DNA Kits and How to Use Them to Find Your Heritage

DNA Kits and How to Use Them to Find Your Heritage

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors hail from? DNA kits are able to help you find that out. The first commercially available “at-home” kit came from Ancestry.com. With a click of the mouse, you are able to find family from the past. You are able to fill out your own family tree. If you get any names with green leaves on them, you are able to open up more information. What if you wanted to take it further? With the help of DNA testing, you are able to find out where you come from. Not to mention, you’re able to find ancestors with the help of your DNA kit. As the years passed, new DNA kits arrived on the scene.

Ancestry DNA and 23andme are two of the more popular ones. By ordering them through the mail, you receive your very own DNA kits. Whether by using a swab, or spitting into a tube, the kits are as easy as one, two, three.

What are DNA Kits?

Each of us is made up of DNA. Every part of our bodies holds a complete set of what we are made of. Skin, heart, blood and bones, even our cells tell us who we are.

So what makes DNA kits so special?

DNA kits help us figure out our past and where our heritage began. They use genetic marker sequences within our DNA to find results. Some DNA kits, or DNA testing, can even help us find out if our family have certain disease markers. 23andme is one of those DNA kits that can do that. There are a lot of uses for DNA kits besides figuring out the past.

How does DNA testing work

Most DNA testing looks for genetic markers that are similar between two people, or samples. Since all of the cells in our bodies are exactly the same, samples can be taken from anywhere. Hair, skin, saliva and other bodily fluids just to name a few. Even forensic scientists use DNA testing or DNA kits while working. The most common is using evidence from under the fingernails or a blood sample.

How does DNA testing work, exactly?

First, your DNA will be isolated and copies are made. Millions of copies using a method called PCR, or polymerase chain reaction. It’s from PCR that scientists can find your specific code and start DNA testing. The “fingerprints” found within these codes are compared for matches.

DNA kits

Today, there are some popular DNA kits that you can order online. 23andme and Ancestry DNA have been found in several ads on Facebook. They can also be seen in television commercials. Both kits use saliva for DNA testing. Just order, spit and send back. Simple, right?

Ancestry and Ancestry DNA

Ancestry has been one of the most popular sites for finding out one’s heritage. You can also plan out your family tree on the site. To obtain your family tree, just add in the family members you already know. Ancestry then searches those names within their record collections. Sometimes names will come back with a leaf on them.

 

What now? Click on the leaf, of course! New names could be revealed from this information. The more family members you add to your tree, the more hints you could get. It is fun to watch your heritage being revealed to you. Here’s a quick video of how one Ancestry user was able to trace her family line.

Don’t have time to enter all that information? Order an Ancestry DNA kit. It’s easy to order and use.

How does Ancestry DNA work

Ancestry DNA is easy to use. Upon receiving your DNA testing kit, you’ll open it up. Inside the box, you will have a full set of instructions on how to use the kit. You also get a saliva collection tube and a prepaid return mailing package. This ensures that you have no additional costs. After returning the DNA testing kit in the mail, your sample will be tested in a lab.

Ancestry DNA Costs

Yes, it is true these are not free services. Now that you’ve explored the website, you’re ready to order your very own kit. Just click on the ORDER NOW button. From there you will fill out your order form. It costs $99 plus shipping and handling for one kit. You are able to send DNA kits to other family members as well. There is an option button for that on the order form.

Will you be trying Ancestry DNA today?

Results from your Ancestry DNA kit


When will I get my results? That question is the most asked one. According to the Ancestry DNA website, your sample will be processed within six to eight weeks. After that, you will receive an email confirmation and your test results. One important note of advice; make sure to activate your DNA kits before sending them in. This ensures they will be processed correctly.

23andme DNA Kits

23andme is an up and coming DNA testing kit. When you pop on their website you will find two different DNA kits. The first one is their ancestry service. After sending in the sample for this kit, you will get a global ancestry breakdown. You’re able to map out your ancestry, possibly seeing how far back the generations go. With these DNA kits, you’re able to find the origins of your maternal and/or paternal ancestors.

Their second DNA testing kit is the recommended health +ancestry service. Besides finding your ancestry line, you can get a comprehensive view of your genetics. You’ll receive more than 75 reports online about your traits, health, and ancestry.

Is 23andme right for you?

