Broke-Ass Category: Guest Bloggers


Jane B. Writes DisclaimerA Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanCredit: Timony Siobhan

Don’t let anybody tell you that if you have a minute budget, you’d be better off getting married in city hall (unless, of course, that’s something you want to do). If you’ve always wanted to have a wedding, you can have a wedding. More importantly, there is absolutely no reason that you can’t have a gorgeous and memorable wedding no matter your budget. Here are some of our favorite tips for creating a wedding that really pops — even if you’re on a super tiny budget.

Gorgeous Photos

Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer for your wedding, we’re willing to bet you have a friend who is good with a camera (or, at the very least, photography apps and filters). Ask this person to take your photos … and encourage everybody else to take their own photos as well. Set up a site where people can upload their photos (even a simple Dropbox folder is sufficient) so that people can share pictures among themselves as well as with the bride and groom.

While you’re at it, try using some fun props to add some flair to your photos. For example, instead of running through a tunnel of bubbles after your wedding, why not have your guests hold up sparklers? Wedding Sparklers are great because they create fantastic lighting effects for your photos and they’re affordable. Using sparklers for weddings adds a creative touch to the end of the wedding night that often resembles a fairy tale.

The Dress

There are many ways to have a gorgeous and memorable wedding dress without having to spend a fortune on one that has been specifically designed for you (why is this a trend for wedding dresses anyway?). Save yourself a ton of money by wearing a family member’s wedding dress (if they kept it). You can have it altered to fit you for far less that you’d spend on a brand new dress.

You can also eschew the entire wedding gown tradition altogether. Who says you have to have a fluffy white dress? Spend some time looking through second-hand and vintage shops to find a dress you truly love. You might raise a few eyebrows, but what matters is that you love what you’re wearing.

While you’re at it, skip the tux for the groom. Deck him out in a vintage (or, at least, vintage-looking) suit instead!

And, of course, don’t force your bridesmaids and groomsmen to buy specific wedding attire either. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to stick to a color scheme or style guideline, but let them pick their own dresses and suits. The look will definitely be one to remember.

Choosing a Venue

The type of venue you choose is going to depend largely upon the size of your guest list. Keep in mind, though, that if you want to have a big wedding, you’ll likely need to have it outdoors if you’re trying to save money. This isn’t a big deal to many, but if you’d rather be inside consider limiting your wedding to your close friends and family.

There is also something to be said for plain and minimal spaces. Remember: any space can be dressed up with twinkly lights (which you can borrow from your and your friends’ holiday decorations) and paper lanterns. You don’t have to use a bunch of crepe paper and wedding-specific decorations (like those weird folding bells). Keeping the decorations simple also adds elegance to the space. Even school gymnasiums look better when someone strings up the white twinkly lights.


All hail Costco veggie and snack trays. They’re huge and extremely affordable. Setting up a buffet of crudités and other snackables is a great way to feed your guests and encourage them to mingle at the same time. Plus, when you take this approach, you can offer a wide variety of food. Planning a sit-down dinner is fraught with potential disaster: You risk offending the vegans, vegetarians, Paleo people, the gluten-free and your great aunt who swears that nobody with any taste would ever eat [insert exact food you love here].

One of the best ways you can tie all of these tips together is to have your wedding at home (or a close friend or relative’s home). Hold the ceremony inside and the reception outside. Grill out or set it up as a picnic. You’ll save so much money you might even have enough left in your budget for a small honeymoon! And, of course, remember: The wedding is just one day. It’s better to approach it like a big party for everyone you love because somehow that feels less stressful. Perfection is overrated. And subjective.

  • 6/3

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewLongtime Broke-Ass Bride friend Georgia Hardstark emailed us recently about sharing her fun, funky, tradition-eschewing, $16,000 wedding. In the true spirit of The Broke-Ass Bride, Georgia and her husband had the wedding they wanted — at the venue they loved, in the clothes they adored, with the decorations they actually gave a shit about — and all within their budget and paid for the wholeshebang for their 105 guests themselves. Here’s how Georgia recommends having the wedding that’s right for you. And a huge shoutout to Timony Siobhan for the wonderful photos!

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanI have never been a traditional person. For one thing, I never thought I’d get married, so planning a wedding was a clean slate for me. I knew I didn’t want it to be “fussy,” and the only reason I was OK with it being “tacky” was because we got married at The Madonna Inn, which is charming because of its tackiness. I didn’t want to spend a ton on a dress, which I ended up buying from ModCloth, or on invitations, which we did online for about $100, or on flowers, which were picked out and bought the night before from the local florist. Basically I didn’t want a wedding to put Vince and I in debt, as we were paying for the whole thing ourselves.

    What I did want was for our wedding to reflect mine and Vince’s quirky, laid-back personalities, and for all the guests to have an incredible time. Considering I’ve been told that guests are still finding glitter from the DIY photo booth in their clothes three months later, I’d say we achieved it.

    Here are six ways I shirked tradition to make sure our wedding fit our style and personalities:

    1. I Didn’t Have A Wedding Party

    Having a bridal party seemed like a cruel thing to do to my friends, what with making them buy ugly dresses, throw me multiple parties and forcing them to do menial DIY labor leading up to the wedding. Aside from that, having a bunch of people flanking Vince and I at the altar seemed devoid of intimacy and more about honoring our friends instead of the bond Vince and I were celebrating that day.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanI spent the whole morning with my closest girl friends: one doing my hair, another snapping pics and a couple others putting together my bouquet. They helped me set up the banquet hall to fit my vision, and the whole time we laughed and listened to Katy Perry and pounded coffee. It was freaking awesome. When it was time to walk down the aisle I already felt so blessed to have the best friends in the world. Total wedding day bonus.

