Posts in the 'Broke-Ass Brilliance' Category

Real Wedding: Peach & Jersey’s Classic, Sane Atlanta Wedding

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Real Wedding Peach Jersey 50Peach

Names: Peach and Jersey

Occupation: IT geeks

Wedding location: Little Gardens

Wedding Date: October 19, 2014

Budget: $15,000 – $20,000

How would you describe your wedding: We had an intimate, simple, outdoor garden wedding with a rockin’ party afterward. The ceremony was short and sweet, spiritual but fun, and we wrote our own vows.  Afterward, everyone enjoyed cocktails, dinner and a fun party.

Real Wedding ceremony 50Peach

What was your favorite part of your wedding? The exit! Our venue didn’t allow anything thrown or flaming (like sparklers), so we provided our guests with party horns and glowstick necklaces. When Jersey and I were standing inside waiting for everyone to finish assembling outside, our ears were met with the most glorious, raucous, synchronized HONK-HONK-HONK-ing of the party horns! It was so funny and happy and celebratory that our faces just lit up with joy.

Real Wedding exit 50Peach

What did you splurge on? His suit. But we felt strongly that a perfectly tailored Armani suit is something that he can wear for YEARS to come … unlike me and my wedding dress. We don’t regret it a bit.

What did you save on? Many things!

  • We opted to not have favors. Instead, my mom and dad graciously handled our out-of-town welcome bags, bless them!
  • My dress — I budgeted about $2000.00, but found mine for $800.00!
  • Programs — my Maid of Honor designed the gorgeous things, then called in a favor for printing them. (Rumor has it that our little 100-count program printing halted the work the printers were doing on the latest major Clinique ads. NBD.)
  • We didn’t do name cards per person, but used a collage picture frame to list out each table’s people. (And saved a damn tree.)
  • I printed out table numbers for free from Pinterest on card stock and used the venue’s included table clips to hold them.
  • We double-purposed the bridesmaid bouquets as our table centerpieces.
  • I also wasn’t afraid to bargain or offer to pay in full up front for a percent discount, which easily saved us at least a thousand.

Real Wedding roses 50Peach

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?  Uhhh, yeah. I wrote an entire separate post about our blown budget.  Go read this post for more details. But in short, I wish I’d known then what I know now: read the fine print, plan for the unexpected, ask more questions than you think are necessary and do not, DO NOT, pay one cent more for anything than you think you should.

Real Wedding mirror 50Peach

What was your biggest challenge in planning? The guest list and RSVPs. With such big families on both sides, it was tough to choose only 100 to invite. And when about 10 people who RSVP’ed yes didn’t show up on our big day, it was such a letdown … It meant that we could have asked 10 *other* people who we really wanted there to come! Planning a wedding 100% showed me the importance of the RSVP.

Real Wedding arbor 50Peach

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? You can only control what you can control. Do your best to think through all the details, ask questions and don’t apologize for it. But when the big day arrives, LET IT GO. Things will go wrong, but your only job on your day is to be there and be happy and marry your person. Let everyone else freak out about the curveballs!  Also, wine is a requirement when wedding planning. For realz.

real wedding dad dance 50Peach

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

  1. Seeing him standing there, waiting for me, while my dad walked me down the aisle. It made it all worth it.
  2. Having so many loved ones, from all over the US, in one place on that day just for us. Warm fuzzies galore.
  3. Dancing with my Dad.
  4. That we made our wedding day unique to our wants.
  5. I’m finally Mrs. Jersey!!!

Real Wedding waterfall 50Peach

Top 5 least favorite?

  1. Hands down, I hated feeling like I was under a microscope with everyone on the wedding weekend. “Are you okay?” “Are you sure you’re okay??” “You seem nervous.” Stop looking at me, swan.
  2. The day went so fast!!! We did manage to thank everyone personally, but it was all a beautiful blur.
  3. RSVPs: We hated having to hound people to tell us if they were coming. Nothing makes you feel more lame than inviting someone and they can’t be bothered with responding to you. Plus the no-shows, just grrrr.
  4. I wish there had been more time to spend with our out of town guests. We did our best, but it was still difficult.
  5. It’s a little thing, but I only got one bite of our wedding cake that day! My sweet tooth may have cried a little.