How 23andme works and what it costs

Like Ancestry DNA, 23andme’s basic ancestry service costs $99. The combined health +ancestry service costs $199. The site recommends this package over their basic service. Possibly because you get more results about yourself and you didn’t know your family had. The kit should arrive within three to five days after ordering. Make sure to activate your kit once received.

Again, you receive a box with full instructions of how to use. No blood or needles required. A saliva tube sits in your box, as well as a return mailing package. In six to eight weeks you will get an email confirmation to let you know your results are ready. Just log into your account and discover what your DNA says about you.

How Private are DNA Kits — Privacy Concerns

After ordering a DNA testing kit, one often wonders how private the information is. Privacy concerns are good to have. Kate Black, Privacy Officer & Corporate Counsel says, “Your privacy and the security of your information is 23andMe’s highest priority. Our goal is to be transparent about our policies and practices related to data use. We want to ensure your information is protected by physical, technical and administrative security measures.”

They do collect information such as name, address and credit card information upon order. However, they claim they do not sell, lease or rent personal information to third-parties.

According to their website:

23andMe uses a range of physical, technical, and administrative measures to safeguard your Personal Information, in accordance with current technological and industry standards. In particular, all connections to and from our website are encrypted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.

Ancestry DNA claims to do the same thing. They also allow you to download your DNA testing results, as well have them delete the results from their database. As well, they do not share personal information with third-party advocates. For more information visit both sites for more in-depth privacy statements.

Find Out Who You Are Today

Both 23andme and Ancestry DNA are great ways to find out who you are. Each use saliva for their test results. They’re very simple to use and both protect your personal information from third-parties. You can order one just for you, or even order them for family members. Visit their sites to find which one is best for you. Not sure which to choose, here’s a video giving a full comparison of both DNA kits. Which one are you going to choose?

 

Featured Image: CC by 0, by patrisianovianti, via Pixabay

Dream Meanings: 7 Common Dreams and What They Mean

Dream Meanings: 7 Common Dreams and What They Mean

People have been fascinated with dream meanings for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians wrote down their dreams and took them to priests who performed dream interpretations. The Ancient Greeks believed that dreams were omens of events to come. More recently, psychoanalysts thought that dreams held the secrets to a person’s mental health.

Dreaming is one of the few things that all human beings have in common, regardless of age, race, gender, or political affiliation. We all dream. More than dreaming alone, many of us experience dreams about the same situations. Have you ever dreamed that you were forced to speak in front of your entire graduating class while naked? That you were being chased by an unknown-but-terrifying creature?

Is it All New-Age, Hocus Pocus?

Interpreting dream meanings has a long history, even the Christian Bible speaks of kings having their dreams interpreted. The more modern approach to dream interpretation actually came from the field of psychology.

According to one of the earliest proponents of interpreting dream meanings, Sigmund Freud, dreams are wishes in disguise and serve as the fulfillment of that wish, a repressed wish, or an infantile wish. There must be something to these common dreams shared by so many people across time, distance, and culture. Below are seven of the most commonly reported dream scenarios, along with the possible dream meanings behind them.

Dream Meanings: Dreaming of Falling

Dream Meanings - Falling is a common nightmare.

Image: CC0, by doctor-a, via Pixabay

You’re falling fast asleep, safe and comfortable in your toasty warm bed. All is well and good. The next thing you know, you’re jerking awake in a panic after dreaming of a sudden fall. Whether you dream of plummeting from a tall building or merely missing one of the porch steps, dreams of falling are jarring and unpleasant for most people. But what do they mean?

The meaning:

The one thing all forms of falling have in common is that the person doing the falling has ultimately no control over where they will land. This suggests a feeling of losing control in one’s waking life. Dreams of falling could represent feelings of powerlessness and loss of control over yourself, your career, or your life in general. If you frequently dream about falling, it may be time to take control of the areas of life you feel insecure about. Climb into the driver’s seat and make some powerful decisions about your life.

Dreaming of Being Chased

It is easy to forget that human beings once lived a life where being chased by predators was a real possibility. Perhaps that flight instinct still resides in us all, triggered by the anxieties of our over-scheduled lives. Regardless of the cause, dreams of being chased are rarely a pleasant experience. In fact, they can be downright terrifying. Being chased isn’t only a common dream, it’s also considered one of the most widely reported nightmare themes for both children and adults.

The meaning:

It is generally believed that there is a common theme behind dreams of being chased: avoidance. Whether it’s a relationship that has gone south, a dead end job, or an ignored health concern, you’re running from something. Deal with your problems head-on, no matter how scary they seem. Dealing with a few intimidating issues in your waking life could provide some much needed quality sleep, minus the nightmares.

