Posts in the 'The Bride' Category

Real Bride Katie: Dipping My Toes into Gown Shopping

With the holidays over and the nine-month mark just behind us, it’s time to get this wedding train a-movin’!

On Saturday, my mom, my fiance’s mom, and two of my best friends are accompanying me to Luxe Bridal and David’s Bridal, and hopefully we will find me a dress. I think it’s interesting to look at what people think they want versus what they end up actually loving when they try it on, so I’ve decided to share all of that with all of you!

I did already go on one try-on mission to David’s, because I was worried (foolishly, it turns out, because of course the sale got extended) that their $99 dress sale would end before my appointment. I tried on two dresses.

First, a clear no. I think this dress has promise for someone, especially at $99, but it isn’t proportioned right for me.

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This next one is a contender. I don’t particularly love the fit in these photos, but I also stopped in just after work, and wasn’t wearing appropriate foundational garments. My mom and I both want to see this one again with shapewear this weekend.

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Credit

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Pardon my awkward face!

When you look at my Pinterest board, it looks like I know exactly what I want. There’s a clear silhouette that I’m looking for:

2015-01-14 14.51.50  (L-R, Mori Lee Julietta,  Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner Style 2608, Dressily Me Style WWD57342,) 2015-01-14 14.52.52 (L-R Essence of Australia D1848Essence of Australia D1615, Essence of Australia D1617)

But until I get into the shop and try things on, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up buying a big floofy ball gown because that’s what looks best. Stay tuned for more trying on pictures and *crosses fingers* hints at the winner (or a post begging Christen to do a Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! for me)!

 

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin’s Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

Names: Tiffany & Justin

Occupation: Educational Writer & Video Game Designer

Wedding location: Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens, San Diego California

Wedding Date: October 11, 2014

Budget: Well, here’s the thing. My kindly generous parents didn’t give us a solid figure to work with, but I wanted to be reasonable and arbitrarily chose $15,000. And then when we really got into things I realized that would be impossible in SoCal and pushed it to $18,000. Which as you will see was totally busted.

How would you describe your wedding? An intimate, nontraditional wedding with sophisticated brewery and geeky touches. A close friend was our officiant. She wrote our ceremony and we wrote our own vows. We wanted it to be an intimate party with our closest friends and family members, so we kept the guest list to about 100 (we ended up with 91 guests, which was perfect). Our decor was simple, yet vibrant and complemented the beautiful brewery space perfectly.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding
Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

What was your favorite part of your wedding? Can I say all the things? Because ALL THE THINGS. More specifically, our first look. Our vows. And after the ceremony when we hid behind the building among the extra chairs and tables to have some quiet time together before our big entrance. It even took the wedding coordinators a while to find us, which they eventually did and brought us more beer and appetizers.

What did you splurge on? Photography, and we are so glad that we did. Also, a designer/day-of coordinator. She was especially helpful decorating the space and keeping me in line decor-wise.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

What did you save on? We cut down a lot on flowers, mainly leaving out the family flowers. We also opted to not have favors and we haven’t yet heard complaints about that from anyone! We like to think that our open bar was a pretty darn good favor.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding
Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding
Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Justin says he wishes he would’ve eaten more mac ‘n’ cheese. I agree. I also think I would have communicated with our vendors a bit more, and been a bit more picky. MORE? Yes, more. Looking back there are some photos I missed (with our officiant, duh). I was very passive with my hairstylist and even with the florist. I was very much in the frame of mind that some things weren’t a big deal, and while they didn’t break the day they certainly caught my eye in photos.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Accepting that wedding-related things are ungodly expensive, and also patience. And of course, the guest list. While I am happy with the choices we made, I am not happy with the chatter I have heard about from those that weren’t invited. Maybe I should’ve made our intentions more clear. Or maybe people should just get over themselves. EITHER WAY. The guest list was a challenge, but in the end those who made the cut continue to show us how important they are in our lives.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? You cannot, and will not please everyone. But at the end of it all, the only thing that really matters is how much happiness your choices make you and your husband.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding
Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
Our vows, even though it was an incredible struggle to get through them without completely sobbing.
Our ceremony overall. It was funny and emotional and so memorable.
Seeing our friends and family partying together.
THE BEER.
The venue, and how gorgeous it turned out with our decorative choices. And did I say the beer?

