Posts in the 'Broke-Ass Brilliance' Category

Five for Friday: Bridesmaid Dresses Under $40

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Sure, the Lily Pulitzer collab and it’s stoopid-fast sellout might be all the buzz surrounding Target, but the retailer is one of my favorite go-tos for picking up a cute outfit quickly and on the cheap. For Broke-Ass Brides, Target is also a great resource for pretty dresses for your crew that you can totally buy — or not feel guilty about asking them to buy. Sure, they have their own gorgeous and chiffon-filled bridesmaid line, but the retailer also carries tons of wedding worthy frocks. In classic shapes that are completely rewearable, these dresses are completely adorable and totally BAB-friendly. Here are my five favorite dresses under $40:

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Lily Star Sleeveless Cupcake Dress, $34.99

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Zac & Rachel Sleeveless Fit and Flare Dress, $39.99

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Chandi & Lia Sleeveless Black Sheath Dress, $29.98

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3hearts V-Back Pleated Dress, $27.99

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3hearts Lace Skater Dress, $27.99

Which one of these affordable darlings is your favorite, BABs?

Real Bride Jubilance: Our Wedding Was The BEST DAY EVER!

Hi BABs! Apologies for being AWOL – February and March went by in a blur! As we got closer to our Pi Day wedding, I felt a lot of stress and pressure coming at me from all sides. Despite my now-husband’s best efforts to calm me down, I worried a lot about our wedding and making sure everything was perfect. I know, I know, it’s such a cliché for a bride to be worried about having the perfect day, but deep inside every bride wants to see the day she planned come out perfectly.

The Tuesday before our wedding was a tough day: my company held layoffs, which affected my colleagues and several friends. While I wasn’t laid off, it was a very difficult day for me, saying goodbye to many people I’d worked with. It was a very somber situation, and I took some time to process my feelings before I shifted focus onto our wedding.

The days leading up to the wedding seemed to go by in a flash. One highlight was getting a chance to reconnect with my bridesmaids who live out of town, just having drinks and catching up. The day before the wedding my bridesmaids, my mother and I had a relaxing morning at the spa, which was much needed. Nothing like a little pampering to get yourself ready for the wedding excitement!

Friday evening we had a very smooth wedding rehearsal, followed by a rehearsal dinner hosted by my mother-in-law. We had so much fun with our guests, we moved the party to the hotel bar. In honor of our Pi Day wedding, my husband and I wore matching Pi Day shirts to our rehearsal activities. Cute huh?

Pi Day Shirts

Our wedding day turned out to be a beautiful day, starting with the weather. Minnesota weather is notoriously tricky in March, and we didn’t know what type of weather we were going to get. Luckily, it started to warm up a few days before the wedding, and we were blessed with 65 degrees and sunny skies on Saturday. Our day started and stayed on schedule, from my initial hair appointment, to our first look and beyond. In fact, everything went extremely smoothly, which was such a relief. Our awesome coordinator Maddie from Ask For The Moon Events made sure everything stayed on schedule, solved problems, and allowed us to be guests at our own wedding, which is what we wanted.

All day I was filled with joy, which you can see in each of our wedding photos. I enjoyed every moment of our wedding day, celebrating our marriage with our friends and family. It felt like the Universe conspired to bring us the day we’d both dreamed of, and every element felt perfect. I felt beautiful in my wedding gown, and I was overjoyed that I married the man of my dreams. Each of our nerdy details, from the chemical element table numbers to the mini-pie favors, turned out great and our guests loved them. We ate delicious food, devoured our yummy wedding cake, and partied all night with our guests.



We had such a great time at our wedding, I didn’t want the fun to end! At the end of the night, I was amazed and thankful that we’d had such an awesome day. After 10 months of planning and lots of stress, we had the wedding of our dreams!

Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! A Discontinued ModCloth Dress for Under $300

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Man, did I have a challenge for the Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! post this week! Alyssa commented on this CAI/GOI post with the following:

“Love this feature — it’s given me so many links to check out in my search for the perfect dress! Unfortunately, I’ve fallen in love with this ModCloth dress which is sadly discontinued. I love the lace and the halter top neckline. I’m trying to find something similar for under $300 !”

First off, thanks for the love, Alyssa! We love that you love BAB! Secondly, that dress is totally adorable! The floral lace in ModCloth‘s “I Do Declare!” dress is delicate and feminine, while the short length keeps if fun and flirty. The halter neckline is not something you see too often in wedding dresses (hello, strapless everything), but it lends to the retro vibe that makes this dress unique. Finding a similar dress with both lace and a halter neckline (specifically, one with light, gauzy straps) was no easy feat, but here goes!