Dreaming of Water or Drowning

Dream Meanings for Water

Image: CC0, by Martinstr, via Pixabay

Perhaps you’ve always lived in the desert, yet you still find yourself dreaming of a vast blue sea. Dreams of large bodies of water are incredibly common. There are many possible variations that can result in a very serene and pleasant sleep experience or a rather frightening one. Dreaming of canoeing across a lake with your angelic, departed grandmother is one thing. Floating alone in a deep blue ocean as far as the eye can see, gasping for air as your arms give out and you sink below the salty surface is quite another. But, is there any difference in meaning between the two?

The meaning:

The state of the water in your dream may be able to tell you the most about its meaning. Is the water calm and still or violent and turbulent? It is a warm, comfortable temperature or is it scalding hot or freezing? Water is thought to represent the unconscious mind. A pleasant dream about calm, flowing water can be a great sign that everything is moving in the right direction. You’re not currently worried about any troubles on the horizon. On the other hand, if you’re dreaming about being tossed around in a violent storm at sea, capsizing, and then drowning, that’s an entirely different story. This suggests intense stress and the feeling that you are drowning in your circumstances in life, unable to find a life preserver to hold onto.

Dream Meanings: Dreaming of Flying

Maybe it’s a bird, maybe it’s a plane, maybe it’s a dream. Who hasn’t had a dream about flying a time or two? Most commonly seen in men and children, the ability to fly is a theme that has been revisited in dreamland by many people throughout their lives.

The meaning:

Flying is a theme that is quite easy to assign meaning to. What is the freest, most unburdened creature you can think of? A bird, of course. Birds soar above the trees whenever they want to, without a care or restraint in the world. Has the same ever been said about a person? Flying represents freedom. Flying in your dreams can mean that you long to let go of the daily pressures and obligations you face and be free to do as you please. It’s a wonder every person on earth hasn’t dreamed of flying at one time or another.

Dreaming of Pregnancy or Childbirth

Dream Meanings: Birth and pregnancy are common dreams.

Image: CC0, by Daniel Reche, via Pixabay

Dreaming about pregnancy or giving birth is, of course, incredibly common among pregnant women. More surprising is the fact that these dreams are widely reported by people who are not pregnant, including men. Imagine being a middle-aged man, falling asleep in your sensible flannel pajamas, only to be awakened by a rather vivid dream depicting you giving birth to a set of twin baby girls. A bit of a rude awakening.

The meaning:

As usual, dreams about pregnancy and childbirth are rarely literal. Instead, giving birth in a dream can represent a new idea or opportunity in your life. Have you recently considered starting a new business or writing a book? Your ideas are your babies. If you’re dreaming about giving birth, it’s likely that you have some big ideas on the horizon and they could potentially change your life as much as an actual baby.

Dreaming of Losing Teeth

Another unpleasant but surprisingly common dream is one in which your teeth suddenly fall out, break off, or crumble in decay. Especially popular among menopausal women, this is one dream situation that can be particularly unsettling. Depending on how graphic your dream is, you may be in for some bloody, rotten imagery that will likely stick with you throughout your day.

The meaning:

Our teeth are obviously a huge part of our appearance. Unlike a tattoo, a scar, or a stained shirt, you can’t hide your teeth. Dreaming about damaged or missing teeth screams of a sense of insecurity regarding physical appearance. If you’ve been feeling a little sensitive lately about a recent weight gain or the ramifications of aging, this dream is no surprise. It may be time to take care of yourself and soothe some of your concerns about your health and appearance.

Dream Meanings, Dreaming of Being Naked in Public

Dream Meanings Naked

Image: CC0, by kilhh, via Pixabay

You’re giving a speech, leading a meeting, or rushing to a first date. Everything is fine and dandy until you suddenly realized that your clothes are missing. You stand there, helpless and humiliated, while everyone forms a circle around you to point and laugh hysterically at your expense. As universal as it may be, dreaming of being exposed to a crowd of people is a tough pill to swallow.

The meaning:

Clothes are made to conceal us. Without clothes, we are completely revealed and vulnerable. Dreaming of being nude in front of other people is a sure sign of feeling exposed emotionally. The fear of rejection and anxiety that most people experience when opening up completely to another human is intense. It is no surprise that these feelings can manifest themselves in the form of dreams of humiliation.