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

Top 5 least favorite?
Justin spilled beer on his shoe (see what happens when you ask for input?). I wasn’t even aware of this, but my dress was filthy.
Not eating enough mac ‘n’ cheese (again, thank you for the input, Husband of mine)
Getting too drunk before photobooth time. Whoops.
I ended up barefoot because no one could find my shoes.
The anxiety and unnecessary drama and worries leading up to it all.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
A tour guide on our honeymoon told us not to talk about finances after 5 pm. The logistics of that are just impossible, but we did understand her point. She also spoke to birds … so … you know …

The best?
Besides the basics (don’t be a douche, don’t go to bed angry, marriage is work … etc. etc.) we haven’t really heard too much. I think people realize we got this thing down pretty good!

Any other bits of wisdom?
One of your bridesmaids should have eyelash glue on hand, always. More importantly, if something matters to you, don’t let people tell you it shouldn’t. Or that it is wrong. Or inappropriate. Details mattered to me. Jewelry mattered to me. Our ceremony mattered to us. This day is for you and your husband, and the memories you want to create and remember forever. I think we did a darn good job of making our wedding unapologetically, 100% us. And it was awesome.

Real Wedding: Tiffany and Justin's Geeky, Goofy, Sweet Brewfest Wedding

Budget breakdown

Venue (Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens. Includes all food, open bar, cake, dj, all linens, and ceremony setup): $14,350

Photographer + photobooth (Next to Me Studios): $3200

Coordinator (Events by Elisa): $1600

Flowers (Seven Stems): $975

Dress (with alterations) + Accessories (The Bustle, Bauble Bar, Asos): $1700

Grooms Attire (Friar Tux): $200

Invitations + Save-the-dates: $600

Other Decor: $200

Total: $22,825

Get Inspired: LGBT Inspired Shoot by Two Sparrows Photography

When Ben and Jenni from Two Sparrows Photography contacted The Broke-Ass Bride little while back asking if we’d be interested in featuring a broke-ass LGBT shoot in honor of October’s roll as LGBT History Month — National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, also happens to be my birthday – I responded with a resonating HELL YES. Gimme dat! So after hooking them up with some of our amazing homies, like DIY darling Tabitha (of geometric table numbers and cement planter fame) and of course BHLDN and Unique Vintage, I waited oh-so patiently for the photos (read: Not patiently at. all.) and guys, it was SO worth it. Here’s what Jenni has to say:

At Two Sparrows Photography we believe love is love, and when LGBT History Month came upon us we were inspired to celebrate the couples who finally have equal opportunity to exchange vows in California and a growing number of states across the country.

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We’ve found that gay and lesbian weddings don’t have nearly enough creative inspiration out there yet, so we wanted to do something bold, affordable, and fabulous to help give Broke-Ass-Brides some fresh new ideas. When we partnered up with Tabitha Johnson at Winston and Main her fabulous DIY style helped our vision came to life; pride rainbow colors with an elegant twist, a nod to 60s style, and some fun splashes of unique ideas.


We wanted to contrast our colorful scene with a natural background so we chose some beautiful landscapes around the Altadena trails to shoot, and we have to say, couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. The work certainly isn’t done for marriage equality, but we’re well on our way and are so grateful to have the opportunity to share our inspiration for couples of all kinds with BAB readers. #loveislove

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Check out this behind the scenes video:

Vendors:

Photography – Two Sparrows Photography
Photography – Behind the Scenes - Two Sparrows Blog
Event Design & Styling - Tabitha Johnson
Makeup – Vivian Tran 
Jewelry – Sophia Kaman 
Bridal Dresses – BHLDN
Bridesmaid Dresses and Accessories – Unique Vintage
Scooter – Route 66 Modern Classics
Cake – Bakebeth
Popcicles and Candy – Suck It Sweets And Treats
Tableware – Borrowed Blu
Video – Making of The Shoot – Richard Che 

Real Bride Peach: My EPIC Bridal Weekend and WeddingMix Fun!

Ever look back on a major event and wish that you had more photos/videos to capture those awesome memories? I sure do. So when it came to what I’ll affectionately call my “Epic Bridal Weekend,” I knew that I needed professional help with the documentation of all the fun details.

Enter: WeddingMix!  My fiancé actually told me about the app first, and then I learned more about them from The Broke-Ass Bride. And I’m so glad I decided to try it out!