Real wedding cake 50Peach

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I wouldn’t say I had any bad advice from anyone. However, there were more than a few well-meaning but quite obvious and/or obnoxious suggestions. But I was all: Yo. I got this.

The best? On the wedding day, take it all in. Look around and mentally note all the details, the people, the love in the room and enjoy it. We did, as much as we could.

Any other bits of wisdom? Yes!

  1. Brides and grooms: take 15-30 minutes the morning of your wedding day and just gather yourself. It helped me a bunch to have some quiet time to reflect, calm my mind and prepare my control-freak self to let go of the planning mentality.
  2. If you find you and your partner are covering much of the costs of your wedding (as we did), a long engagement will help tremendously. We were able to spread out the payments and time them so that we didn’t go into debt. And same goes for parents, too.
  3. Budget for the bridal party gifts.It adds up quickly, no matter how much you try to DIY or Etsy the hell out of it.

Real Wedding arbor 50Peach

Budget breakdown?

Venue: $13,000.00 *included: ceremony and reception space, seating, decor, linens, all florals, food/drink, cake, lighting, wedding planner and day-of coordinator

Dress + alterations: Enzoani Beautiful, $1040.00

Veil and bling belt: $250.00

His suit: Armani, with dress shirt and tailoring: $2400.00

Pearl necklace, my great-grandmother’s: Gifted

Cuff bracelet and earrings: 150.00

Badgley Mischka flats: $60.00

Photography by Lee Patterson (engagement session + day of, digital-only package): $1800.00

DJ: $999.00

Videography: WeddingMix, $650.00

Officiant: $350.00

Save the Date Magnets: MagnetStreet $180.00 ← ordered waaaaay too many. Rookie mistake!

Rehearsal dinner invites: MagnetStreet $50.00

Thank You cards: MagnetStreet $72.00

Invitations: MagnetStreet $568.00

Guest Book: Shutterfly self-made $72.00

Wedding bands: $2300.00

Bridal party and parent gifts: $1000.00

Hair/makeup: $500.00 — with trials for both and the day-of, both onsite

Hotel suite, 3 nights: FREE – they were comp’ed for us due to a glitch with our hotel block!

Rehearsal Dinner: $450.00, but FREE – We paid for it ourselves with gift cards we’d received since the engagement, so $0.00!

Actual Total: $25,441.00

List of all vendors.

Venue: Little Gardens, Lawrenceville, GA

Photography: Lee Patterson

Videography: WeddingMix

DJ: Lethal Rhythms

Officiant: Jeremiah O’Keefe-West

Hair: Joseph’s Salon, Lawrenceville, GA

Makeup: Andrea Carter

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn, NE Atlanta

Dress: Ivory Bridal & Formal, Smyrna, GA

Suit: Saks Fifth Avenue, Atlanta, GA

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Jim N’ Nicks BBQ



Real Bride Laura: Be Considerate of your Broke-Ass Bridesmaids

As a Broke-Ass Bride I want to be as equally wallet conscious for my Broke-Ass bridesmaids. As much I love being in many weddings, I have been known to silently shed a tear looking at my bank account during wedding season. Between the dress, shoes, makeup, hair, bridal shower, bridal shower gift, bachelorette and wedding gift, it adds up. However, I am lucky that the weddings I have been in haven’t been extravagantly expensive (a friend of mine who was a bridesmaid last year had to spend $450 on a Marchesa dress!).

After much deliberation I finally decided on four bridesmaids. These are my ride or die bitches — the kind of girls that you can be your absolute total gross self with and they still love you. Now that I had my girls I had to find that damn dress for them all to wear. I wanted something different and not your run of the mill chiffon dress. However, I didn’t wan’t my girls to spend more then $100 on the dress — a bit of a tall order. I scoured Pinterest but half those dresses I pinned were stupid expensive or I couldn’t find them. I went to bridal salons, tried on bridesmaid dresses myself and hated them all. I spent hours scrolling through department store sites. I considered renting them from a particular site but the Yelp reviews turned me off. I browsed through bridal store catalogs and magazines. Defeated, I eventually ignored my task of finding their dresses.

