Broke-Ass Category: Broke-Ass Brilliance


Winfrey Point Cake TableFrom reader Amanda:

I am on a very tight budget for my wedding, and I am having issues finding a cheaper venue for the ceremony and reception. I understand most times you get what you pay for, but I still want my wedding to simple yet elegant and not “thrown together” due to lack of funds. I am planning on an outside ceremony and an inside reception in June 2017. I live in Tennessee and have plenty of options for an outside venue, but I have a difficult time finding ideas for a spot big enough. For instance I have a nice park approx. 15 miles from me and would be perfect for an outside wedding, but how do I go about figuring out how I can make it work.
Any ideas would be most appreciated.

Dear Amanda,

You’re already on the right track looking at local parks. City or State-owned venues can typically be reserved for relatively little money and offer simple spaces with gorgeous views. Take a look at nearby lakes or riverfronts with campsites. These areas often have a recreation area or a lodge of some type that has plenty of room for you and all of your guests, plus most of the amenities you need to serve food and drinks. Another bonus to avoiding wedding chapels and venues is the fact that you’re not limited to the specific vendors in most cases. If you have a family member who can cater, there aren’t the same kinds of limitations more expensive venues set. A DIY bar, food service and decor can really save you money in the long run.

If you’re coming up short in the parks department, look into retreat centers. Large compound-style areas give you plenty of space, seating options and often have staff there to help out. One caveat to this type of rental is the frequent limitation on alcohol served, so be sure to check if you plan on serving drinks.

A sea-side restaurant in Galveston, TX made a great venue for this later-in-life wedding

A sea-side restaurant in Galveston, TX made a great venue for this later-in-life wedding

And finally,  if you’re willing to change locations between the ceremony and the reception, don’t be afraid of looking into restaurants with banquet rooms. In many cases, you won’t be charged for the use of the room, plus the space will be decorated, supplied with tables, chairs and often linens as well as a full staff. This plan requires a little give and take in your budget. While the food will certainly cost more than, say, an uncle who makes amazing barbecue, you’re saving yourself money on the rental cost of the venue, freeing up some extra cash. Many restaurants will allow you to pre-plan a “banquet menu” where you select a handful of popular menu items (and can leave out that $25 steak) to control your final cost. Locally owned restaurants or any place that serves food “family style” are especially great options. On top of that, when it comes to clean up, you just need a few people to grab gifts and the few decorations you bring!

A little flexibility and creativity go a long way when it comes to finding your perfect budget venue. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and even negotiate on prices. You never know until you ask!

  • 12/7

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewBAB reader Christina messaged us on Facebook for some help finding a Berta look-alike. The inspiration gown is from the Spring 2016 collection and features long sleeves, a column silhouette, and an incredibly unique silver-tone net overlay. I feel like this particular Berta gown screams both sexy mermaid and sparkly winter queen. It’s super pretty! For similar gowns, I’ve focused on column or sheath silhouettes, with either long sleeves or sparkle (or both!). Let’s check them out!

    Can't Afford ItBerta Gown 16-09BERTA Open Back Beaded Mesh Column Gown (Style: 16-09), $8,690 at Nordstrom

    Get Over ItCibella Gown at BHLDNCibella Gown By Eliza Jane Howell (Style: 37869294), $2,000 at BHLDN

    White by Vera Wang Long Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress at David's BridalWhite by Vera Wang Long Sleeve Lace Wedding Dress (Style: VW351270), $1,199.99 at David’s Bridal

    Sedona Gown at BHLDNSedona Gown By Lotus Threads (Style: 40262453), $1,200 at BHLDN

    Sequin Wedding Dress by Etsy seller MakeMyDressesSequin Wedding Dress, $989 by Etsy seller MakeMyDresses

    Theia Embellished Mermaid GownTheia Embellished Mermaid Gown (Style: 5251602), $1,295 at Nordstrom

    Long Sleeve Illusion Lace Wedding Dress at David's BridalGalina Signature Long Sleeve Illusion Lace Wedding Dress (Style: SWG762), $1,458 at David’s Bridal

