Posts in the 'Contributors' Category

Budget Wedding Myths That Need to Die

Last week on Facebook, a friend of mine, who’s also a wedding planner, linked to a blog about a $6,000 wedding. It was on her personal page, and it definitely wasn’t one of her weddings – that’s well below her usual clients’ budgets.  She wasn’t posting it because of  the budget, at all, she was focusing on the potential griminess of the Doritos bar the couple created. Yes, these are the sort of conversations we vendors have while amongst ourselves. We also talk about shoes a lot, but that’s a discussion for another day. Anyway … Budget Wedding Myths that Need to Die It was a very cute hipster wedding in a loft in Brooklyn. The bride wore Converse and a $300 dress, of course. The groom wore a bow tie and tight pants. It really did look like a lot of fun, and I personally, would be all over that Doritos bar. But  $6,000 for a 100-guest wedding? Photographer? $2,400. Their clothes and accessories? ~$1,500. The loft? They found it on Airbnb, $1,100 for 3 days Rentals? $860. Metal chairs, uncovered plastic tables, and a small stage. I’m not judging, this is what they had, per the pictures. Servingware? ~$300 Dinner? Not included in the breakdown, because they got a, and I quote, a “huge” discount from a caterer friend. Dessert: Ditto. Videography? Ditto. DJ: Ditto. Appetizers from Whole Food? Also not on the budget breakdown. The bar? Not even mentioned. Decorations: DIY, pom-poms, spray-painted bottles with flowers in them, put together by family and friends. Material costs, even? Nope. At this point, I was gritting my teeth. Basing the actual cost of this wedding on prices in L.A., which are significantly cheaper than New York? At least $10,000-$15,000 is missing from this budget. Which is just … GRRRR … NOT FAIR. And not helpful. Because, come on, you guys. Why don’t you have friends who are caterers, bakers, videographers and DJs? Why can’t you rent a loft from  a company that, in my experience, is fairly adamant about not renting for large private events? Why can’t you spend two days setting up and a whole day breaking down for your ceremony and reception ? Don’t you have space to spray paint 50 mason jars and store the flowers to fill them? Why come you can’t figure out how to only spend $6,000 — or less — on your own wedding? The Myth of the Budget Wedding is that if it’s this cheap and easy for them, it should be just as cheap and easy for you, too.  But, trust me, this wedding was not that cheap, and definitely not so easy. I give the bride credit for acknowledging how lucky they were to have those hook-ups, though, I really wish they’d been more upfront about what they spent and how much they saved. Actually. Is it possible to have a fantastic wedding for $6,000? Of course it is. But you need to have realistic expectations about what’s possible, what stuff costs, and how much time and energy you have or are willing to put in. Is it worth it? It will be. So, what do you think? Do you find these myths as frustrating as I do? What are you doing to realistically stay on budget, yourself?  And, if you’d like to find out a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to See you at the end of the aisle,


Real Bride Kate: Question Everything and Be Yourselves

Okay, Broke-Ass Brides and Grooms, my time as Real Bride Kate is drawing to an unfortunate close. However, before I fill out the Real Wedding questionnaire and check out from the site, I wanted to impart my ultimate piece of wedding planning wisdom.

I began to title this piece: “Question Everything and Be Non-Traditional.” However, I quickly realized that this advice was highly excluding and didn’t get at the heart of what I really wanted to say. So, here it is again, let it soak in:

Question everything and be yourselves.

wedding elements

Most people know that I studied English in university, but less people remember that I also studied sociology. If sociology taught me anything, it was that everything we do in life we do according to set patterns created by our cultures. Of course, there is room for free will in this, but think about it. Our society (for the purposes of this article, I mean Western society) has a set schema for how a wedding should go.

The bride wears a white dress and carries flowers. The groom wears a suit (typically black). The couple is married by a religious or civic official. They exchange rings and vows. They cut a fancy cake. They have a first dance and the bride dances with her father. It goes on and on. You all know the drill.