In February, my six-month mark before the wedding, my bridesmaids told me I had to get my shit together and pick a dress. I finally found the dress through an online clearance event from David’s Bridal. I found out about it via a promotional email, the ones I normally trash right away. So always make sure you read through those emails when you are on the hunt for wedding savings. Then when you get what you want, re-route those emails to spam … I shouldn’t say that though since I am an a digital advertising professional … actually open those promotional emails and click on banners often.

OK I digress. Anyway, I found a pretty dress on sale from $149 marked down to $79. Plus one of my crafty bridesmaids found a promo code for free shipping so I felt triumphant in my frugal find. It ended up being friggin chiffon but that’s OK. I have made peace with it.  To make it “different” I had the girls order two different shades of purple so they would have alternating colors. 


My Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal Chiffon Sweetheart Short Dress with Cap Sleeves Style F15406

I nervously waited for the dresses to be delivered to my girls. I had read the reviews, which I highly recommend always reading, and saw it was a mixed bag averaging out at 3.5 out of 5 hearts. The dresses came in and yep, they were a solid 3.5 out of 5. I was disappointed when I first saw them. The picture showed an A-line cut with capped sleeves. In real life it is a bit limp and has more of a thick strap. I kept asking the girls, ” Are they comfortable? Do you like the color?” No one told me they hated them and they did say they were comfortable so I settled. I am ultimately happy with them, though. 

My Advice: 

*Be wallet friendly to your bridal party. These are suppose to be your bestest friends. You don’t want them bitching behind your back for making them spend $300 on a dress they will never wear again. You may not get to have them in your dream dresses but you’ll be sure to find something that will satisfy you.

*Sign up for wedding email lists and be on the look out for promotions in your inbox. If I didn’t know about that clearance event from David’s Bridal I’d still be searching feverishly. 

*Always Google promo codes before you order something online. (Or pay attention to BAB’s Ten for the Weekend column) You never know how much you can save!

*BTW Did you know Target sells cute bridesmaid dresses?? None of the colors worked for me but they might work for you! Just search “Bridesmaid Dresses” on their website.

DIY or DIE: Easy, Rustic Thank You Cards

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Thank you cards are an essential part of the wedding process — people give you stuff, you say thanks. But man, it’s a daunting process, too. This DIY or DIE tackles the thank-yous in a whole new way — make ‘em yourself! We love this idea for a MOH or bridal party who want to give their to-be-wed friend a gift that truly means something. Assemble these beauties ahead of the bridal shower and have the guests each write their addresses on the envelopes, then gift the stack of cards to your nearlywed friend. You’ve just decreased her stress and leveled up your awesomeness.

Shopping list:

the tools

Kraft paper cards and envelopes

Ink Pad in your color choice — remember the darker, the better so the stamp shows up

Rubber Thank You stamp

Hole Punch

Ribbon — I used a variety pack for this including twine, ric rac and braided yarn, but any thin ribbon will do.

Step 1:

View of Full Card

Cut Card in Half

Lay out your cards and envelopes. If  you want to get more bang for your buck, cut the cards in two — keep in mind, you’ll need more envelopes if you go this route.

Step 2:

Stamp in Ink Ink up your stamp. It’s a good idea to practice on scrap paper a couple of times before diving into your thank you cards — this will give you a better idea of how much ink and pressure you’ll need for the desired effect.

Placement of Stamp I chose the far right bottom corner as placement for my stamp.  Of course this is your design, so you have free range.

View of Stamp Slightly faded look, which gives it a more rustic feel

Step 3:

hole punch thank u

After the stamp dries (it takes like a second or two, nothing crazy long), get out the hole punch. I punched two holes on the side and just chose the middle area of the card. No specific measurements, just wing it.

After Hole punch


Step 4: 6 inch ribbon measurement Measure your ribbon. No more than 6 inches is needed per card. Pro tip: Choose ribbon that matches the color scheme of your wedding — twine and ric rac are great for a rustic wedding while satin and grosgrain might be more suitable for a fancier bash.

Step 5:

ribbon through hole Place all 3 ribbons through the first hole on the front of the card, then thread the ribbon through the second hole so the excess ribbon is poking through the back of the card.