By simply asking my bridal shower hostess to include the amazingly easy “how-to” one-pager in her Save the Date email and reminders closer to the event, I was able to ensure everyone came armed and ready with the free app and had added our event in advance. And I’m so glad that I did, because I now have some amazing videos and photos of the entire weekend that I’ll treasure for years to come!

My weekend included: a gorgeous bridal luncheon with fancy food and copious gifts, followed by a bachelorette party with a “Fifty Shades of Grey” theme! I pretty much knew what to expect from the ladies luncheon, but my Maids of Honor and BFFs kept my bachelorette plans completely secret! Not gonna lie, it drove me crazy. But they thought of everything.

The luncheon was so, so sweet and touching. I’d invited a larger group of close girlfriends and my mom for the shower. I felt so loved from the outpouring of gifts and the efforts by the hostess to make everything as beautiful as possible. Just look at the table settings!

Bridal Luncheon

After we ate (and I had cupcakes shoved in my mouth by my mom – love her), we opened gifts. Silly, naïve bride that I am, I didn’t know about the ribbon-breaking tradition that states if I tear a ribbon, it means I’m having a baby {Um, is this really a thing? – Eds,}. I tore one before I knew the rule! All of our many gifts were touching and heartfelt, but the most fun was definitely the set of two NERF guns. Because what future wife wouldn’t want to pelt her fiancé with a dart gun once in a while???

Once the shower ended, it was time to begin the evening’s shenanigans. I made the personal choice to have a smaller group of my closest girlfriends participate in the bachelorette plans. They swept me away to the Georgian Terrace — a beautiful and renowned Atlanta establishment for hosting weddings and stunning events. There, I walked into a suite that was completely decked out in a “Fifty Shades of Grey” theme — framed quotes, cutouts of my fiancé’s face posted on the wall with sayings like “I do believe you’re making my palm twitch,” fun decor, slinky sequin masks, sexy props, condoms (of course) and a gorgeous matted framed picture for my girls to sign and put their lipstick kisses on. It was amazing!! They even kept my 50Peach (as in Fifty Shades of Peach) theme going with peach and vodka shots, fresh peaches from the farmer’s market and even included not one, but TWO of my Mighty Peach Life List items for that evening. These extra touches and special efforts from my girls made my night truly memorable and so, so personal to me.

Bachelorette Party

They even went so far as to have rummaged through my closet for an outfit, brought their own extra options, dressed me, did my makeup and arranged for a stretch limo to drive us around all night! But first, they helped me check off #2 of my Mighty Life list — “Know what caviar tastes like” – which explained the bizarre requests from them about whether I had eggs and if they could boil them. I was already completely swamped with love and gratitude for them all.

And the night? It was truly EPIC.  We hopped in the limo and started poppin’ bottles of bubbly. We arrived at our “dinner reservations” and I cracked up laughing. They took me to Lips – which is dinner and a drag show! We ate and drank ourselves silly while watching these talented performers. I was nervous at first, mostly because we were seated right by the stage, but as the bubbly and rockin’ entertainment sunk in it was just fun. I was even called up onstage with the other brides-to-be in the audience and we were interviewed, then all did an … uhmmm … “special” beverage shot without using our hands. I’ll leave it at that.

After Lips, we had some time to kill before the final stop, so we went to Wet Willy’s for a quick boozy/slushy drink. I got the Peach, of course. Then our limo driver whisked us away to the final stop – 10 high! 10 high is a super fab karaoke bar that boasts a LIVE band that backs up the singers. And my girls, bless them, knew that #1 on my Life List was to sing Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene” at karaoke. They had called months ahead of time and the band learned the song just for me to sing it! WOW.  I won’t lie, I was a bundle of nerves to do it. But that’s why it’s a Life List — even though it was scary, I wanted to make myself do it … and kick some butt in the process. And I did it! It was surreal to be onstage in a room full of strangers, with my girls in the front row videoing and singing along! SO MUCH FUN.

Karaoke

Everything my girls did to make the night special for me was amazing — the personalization with Peach/50 Shades, tackling Life List items, the crazy-cool limo all night and especially the framed picture that is now hanging in my bedroom as a reminder of how loved I am … epic, epic weekend. And most of all, I love that WeddingMix made it easy for us to capture all the moments so that I’ll have my cherished memories to revisit. Many thanks to them for helping me keep these precious memories of my amazing weekend. They’ve graciously created a short video mashup of my epic weekend for you. Enjoy!