Dreams are one of the most fascinating phenomena we share, as a species. Take some time to think about your dream meanings, what they may represent, and the context of your life and feelings at the time. Keeping a dream journal to tie your emotions to your dreams may help you to eventually create a personal dream dictionary to understand yourself, your life, and your dream meanings a bit better.

 

Featured Image: CC0, by C_Scott via Pixabay, altered

What is Kodi, Why Do You Need It, and How Do You Get It?

What is Kodi, Why Do You Need It, and How Do You Get It?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard the name “Kodi.” Perhaps you were wondering what it is. Kodi is free, open source home theatre software for your device or smart TV. However, it’s so much more than that. Do you need it? We think you’ll think so, once you learn more about it. How can you get it? And what can it do for you? That’s what we’re about to tell you.

Like Entertainment? You’ll Love Kodi

Kodi

Image: CC 2.0, by Yanki01, via Flickr

Kodi is a multi-platform home theatre PC (HTPC) application. Multi-platform means that it runs on just about any device. Windows? Yes. OS X and iOS? You bet. Linux? Raspberry Pi? It has you covered. And the home theatre part? We think you can figure it out.

What does it do? Well, just about everything. You can use it to play and view streaming media like music, video, TV, movies, and podcasts. In addition, you can use it to access common digital media files from storage. What’s more, various plugins allow you to access streaming media content from your subscription services. Want to watch movies from Amazon Prime Instant Video? Not a Problem. Furthermore, you can also access Crackle, Pandora Internet Radio, Rhapsody, Spotify, YouTube, and more.

If that’s not enough, later versions have a personal video recorder (PVR) front end for receiving live television. It also has an electronic program guide (EPG) and high definition DVR (digital video recorder) support. The software is highly customizable, with various plugins, skins, and themes. In addition, the app has support for your remote controls and powerful add-ons for various web services. There is also an extensive library of user-created add-ons.

So, the question isn’t whether you need it, but instead, how you’ve been getting along without it all this time.

Kodi Has a Wide Variety of Content

Kodi isn’t a content provider like Netflix or Hulu. However, the software makes it easy to bring together all of your favorite streaming media, and your own media collection, into one, organized, easy to use place. Just take a look at some of the things you can do with this software.

Movies

Kodi on television

Image: CC 2.0, by Ginny, via Flickr

The app supports all the most popular video formats, including streamable online media. In addition, it can easily import, browse and play movies from your own collection.

TV

The TV show library supports episode and season views of streaming TV shows. You can organize your TV shows with posters, banners, “watched” tags, show descriptions, actors, and more. You can even keep track of your progress through a series.

Music

Kodi

Image: CC0, by Geralt, via Pixabay.

Further, the music player can play both streaming music and songs from your collection. It supports numerous file formats, including mp3, FLAC, Wav, and WMA. In addition, it has support for cue sheets, tag reading, and smart playlists. You can manage your online and home music collection all from one easy interface.

PVR

Want to record live TV? You can do that, too! The software uses popular backends like MediaPortal, MythTV, NextPVR, Tvheadend, and others.

Photos

With this software, you can import your own images into a library, browse in different views, and even put together a slideshow. In addition, you can keep your photos organized, sorted, and filtered. And you can do it all with your remote control.

Customize Your Experience

Kodi has an extensive library of user-created add-ons that you can use to customize your experience. Some of these add-ons include support for streaming audio and video. There are also skins for changing the look and use of the interface. In addition, there are web interfaces that allow you to control your Kodi remotely. Game support? Got it. Want to watch foreign television? There’s an add-on for that, too. You can even create your own add-ons and upload them to the Kodi library. And there’s so much more you can do. Best of all, it’s all free.

Where Does the Kodi App Come From?

Kodi started out life as a homebrew (independently developed) media player application called Xbox Media Center (later XBMC). It originally ran on the first generation Xbox game console. But XBMC grew up. Now it is offered by the nonprofit XBMC Foundation.

How Can It Be Free?

Image: CC 2.0, by opensource.com, via Flickr

Kodi describes its software as “for the users and by the users.” This means that there is no highly paid software development team. All work is done by volunteers, for the love of a good product.

How can you help it to stay free and keep improving? We’re glad you asked that! The company is currently seeking volunteers to help with testing, quality assurance, coding, and localization. If that’s not your strength, you can help by writing documentation or creating add-ons. And if these ideas make your head spin, you can also help by donating, buying their merchandise, or even just spreading the word.

