*Please note that my most current information is at my About.com Weddings site.

The Wedding Frugality Page FAQ

This FAQ addresses questions I commonly get asked about The Wedding Frugality Page, and myself.

#1 - Is it really true that you bought your wedding gown for $5.00! How did you get it so cheap?

Yes, it's really true. I bought my dress at the Jessica McClintock Outlet store in Reading, PA. Sadly, the store is no longer there...and Jessica McClintock now only has three outlet stores in the state of California. Our engagement was six years long, I was able to keep an eye on the prices in the store. It's only an hour away from where I live, so we made a regular trip every 3 months or so. I was actually keeping my eye on four of the dresses there. By the time I bought my dress, all of them had been reduced in price. Mine was reduced to $5.00. My second choice was down to $150.00, my third to $75.00, and my fourth to $15.00. I was able to find my bridesmaid's and MOH's dress for $5.00 as well. That wasn't planned, but on the day that I bought my gown, I also decided to check out their clearance racks for bridesmaid dresses. Lucky I did! I found the dresses in various sizes (and in the color I wanted). After calling my wedding party long distance, I found out that they would fit, and grabbed them as quickly as I could.

#2 - What makes you qualified to give wedding frugality advice?

I'll try to make a long answer short here. It all started when I saw my first wedding. I decided then and there that I loved them. Of course, I thought the bride was a princess back then. I was also miffed at the groom. It wasn't his fault, I just didn't understand at that age why in the world he would throw the bride/princess over his shoulder! I thought he was kid-napping her! A few years later, I was given the opportunity to start helping our church's wedding co-ordinater. At first, I was only allowed to help with the simple things (such as helping to make potpourri favors), but eventually I was planning major portions of weddings. The church (in case anyone is interested) was called "Happy Church" and was located in Denver (or one of its suburbs) Colorado. When I was thirteen, we moved to Pennsylvania. That ended my wedding planning for a while, but I was still interested. So, I started to offer my consulting services to anyone that would take them. Yep, I was young...and no, I wasn't taken seriously at first. That eventually changed though, and within a year or two I was helping to plan about three weddings a year. This continued well past the time I became an adult (at 18). Along the way, I decided that even though weddings interested me, I liked writing better. So I decided to become a writer. I had nothing to do with weddings for an entire year! Then, as I was starting to plan my own wedding (and dutifully using all of the online resources) I met an online friend planning her own. One day as I was complaining to Laura about the lack of money-saving tips online, she suggested that I put up a web page about it. The Wedding Frugality Page was born. Pulling on my past experience with weddings I was able to combine three loves: weddings, frugality and writing. Since then, I've written the Wedding Dollars and Sense column for Wed Net, written Wedding Frugality articles for The Dollar Stretcher,written an article for The Maryland Wedding Guide, and have become the About.com Guide to Weddings. My own frugal wedding was featured in Kathy Kristof's personal finance column, my advice appear in Andover Bank's financial magazine Dollar $ense, and was interviewed by Holden Lewis of bankrate.com in June of 1999. I'm truly grateful that I'm able to do something I love, and make a living at it. So much for making a long story short!

#3 - Do you answer wedding related questions through email?

I try to. Unfortunately, I generally get about 30 of them in my email each day. In addition, I receive numerous emails in my About.com email, and that's just the wedding related email! I also get email for my other pages, most notably the Unofficial Happy Hollister Homepage. That's part of the reason I've decided to put this questions page up. Before writing, please check my past answers for the Wedding Dollars and Sense column at Wed Net. If you are looking for my most current information, visit the About.com Weddings site. I've worked on it for over three years, and it's the most complete of my resources online. I'll even add a search box banner below this question for you, so that you can easily search for the information you need. Though I try, I can't humanly answer all of the questions that are sent to me on a daily basis. I wish that it were possible, but it's not. Please don't take this personally. I need to be able to make a living, and in order to do so, I need to concentrate on those things that will allow me to do so. I want to keep this site non-commercial, but in order to so...I need to have the time (and stamina!) to work on those projects (and to be honest, I absolutely love those as well) that show something for my work. In essence, it's an issue of time...and of having a deluge of email from all directions.

