in other areas called “not my backyard”) to see what I could find.  At first I thought that I would be able to make it out of a deconstructed shipping palette that was laying in the alley, but before I could hatch a plan to liberate it from the pile (there were about 5 there) they had all vanished.  After that idea was put to rest, I found a leftover piece from the sustainable hounds dwelling (she doesnt like to waste things either) and took a few measurements and figured out that it would be just big enough.

Once that was decided, I got out my pencil and circular saw and started cutting.  I ended up with 4 equally sized pieces (15″ by 6″) and 2 pieces for the top and bottom (6″ by 6″).  Starting at the bottom, I nailed them together, fastening each piece side by side.  Once that was done, I had something that looked like a putty tray – a bin without a lid.  Once that was done, I took my hinges and fastened the door to the wine box.   Now the box was basically complete, but this was for my wedding after all, so I wanted to make it look nice.

I built a piece for the neck of the bottle to lay into, and guled it into the bottom of the wine box (it looked like the bottom half of a guillitione without arms).  That seemed to work pretty well, so after that I covered the inside of the box with some nice fabric (leftover from the napkins that we had made for the event).  I made sure to leave room for an envelope on each side of the box, for the letteres that we wrote to each other.  I painted the outside of the box, and declared it ready for action.  H and I decided not to have the wine box ceremony as part of the wedding, so on one has really gotten to see it yet.

The best part about this is that all of the materials that I used in the construction of the box (except the hinges) were things that I already had on hand or were scraps anyway.  They probably would have just gotten tossed into the garbage!

readers: have you heard of the wine box?  would you give it a try at your wedding, or if you’re already hitched, did you have one at your wedding?  Are you looking for more ways to lessen the impact of your wedding?


Here are a few shots from H and I’s wedding.  It was a lot of fun, and like my friends told me it sure did go by quick.  We got married in the afternoon in northern wyoming, about 30 min from yellowstone national park.  It was a beautiful day and an amazing setting.  When we decided on an outdoor wedding way long ago, I told H it wasnt going to rain, and kept saying it.  Unfortunately, I was wrong, but thankfully the rain stopped before the ceremony started (by about 1 hour).  I was happy about that, but I had told my friends that I was ready to keep saying it wasnt going to rain no matter what – I had already been saying it for too long to back off now.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day.

me and H right before the wedding.  We chose to see each other beforehand, and i’m glad we did.  She looked so pretty, and it was nice to have a few calm moments with her before the ceremony.

H before she met up with me before the ceremony.







A picture of our rings – great shot I think.

This is me and all the groomsmen – for fun I thought it would be awesome if we all had similar socks.  Not sure how they felt about it, but I dont think they minded too much.



This is where our dinner was held.  Such a nice spot.  I love the view

The ever popular ranch dog.  The owner told us he and some of his puppy friends chased off a bear the night of our wedding.

Wedding Expenses from the Flip Side

It seems like there are plenty of posts out there about weddings and how much they cost and all of those things.  Weddings are expensive and I think they can provide the perfect exercise for frugality and value – cut on areas that you dont care about, spend money on quality in areas that you do care about.  That being said plenty of the things I’ve decided to do for my own wedding could be done cheaper or skipped entirely – the reason that I’m spending money on these things is because I believe I’ll get lasting value out of them or because it’s something that I dont mind spending my money on.

Note: These will only be the things that are specifically for me and what I’ll be wearing during the wedding – the cost of things like invites, save the dates, facility rental and all of that are not included.  Below is what I’ll be purchasing for my wedding.

A New Suit – Growing up in the western US, I never needed a suit (and I still dont) because no one frequently wears a suit.  The only ones that do are bankers and lawyers, of which I am neither.  Formal here is considered a nice pair of blue jeans or stretchy wranglers with a this sport coat – both of which were quickly nixed by my fiancee.  I didnt even own a suit that fit until right after I finished grad school and through connections I was able to land an interview with a firm in the DC area.  My friend that worked there asked what I was wearing – so I told him kakhis, shirt, tie.  Apparently, that doesnt cut it on the east coast, so the night before I left I went down and bought a suit and had it tailored.  The guy who was helping me was pretty shocked when he asked when I needed it done and I told him “tomorrow” – but everything worked out.  Since this is my only suit, I’d like to get a new one in a different color, and I’d also like a 3 piece suit for the wedding.  Due to the fact that I’m fairly tall and lean, in most suits I look like I’m wearing a tent.  I’ve found some that fit well, but they are quite expensive, around 1,000.  The one thing that’s really committed me to making this decision is the fact that I’ll be able to wear this around to events and other things, driving the cost per wear down significantly over my lifetime –  unfortunately for brides, the wedding dress is a 1 day only thing.
Cost: $840