So, here is my challenge to you as you plan your wedding. For every single decision, no matter how minute, ask yourselves:

Why are we doing this? And do we truly want this?

Once Daniel and I did that, nearly every notion of a “traditional” wedding fell apart. As you can see from the pictures throughout this post, we broke or reworked a lot of traditions and shocked our families.

I wore red. All the bouquets were made from book pages. Daniel wore grey and donned a pocket square instead of boutonniere. We were married by a close friend without a speck of religion in our hand-fasting ceremony – which we wrote as a trio. We didn’t exchange rings, as Daniel already wore his as an engagement band. The cake we cut had the Batman symbol plastered on top. I danced with my dad to “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas.

Real Bride Kate and her father have matching tattoos from the TV show "Supernatural."


My dad and I have matching tattoos from the tv show “Supernatural,” whose unofficially theme song is “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas.

Some people reacted negatively. For instance, my grandmother asked me – in front of my entire bridal party and the photographer – if I was wearing red because I wasn’t a virgin. She just could not believe that I simply wanted to wear my favorite color instead of the color Queen Victoria wore a bazillion years ago.

However, most of our families and friends were overwhelmingly, even surprisingly, positive. Throughout the night, we were bombarded with compliments. People adored my unique dress – “Red is your color, Kate!” They appreciated the cake – “Batman is so bad ass!” They marveled at the ceremony – “I’d never seen anything like that before. That hand-fasting, that was so unique and cool!” And even better, they got the point – “Your wedding was so you guys in every way.”

Let me repeat that: “Your wedding was SO YOU GUYS in every way.”

Now, if you ask me, that’s the best compliment a bride and groom can receive.


Again, let me implore you to question everything. Do you really want to wear white? Do you really want that venue? Why are you having a bouquet toss? Why are you doing the Chicken Dance? (Side note: we did neither.)

And again, let me beg you to be yourselves. If you are a traditional couple, that is fantastic! Live it up! But, if you have been feeling queasy about wedding planning and notice some light bulbs going off as you read this, follow that instinct!

Don’t worry about what anyone else will think or whether or not the day will feel like a “real wedding.” Trust me, if you stay true to yourselves and only do what you honestly and direly want to do, your guests will love it and you will not regret it.

This is your day to celebrate your love! It should be as uniquely and beautifully you as the love you share.


Ten for the Weekend: Stock up on Essentials and Wedding Gown Sale Alert for SoCal Brides

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ll be traveling to Charlotte, N.C., in the morning for a meeting with some of our partners and to see a friend, and Dana and Paul are officially on the second leg of their epic honeymoon tour, chilling in a great hotel in Seoul. But I’d never take off without leaving you with some great deals and discounts to help you kick your weekend off right. From Anthro to Tradesy and a super awesome deal on wedding dresses for those of you in the Southern California area, this Ten for the Weekend has got the goods to make your wallet happy.

Ten for the Weekend: Stock up on Essentials and Wedding Gown Sale Alert for SoCal Brides

1. I know I know, Halloween isn’t even here yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stock up on Thanksgiving cookware. Sur la Table is having a sale on various essentials — from roasting pans to immersion blenders to spiral slicers.

2. Man, there are few things better than a good dress sale, but one of those few things is a discount on already well-priced items. is knocking 15% off their dresses until 10/19.

3. You know what costs a lot? Wedding stationery. You know who’s taking $40 off orders of $99+ for new customers? Wedding Paper Divas, that’s who (when you enter WPD40 at checkout until 10/28).

Wedding Paper Divas Enchanting Forever Invitations

I’m loving these “Enchanting Forever” invites.

4. Discounts on discounts are a great thing, y’all. BCBG is taking an extra 30% off final sale items. Now that doesn’t suck.

5. Designer shoes and accessories and getting to feel like one of the cool kids? That’s how Cole Haan rolls with their 30% off Friends and Family deal until 10/21.

6. Need to stock up on basics? Anthropologie is having a 30% sale off select sweaters, tees and pants for a limited time.

