Posts in the 'Contributors' Category

Real Bride Tiffany: 99 Bottles of … Flowers?

Let’s face it, BABs. Flowers are freaking expensive. Yet so, so lovely. And one must be incredibly talented and crafty to pull off wedding decor sans flowers. Unfortunately, I am only mildly crafty and have the patience of a child when it comes to DIY-ing anything, so I knew that some of our budget would go to flowers. So, how are we going to keep our florals budget-friendly but still absolutely darn fabulous? Like this:

centerpieces
Because of our brewery wedding, beer bottle centerpieces are not only a natural choice, but they look really damn good. That slick amber glass? (Okay, and some green and clear glass for good measure.) But that gorgeous glass just beautifully pops with some greenery — add some buds and BAM! Bou have a centerpiece. 
Lucky for everyone involved in our wedding process, Justin and I enjoy enough beer to make these centerpieces happen. Best DIY ever. We HAVE to drink beer? FINE WE WILL COLLECT BOTTLES. FORCE US. We’ve estimated roughly 150 to 200 beer bottles will be necessary to make this vision happen. And because of our deep enthusiasm for the beer, we are approximately halfway to our goal. Good for the wedding, bad for our wedding diets. A necessary risk!
Drinking the beer is the fun part. The not so fun part? Removing those pesky labels. We quickly learned that not all labels are created equal. And that not all Pinterest suggestions speak the truth. The best and easiest way to remove a glued-on paper label? Soak in soapy water for hours. Literally hours. Like, the longer the better. Hopefully you aren’t in a rush and don’t need your sink.

bottles 1

Because this will be your sink … soaking away those labels for hours … and hours. I started off fancy with a vinegar concoction but now we are at just straight soap and water.

bottles 2

And TA-DA!

And if I get brave and Justin allows me to handle lighter fluid, I’d like to turn some of these into candle holders. We shall see about that one!

We definitely still have more collecting and de-labeling to do. So come on over and bring some beer!

Us with beer. Just because.

Are you crafting any part of your wedding decor? Tell us about your ideas in the comments!

Wedding Inspiration: Introducing Kristy + Que Sera Sera Themes

Hey Broke-Asses! It’s been a hot second since we’ve had a Wedding Inspiration Guru around these here parts, and Kristy was uber excited to step into the shoes of some rockin’ chicks before her. So if you’re struggling with ideas to fit in your theme, need a little extra push to realize your vision or just want to ogle some gorgeousness, come play as she helps provide the pretty! Welcome, Kristy! 

BAB3

Let’s skip the casual ice breakers and get right down to it, shall we? Kevin proposed to me a year and a half after we started dating but as a 19 year old, I didn’t have much of a plan. We knew we wanted something fun and simple after a long engagement and now, 4 years later that is still exactly what we are doing. Seeing as we are all looking for the best deals and ways to cut corners without sucking the life out of our wedding, I will be serving up my most unconventional and over-the-top ideas on a silver platter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll give you all the glitz and glamour, but for now … *insert Toby Keith’s “I Want To Talk About Me” here*. I’ll go into further detail later down the line but today, I’d like to talk to you about themes to give you a general idea of who I am behind this keyboard and maybe spark some interest of your own.

Between our itsy-bitty-teeny-weeny budget and our lack of traditional values, our theme has mostly been left up to venues. It took (I kid you not) approximately 150 different quotes and six visits before we found our destined location. However, before that, our wedding has seen themes from a destination wedding, to vintage, modern, over-the-top-fancy, country and now to simply “Love.”

Kristy Venue

Every wedding day is filled with love (dur) so although it may not seem like a thing – or maybe I just made it one, whatever, it’s a thing now, okay? – it works for what we wanted out of our wedding. All we truly wanted at the end of the day was for our guests to have a blast singing karaoke (oh yes, there will be karaoke), dancing all night and laughing until they pee their pants. Alright … not literally, but you get the idea. Kevin and I have many passions and aside from a shared love of music, most of them are polar opposites. Settling on one idea to represent both of our laid-back and easygoing attitudes seemed much more difficult than we anticipated. I like bling, he likes gaming. I like country, he likes medieval. I love twinkly lights and he likes alcohol.