Can't Afford It

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.39.11 PMI Do Declare! Dress from ModCloth, Discontinued

Get Over Itc779d1585697b3aaab3f3dec1a4d9cc9Jaunty Jive Dress, $59.99 at ModCloth

(This is currently out of stock but never fear! If you sign up, ModCloth will notify you when it’s back in action!)


7b63628e947c9f2842489042afa677cbThis Blissful Moment Dress, $149.99 at ModCloth

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Hailey Logan ‘Megan’ Cutout Textured Skater Dress, Item #1011643, $89 at Nordstrom

2273491-p-4xMax and Cleo Rose Cut Out Lace Dress, SKU: #8147943, $41.40 at

31018Mori Lee Affairs Bridesmaid Dresses, Style 31018, $174 at

3090396-p-4xBB Dakota Fenton Dress, SKU 8497261, $88 at Zappos

S9EQNDoZsE_Unique_Vintage_1950s_Style_Ivory_Midtown_Halter_Swing_Dress1950s Style Ivory Midtown Halter Swing Dress, Item #:P10214, $59 at Unique Vintage

il_570xN.620144872_p2xuVintage 1950s Lace Dress, $134 at PickledVintage via Etsy

il_570xN.607029077_bvccMarilyn Monroe Inspired Wedding Dress, $245 at DyStyle via Etsy

il_570xN.470717453_ekbgKnee Length Lace Wedding Dress, $217 at LaceMarry via Etsy

il_570xN.643301738_mw8mKnee Length Halter Neckline A Line Lace Wedding Dress, Style WD022, $158 at RoseHauteCouture via Etsy

BHLDN Chloe Dress

Chloe Dress, $250 from BHLDN

ivory-dress-ML-31005-dMori Lee Short Strapless Ivory Lace Dress, Style ML-31005, $99 at Simply Dresses

For the last dress, you could bring it to a seamstress and have them add on material to make it a halter neckline. And for $99 for the dress, you’d definitely still be under budget!

I hope one of these dresses is the one for you, Alyssa! The shorter length means they’re not only good alternative wedding dresses, but great options for showers, reception dresses, or (for as low as $41.40, WHAT!?), I’d justify wearing one on the couch whilst eating pizza just because. Broke-Ass Brides can be fancy pizza eaters too, you guys. Good luck with your search and happy shopping!

Got a gown that you just can’t get off your mind? We’re happy to help you get over it! Just tell us in the comments below! Please remember to include the budget you’re working with so we can find you the best alternative for you.

*As always, please do your own research before buying a gown online. Team Broke-Ass is here to provide you with inspiration and resources, but it is up to the consumer to know what they’re purchasing.

Real Bride Shannon: Trials and Triumphs with Trends

I’ve always been at odds with trends. There’s just something about looking like everyone else or having something that everyone wants that never really appealed to me. And trends? Well, there all over Weddingland.

I’ve always had a style that was fairly well accepted. Call it classic or timeless or whatever you like; I just feel pretty good about my ability to pull an ensemble together, fashion or otherwise.

But y’all, I didn’t know where to begin when this whole idea of a wedding got here (even though I’m super-happy it did)!

Almost immediately, I started checking out blogs and websites and signing up for ALLLLLL the newsletters. Gradually, I started coming up with a cohesive image of what I wanted the event to look like.

I knew I wanted navy blue for the menswear and that I didn’t want the whole thing to look too … girly (?), so I shied away from pinks and lavenders. Eventually I settled on coral and peach tones because, yay, complementary colors!

And then navy and coral were everywhere.


I started pinning and dog-earring magazines, and then the Wedding Industrial Complex (who now had all of my contact information) started getting me down. All of those newsletters had a lot to say about how I was making my decisions and I wasn’t particularly happy. In just under two months of wedding planning, this was my new attitude:

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Undeterred by the banality of my selection, I soldiered on. I designed custom artwork for our wedding website. I sent out invitations to our engagement party that I put together in the color scheme. I kept looking at it and it all felt so trendy.

So. Many. Trends.

So. Many. Trends.

Far more importantly, it began to stop feeling like me, so I’m going to tell you a little secret …

It’s totally OK to change your mind!