Where Can You Get a Kodi Download?

You can get the latest Kodi download from their website, Kodi TV. There are versions available for Windows, iOs, OsX, Linux, Raspberry Pi, and more.

Exodus Kodi and Other Controversies

Exodus Kodi was one of the most popular Kodi add-ons. It was a creation of a prolific developer who operated under the name “Lambda.” Exodus Kodi was a controversial add-on because it allowed users to access pirated movies and TV shows. Alas, Exodus created a controversy in the user community as well.

Kodi pirate

Image: Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In February 2017, Torrent Freak reported that some users confronted Lambda about their work, and threatened to expose their identity. However, because of the controversial nature of some of Lambda’s work, they preferred to stay anonymous. A short time later, Lambda added malicious code to the Exodus add-on. According to Lambda, the malicious code was a countermeasure against the people threatening to expose them. Eventually, after public outcry, Lambda removed the offending code and retired.

Some have expressed concern about the possibility of using its add-ons to illegally access copyrighted material. The XBMC Foundation strongly condemns using it for this purpose.

Learn More at Kodi TV

Want to learn more about this exciting new technology? You can learn everything you want to know and more at their official website, Kodi TV. In addition, you can check them out on your favorite social media platforms: FacebookGoogle+Twitter, and Youtube.

 

Featured image: screenshot, by Kodi, via Kodi.Tv

Best Linux Distros and Where You Can Find Them

Best Linux Distros and Where You Can Find Them

Although you may not know it, Linux has been around for a few decades. Linux distros, based on the Unix operating system, are the different operating distributions of Linux. These distros are built around the heart of the Linux kernel. They are the foundation of the operating system and customized to create various types of desktop environments.

The vast majority of Linux distros have a specific use-case in mind. For instance, the Linux Ubuntu operating system was created for new Linux users. It is easy to use and customize. Another distro, Arch Linux, is for more advanced users. These users prefer to use the terminal application to install software packages and type in other commands.

So let’s take a look at some of the more popular Linux distros. We will discuss who can benefit most from them, and where you can find them.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system like Windows 10, Chromebook OS, and Mac OS X. Just like other operating systems, Linux manages the conversation between your laptop or desktop hardware and software. If you didn’t have an operating system, your software wouldn’t work properly.

You might be surprised to learn that Linux is in a lot of places. Your phone runs on Linux. Some of the software in your car is Linux based. Smart refrigerators and Roku devices use Linux as well. Linux runs many of the servers and systems you use on a daily basis. And the penguin is cute. So there’s that.

Why Use Linux?

Easily the most frequently asked question people want to ask is “Why use Linux?” It’s a different operating system, with a different environment, and a different user experience. There are a few reasons users might want to switch, but let’s take a quick look at just two of the big hitters.

First, Linux is stable. If you are constantly battling a slow computer or fighting viruses, those and other concerns are not as prominent with Linux. Linux distros have grown to become known as one of the most reliable and efficient operating systems.

Second, it’s free. You heard right, F-R-E-E. You can install any Linux distro on as many computers as your heart desires, and you’ll pay nothing. No additional costs, no licensing fees, no server or software fees, it’s entirely free.

Linux Distros

As previously mentioned, there are many different types of versions and distributions of Linux. Here are some of the more popular Linux distros and where to find them.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great Linux distro for beginners. It is easily accessible and provides the security and stability that the Linux OS is known for. Every six months a new version of Ubuntu is released, which offers updates and general maintenance as needed. You’ll also have access to LTS (Long Term Support) versions, which are available every other year.

ubuntu linux distros

Image CC by 0, by osde8info, via Flickr

The LTS versions offer up to five years of general and security updates, which means you don’t have to worry about upgrading your Linux operating system every six months. This is especially nice since the standard releases are only supported for one year.

Ubuntu also has its own flavors available that use different environments. One example is Lubuntu, which is a “light” or minimal version of Ubuntu. Lubuntu is designed to create less strain on your system resources than other operating systems.

If you think Ubuntu is the right OS for you, you can find the Ubuntu Linux OS download here.

Linux Mint

linux distros mint desktop

Image CC by 0, by Marco Castellani, via Flickr

Linux Mint operating system is another great option if you’re new to the Linux OS. It’s especially useful for those that prefer to switch from a Windows PC or Mac. The Mint version of Linux also provides a great deal of customization.