When we found our location, everything just simply fit together like puzzle.

OUR VENUE This is it!

Twinkly lights surround ¾ of the seating area, you can sing your heart out on a stage with a city horizon backdrop and dance with your glasses of alcohol from the bar to the side. They have given us complete free range to go wild with the added bonus of being a turn-key venue. There will be a candle tree on each table, dessert will be served on a vinyl record-looking plate and we are allowed to bring in a gamer’s dream of a wedding cake. So yes, without giving too much away (since some of our guests may read this), you will walk in to see a little bit of everything and it may look cluttered but … Kev and I don’t live in a box, so why constrict our wedding to one? Our wedding will allow all the little stars that we love to shine, including our guests. So love … love the theme to my big day.

After bouncing back and forth from A to Z myself, I’ve gathered a ton of ideas from all different genres which I hope will either tickle your fancy or inspire your creativity.

How do you envision your big day? What is it that inspired you to choose the theme to your wedding? 

Kaykisses!

Real Bride Jess: Cake, Cake, Cake!

Vendors are terrifying. In a perfect world I would just have a friend that was a caterer, a friend that was a florist, a friend that was a DJ, etc. Unfortunately that’s not my situation. I, like most brides, have to rely on the good people of yelp (and like minded websites) and the recommendations of my venue and friends.

How I feel when going around in circles with 50 different vendors.

That being said there were two vendors that I didn’t even have to think about: Photographer — thanks Suzanne at SheWanders for being so bomb; and cake. As a little kid, my family and I used to go to VG’s for donuts every weekend. Michael calls me a “doughnut snob” because I don’t think anything compares to a VG’s raised crumb doughnut. VG’s also made all of my childhood birthday cakes. That being said, there was no question in my mind that if I could have VG’s make my wedding cake I would.

Last weekend I picked up my flavor samples — marble cake with vanilla frosting, one with raspberry and Bavarian cream, and the other with chocolate mousse filling.

Now let me say a couple of things that reinforce why I love VG’s:

1. They give you two 7” round taster cakes for free. This meant that my whole entire family got to taste the cake and I even had leftovers to bring into the office.

2. The flavors were AMAZING. I don’t usually like fruit filling (many of the tasters felt the same way) and only got the raspberry because my mom wanted to try it, but we all loved it! The cake itself was super moist and tasted great four days after I first got it when I brought it in to work.

3. They totally worked with my out-of-town difficulties. Since I live in LA and VG’s is in San Diego, I couldn’t really do an in person consultation, but they work great via e-mail & actually respond to me in a timely manner.

4. They don’t want to charge you a million dollars. Their quote was similar to what my parents paid for their wedding cake 25 years ago.

The bottom line: VG’s is fantastic. It’s one less vendor that I have to stress about, and that makes it a tiny bit easier to deal with the rest of the craziness.l

Yes, this is actually a cake made by VG’s. Isn’t it fabulous?

 

On Marriage: The Lie and The Truth About Marriage

 

Often times, when we’re in the throes of wedding planning, we forget what’s on the other side of the tulle, peonies, Champagne and sparklez. We forget that there have been fights, anxiety, uncertainty … and there will be more of those. Because marriage takes sweat, fortitude, compassion and sometimes fear. As this post from Momastery points out, sometimes we lose the butterflies, and it takes work to get them back.
marriage-450

 

The Way We’re Told It Goes:

  1. Meet The One
  2. Fall In BUTTERFLY Love, Have all the Feelings
  3. Date, Accept Proposal
  4. Have a Wedding: AKA YOU’VE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!
  5. You’re done! Congrats, Cinderella! All that’s left now is: Happily Ever After!!!!!