#4 - Are you a wedding etiquette expert?

I disagree with many of the aspects of wedding etiquette. I am in no way a wedding etiquette expert, nor do I claim to be. Nor do I want to be. I do believe that etiquette has it's purpose, but that it's often outdated, and doesn't take into account special circumstances. Weddings have changed an awful lot in the last fifty (or so) years, but wedding etiquette, in general, has not. If you'll read my About.com article titled Pardon My Etiquette, you can see my exact opinion on wedding etiquette. I'm a bit of a feminist and don't believe that brides should have special rules to follow, unless the groom has them as well. The article states my position quite well. The only etiquette that I follow religiously is common-sense etiquette. I try to make all parties involved feel as comfortable as possible without giving up my own beliefs and values. Be gracious and you can never go wrong.

#5 - How much time do spend on all of this wedding stuff?

I don't even know any more. I no longer keep track. Between actually planning weddings and writing about weddings, I also maintain far too many webpages about weddings, visit my chat daily, visit my forums, come up with new ideas and articles, catch up on email, create polls about weddings...hmmm... what was that question again?

#6 - How old are you?

My birthday is March 18th, 1972.

#7 - I totally disagree with what you said about (insert subject here)!!!

I don't mind that you disagree with me on any given subject. I suppose it makes me glad to be a writer. When I first started writing, I got all of the rejection slips I could ever need. At first, I was very upset and took it personally...but then I grew up. Now I just view it as somebody else's opinion. I respect those that disagree with me and have the courage to let me know about it. Everything I ever write is written from my point of view. I realize that not everyone will have that same point of view. That's life.

#8 - You're like the Martha Stewart of weddings. (The alternative to this is - Martha Stewart would be so proud!).

I'm very flattered that so many people seem to want to compare me with Martha Stewart. Just to set the record straight, I like Martha. On the other hand, I'm not Martha Stewart...I'm Rachel Shreckengast. I'm pretty certain that Martha is very different from me and vice versa. For one thing, I'm much more frugal than she. For another, Martha is more familiar with the "finer things in life". I realize that it is a compliment and view it as such, but the compliment does give me mixed feelings. I'm not sure whether I should write back and say "but I'm not Martha Stewart!" or if I should just bask in the compliment. It's definately an interesting/weird position to be in. Hmmm...

#9 - I need help! My wedding is in a week, and...?

If you do need a question answered, please don't start it like this. By the time I can actually get to answering some of the questions that are in my personal email box, it's more than likely that *at least* two weeks have passed. Sometimes it's longer. You can see all of the various reasons in questions #3 and #5. I don't mind answering them when I can, but because of the amount of email, my suggestion would be to allow some time for an answer. I may or may not answer your question, but it's more likely if I'm given time to do so.

#10 - I need to know where to buy flowers in South Dakota.

I have finally put together a regional wedding guide for the United States! Trust me, I appreciate this as much as you and it was a tremendous amount of work. It took me nine months (as a result of computer problems, but I now have my precious new computer!) to get this up and running. I will forever and always keep it on the front page of my About.com Weddings homepage, and hope that it brings you the area-specific advice you are seeking!

#11 - Do you sell banner space on your site?

The Wedding Frugality Page is free, and it's non-commercial. I'd like to keep it that way. The only banners on this site are those leading to my other resources, or those I am required to have to bring this page to you. I don't sell a hard-copy of the Wedding Frugality advice I've offered, even though I've had numerous requests for such a thing. Link exchange banners (and similiar) are used only to promote this site, I get nothing more in return. In essence, I do not get paid for this site...or any of the other sites on my Rachel's Ramblings. At the most, I might eventually write a book (have to find the time for it though!). I do each of the areas on Rachel's Ramblings because I love the subjects I cover, and for no other reason. The short answer is: "No, I do not sell banner space on this site". Thank you for understanding.

#12 - Are you available?

I'm as far from available as you get. I adore my husband Matt, and truly couldn't ask for a better person to spend my life with. I have four (Allen, Samantha, Alexandra and Veronica) children. Yes, four...and I'm proud of my husband and each of my children. They're great! Life is good. Couldn't get any better...thanks for asking! I will admit though, that you just made my day. *smile*