7. Guys, have you checked out Dessy’s sale section? They just added three different styles of twist wrap dresses, as well as a whole gang of accessories. Go on, get on it!

8. Call all beer lovers! Craft Beer Club is skimming $10 bucks off when you gift a membership of 3 months or more this holiday season (until 12/31) when you use code iSave5.

9. Do you guys know Tradesy? You should. It’s like, the greatest consignment store / thrift shop, ever. Like, serious designer duds, but previously worn / used (gently), and therefor cheaper than normal. And right now Tradesy is having an accessory sale. So you know, do it.

10. SoCal Brides, this one’s just for you! Unique Vintage’s real, actual brick-and-mortar store in Burbank is having a real life sample sale this Sunday. Check out our Pinterest board for a sampling of the gowns on sale!

Unique Vintage 10/19 Sample Sale in Burbank, CA


Happy shopping, darlings!

Five for Friday: Spooktacular Frocks for Halloween

Are we sick of that play on words? Maybe? I don’t know. Puns. I dig ‘em. Anyway, since we’ve had oodles of convo surrounding Halloween weddings this week (I mean, you saw the HP Lovecraft-inspired shoot, right?), it seemed appropriate to find some great dresses for this haunted holiday, whether you’re hitting the parties or are planning your own eerie I Do’s — and all of them are frightfully budget-friendly at under $100!

Take Me There Black Long Sleeve Lace Dress - Lulu's

Take Me There Black Long Sleeve Lace Dress, $56 at Lulu’s The Body Eclectic Dress - ModCloth
The Body Eclectic Dress, $89.99 at ModCloth
Red & Black Lace Annabella Wiggle Dress - Unique Vintage
Red & Black Lace Annabella Wiggle Dress, $60 at Unique Vintage

Unique Vintage’s site has this styled in Dia de los Muertos style, with fabulous sugar skull makeup. I die.

Black Long Sleeve Bats Print Dress - SheInside
Black Long Sleeve Bats Print Dress, $17.59 at SheInside What a Spangled Web We Weave Dress - ModCloth What a Spangled Web We Weave, $94.99 at ModCloth

(Guys. The sparklez!)

How do you like these boo-tiful (sorry) dresses? How will you be dressing up for Halloween?

Ask Heather: What Are Our Other Registry Options?

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 7.04.53 PM

Image courtesy of cb4me

Dear Heather,

I’m helping my daughter with her wedding details. She and her fiance are 31 and 40 years old and have been living together for several years, so they don’t need the normal registry items like a toaster, a blender, towels, etc. They are hoping to buy a home together and maybe some larger pieces of household furnishings. Is a money tree an option? If so, how do you set it up and does it need to be attended at the reception? What about cards, or a gift basket? How do you address this issue in an invitation? Are there other options? I look forward to your input. Thank you.

Jlee (older generation mother-of-the-bride that got toasters!)

Dear MOB Jlee,

I’ve somewhat addressed this issue in a few previous columns, but I think it’s worth it to tackle it again, since it seems to be an ongoing issue with BAB readers.

When it comes to registering for a wedding, there are many, many options. Speaking of not getting a toaster, BAB did a post a while back about PresentValue, which is a way to ask for monetary gifts rather than more traditional items. Other options include Hatch My House and Traveler’s Joy, a honeymoon registry. Even with these types of registries, though, I would still have a more typical registry, since there are some guests who simply prefer to give an actual gift rather than money. I have faith that your daughter and her fiancé can come up with some material items they could use. Personally, I’m of the opinion that one can never have too many towels, and spare bedsheets are always useful. They could also register for upgraded versions of items they already have.

In regards to letting folks know where you’ve registered, it’s typical to include this information with shower invitations, since the whole purpose of a shower is to “shower” the guest of honor with gifts. You can also have a wedding website and include registry information on it, with the URL for the website printed on the wedding invitations. And simply letting close friends and family members know where the couple has registered also works.