The neat part for me was the fact that I came up with coral and navy on my own, but we changed our mind as a couple on our anniversary. Rather than buying me a bouquet, Woody took me to buy bunches of flowers so we could experiment a little with wedding decor in mind. The thing is, all those pretty peachy flowers I envisioned were missing from the selection. We started pulling shades of purple from the buckets until we had a big arm full. We headed back to his apartment to sip champagne and watch Doctor Who on DVR while we sat in the floor and played with flowers. It was heaven, as far as I’m concerned.


As we admired our work he noted that he really liked the burgundy lilies, and with the lighter purple roses, it looked really good with navy. We figured that the only coral anything we had bought was for pre-wedding festivities that had already happened and that chances were, no one would even remember, so just like that, we changed our wedding colors five months into a 16 month engagement.

Play with your own wedding palette at Magnet Street. It's fun!
Play with your own wedding palette at Magnet Street. It’s fun!

Even though our chosen colors weren’t dominating the Pinterest boards, there are still a whole lot of trends to muddle through. The first time I met you, I was showing off my DIY mercury glass bowls. Super trendy. Watercolor stationery and signage are having a moment in the bridal blogs. Don’t care. Stealing that idea. Watercolor is and has long been my favorite medium. Midcentury modern has been HUGE since Mad Men became a thing. I channeled Joan Holloway like a champ in our engagement pictures.

Engagement Session by Shaina Sheaff, Shaina Sheaff Photography, Denton, TX
Engagement Session by Shaina Sheaff Photography

The point is, don’t let the idea of a trend dominate your thinking, whether it’s following every one or working overtime to keep your big day cliche-free. When something is popular, it means it’s a hell of a lot easier to find in stores or as online tutorials. What you want and what you do should be a reflection of who you and your betrothed are as individuals and as a couple. No matter what you choose, it’s always going to be your unique and special day.

Have you been swayed one way or another by the popularity of something? How did you regroup? Let us know in the comments!

Cool Wedding-y Shizz Around the Web

Y’all know I have a love for all things sparkle, so this starry night inspired post on Brenda’s Wedding Blog put me over the moon.


Photo: Tab McCausland Photography

Headed on your honeymoon? Before you pack, read this list of 5 essential items to remember from Chic Brown Bride.

Who doesn’t love a great bubble bath? Classic Bride Blog has a rad DIY for bath fizzies.

BHLDN for under $500? You know Kiss My Tulle is is all over this bitch with a list of  favorite frocks for very few dollars.

BHLDN under 500

Dying to show off your new relationship status? Knotsvilla has 5 hot ways to rock your title.

Hey Disney darlings! In honor of Earth Day today, Inspired by Dis has an earthy Disney styleboard up.


I’m loving the Idaho Wedding Collective flirty inspiration shoot featured on Love, Inc.

Always the bridesmaid? Be the best one EVARRRRR with these tips from Bridal Musings.

Prepping for your e-shoot? Aisle Perfect has tips to help coordinate your outfits for your engagement session.

Finally, our girl Budget Savvy Bride has another amazing budget wedding tip for you.




Real Bride Emma: The Little Things Can Make a Big Impact

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When it comes to weddings, it’s easy to feel like you have to wow people with grand gestures. But some of the most effective and memorable things I’ve seen at weddings (and on Pinterest!) have been simple and small — but well thought out.

Here’s a few I’d like to share with you:

1) Insta-face seating plan

I recently attended a beautiful wedding with loads of brilliant details, including an absolutely genius seating plan. The bride and groom had found lovely photos of all their guests and pinned them to boards under their table numbers. Not only did it make everyone smile to see which photos they had picked, but it also made introductions at the table much easier.


While this isn’t the actual one from the wedding, this one from MadeSquare is pretty close!

2) Sowing the seeds of love

Favours can hard to get right, and as a BAB I would fight to the death for your right not to bother with the darn things. That being said, I went to a wedding a few years ago where all the guests were given flower bulbs to plant. I loved this idea — simple, inexpensive, but something that can provide joy long after the wedding day. Nice.

Beau-Coup Seed Bombs

Personalized wildflower seed bombs from Beau-Coup

3) The kids are alright

Kids at weddings: Another potential minefield. But if you do decide to go for it, you’ll make everyone’s life easier if you can find a way to provide games/distractions for them. I have seen people give kids little gift bags full of sweets and toys, which has always been welcomed by the parents (and the other adults sharing the table!). Pinterest has some really cute ideas for cheap and cheerful ways to keep little-uns quiet, including loads of free printable colouring pages for the little darlings.