Even Ribbon Ensure the excess is even in the back, then criss-cross the ribbon and thread it through the opposite hole to the front of the card.

Cross Cross Ribbon

Ribbon In Hole

Backside View Thnk U When complete, the back of your card will look like this.
Front View Pre Cut Ribbon Thnk U The front of the card will look like this and yes, your ribbon will look frayed.

Step 6:

Cut Frays Scissors out– time to cut the frays away! We made the ribbon long enough to cut the ribbon back to make it no longer than the card itself. Frayed ribbon is OK — but if you’re hating on it, then dab some clear polish on the ends to keep it from unravelling.

And … Voila! You have a cute, budget friendly, rustic thank you card that most people will remember!  This is not your regular, store-bought thank you card — you actually put some time and energy into this bad boy.

Completed Thank you

Envelope and Card

I played around with a few different ribbons so you can get a good feel for how different types will look.

Katie's Thank you Cards

Change Ribbon Placement

I hope you have fun designing your own thank you cards. This was a very simple craft and you can make many cards in a very short amount of time. Pro tip: Set up an assembly line — cut all 3 ribbons in advance for the number of cards you will be making and stamp all cards first to make assembly a breeze.

“Limit your wallet, but never you space”




Real Bride Amy: Size Does Matter


Credit: Alicia Robichaud

The Guest List — how big it is, who’s on it — is probably one the most important and difficult parts of the planning process.  My primary saving strategy has been to keep my wedding small.  When there is a per person cost, it seemed like the best way to keep costs down.  Mostly, though, I prefer quality to quantity. I’d rather spend time with a more select group then have lots of guests that I don’t even keep in touch with (I’m looking at you, mom’s friends from work). When I say I’m having a small wedding, some people suggested it wasn’t worth it because with bigger groups you “make” more in gifts.  Well, I’m not in this to make a profit. Most people I’ve talked with say one of their major regrets was not having a smaller wedding and not having so many people they didn’t know well or care about. And if you can save money in the process, it’s a bonus, right?!

It turns out the small wedding hasn’t helped control costs as much as I had hoped.  We struggled to find a venue due to minimum head counts or costs that many venues imposed.  The only way we could have avoided those restrictions were to have our event on a weekday or in the off season.  Unfortunately, the off season in Upstate NY can mean a foot of snow.  We were so glad (relieved) when we found our venue! They have zero minimum; they accommodate 20 or 200. There are also several places on the property to hold the reception so that our small party won’t be overwhelmed by an empty space meant to hold 300. So important for a small group!

Although I’m not saving a ton of money on overall costs, we will still save some per-head costs by having a smaller group of people. Keeping it small also helps to keep other costs down.  I will have fewer tables, which means fewer centerpieces and table decor, fewer favors … but most important more of the most precious currency: time. More time to spend with the ones I love.

Ten for the Weekend: Dresses, Bling, Sports Gear and More

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1. Head over to BCBG to get 25% off all regular-priced items until 3/29 with code BECHIC25OFF.

2. Hey sports fans! is having a spring sale, offering 15% to 50% off hundreds of items until 3/31.

3. Hunting for your wedding jewelry? Get 25% off at Helzberg Outlet with code OUTLET25.

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This pretty lady is under $100. 

4. First time customers can save $25 off orders of $75 from Rent the Runway until 4/24 with code 25OFFNEW.

5. Wedding Paper Divas is taking 40% off save the dates, 30% off premium save the date products and magnets and 40% off cards, postcards and coasters until 3/30 with code 0327DEAL.

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Well, these coasters are pretty much the cutest.

6. Hey big eyes! Julep is taking 50% off their knockout Lashes for Days mascara duo until 5/1 with code BIGEYES.

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7. Wearing shapewear under your gown? Hourglass Angel is taking $10 off lowback shapers with code LOW10 through 4/1.

8. Get a great deal on your beauty needs at Beauty Store Depot with 25% off orders $49+ until 3/30 with code BUZZ.

9. Head to Target for an extra 10% off home deals with code MADNESS until 3/28.

10. True & Co. is faced with the slightly enviable problem of having too much of a good thing: They’re overstocked with their pretty lingerie, so they’re knocking 40% off when you use code TOOMUCH40.


Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

The weather in North Texas this week has been absolutely gorgeous, which is awesome because I feel like it’s making up for my less-than-awesome last couple of days in Mexico last week (more on that Monday). It’s been patio-drinking weather, even running on the side of hot more than once this week. I’m starting to see the telltale sundresses of summer emerge, and one color that keeps catching my eye right now is yellow, which doesn’t look all that great on me but is fun and bright regardless. Here are my five favorite yellow dresses right now: Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

That’s a Wrap Dress, $49 at Lulu’s

I love me a good wrap dress, and I’ve sort of been obsessing over them lately. I love the super bright color of this one — classic shape, unexpected color. That’s a great match.

Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Jessica Howard Floral Belted Dress, $99 at Macy’s

Put your bridesmaids in this dress, plz. Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

ML Monique Lhuillier Ever After Dress, $35-$55 to rent at Rent the Runway

Or, better yet, rather than making them buy a dress, put them in a scmancy designer dress that they can just rent for the occasion. So much winning. Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Ain’t It Sunny? Dress, $49.99 at ModCloth

Y’all know how I feel about polka dots. This dress is so cute for summer and spring, and there’s a really adorbz keyhole detail on the back. Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Petite Strappy Midi Dress in Crepe, $27 at Asos

For all you little ladies out there (woot!) this dress is sooo pretty. Throw ‘er on with some sandals and sick shades and you just sashay yourself all over town, mmkay?

What’s your favorite spring shade, BABs? Do you love any of these dresses? Tell me in the comments below!

Mind Your Own Wedding and Put Down the Gavel


Credit: Persimmon Images 

Hmmm …We’re beginning to notice something lately. And as the most adultish-adult around here (at least age-wise), I’ve been picked to say something about it:
The little, sniping, judgy being made about other people’s wedding choices.
Knock it off. It’s unbecoming. And honestly, it’s not making you feel any better about yourself or your wedding, right? Tearing someone else down doesn’t build you up.

Look, We All Do It.

Someone walks by you wearing, whatthehellisthat?? What, did they go out looking like that? Aren’t they afraid of what other people are going to think? I would NEVER wear anything like that. Hell, television dramas are built for that type of judgement. But it would never occur to you (I hope) to walk up to that person and tell them to go home and change. Or go into the multiple ways that they look a hot mess. Or explain to them that you would never go out in public like that. But it’s okay on the Internet? “Anonymous” doesn’t exist on the Internet. One real person just told another real person that their centerpiece looks tacky. Just because you’re hiding behind a user name doesn’t mean you — yourself — aren’t still being rude. And everyone has just seen you — yourself — be rude and not nice. So, there’s that.

Run Your Own Race

You have made decisions and choices that you are proud of. Be proud of them. Celebrate them, which you can do without attacking someone else’s decisions and choices. There is no “best” way to do anything, there’s just what’s best for you. And especially if you’re talking about weddings, which is all about style, and how you — yourself — feel about how something looks (we’re talking about the wedding, not the marriage part), then you can’t judge other people on that. It’s as pointless as questioning someone’s music taste. You would never listen to Taylor Swift. Okay, then keep doing that and live your life, and leave the Tayhards alone.

A wedding is not a pie-baking contest. Again, there are no better or best decisions — no universal consensus is available on table settings, or whatever. There are just the choices you’ve made and are going to make, that are going to build the wedding day that you want and have dreamed of. And that in no way depends on the choices some other bride has made. It doesn’t diminish your choice, just as your choices don’t diminish hers. They have nothing to do with one another.

Do Not Judge Lest You Be Judged

Which is probably already happening on some level. Your parents aren’t totally on board with some piece of your wedding. The caterer or the venue is — or is going to — have an issue with something you want to bring in or do. You worry about what your guests will think. The feeling of being judged, pretty much sucks, doesn’t it? Don’t perpetuate that on another person.