As far as having a money tree, I’m not a huge fan of setting one up at the wedding reception. It looks a bit too “gift grabby” in that setting. Instead, I would have a basket or box for cards, and a table for those folks who bring the gift to the wedding rather than sending it to the couple in advance. Doing a money tree at a bridal shower, though, would be far more appropriate.

Are you planning on doing a money tree? Did you use a cash registry website? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Amsale’s “Harbor” Inspired Gown Between $1,000 & $1,500

What up, BABs?! This week we are helping yet another lovely, bride-to-be, Lauren find the perfect dress. Yay! Something about Amsale’s “Harbor” dress spoke to her and she has fallen in love. The almost $5,000 price tag, however, is NOT so lovable. I fell in love with Amsale myself a few years ago when I watched an episode of “Brothers & Sisters” where Rachel Griffiths’ character gets married. After I saw her gown, I went on a mission to find out who designed it … and #duh. Amsale! Actually, Amsale Aberra, a couture bridal designer from Ethiopia. She couldn’t find a dress she loved for her own wedding day in 1985 so she began making custom gowns in her New York City loft. Today she is a leading designer in luxury bridal wear. But enough about the designer … what about the bride to be? Here is Lauren’s request:

“I adore this feature! Thank you! I have been searching for my dream dress and recently fell in love with Amsale’s Harbor dress … I know I can’t afford it…got any ideas on how to get over it for around $1000 to $1500? Thanks!! You rock!”

Thanks, lady! Let’s help you find something AWESOME.


sarah&lucsWedding Rachel Griffiths wearing Amsale in Brothes & Sisters.

Can't Afford It

Original “Harbor” by Amsale $4,435 at Amsale

Get Over It

LightintheBox179 Satin Mermaid Gown With One Shoulder Neckline (Style: 00466963) $180 at

TBDess227 Sleeveless Mermaid Gown With Ruched Chapel (Style: 03818881) $227 at

JCREW695 Sleek A-Line Gown With Stunning Open Back (Style: a9994) $695 at J. Crew

BBP774 One Shoulder Satin Memaid Gown With Beading On Shoulder (Style: Datsun) $774 at

AnnTaylor800 Silk Georgette Pleated One Shoulder Gown (Style: 278256) $800 at Ann Taylor

BBP810 One Shoulder Ruched Fit And Flare Gown With Sweetheart Neckline (Style: Dakota) $810 at

BBP909 One Shoulder Silky Satin Wedding Dress With Sweetheart Neckline (Style: 19893) $909 at

BBP1080 Trumpet Gown With Pearl & Lace Appliques (Style: 1902) $1,080 at

TrulyZacPosen1150 Strapless Duchess Satin Fit And Flare Gown (Style: ZP345004) $1,150 at David’s Bridal

Hopefully you find what you’re looking for! Let me know what you think and if the BAB team can help you out in any other way. Until next week, 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 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 Meg: The Search For “The One”

There are few things in your (wedding planning) life that are are more important than finding “the one”– your wedding venue, that is. What did you think I meant? Let me explain.

Steve and I had been together for almost six years by the time we got engaged, so the topic of marriage had been a popular one for at least a year prior. Every now and then, Steve would ask me who I would have as bridesmaids (and then name 13 of his friends as groomsmen), what kind of ceremony I’d like and what songs we would need on our reception playlist. Needless to say, we definitely had an idea of what we wanted for our wedding day, including our venue. We based our decision on these four things:

- What time of year we wanted to get married

- How many people we would have on our guest list

- What area would work best for our families AND our budgets

- Whether we wanted an indoor or outdoor ceremony/reception

Neither one of us wanted to wait more than a year to get married, but we also didn’t want to rush things. We wanted to be able to take time to enjoy our engagement (or “The Victory Tour” as Steve called it) with wedding planning on the side. That’s when we decided a 18-month engagement was much more doable than a nine-month engagement, which brought us to settle on June 20, 2015, as our date, but it took more than snapping our fingers for it all to fall into place.

Being just another couple who got engaged over the holidays, we were eager to book a venue ASAP — and I mean weeks after he put a ring on it in order to get what we wanted when we wanted it.