Users will find switching to Linux Mint from Windows or Mac straightforward since it comes with a lot of options for the software these operating systems provide. For instance, in place of Microsoft Office, Linux Mint users will have LibreOffice, a free alternative to the office suite.

Mint comes in many different versions and varieties, the most popular being Cinnamon. This version of Linux Mint lets users change and customize menus and the appearance of certain windows. Users will also have support for most media formats, which will allow you to play music and video files right away.

Linux Mint operating system is an excellent option for newer users who like to have the option of customizing their experience. You can find the Mint distro of Linux here.

Linux Tails

If you are concerned with privacy, Linux Tails might be the Linux operating system for you. This Linux distro emphasizes privacy and security, all while maintaining a user-friendly interface. Tails is an operating system that aims to protect your identity and conceal your location as much as possible.

Linux Tails achieves privacy by directing network traffic through its Tor network This network is explicitly designed to protect data and prevent it from being analyzed. While these security measures are exceptional, it gets even better. You’ll have all the security the Linux Tails distro has to offer but still have the ability to use the operating system with its clear and simple UI.

This Linux distro isn’t for everyone, but for those that are concerned with privacy and all the dangers that come along with not having enough security, Linux Tails is the right option. You can find the Linux OS download of Tails here.

CentOS

The CentOS Linux distro is an offshoot of the enterprise version of Red Hat Linux that many companies use today. While this version of Linux isn’t ideal for a daily desktop, it’s great for a server. The build focuses on stability. Instead of providing constant updates like Ubuntu and Mint, CentOS offers ten years of support from the initial version release date.

Since CentOS is so reliable, it’s a great option if you’re looking to stand up a server. If you need an everyday Linux distro to use on your machine, CentOS is probably not the way to go.

If you’re looking for a steady, reliable Linux distro to use as a server, CentOS is precisely what you need. You can find CentOS here.

Linux Elementary

The Elementary Linux distro is a great operating system for Mac users wanting to make the jump to Linux. Known for its stability, Linux Elementary greatly resembles the MacOS desktop, meaning Mac users will feel comfortable making the change.

linux distros elementary

Image CC by 0, by okubax, via Flickr

With an easy-to-use menu and the ability to customize their preferences, users will find Linux Elementary intuitive and straightforward. The operating system doesn’t come with a lot of additional bloatware so users won’t feel overwhelmed. It does come with everything users need via an App Center, providing software downloads and upgrades with the click of a button.

If you think Linux Elementary is the Linux distro for you, you can find more information and download it here.

Steam OS

Last on our list is a Linux distro for the gamer in all of us. Typically, gamers refrain from using Linux since there are few games available on the Linux platform. While there has been some growth in recent years, things didn’t really change until Steam OS hit the market.

Steam OS is designed specifically with gamers in mind. Kernel tweaks and performance enhancements are a part of this Linux distro. It supports gamepads, GPUs, and other hardware gamers find necessary.

While the Steam OS Linux distro isn’t your typical operating system, it is an excellent option for those that enjoy gaming, specifically with Steam. You can download this Linux distro here.

Which One is Right For You?

As you can see, there are many different Linux distros available, but what we’ve covered barely scratches the surface. There are a variety of options available, and if the ones listed above don’t fit your needs, then take a look at some of the other options. You’re sure to find something that will work for you.

Featured image: CC by 2.0, by MuseScore, via Flickr

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue on a Tight Budget

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue on a Tight Budget

Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful processes you can put yourself (and possibly everyone around you) through. Not only is it incredibly difficult to coordinate all the different products and services a wedding requires, costs can also spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. When it comes to your wedding venue, it is possible to save huge amounts of money. But, you have to be willing to be flexible. If you’re more concerned about the who, the what, and the why in regards to your wedding than you are about the where, there are massive savings to be had by considering free or low-cost venues.

Free Wedding Venues

Most weddings take place in the spring, summer, or early fall when the weather is generally pleasant. This makes moving your wedding outside to cut down on costs practically a no-brainer. Besides, if there does happen to be a little rain on the big day, that’s what tents and pavilions are for. If you’re open to the idea of an outdoor wedding, there may be free venue options available that you haven’t even thought of.