Shirt – I’d also like to get a new custom shirt with my new suit.  As mentioned in the preceding paragraph I’m tall and lean, so like most suits, most shirts don’t fit all that well either.  I seem to run into three problems – it’s too short in the tail and wont stay tucked in when I move around (and I’ll surely be dancing the night away) or if it is long enough the arms and body have way too much fabric in them, or, the neck is waaaay too tight.  This usually makes it fit weird and uncomfortable, which annoys me.  Since I’ll also be wearing this for the rest of my life, I don’t mind spending more money than normal for a shirt – so I’m getting one custom made.  I can pick fabric, collar type, pocket or no pocket, and wether or not I want my initials on the cuff.  Pretty awesome stuff, I think.
Cost: $112

Tie: H has been bothering me about getting a tie basically since we got engaged.  She quite literally wanted to pick what color tie I was going to wear and base the rest of my outfit off of that.  I was able to put the kibosh on that, because I didnt want to lock myself into a certain suit and shirt color because of some tie that was picked out when everything in the wedding planning game was fluid and no colors had really been nailed down.  After a while, I was told I could pick basically any color tie I wanted as long as it was yellow-ish.  I havent picked one out yet, but Ive found a few that could go up for “vetting” soon.
Cost: $60 

Shoes:  I’ve got a pair of solid black shoes that I’ll be wearing for this – it’s probably the only thing that wont be new for my wedding, but that’s fine – I’m happy to save the money and I happen to find the shoes rather comfortable.
Cost: $0

Grand total: $1,012

So, as you can see, I kind of got quite a bit of stuff here for my wedding.  This wont be the case for most people I imagine, but before this I only had 1 suit (I think others have more) and I didnt have to get a custom made shirt either.  However, I figure that this will be a day I’ll remember for a while, and looking nice is something I’d like to do – It also gave me a pretty good excuse to get something that I’ve wanted for a while (the shirt) and have a nice place to wear it.

Honestly, I really dont think this is that bad – if you look at my grand total, that’s the cost of a relatively low priced wedding dress (though correct me if I’m wrong, ladies), and that is all I need.  In addition, I have yet to hear of an instance where women can wear their original wedding dress again, and I will be able to wear each one of these items more than once, bringing down the cost per wear significantly.

Readers: How much did you spend on your wedding clothing?  Were you able to wear it again or is it sitting unused in the closet somewhere?  Do you think that I went overboard or is this reasonable?

How I Saved Over 3,500 On My Honeymoon

Like many bloggers that start blogging because they want to be accountable to themselves to right the financial ship, I had an issue with overspending on credit cards.  Though I didnt think it was that bad (5k is going to be like one paycheck when I get a real job – foolish, I know), it was.  So after  got a real job and realized that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, I started to get accountable, created this site, got 2 jobs and started to pay down my credit cards.  While it wasnt all easy, I did do it, and even wrote a break up letter to my credit cards after I paid the last one off.  I went for a while just using my debit card, but the promise of frequent flyer miles enticed me too much.  I had reformed, I told myself, and as long as I paid the card off when the bill came i’d get the miles and more secure transactions.  Not only that, I had already earned a free flight this way while I was in debt by transferring a balance to a 0% credit card.

It didnt take long for me to start reading into it more and make the plunge – some of you may have gotten the 75k american airline miles card with citi bank, and I did that, put all my purchases on it until I reached the limit and closed it.  I kept up with this miles and points game, waiting for the next huge deal.  They started to come fast and furious, but eventually I got the british airways card that gave me 100k miles after spending 2,500 bucks!  There were so many things I could do, so many places I could go by earning all those miles.  Just like the other one I put all my purchases on it, but this time I didnt close it – I knew I was going to get engaged soon, and that would require a honeymoon – so I started reading up on how to use these points.

After a lot of reading and a lot of searching and talking with H, I gave her a few options for places to go and she picked one so I started to look at flights.  After a while I found out ways to make the most of the miles by getting stopovers on the way to our destination.  While I’ve been trying (and doing well so far) at my no spend november having to do this totally ruined it.  Unfortunately, it had to be done by november 16, when all of the miles and points guru’s suspect that british airways is going to hugely devalue the miles – making the trip that I ended up booking impossible with the amount of miles that I had.  I figure that I’d have to spend this money anyway, but I didnt realize how much of a deal I was getting.

H and I are going to thailand for our honeymoon (we had some pictures taken while we were there by a friend)and are also spending 4 days in tokyo.  As of right now, our flights would have cost almost $4,000 for both of us, but I paid around $1,400 in fees for both of us, saving about $3,600.  Unfortunately, the way things worked out we still need to purchase round trip tickets to Los Angeles to kick off the trip, but I dont think those will be too bad.  If I want, I also have miles for those because of all the traveling that I was doing this summer.  While this did put a huge crimp in my no spend november, I dont think there would have been any way we would have been able to go where we are going without spending the money to book now.  There were other options that could have been cheap, but I have never been to asia and wanted to go, and so did H – so we figured this would be a fun time.

All in all – this was just too good to pass up.  I’m excited to see the sights of tokyo and bangkok and spend a lot of quality time with my new wife!

Readers: Where did you go for your honeymoon?  How long were you there? Were you able to leverage some good deals, or did you just pay full price?

ps – I was not the only blogger in the pf blogosphere that took advantage of this exact deal for their honeymoon.  Check out how well heeled got hers booked!