Saying i Do Kids Wedding Activity Book

Amazon has a plethora of wedding-themed coloring and activity books, too.

So there we go, a couple of sweet ideas that don’t have to break the bank.

For now, Am Dram Bride – out.

The Honeymoon Guy’s Tips on How To Make the Honeymoon Happen on a Budget

Hey-o! Today we’ve got Michael from The Honeymoon Guy here to talk about how you, yes you Broke-Asses, can (wisely) use those rewards credit cards to rack up some serious mileage to get you a luxurious but low-cost honeymoon. Now, we never EVER advocate going into debt for your wedding day (work with the dollaz you’ve got, yo!) but if you’re smart with your credit and are able to make the appropriate payments, this is a really wise way to get the most bang for your buck.

Hi, BABs!

When my wife Patty and I returned from our around-the-world honeymoon, we got a lot of questions from friends and family on how we did it without breaking the bank. So I created The Honeymoon Guy website to provide tips and guidance to help others get a champagne honeymoon on a beer budget.  The site is useful whether you want to take an elaborate trip like ours or you’re a broke-ass just hoping for a week-on-the-beach honeymoon.

Our honeymoon included a visit to Malcapuya Beach in the Philippines. The white sand beach was powdery, the snorkeling was spectacular and the fresh mangoes were delicious. Oh, and our flights and lodging were nearly free!Our honeymoon included a visit to Malcapuya Beach in the Philippines. The white sand beach was powdery, the snorkeling was spectacular and the fresh mangoes were delicious. And our flights and lodging were nearly free!

For most honeymoons, the two biggest costs are lodging and air travel, in that order.  So to minimize the cost of a honeymoon while maintaining luxury, you’ll want to focus on reducing the cost of accommodations and flights.

Frequent flyer miles, hotel points and free night awards earned via credit cards are key to doing so.  Now, that probably doesn’t seem surprising.  It may even be a letdown to read that as you’ve certainly heard of frequent flier programs and you may be thinking, “I’ve been religiously putting all my spending on a single airline-branded credit card for years and I barely have enough for a single flight.”  If so, you’ve been doing it all wrong.

Here’s why: Banks that issue credit cards know that a key to their business is getting new accounts.  They offer incredibly lucrative bonuses such as two free nights at any hotel in their chain worldwide (total value often exceeding $1,000) or even 100,000 frequent flier miles, just for signing up for a new card.

By taking advantage of these offers, Patty and I were able to honeymoon in Maui, Tokyo, the Philippines and South Africa and almost all of our lodging and flights (many in business/first class) were free!

You can do what we did – strategically earn such large signup bonuses that you can nearly eliminate the main costs of your honeymoon.

Here are a few specific tips to get started:

  • Once you’ve determined your desired honeymoon location(s), survey the airlines that fly to/from your desired destination(s) and the lodging options.  You’ll want to look for hotels owned by companies like Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, etc. as they have rewards programs.  Note that these brands do have some all-inclusive properties.
  • Research the rewards programs for the relevant airlines and hotels to determine the number of frequent flyer miles and rewards points you’ll need.  Then search the Internet or visit my site to find the best credit card signup bonuses for the relevant rewards program.

Andaz Maui Lobby View

With free night awards from credit card signup bonuses you can stay at hotels such as the Andaz Maui, shown here, or even at all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica, Cancun and Los Cabos!

  • Sign up for the credit cards with the best bonuses and be certain to meet the promotion requirements.  Some cards may have minimum spending requirements which can seem intimidating at first but there are various ways to time-shift your purchases, use the cards to pay your rent or mortgage, or “manufacture spending” to meet the requirements.
  • Realize that both you and your fiance can get the same credit card.  For example, if a card offers a signup bonus of two free nights at any hotel, by both getting it you can earn four consecutive nights at a luxurious hotel for free!
  • Keep track of your credit card signups using a spreadsheet.  You can create your own or simply download a free spreadsheet I created.
  • Divide and conquer.  If you’re taking the lead on the wedding planning, let your fiance take the lead on the honeymoon planning. That way the tasks are split evenly-ish and everything gets done!

With the miles, points and free night awards you earn, book your dream honeymoon!

One key note: Though many people may think so, having a lot of credit cards does not hurt your credit score and in many cases it will actually increase your credit score in the long run (see my Credit Score page for further explanation).

With just a few hours of research – a fraction of the time you’re devoting to wedding planning – you can save thousands of dollars and elevate your honeymoon from standard to unforgettable.

For many more details, tips and guidance check out The Honeymoon Guy or contact me directly at or via Facebook.