Plus, you don’t — and will never — know what their circumstances are. Not just budgetary concerns, but maybe there are other reasons as well. Maybe they won’t have the time to hand calligrapher their place cards. Or maybe their fiance has vetoed an arch at the end of the aisle, or they’ve found a solution they both like better. Maybe they just like daisies, which is not illegal. At least, not yet. It’s a universal truth, but it’s still the truth — until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you don’t know why they’re walking or what they’re walking to in the first place. Just as they don’t know anything about you, or your life, or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t make assumptions, especially the assumption that they don’t know what they’re doing, and need to be told so. You would hate it if that spotlight was turned on you, and you had to explain all of your choices. It’s not anyone’s business, so let’s keep it that way.

The Insecurity Thing

That’s another thing I’ve personally noticed, when I find myself being judgy. It feels like I’m judging this other person, but what I’m actually doing is judging myself for the choices (professional, personal, what have you) that I’ve made or haven’t made. Because we’re not always sure, are we? And that’s just being human. But, if you’re finding yourself questioning someone else, think about what you could be questioning of yourself. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, remember you have both the time and resources to change it. What’s wrong and what needs to get fixed, in your opinion? Figure out what you need in order to feel better about your wedding? All of us are always around to help you get there. But leave everyone else’s weddings alone.

So, when was the last time you made a judgement call about someone else’s wedding, or felt the cold eye of judgement upon yours? Let us know how you handled that in the comments below.

See you at the end of the aisle,


Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Pretty, Comfortable Tiffany Blue Shoes for Under $200

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

Hey BABs! We’re gonna be checkin’ out some OMG SHOES again. It’s been a while since we’ve done shoes so I’m excited. We’re helping reader Brigid get over gorgeous Tiffany blue shoes that at $340 are well over the $200 she’s comfortable spending.

Here’s what Brigid has to say:

The At Tiffany’s in robin’s egg are the loveliest wedding shoes imaginable, and I love that they’re designed to be comfy.
I love these shoes. The color, the vintage feel, the touch of quirkiness. I need options under $200, though. Help a bride out?

I love this color! So great for spring and what’s cuter than a brightly colored shoe with your wedding dress? Comfort is so important when picking out wedding shoes because, y’all, you’ll be in those puppies all damn day. You’ll also notice not all Tiffany blues are created equally. I threw a couple in there that might not be the exact Tiffany blue you’re looking for, but at least you have a few more options.

Can't Afford It Shop Hey Lady Tiffany Blue Shoes At Tiffany’s shoe, $340 from Hey Lady 

Get Over It

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Trotters “Prima” Pump, $108.95 at Nordstrom

ModCloth64 Vegan Sky-Blue & Blush Kitten Heel Shoes $65 at ModCloth

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Rebecca Minkoff Brie Pump, $150.75 at Nordstrom

ModCloth65 Turquoise Wedges With Glossy Petal Accents $65 at ModCloth

UniqueVintage78 Low Slingback Heels With Bow (Style: P15478) $78 at Unique Vintage

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 9.22.42 AM Be Bright There Heel, $74.99 at ModCloth

Nordstrom89 Crystal Embellished Satin Pump (Style: 97498) $88 at Nordstrom

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Say it With Sophistication Heel, $69.99 at ModCloth

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 9.28.47 AM An Elegant Occasion Heel, $64.99 at ModCloth

Etsy114 Wedding Ballet Flats With Removable Ribbons $114 by BeccaandLouise on Etsy


Ione T-strap Wingtip Spectator Pump, $66 at Unique Vintage

Etsy144 1″ Heels With Dyeable Satin & White Bow $144 by Parisxox at Etsy

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Elegance in its Prim Heel, $79.99 at ModCloth


Open Toed Scalloped Barbie Heel in Mint, $96 at Unique Vintage

Zappos195 Satin Pump With Floral Chiffon Accent By Badgley Mischka (Style: 8303860) $195 at Zappos


Nicola D’Orsay Pump, $64 at Unique Vintage

Voila! Shoes. I do have quite a few others that are that distinct, pretty, Tiffany blue. I didn’t post because they’re like, mega heels but let me know if you want to see them and I can send them to you no probs. Your best bet is to have something custom dyed if you can’t find something you love. So many places offer that option.  Hope I was able to help you at! Please let us know if you have any other questions. Until we meet again, BABs!