And of course, we’ll be using the app and cameras for our wedding! We’ll just email and/or include the one-pager instructions in our welcome bags. Easy peasy. I can’t wait for my wedding video!!

Trust this bride-to-be … go check them out. You won’t be sorry.

Till next time,

 

Real Bride Jubilance: OMG. Five Months Left.

It’s October, which means that our wedding is between 5 and 6 months away (it’s like 5 months and 12 days but who’s counting?). I’ve officially begun to freak out, because we have SO.MUCH.LEFT.TO.DO. We spent September being lazy, but now we have to kick it back into high gear to get back on track.

Real Bride Jubilance OMG. Five Months Left.

What do we have to do? Oh just a few things like:

  • Decide on wedding invitations

Originally I wanted them to be math or science themed since we’re having a nerd-themed wedding. But I couldn’t find anything that I liked even though I looked everywhere. I also didn’t like that I could find chemistry/science themed invitations, or math invitations, but I couldn’t find something that encompassed both. Bummer! Yet, there’s the worry as well that math/science invitations will be overkill – we want people to be excited about the theme and not fatigued with it before they even show up! So now I’m checking out lots of other invitation sites to find other options.

  • Finding a florist

This is one vendor that I’ve had trouble finding. When it came to our venue or our photographer, I was able to use reviews and other factors (like our budget) as a guide to begin narrowing down. This method has failed me in finding a florist: 1) there are way too many florists in the Twin Cities and 2) the majority of said florists don’t provide pricing on their websites. I can’t even use things like style as a guide cause I have no idea what different floral styles are –- is that even a thing? {Yes. It’s absolutely a thing. We’re working on putting together something for the site. – Eds.}  I’m attending a wedding fair with my mom next week, hopefully I can meet a few florists there. I’m also going to get recommendations from our day of coordinator.

  • Picking the menswear

I was leaving this one up to my fiancé, and I’ve been asking him for MONTHS what he wanted the guys to wear, and when he would let the groomsmen know. This is my fiance’s thing –- he LOVES fancy menswear. And yet, each time I mention it, he says he’s going to get to it *sigh*. We’ve managed to make a deal -– he has until October 15th to choose and if he doesn’t, I get to choose.

  • Finding an officiant

This is pretty big, since we can’t get married without an officiant. Will and I are both agnostic, and we don’t attend any type of religious service. We would prefer to have a completely secular ceremony. Minnesota currently only allows registered religious leaders and judges to perform weddings, which is a bummer. I started looking at officiants that we could hire, and let’s just say I was overwhelmed by their rates. I understand they are providing a service, but I’m not keen on paying a stranger $300 or more so they can talk for a 20 minutes. Figuring out who is going to officiate our wedding is a huge conundrum that we haven’t solved yet.

  • All my DIY projects

I have some lofty goals for DIY, like our place cards and decorating our broom. Outside of knitting, I’m not very crafty, so I’m hoping I don’t completely ruin the DIY projects or end up spending a ton of money in an effort to make something that looks decent.

So much to do, so little time to do it. Any ideas on all this stuff?

Real Bride Meg: An Introduction to a Whole New Broke-Ass Bride

Hello, fellow brides! I could not be happier to join The Broke-Ass Bride team as a Real Bride blogger to share my wedding planning stories, advice and tips — and starting conversations with you along the way! I’m fairly far into the planning process, but I still have a ways to go. I’m thrilled to have you on this journey with me!

A (very) brief history of us: My knight in shining armor, Steve, and I met at Temple University 7 years ago. I have yet to get him to fully admit it, but what drew us together was our common passion — Philadelphia sports teams, of course! We currently reside in the City of Brotherly Love.

Steve and I also love to travel, which led us to our engagement night. Long story short, Steve’s proposal plan A was impossible, and his plan B didn’t work out either, so he proposed in the rain on a rooftop in London at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had a long flight home back to Philadelphia, so we started to brainstorm about how we envision our wedding. We decided to take our oversees engagement and work it into our wedding theme — time and travel!

Meg's engagement

Meg showing off her princess cut bling in their London flat on New Year’s Eve. Photo courtesy of Steve’s iPhone.

Steve and I are getting married on June 20, 2015, at the Pearl S. Buck Estate in Bucks County, PA. We both come from VERY large families (seriously, I have about 25 first cousins on just one side of the family), so our headcount is around 230. And now for the big reveal (drumroll …)

Our budget is $25,000. I know, I know, not really what you want to hear. Trust me when I say that I’m under the average budget for Pennsylvania — and especially the Philadelphia area.