The Way It Has Worked For Me:

  1. Meet A Special One
  2. Fall in Butterfly Love, have all the feelings
  3. Date
  4. Have a Wedding – AKA Cross the STARTING LINE.
  5. You’ve begun. Shit gets real.  Grocery shopping and children and assembling furniture and navigating each other’s families and demons and other confusing, terrifying things keep happening. Slowly understand that marriage is not what you thought it would be and your husband is not who you thought he’d be and additionally you are not who you thought you’d be.
  6. Notice there are no more butterflies. Panic like bloody hell. Understand with mounting dread that LIFE has killed the butterflies and this must mean you have “fallen out of love.”
  7. Look into separation.
  8. Start to learn how horribly difficult it will be to get unmarried for you and everyone you love and also – HOLY CRAP IT COSTS A LOT. Try to locate a path of less resistance. Search for some solution that is less emotionally and physically and mentally and financially expensive. It’s often not LOVE that makes us stay- but the expense of leaving. AND THAT’S OKAY.
  9. Ask for help. Meet with experts, talk to wise people, read good books. Mostly, Be still and listen for The Next Right Thing in the quiet.
  10. Wait. Keep waiting. Make no decisions except what to do EXACTLY RIGHT NOW. Sit with the pain. Sit with the struggle. Sit with the uncertainty. Resist the relentless urge to deflect the pain, run from the pain, numb the pain with food- booze -work –future tripping- unkindness- false certainty -busyness or any other Wisdom Killer.  Just Be Still and Wait.

- Continue reading here.

Real Bride Peach: Weddings, Too, Take a Village

Real Bride Peach | It Takes A Village

Via Pinterest

I bet a lot of brides out there are like me: self-sufficient, independent, strong and insistent upon handling everything herself. It isn’t a matter of being too stubborn to accept help. In it’s purest form, it all boils down to the fact that we understand our vision better than anyone and it just makes the most sense to take care of everything yourself. And besides, who really wants to be a burden on anyone? Right? Who’s with me in the “I’VE GOT THIS.” mentality?

That all sounds well and good. That is, until we get hit by the Great Wedding Steamroller of planning, organizing, details, bookings, money, photo shoots, appointments, family drama, dress angst, etc. and we find ourselves face-deep in a pint of Häagen-Dazs, trying to cope with the sheer amount of chaos.

Just me? Hope not. Listen up.

Here’s the revelation all brides-to-be should have:

PEOPLE WANT TO HELP YOU. THEY LOVE YOU. SO LET THEM.

Read that again. (Yes, I’m bossy.)

Whether you are planning your own wedding or have already lived to tell the tale, most of you out there understand the massive amount of effort it takes to pull off a wedding (big OR small). And in the same way the saying goes that “It takes a village to raise a child,” we should all remember that it takes a village to plan a wedding. So please, ladies (and gents), do not be ashamed or embarrassed to accept offers for help. Don’t be too stubborn or insistent on your own self-reliance to turn down extra hands or someone’s time and willingness to contribute. Yes, you may need to stand firm with your vision and set your boundaries clearly as you delegate, but let’s face it … we are not superheroes. 

When you first get engaged, everything is very exciting and swirly-love-emotions and happiness. The actual details of the planning seem a million miles away. (Remember this engagement post I did? If not, go read!) But then as time hurtles rapidly toward your big day, you come to realize that even though you CAN handle everything on your own, it doesn’t mean that you should have to. And where at first you were hesitant to delegate any small task, you begin to realize that no one wants to “take over” your vision. It isn’t about you relinquishing control. It IS about allowing those who care about you to help plan this very large, very elaborate party.

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of experiencing both sides of the giving coin. You see, I’m currently the Maid of Honor for my friend Nette. Her bachelorette weekend was a few weeks ago and her wedding is very soon, YAY!!! I cannot tell you how much fun it was to spoil her rotten, take her out on the town and yes, embarrass her just a little bit. That’s my job as a MOH, right!?!? But in all honesty, the single thing that has given my heart the most joy is seeing how much our support, love and outpouring of help means to HER, that we would treasure her so much.

Seeing her gratitude and emotion really resonated with me and tripped my heartstrings. Because it made me realize that accepting help is not a sign of weakness. It’s an acceptance of love.

So put your parents to work with the out-of-town guest bags. Ask your siblings to be on airport shuttle duty that weekend. Let your MOH be the ringleader of the bridesmaid dress purchases. Or just let a friend treat you to a mani-pedi as a way to relax for a damn second.