First, we thought about our style and the kind of place we wanted to represent it. In my ideal world, I would be getting married in the middle of the woods with a huge dance floor lit up by only market lights, but it just isn’t realistic. While we were able to find a few places that gave us a similar vision, not all of them could accommodate our guests or our budget.


We chose this historic home as our venue in February. Photo courtesy of Meg
The flowers around our reception tent started to pop up in early April. Photo courtesy of Meg
The gardens around our ceremony were in full bloom exactly a year before “I do!” Photo courtesy of Meg

Once you’re able to identify when you want to get married, guest list numbers, location and budget, the rest is fairly simple. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding in late spring, we’d have at least 225 people attending, and we did our research as far as reasonable prices for venues in the Philadelphia area. It made more sense for us to look outside the city after hearing from a handful of venues we simply couldn’t afford.

Steve and I absolutely fell in love with our venue just from looking at photos of the place — a historic stone house perfect for our vintage theme, a colorful garden backdrop and a reception tent lit by market lights. We went for a tour when there was eight inches of snow on the ground, and I became a bit discouraged by it. We sat on it for about a week before Steve convinced me that our day would be even more beautiful than the photos on Google. It also helped to know that some of our deposit went to charity!


Steve and Meg touring the ground of their venue. Photo courtesy of MOH, Mandy Douress

So, when it comes to wedding planning checklists, I highly recommend checking off your venue first (after settling on your budget and guest list numbers, because those will determine a lot about your venue). It sets the tone of your entire day. It gives you a visual when it comes to the rest of your wedding planning — from dress shopping to cocktail set-up to all of your money-saving DIY projects! Just be sure to find a place that fits your personalities as a couple and a place where you can see yourselves throwing the first party of your life together!

And one last word of advice for Philly brides: Partyspace is your best friend when looking for your venue! You’ll be able to search by category (outdoors, country club, museum, etc.) and county. Once you find a place that fits your vision, that’s when it becomes really helpful! Each venue will give you its contact information, how many guests it can accommodate, if you can bring in your own food and beverages and it will even tell you if your ideal date is available! The tricky part is that every one of them will make you contact them to get any sense of pricing, which is why I also recommend doing a Google search of each place to see the different photos and reviews before contacting them. I even Googled photos of our venue in June!

How did you go about finding your venue, BABs?

Words to Wed By: Blessings and Prayers

It’s come to our attention that while we talk a lot about smart ways to save money on your wedding day, we haven’t really addressed the wedding itself — more specifically the ceremony. And y’all, while the words you speak have very little to do with your budget, they are still a vitally important part of the day, because they help set the tone for your marriage … you know, the whole reason you’re doing this damn thing in the first place. So we’re kicking off the Words to Wed By series with a more traditional bent, specifically blessing and prayers for your marriage.

Words to Wed By Blessings and Prayers

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

New International Version (NIV) Bible

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Traditional Irish Blessing

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow

May the soft winds freshen your spirit

May the sunshine brighten your heart

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you

And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

and the rain fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again my friend

May God hold you in the palm of his hand

May God be with you and bless you

May you see your children’s children

May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in Blessings

May you know nothing but happiness

from this day forward

May green be the grass you walk on

May blue be the skies above you,

And from this day forward.

May the joys of today

Be those of tomorrow.

Armenian Wedding Blessing

May you grow old on one pillow.

Blessing of the Hands

by Unknown

These are the hands of your partner, young and strong and full of love, holding your hands as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These are the hands that will hold you and comfort you in grief and uncertainty. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and joy. These are the hands that will hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength. And these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Ecclesiastes: 4:9-12

King James Version Bible

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
 10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
 11Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
 12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

BABs, what traditional readings are you using in your ceremony? Tell us in the comments below, and we’ll add them to this list!

Real Bride Katie: Venue Hunting and Dealing with Date Drama

Hello readers!

I was hoping to write my second post with the news that we had settled on a date and a venue and that all is sunshine and roses. Here at BAB, however, we deal in reality, even when it’s not pretty.

