Fall Cleaning Can Deliver Extra Wedding Money! FYIs on Heirloom and Antique Silverware

silver

While fall cleaning this past weekend, I found a super-tarnished silver fork. Thinking ‘this could be valuable!’ I researched it, and found out that it’s International Silver, likely something one of my great uncles brought home from Europe after WW2. Having seen Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers, I knew that these kinds of finds can bring sizeable ‘cash in the kitchen drawer’ windfalls, and while my little fork is awaiting its visit to the silversmith for weighing and ka-ching delivery, I thought I’d help you ID any family silver sets that are in your attic, or given to you as an heirloom gift prior to your wedding from an aunt or Grandma who knows that heirloom goodies can be used in wedding details.

So let’s say you have some tarnished silver, one piece or a whole set. Your first steps will likely be to find out what that piece is, to help in your research to find out if it’s something valuable. I found this site with helpful photos to help you get the name of the design, the maker, and when that piece may have been made:

antique silver2

Patterns in silverplate:

Now onto the mark on the back of the silverware. Martha Stewart offers a great tutorial on what some silverware marks mean, also helping in your research.

antique silver.org

Photo by AntiqueSilver.org

If you wish to get rid of that tarnish before taking your silver pieces to a silver expert or reputable  jewelry store that buys silver and gold (yes, even forks and knives!) here are some tips on using natural ingredients to help remove those dark marks.  Be gentle when you clean, though, since you don’t want to nick that valuable silver piece. I used baking soda and water on mine, and it did the job well.

Who knows? That found silverware in your attic, kitchen drawer or in a case handed over as a gift (not a borrow!) from a relative, could net you a pretty penny, which you could use for more dream wedding details!

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Newly-Engaged? Welcome to Wedding World 2012

This is me, happy that I finished the new book!

I’ve just put the finishing touches on my new wedding book, which is going to help you get lots of free wedding items the right way, sacrificing nothing, making no mistakes, not selling out, not avoiding wedding vendors, and not winding up with regrets. Quite the teaser, eh? Since this book won’t be out until the end of 2012, I didn’t want to leave all of you newly-engaged brides out in the cold. So here’s  little sneak peek at just one of the many categories of wedding freebies in my new book:

You’ve got to enter contests! As many as you can find! Brides are said to have a weird form of natural luck, and you might just magnetize…oh…a free honeymoon or a free wedding dress. That’s about $6,000 saved right there in some instances. Perhaps $2,000 or more, depending on the contest you enter.

Here’s my guide to the top types of contests and sweepstakes you need to enter now, and have your mom and bridesmaids enter for you, if they will. Some of those freebie prizes, after all, can benefit them. There are a ton of new contests out there that give the mom a new dress, or snag a free girls’ getaway to Vegas, which saves your bridesmaids serious money. So the more people you have clicking on Enter for you, the better. I got my husband in on the action when we were engaged, and we won some pretty sweet deals. Okay, so one of them was a lip gloss, but it was an awesome lip gloss.

1. Contests on bridal magazine sites. Bridal Guide has lots of contests going on throughout the year – free honeymoons and trips, gowns for your bridesmaids, beauty and jewelry swag. Check in at your favorite bridal magazines’ sites, or sign up for their newsletter, check their Facebook and Twitter posts, and click, click, click.

2. Contests on major bridal blogs. Right now, I have a giveaway going on Broke-Ass Bride in which you can win copies of my new books for the mother of the bride and for wedding weekend events, and 5 pretty blue floral Kodak cameras. Just about every major bridal blog — you know, the ones that win Bride Tide’s best-of awards — runs contests and giveaways all the time, and you might find that all of those too-busy, distracted other brides out there forget to enter them. So you might be one of 30 brides in the running to win mega-prizes.

3. Contests on so-called ‘smaller bridal blogs,’ the specialist blogs that are awesome but don’t yet have 150,000 followers. They may just be starting out, and they’re landing some fabulous prize deals from their partners and offering their products up as prizes as well. With a smaller entry pool, your chances of winning go up.

4. Hit the women’s magazines’ websites, for the mother lode of cash prize contests. At www.bhg.com, you’ll find lots of sweepstakes to win $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, $25,000 or more. Plus free trips. And blenders. They like to give away blenders. Don’t mind if I do. This link will take you to contests at their sister magazines, such as Parents. Even if you’re not a parent, click on those contests. You’re still eligible.

5. Bridal show giveaways. I can hardly believe how awesome the prizes are at The Wedding Salon! Valuable trips, designer gowns, designer cakes…it’s just mind-bending…but oh so thrilling! Attend this upscale show, and you could walk out of there needing a bodyguard. Any quality bridal show is going to offer terrific prizes, from honeymoons to elite photography packages, the works. The key is to stay until the very end when they do the winner drawings. Winning tickets have been pulled, with no bride in sight, and they go on to the next winner. One group won that girls’ getaway weekend after three not-there brides’ tickets were pulled. It pays to stay.

6. Network giveaways. We’re talking the HGTV Dream House, where you can win a house, a car and six figures in cash, plus all of the housewarming gifts that viewers have voted for you to get. Tons of network shows have giveaways, so follow them on social media, bookmark their entry pages, and do as I do…

I start each morning off entering all of the contests I can find on BHG. It’s like my Zen morning practice. Hot Dunkin Donuts coffee in one hand, and a big wellspring of hope and optimism all about me. Someone’s gotta win, they say. Might as well be me. Or you, as the case may be.

So get that bridal luck going, start or end your day with contest-entering, and hey, let me know where you’re finding great contests so that I can get YOU mentioned in the acknowledgments of my new book!

Visit my site at www.sharonnaylor.net and follow me at @sharonnaylorwed where my greatest sweepstakes finds will be posted! Good luck!