    Monica Gown at BHLDNMonica Gown From Wtoo by Watters (Style: 39501978), $1,550 at BHLDN

    Theia Harlow Sequin GownTheia Harlow Sequin Gown (Style: THEIA30017), $1,495 at Shopbop

    Long Sleeve Sheath with Illusion V-Neckline at David's BridalLong Sleeve Sheath with Illusion V-Neckline (Style: SWG719), $1,458 at David’s Bridal

    Mermaid long sleeves lace beaded gown by etsy seller MakeMyDressesMermaid long sleeves lace beaded gown, $1,999 by Etsy seller MakeMyDresses

    Badgley Mischka Sequined Long Sleeve V-Neck GownBadgley Mischka Sequined Long Sleeve V-Neck Gown (Style: 0400088885285), $695 at Saks Fifth Avenue

    Hand Beaded Sheath Cap Sleeve Wedding Dress at David's BridalWonder by Jenny Packham Hand Beaded Sheath Cap Sleeve Wedding Dress (Style: JP341616), $1,458 at David’s Bridal

    Joslyn Gown at BHLDNJoslyn Gown By Theia (Style: 39044854), $1,495 at BHLDN

    What do you think, Christina? Do any of these sultry gowns get your mind off the Berta beauty? Let us know in the comments!

    Any of you BABs out there think you can do better? We’re looking for a couple of frugal fashionistas to take on the task of helping our readers #GetOverIt! If you’re interested, send an email to with subject #CAIGOI and a link to a Pinterest board of a designer dress and your broke-ass worthy alternative finds!

    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. Please be aware, though, that because you guys love this column so much, we can often build up quite the queue and it may be a while before we can get to your dream dress. Rest assured, though, Team Broke-Ass is on the case!

    *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.

  • 12/6


    On top of having super yummy carnival eats for dinner, we had some sweet treats for our guests, too. Even though funnel cakes and elephant ears are some of the best desserts on the planet, I knew I wanted a wedding cake to cut as well. I can take or leave the actual cutting of the cake while everyone stares. And the whole smashing thing?…

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    Well, BABs, we thought we had it all figured out. We found a venue that was cheap, and beautiful, and agreed to allow us to supply our own alcohol without adding corkage. We were pretty happy. The venue had just contracted a local Italian restaurant to provide catering. We contacted the manager to set up a time to meet, and she was lovely. We told…

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    The Broke-Ass Bride's 2016 Gift Guide: A Snuggly Winter

    It's that time of year again! Gift guides are back! From now until the holidays, we'll be rounding up some of our favorite gift ideas, mostly in broke-ass budget range (but with one or two splurges thrown in). Whether you're shopping for your best gal, your favorite dude, your family or yourself, you're going to find some stellar ideas for everyone on your shopping list.…

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  • 12/1

    Matthew Christopher Tiger Lily

    Whew, you guys. These posts are super tough for me. Y'all have some exquisite taste! This week, we're tackling reader Maria's request on this post: We are looking for a gown "inspired" by the designer Matthew Christopher. The exact gown is called "Tiger Lily". We perused all the websites in your great article - do you have any other websites or resources for this $5,000…

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    Aite y’all, so I finished painting about half of the centerpiece bases before I ran out of warm weather to work in. How dare spray paint not be able to dry in weather below 30 degrees right?! Taping off bases After the first coat of white dried, we taped off the tops and the edge above the flaps. I found entire sheets of painters tape…

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    Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Photoshoot2

    It's time for me to narrow the list and select a wedding photographer! These are exciting times. There's just one small issue: There are so many photographers in this world! Photographers that are my friends, photographers that I have worked with in the past, photographer referrals from past brides and I only need one.  I made a list of four photographers to review for our…

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  • 11/28

    Cyber Monday Deals for Your Wedding

    Happy Monday, darlings! I hope you all had a great, restful Turkey weekend. As per usual, the holiday shopping has been kicked into high gear, and since finding a killer bargain is essential to any Broke-Ass wedding, I'd be remiss if I neglected to share these awesome Cyber Monday deals with you. Since Black Friday was a mashup of all the things, Cyber Monday's deals are concentrated…

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