Because I promise you, it doesn’t make you any less of a Broke-Ass Badass Bride to let yourself be loved by your people.  

Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Sparkly, Illusion Neckline Marchesa Dress

affiliate disclosure

Hey there, Broke-Ass Babes! Sadly, no ladies wrote in this week about their wedding dress budget woes. So, this week, I decided to pick one of my favorite dresses from the Marchesa Fall 2014 collection (Style: B10812) and WOWZA, she’s a beaut! A trend that has become very popular in the last few years is the illusion neckline, and if you love to spend hours gazing at gowns like me, you’re sure to see this in every jaw-droppingly beautiful collection of dresses. The neckline in this Marchesa dress is especially dazzling since it’s decked out in pearls and crystals, and the hand-pleated chiffon makes this dress look effortless, yet ethereal like something a Greek goddess would get married in. Are you ready to see it? Here goes, in all of its supreme, flowy, glittering awesomeness:

CAN’T AFFORD IT

Marchesa

Marchesa $$$$ ($3001-$5000)

GET OVER IT

H&M

Sleeveless dress in airy, woven fabric with beading and rhinestone embroidery at top (Style: 66-3399) $99 at H+M.

LightintheBox

A-line Princess Scoop Sweep/Brush Train Charmeuse Wedding Dress (Style: 604656) $119 at LightInTheBox.com

UniqueVintage
White Chiffon & Stone Cap Sleeve Gown (Style: 40778) $224 at Unique Vintage

ForHer&Him
Cap Sleeve A Line Wedding Gown with Decorative Buttons (Style: 0113925) $419.99 at For Her and For Him

Etsy
Romantic  Chiffon Wedding Dress Wedding Gown $438 at Whiterose on Etsy

KathyIrelandBBP
Satin sheath with hand-beaded illusion neckline and cap sleeves (Style: KI1307) $822 at BestBridalPrices.com
MAGGIE SOTTERO DESIGNSwww.maggiesottero.com
An illusion tulle neckline ornamented with beaded embroidered lace drapes the bodice, culminating in a gathered skirt that flows from an empire waist. (Style: 4MC890) $988 at BestBridalPrices.com
BHLDN
This floor-skimming silhouette balances the sleekness of flowing silk with intricately beaded shoulders and bias-cut styling. Harlow gown, $1,000 at BHLDN
MAGGIE SOTTERO DESIGNSwww.maggiesottero.com
Accordion pleated Paris Chiffon combines with embellished illusion tulle to create this Grecian inspired dress (Style: 4MK790) $1,049 at BestBridalPrices.com.

Another option you can consider is adding a beautiful, bridal capelet to your dress. They have some amaze options from the websites above (Like THIS stunner at BHLDN ) and will give your look even more versatility. Enjoy your weekend, BAB’s! Until we meet again…

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! 

Five for Friday: Gorgeous Invitations from Marchesa + Wedding Paper Divas

affiliate disclosure

Happy Friday, Broke-Asses! I recently got a hot tip that beautiful, illustrious fashion house Marchesa launched a collaboration with our ever-adored partners Wedding Paper Divas to make some seriously stunning invitations. Here are my five favorite offerings from this killer partnership:

sumptuous_swirls-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-white

 

Sumptuous Swirls, $184 for 100.

night_blooms-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-black

 

Night Blooms, $184 for 100.

breathtaking_blossoms-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-plumberry-purple

 

Breathtaking Blossoms, $184 for 100.

lithe_lace-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-black Lithe Lace, $184 for 100.

beaded_flair-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-cashmere_pink-pink Beaded Flair, $184 for 100.

Aren’t these invitations swoonworthy? Which is your favorite?

 

 

Real Bride Kate: How to Marry a Foreigner

DISCLAIMERS:

  1. My and Daniel’s K-1 visa has just been approved. The visa has been issued and is in his passport. Therefore, I can tell you that the process described below DID work for us.
  2. However, even though we have successfully completed the K-1 visa process, we are not experts. We are not immigration lawyers and do not work for any immigration services. I am only offering advice, and if you want professional, 100% certain advice – go to a lawyer or government official.
  3. This information is only applicable to a U.S. citizen whose foreign fiancé(e) is immigrating to the United States.