First, the good news! We are nearly 100% set on the venue. Andrew and I met through a theater production, and we’re both still involved in theater today. When we walked into Chanhassen Dinner Theatre’s Club Theatre, we fell in love.


Andrew and the event coordinator, looking from the stage into the audience. Personal photo.

I wish we had taken more pictures, but I was too busy being overwhelmed with information. The space has a legitimate stage and a full light bar with smart lights (you can read that as “ooooh, pretty!” if you’re not technically inclined) that we can use and customize. It’s tough to see, but if you look down in the lower left, the space was set up for a ceremony. We would go across the hall for a cocktail hour while they converted it for the reception. There will be a bunch of tables on the floor with dance space, and then more tables up in the upper level. The head table will be on the stage, which is where the ceremony will take place as well.  And those pretty lanterns can be any color we want!

We saw a second venue last night. We probably aren’t going to use it, but it’s lovely and they certified me as a princess.

Real Bride Katie's Princess Pen  I normally don’t approve of pretty princess rhetoric, but that pen is hard to argue with! Personal photo.

Rosehenge Hall (Lakeville, Minn.) is a fantastic venue, with some really thoughtful and interesting updates, including an impeccably designed lighting and sound system. The 11 p.m. end time due to city ordinance was something we weren’t thrilled about, and we also really wanted a location with walkable hotels, since 2/3 of our guest list is from out of town and we don’t want to worry about alcohol issues. We’ve mostly crossed this off the list, but if you have more of an early-ish crowd with a lot of locals, check it out!


Set up in progress for a wedding this weekend. Personal photo.

Pretty sunshine-y so far, right? Well, here’s where things get stormy.

Halloween is on a Saturday next year, and so I immediately started lobbying (and planning, because I prefer my carts to be miles in front of my horses) to have the wedding on that date. We’ve received a lot of pushback from friends who have children, because the wedding would interfere with trick-or-treating. Also, my mom informed me that because it’s my step-grandma’s birthday, the date really would not work for them. I balked at this, because (while I love her and believe all birthdays should be celebrated, no matter how old you are!) they haven’t historically made a huge effort to do much more than make a phone call, and of course she would be invited! She reminded me that they had never made that much of a effort before, because she always had her husband there — who passed away in December.


What’s more, she isn’t super likely to be healthy enough to travel.

On top of all that, Andrew admitted that he is only really on board with allowing kids to be in costumes, not adults. Are we the Grinch who stole Halloween if we invite people to a wedding on Halloween but don’t let them dress up? Are we jerks for ruining trick-or-treating, even if we create a trick or treat experience at the wedding? I honestly don’t know.

There’s a recurring family event on 10/17 that I don’t think the organizer will be willing to move, and 10/10 for some reason feels too close to my sister’s anniversary, 10/2/10. We are hoping that the coordinator will tell us that the wedding on 10/24 is only a hold, not a solid booking, and that it will expire, solving all our problems in one fell swoop. No one expects to be able to wear costumes, no family issues, and I can still use my Halloween ideas. Otherwise, we’re looking at November 7th, and all of my Halloween plans are out the window. That’s not the end of the world, but I’m sure pouting like it is! Fall weddings are so popular these days, and it just feels like a much larger challenge to make it uniquely us. There’s also the fact that my sister had the quintessential classic fall wedding, and that I don’t like most of the classic fall colors (reds, oranges, yellows).

… It’s okay. I know I’m overthinking and pouting and being a big ol’ drama queen about it. But I think the crux of the matter is a universal issue: When should you take into account the opinions of people other than yourself and your fiancé? Andrew is quite frustrated and wants to just make a decision. I’d already proclaimed that there are only two opinions that matter for this wedding, but I can’t help but feel like this is one decision where we need to listen to at least SOME of our guests! At the same time, we feel like we’re never going to pick a date that pleases everyone, so we might as well do what we want.

Guys, did you deal with any of this stuff? How and when do you draw the lines on other people’s opinions?