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 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: Evaluating the State of our Union

As we close in on six months to the big day, the Pinterest slave in me couldn’t help but gravitate to all of those “Wedding Planning Timeline” posts. They all assume you’re engaged for over a year, so they’re so not for everyone, but since we fit in the presented timelines, I thought just maaaaybe I should give it a thought.

Finalize details with florist: Bwhahahahaha!

Establish plan with caterer: Ohhhhh, ho ho!

Choose and order bridesmaids’ dresses: Pssshhh! Ha!

The point is, according to these lovely little rectangles, all mint green and blush pink and seemingly better at this than I am, we’ve gotten a little behind.

I have a variation on the same dream where we reach the wedding day and nothing is ready, like, way too many nights out of the week, so it was time to get down to business and have what I’m calling “The State of Our Union” address. This one isn’t about saving money; it’s about making sure you know where your hard-earned dollars are going.

If you’ve been following my journey, you may have noticed the word “panic” and variations thereupon show up a lot. I’m … tightly wound. A bit, um, anal retentive. Oh yeah, and I’m a control freak, so I’d already made up my fiance’s mind for him: This was going to be awful and stressful and we were going to be v. mad at each other by the time it was over (spoiler alert: this wasn’t the case).

So, on a Sunday afternoon, Woody and I grabbed some adult beverages, a pen and ALL. MY. NOTES. and tackled this beast: what we have, what we need, and of course, how much money we have left to spend.

When we set our budget at $15,000, it was kind of unofficial. It was an estimation, at best. One thing was for certain: This is a cash-paid wedding. I’ll gladly sacrifice a few flowers here and a few appetizers there to keep us from starting our life together in debt. Not everyone has or can make the expendable income to do this and it’s always your call, but if debt-free is the way you wanna be, I cannot recommend a few powwows between you and your beloved enough.

The first thing we did was break down the budget into categories: Food, venue, clothing, etc., etc. Break those down into sub-categories like bridal gown, groom’s tux, accessories — anything you’re spending money on (yours or gifts).

When you’re making this list, be mindful of those things that often slip through the budget cracks: A marriage license is going to cost somewhere between $50 and $100 depending on where you live. The officiant could command anywhere from $2-$400. You’ll need stamps to mail those badass invites. It’s good form to feed your vendors and apparently, a lot of couples forget themselves in the catering headcount. Are you giving parents or the wedding party gifts? Go ahead and count that, too. budget

From there, we went through and gave a high-side estimation of what we were going to spend based on research. We know we have $1400 left to pay the venue and — file this under forgettable expenses — we also have to pay $400 for security. We’ve used every alcohol-party-calculator thing on the web and figure we’ll need about four cases of wine and 225 bottles of beer. Math-ing it out based on hand scrawled notes from our exploration trip to Sam’s Club, we’re in for about $600 worth of booze. When you’re doing a lot of DIY, you’ll have to ballpark some of your figures, but do take some time to research individual costs.


Next, we added it all up. $10,825.

With right at $3,000 already spent, that keeps us comfortably under $15k, BUT here’s where ish gets real. Based on our established record of savings, we’re going to be a little short without something financially good happening.

With our handy, super-detailed list before us, we started highlighting the things that we know we don’t have wiggle room with. The venue, required security and event insurance cost what they cost. Pretty much anything legal is set in stone. Then we went through and determined where we had the MOST wiggle room. These are your extras, but a lot of time it’s the fun stuff. Be honest about what is and isn’t a priority. If it’s going to break your heart to nix the band or a fabulous cake, don’t say it’s ok now, but end up bitter later. Be willing to compromise and if you have to, remind yourself that getting married is the most important part. That always brings me back to center.

So, it’s time to slash.

I gave up some of “my” decorating budget.

He gave up “his” vintage getaway car.

We figured we didn’t need a super pricey honeymoon suite for the wedding night.

All in all, we came down to the decision that we have $13,000 to spend on our wedding and it’s still going to be amazing. If we end up with a little extra before the day, sure we can add a few more flowers or the fun car, but in the mean time, we’re just going to say this is what we have for this and we’ll have to make it work.

So what about my other BABs out there? What are you doing to keep the positive budget vibes flowing? Let us know in the comments!