So, you have fallen in love with a foreigner. No? Just me? Well, if you have, let me offer some rudimentary advice on how and why to go through with the K-1 visa.

Visa JB Graffiti

What is the K-1 fiancé(e) visa?

In layman’s terms, K visas are “family” visas that allow for family members to join their relatives in the United States. The K-1 visa allows non-U.S. citizens (like my Australian Daniel) to join their U.S. citizen fiancé(s) (like me!) in the United States. The immigrant DOES NOT become a citizen with this visa.

Can my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Technically speaking, there are only three requirements for getting a K-1 visa.

  1. You must be truly engaged to the immigrant (duh).
  2. The two of you must have met in person within the last two years (of the petition filing date).
  3. You must make above the poverty line for your household size. Or, if you are a part-time worker and do not make enough annually (like me, as a college student), you must have a co-sponsor, and the two of you together must make above the poverty line for your household size. This is to ensure that the immigrant will not become a ward of the state until s/he finds employment.

Should my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Making the choice to immigrate to a foreign country to be with the person you love is exciting and romantic – it is also stressful and risky.

  1. First, ask yourself all the traditional “ready for marriage?” questions. Are you certain about this person? Do you truly love him/her? All that jazz.
  2. Next, are you (as an individual) ready to have your entire relationship literally examined and picked apart, not only by the government, but by your family and friends?
  3. Is one of you really and truly willing to leave your home country (and family and friends and everything you’ve ever known) for the other person WITHOUT EVER GUILTING THEM ABOUT IT OR USING IT AGAINST THEM LATER?
  4. Can you afford it? The entire visa process (counting postage and final plane ticket) costs roughly $3,000. This cost is spread out over several months, but it is still something to consider.

Is there any way to save money?

Obviously, as Broke-Ass Brides, we’re always looking to save. Unfortunately, because most of the fees are government-mandated, there are not many opportunities to save money. Here are the few (read: only) ways Daniel and I have found to save money during this process:

  1. Don’t hire a lawyer to help you. This one is a risk. On one hand, an immigration lawyer comes with a guarantee that your I-129F petition will be accepted. On the other hand, they cost at least $1,000 and honestly, you still have to provide all the same information and do most of the grunt work. We decided to skip the lawyer, and it worked out fine, but it was a risk.
  2. Do it right the first time. Seriously, quadruple check all directions before you begin your forms. Quadruple check the forms before you mail them. If you mess up, you may have to start over from square one, and then you’ve lost your entire investment.
  3. Sign up for frequent flyer points. Daniel and I have been extremely lucky in that we have had several visits together. From the second visit, Daniel has been accumulating frequent flyer points for our airline of choice. Plus, his family and friends have contributed to those points as well. Because of this, his final plane ticket will be (close to) free. This will save us about $1,200 to $1,500.
  4. Exploit the conversion rate. Right now, the U.S. dollar is stronger than the A.U. dollar. Therefore, my money goes farther than Daniel’s does, and visa expenses are “cheaper” for me. Some people may struggle with putting up cash for their significant other, but the way we see it, this is a joint venture, and in the end, what’s mine is his and his is mine anyway.

So how do you even get a K-1 visa?

There are quite a few steps and a TON of supporting documentation, but here are the bare bones:

  1. Get engaged (again, duh).
  2. The U.S. citizen completes an I-129F petition (and sends in a ton of paperwork). This says, “Hey, Government, my fiancé(e) and I love each other. He/She’s pretty cool. Will you let him/her apply for a visa to be with me?”
  3. Once the I-129F is accepted, the foreign fiancé(e) applies for the actual K-1 visa. This says, “Hey, I’m the fiancé(e). Can I come over?”
  4. Once the K-1 visa is approved, the immigrant has six months to move to the U.S.
  5. Once the immigrant arrives, the couple has 90 days to become legally married.
  6. Once married (yeah, it’s NOT over), the immigrant applies for an “Adjustment of Status,” which makes him/her a permanent resident of the U.S. and gives him/her a “temporary green card.”
  7. After two years, the immigrant receives a permanent green card.