Backyard wedding venue

Backyard Wedding Venue

Image CC0, by PublicDomainArchive, via Pixabay

Do you have a decent sized backyard? How about your close friends or relatives? A backyard wedding may sound a bit hokey, but with the right touches, you can make your special day amazing. Getting married in your own backyard, or the one you grew up in may end up having more meaning to you and your guests than any fancy venue ever could. Plus, not paying for your venue means you’ll have a lot more money to put into decor, food, and drinks, hair and makeup, or whatever you prioritize the most about your wedding experience. Maybe you’d rather pocket the money and put it toward a down payment on a house or car for you and your spouse-to-be, or put it toward starting a family, traveling, or getting a degree.

Borrowed wedding venue

Does your uncle own the most charming alpaca farm, complete with a restored antique barn and a gazebo? Have you admired the private apple orchard down the road for years? If you know someone who happens to own a possible venue for your wedding, ask them to borrow it! Think about the services you could provide in exchange for using their property for your wedding venue. Are you great with kids? Offer a few weekends of free babysitting. Have a way with animals? Do free labor on the farm or walk the dogs for a month. The trading of goods and services isn’t as common as it used to be, but it can still be a great deal for everyone involved. Do be sure to show your gratitude by cleaning up after your event and leaving your borrowed venue in the same state it was in before you arrived.

Low-Cost Wedding Venues

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large backyard or a farmer uncle at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck spending a fortune on a wedding venue. Check your area for local gems. Ask people you know who got married in the same area where they had their wedding. People love to tell the story of when and where they were married. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty about contacting more than one possible venue, either. These places understand that you’re shopping around and making an important decision about the biggest event of your life and that another place may work out better for you in the end. As intimate as their customer service may seem, it’s just business. They won’t take it personally if you won’t.

Park wedding venue

best weeding spot park or trees with bench

Image CC0, by LoboCrzz, via Pixabay

It seems to be a relatively unknown fact that nearly every park is available for rent for events. Most will cost you less than $100 for half the day. Some can even be reserved for free. If you’re down for an outdoor wedding, but don’t have a big enough (or presentable enough) space, a park makes for a great inexpensive wedding venue. Keep in mind, though, that many parks will only let you reserve one area, so there may be other patrons nearby. If that’s not okay with you, look for a small local park and see what kind of arrangements you can make there. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Reception Venue

Here’s an idea: What if you were to skip the stuffy, expensive, ceremony altogether and get right to the party? That’s what all your guests are coming for anyway, right? It costs as little as $10 to be married by a judge or magistrate at your local courthouse. That leaves a ton of money in your budget for an epic reception. Set up a pizza bar, a taco bar, a weed bar (if that’s your thing), or a candy buffet and let your guests go wild to celebrate your union. Don’t forget the actual bar, of course. Most of them will be thrilled to go straight to the reception, and you likely will be too. A ceremony is stressful to plan, expensive, and nerve-wracking. A reception is all about letting loose, celebrating, and having fun.

American Legion

Did you know that military veterans can rent American Legion banquet halls at a steeply discounted rate? Some can be reserved for as little as $70 and include a full bar and kitchen. If you or your spouse happen to be veterans, great. If not, it’s likely that one of your invited family members or friends is. Ask around and see if you can find one of your future guests who is willing to rent the legion and be reimbursed. The savings are worth it, and he or she will likely be more than happy to help you make your reception happen.

Community center

Wedding Venue Tennis Court

Image CC by 2.0, by Tracy Hunter, via Flickr

Does your town have a local recreation or community center? Most likely it does, even if you’ve never noticed it. Many of these buildings are converted into community centers after spending decades as schools or libraries. Community center venues can usually be reserved for $50-$200, depending on the room size (caution: the largest available space is usually a gymnasium or tennis court) and kitchen access. If you are interested in going the community center route, be sure that you check with the center about their alcohol policy before you commit. Some may prohibit smoking and/or alcohol on the premises, which could be a deal breaker if you don’t exactly plan to have a dry wedding celebration. They may even have restrictions on what type of decor you can use.

The most important thing to remember about your upcoming wedding is that it’s truly all about the marriage. Your wedding will last one day, but your marriage will hopefully survive a lifetime. Don’t get so caught up in finding the perfect wedding spot that you lose sight of what will really matter the day after the wedding. And the day after that, and the day after that. Besides, as it turns out, couples who spend more money on their weddings are also more likely to divorce. Tell that to the next overpriced wedding venue you come across.

 

Featured image CC0, by jeremywongweddings, via Flickr