    2. I Walked Myself Down The Aisle

    Having my father, whom I love dearly, walk me down the aisle seem archaic and didn’t celebrate the strong, independent woman my parents raised. I’m in my 30s and haven’t lived with my parents or relied on them financially for over 15 years, so having them “give me away” irked the feminist inside me.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    So I walked my damn self. I did hug my mom and dad when I passed them on my way to the altar, and I also had a father/daughter dance, which I hadn’t been planning to do before deciding to walk myself. We danced to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” as a nod to the music we listened to on road trips when I was a kid. Later my dad said the dance was “awkward and fun … just like our relationship.” Spot on.

    3. I Did My Own Makeup

    What I wanted on my wedding day was to look like the best version of myself. As someone who’s on camera for a living, I’ve had my makeup done more times than I can count. Professional makeup looks amazing on camera and in photos, but in person, it can look garish and overdone. Plus makeup artists will back me up when I say that the “natural” look takes almost as much makeup as glam does.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    So I called over my favorite makeup artist for a lesson, hit up Sephora for a consultation, spent half the GDP of a small country on products, and the day of the wedding I did my makeup myself. The biggest things I concentrated on were a good concealer for under my eyes and to even out my skin, great eyeshadow technique and my expert fake lash applying skillz (ask a makeup-savvy friend to do this if you suck at it).

    OK and in interest of full disclosure, a bit of Botox and a lil Juvaderm helped give me a well-rested look. This is SO not necessary, but I felt I needed just a bit of help. Just be sure to do a test run months before the wedding to confirm that you like it, and get the actual procedure at least a month before your big day.

    4. I Cherry Picked Traditions

    I’m Jewish in tradition, not religion, and Vince is equally devoid of all things non-secular. He was surprised to hear that I still wanted to steal a few traditions from Judaism, but what is a party without a Hora? And you don’t get many chances in life to be lifted in a chair by your strongest family and friends. Plus, smashing a napkin-wrapped glass right after the ceremony is super fun, and has the added bonus of meaning the past is the past, and life starts now.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    Even if you want some religious aspects to your wedding, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Pick the ones that actually have meaning to you and make you feel a closer spiritual connection to your future spouse and to your family. And feel free to tweak the ones you pick and even make up new ones!

    5. We Had Our 2nd Favorite Person Marry Us

    Vince being a comedian and both of us having a ton of funny, creative friends gave us a huge pool of potential people to officiate our wedding, which honestly made it harder rather than easier. Do you pick your best friend? His best friend? If you pick the latter will it piss off the former? If you pick your cousin and then find out he recently had an affair does that doom your own marriage?*

    *true story

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    Instead of choosing from our pool of friends and family, we choose a guy whom we both really liked, is super funny and comfortable on stage, we aren’t that close to, has a great marriage and had officiated before. He got to know us over a few dinners, and we got to know his lovely wife and their love story. He was the perfect person to marry us, and I can’t imagine having a better ceremony thanks to his wit and sincerity.

    6. I Chilled The F*ck Out

    Listen, things are gonna go wrong the day of your wedding. I promise. It was literally pouring rain the entire day of our wedding. Our photographer was late and a few of our more wild friends dropped LSD before the ceremony. As I walked down the aisle I was trying to hold back the tears so it all came dripping out of my nose and when I got to the alter I realized I didn’t have a tissue so I had to stop the wedding and ask for Vince’s pocket square which I proceeded to soak with snot. Someone stole a bottle of vodka from the bar and poured it into the non-alcoholic punch and even though I purposely didn’t invite little kids to the wedding, suddenly the party was awash with tiny fingers poking the cake and trashing the photo booth set up.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    But guess what?! It was awesome! All of it. If you accept that things aren’t going to go perfectly, as it tends not to in life, you’ll be much more likely to roll with the punches. Grasp the perfect moments and pause them in your head because those are the things you’ll want to recall when the day is over and you have the rest of your life to think about it. Unexpectedly high-fiving my 6-year-old nephew on my way to the alter, the unplanned but perfectly timed tossing of my bouquet to my best friend when it was time to read my vows, seeing Vince the first moment I walked into the ceremony and how awestruck I was that this was real; I was really getting married, and to the best person I’ve ever met!

    Hold those little things close and let the other stuff be funny stories you tell after the fact and when you’re giving advice to friends planning their own wedding. Ideally this will be the only wedding you ever have, so make sure you hold it close to your heart and enjoy it. But maybe ask your friends save the LSD for the after-party.

    A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

    Thank you, Georgia, for sharing your fun wedding story with us! And a huge congratulations!

    Catch more of Georgia’s fun and funny life adventures by following her on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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    One thing I see over and over again are couples who have issues with a vendor’s performance, and don’t quite know how to proceed. For instance, I just heard about a wedding photographer who has not delivered prints for a wedding that happened two years ago. Can you imagine? Here are the steps I suggest you take when you have a conflict with your vendor,…

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  • 1/9

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  • 11/26

    Confession: I suck at writing thank you notes. It wasn't something that was a thing, really, as I was growing up -- I suspect my mother wrote them for me. Though, admittedly, this is NO excuse for not extending appreciation for someone else's graciousness. I've recently been trying to change my stubborn ol' ways (30 does that to you, y'all) and I found that if…

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