Again, the immigrant is NOT a citizen at the end of this process. S/he is only a permanent resident, which means s/he can remain in the United States permanently, but will not have all the rights of a citizen. Citizenship is a whole different barrel of monkeys.

How long does this take?

It depends. The I-129F petition can take anywhere from one month to one year to get approved. Ours took 1.5 months. After the petition is approved, it typically takes another three to six months to get an interview with the U.S. embassy/consulate in the foreign country. Daniel’s interview was only about 1.5 months after our approval date. At that interview, the immigrant will receive an approval or denial.

Where can I get more information?

  1. Always check out the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services first.
  2. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S. Dept. of State) also has a helpful guide.
  3. Another great resource is Visa Journey, which explains the entire K-1 visa process with handy dandy step-by-step guides and timelines.

Visa Love

I know it’s overwhelming. I know it seems ridiculous and crazy. But, trust me: if you really love someone and cannot live without him/her, it’s worth it! If nothing else, now you know why this international bride-to-be has way too much on her plate to pick out flowers just yet!

And to you other international couples, best of luck!

There’s No Sinking Feeling with Solemates

affiliate disclosure

You guys, I’m admittedly the worst high-heel wearer on the planet. I live for my flip-flops (no, seriously. If there isn’t snow in my direct walking path, flip-flops are on my feet. And I’m from Wyoming, so that ‘s some serious dedication). I’m 5’2″, so you’d think the opportunity to be just a little bit taller every once in a while would get me going, but really, the only time I’m faced with the prospect of rockin’ a killer pair of stilettos is for a wedding or some other schmancy event. And those are usually in the spring or summer and outside. Since I’m laughingly far from a dainty ballerina who can flit about on her toes, heels + grass = inevitable sinking, which takes me back to my starting height, but adds a splash of comedic relief as I try to unstuck myself.

SM logo_no HH_web

For years, I’d been seeing the Solemates High Heeler around the Internets — but I think my initial introduction was in a wedding magazine, when I was planning my first wedding. And my curiosity has been piqued ever since. Last November, in Florida for my fella’s cousin’s wedding, I was finally in a situation where I could try them out for myself … and nudge right into the good graces of his family by getting a pair for the bride’s mother — who was wearing a pair of killer heels that would have javelined themselves right into the soggy lawn. That’s what I like to call a double-win, if I do say so myself.

I got them, immediately put the Solemates on my go-to black strappy heels and dashed — er, rather, hobbled like a baby giraffe learning to walk, because I’m that graceful — outside to see if they really, truly, actually worked. And they did. Duh.

This is me. For realz. Can’t you tell by the unicorn outfit?

So, what are they and what do they do? Solemates High Heelers are little plastic things that stand about an inch tall, slip onto the bottom of your heel and expand the base size of your heel, keeping you from sinking like a stone or falling through the cracks in the boardwalk. They come in clear, black, silver or gold, and since grass is typically taller than an inch, you can’t see them in your wedding photos. Not that people are closely examining what’s going on with your stiletto anyway, though I guarantee that there will be chicks who note that you and your needle-thin spikes seem to be floating above the grass and will ask you what your secret is. They come in different sizes — narrow, classic and wide — to accommodate different heel fatnesses (making up terminology here, folks) and you can pop them on and off different heels to reuse for each wedding and each different pair of shoes. Bonus for you city slickers: Wear them with your heels on cobblestone to protect your precious kicks and save yourself some skrilla by making your trips to the shoe doctor less frequent.

IMG_2500

If you’re planning on wearing your fanciest shoes for your wedding, or as a bridesmaid, you should probz get some of these. And if you’re the bride, go ahead and get the Wedding Rescue Kit, one for yourself and one for each of your girls. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the long run. With a huge swath of goodies inside (earplugs, tampons and antacid, just to name a few) any wedding disaster can quickly be averted and the partying can continue.