Real Bride Elissa: Dealing with Accessory Regret

A few weeks ago I wrote about how excited I was about my customized wedding dress – it’s very unique and very me. I also found some gorgeous, comfortable low wedges (and then bought two more pairs in other colors for work, if that says something), the perfect dangly earrings, a matching belt, and a really fantastic feathered, sparkly hair clip for the reception. I can’t wait to put everything together on the big day … except my veil. I really, really dislike the veil I bought, and it’s non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and, unlike the rest of my bridal ensemble, non-Elissa. I tried it on when I initially bought my dress, and loved the way it coordinated with the ribbon belt I put on in the store. The salesgirl told me it was the only one left (in hindsight a sales tactic), and I got caught up in the thrill of the find. I never even looked at the pricetag – it was such a simple veil, one narrow layer of tulle, how bad could it be? It ended up being $80, and even though I felt in my gut that wasn’t a good price, I let the WIC get the best of me and plunked down my credit card.

So now, almost a year later, the look of my dress, and my bridal look altogether, has changed so drastically from what I envisioned when I bought the veil. I so wish I’d saved this piece for last, or at least shopped around a bit more, because now I’m feeling stuck. Buying another veil is certainly easy enough, but I’m feeling guilty about essentially wasting $80, especially since I’ll likely only be wearing the veil for an hour or two.

Option One: Get over myself and wear the darn veil. It’s really not that bad, but it’s just not what I’m envisioning for my day. I feel like it’s kind of plain, cheaply constructed, and doesn’t add anything, but chances are strong that I’ll be caught up in the joy of my wedding day and not care anymore.


Option Two: Like a proud BAB, try and get crafty and re-configure the veil I have. One of the styles I’m leaning toward is an oversized birdcage. I have plenty of tulle to play with on my current fingertip option, but the ribbon edging on it may prove tricky, and I could ruin it altogether. I wouldn’t be able to either wear it or re-sell it, and will have truly wasted the $80.

veil etsy

The Mabel Birdcage Veil from Etsy

Option Three: Get over myself and buy a new veil. My bridesmaid Emily made a great point: yes, I’m only wearing it for two hours on my wedding day, but I’ll be wearing it for the rest of my life in photos. Why tinge them with any kind of regret? With this option, I can try and sell my current veil on a site like Tradesy or OnceWed.

Even if I decide to go this route though, I still can’t even settle on a style – I just know it has to be different than the one I have. I’ve trolled Etsy for days, and visited a few other bridal salons (including one who tried to sell me a five-foot-long piece of plain ivory tulle for $650). Do I go retro with the oversized birdcage, that shows off the detail on my dress? Classic and dramatic with a chapel length and blusher that can romantically blow in the wind? Or compromise with a full, two layer cascading elbow length, like the one below? I also can’t bring myself to spend more than $50 on a new one, as there are SO MANY other places I want to spend that money right now (like … an awesome meal on our honeymoon).


I know I have to make a decision ASAP, so that I have plenty of time to order the new one if that’s the route I choose. I also know this is such a silly problem to have, but it does feel good to rant about it. And if nothing else comes from this, I hope another bride reads this post and thinks twice about impulse-buying something non-returnable, a year before the wedding!

Have you had any accessory regret? How did you deal with it?

Free Gorgeous, Rustic Printables from Hoopla House

Hey, BABs! Spring has sprung and it’s time for another batch of FREE (!!!) printables from our homies over at Hoopla House. These gorgeous pieces perfectly complement Hoopla House Creative’s Rustic Revival invitation, which are totally perf for a backyard wedding, garden soiree or farm fete. All you need is these PDFs, a printer and your desired card stock and BOOM! Gorgeous little extras that won’t break the bank.


Click here to download the Rustic Revival Mr. & Mrs. Chair Signs

Click here to download Rustic Revival Bridal Shower Bingo


Click here to download Rustic Revival Favor TagsHH-Rustic-Revival-Bridesmaids

Click here to download Rustic Revival Bridesmaid Card

Click here to download Rustic Revival Maid of Honor Card
HH-Rustic-Revival-Name-Banner HH-Rustic_Revival-TV-Banner

Click here to download Rustic Revival banner

(customizable with Thank You or your names!)



Rustic Revival Invitation and Save the Date, available on Hoopla House Creative‘s Website and customizable with colors and card stock. Starts at around $1.30 per invitation.

Rustic Revival not your style? Check out our other free printables from Hoopla House Creative!