State wedding costs- HuffPo

Chart courtesy of The Huffington Post
Numbers don’t lie!

Still don’t believe me? Check out this article from CNN– and pay close attention to the chart on the left-hand side.

Now that we’ve acknowledged the elephant in the room, I’m so excited to start sharing my otherwise thrifty and frugal wedding planning adventure with fellow brides! Here are some things I can’t wait to share with you:

- Where to start the planning process: figuring out your style and finding a venue to match it

- When to splurge and when to cut corners: what means most to you and using your resources

- Pinterest: Your best friend and your worst nightmare

Until then …

keepcalmmarryon

Courtesy of Etsy

Real Bride Tiffany: Vegas Won, Penis Hats and All

My bridal party, knowing my love of debauchery and penny slots, planned an incredible bachelorette party weekend in Las Vegas. I survived one day. ONE. But I am here to tell you the good, bad, and ugly of said party weekend.

THE GOOD:

Free flights. WHA? Yea, a BAB dream come true. My MOH’s dad accumulates billions of frequent flier milers for business travel and was kind enough to donate them to a few of us so we could fly (rather than drive 6 hours) to Vegas. And along with that came free drink tickets (which may have been the initial problem … ).

Phallic decor for days. My MOH asked me, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how penisy do you want your party gear?” I went with seven. Which meant sparkly head gear and cookies shaped like man parts. They even gave me a whistle, which was a terrible idea in restrospect because I decided that every time I blew the whistle they would have to lineup by height.

Real Bride Tiffany: Vegas Won, Penis Hats and All

That headgear though? At least 9 people asked to take our picture. One man even gave us $7 to do so.

The shirts. YES THOSE SHIRTS. When planning our Vegas wardrobe I discovered that I looooathed every bridal party shirt on the planet. The rhinestones. The phrases. I just could not do that to anyone. So instead I found the tackiest {Read: greatest – Eds.} shirts on the planet and made everyone choose one. They acted like they hated it but I know that it will become a wardrobe staple soon enough.

Hofbrauhaus. AKA my home away from home. Although this was the place that likely did me in, I have no regrets. And there were ACTUAL GERMANS which was a total plus.

THE NOT SO GOOD:

Paris Hotel and Casino. GET IT TOGETHER. We were so excited to stay here because we could shout “I’m goin’ to France y’all!” every five minutes of our journey. Strike one occurred when our room wasn’t ready one hour after normal check in time. Strike two was when the other girls’ room wasn’t ready two hours after normal check in time. And strikes 3-80 are the severe lack of mirrors in the room which led to incredibly cramped primping sessions. They were able to complain about the delayed check-ins and get one night comped (SCORE!) and then they gave them keys that didn’t work. Paris just couldn’t get its shit together, for real.

THE UGLY:

My lack of stamina. You guys, I can usually rally pretty good. Wake up, crack a Coors and start all over. NOT THIS TIME THOUGH. I was down for the count and spent Saturday night half dead on a lounge chair in the beautiful cabana my girls rented for the day. And then in bed watching Law and Order while they enjoyed the strip. I TOTALLY BLEW IT.

Southwest Airlines. Specifically a flight attendant named Bernie who shamed us over the PA system for not having our drink order spoken as quickly as he would’ve liked it. We will never move on from it, I am sure.

Overall, I had a really wonderful time. And even though I gave a disappointing performance to the crew on Saturday, I was reminded several times that’s kind of how Vegas goes. And oh how true that is.

Real Bride Kate: A Bachelorette Just My Speed

Wow, Broke-Ass Brides and Grooms! My wedding is this Saturday, September 27th! On one hand, I entirely believe it, as I have been planning this day for almost a year. On the other hand, even with all the planning and wedding talk, it really snuck up on me.

I will admit – I’m really over the idea of this wedding. I am ready to end the planning, which has basically become like a fourth (yes, fourth!) job. I am sick of answering the same questions over and over (Yes, there will be dinner and dancing. No, I’m not nervous.). And mostly, I just want to be married and enjoy my new life with Daniel.

All this stress and annoyance has really been doing me in, and let me tell you, my bachelorette party could not have come at a better time.

bachelorette

For my party, my four best friends, Sam, Jess, Teresa and Devin, took me out to Kansas City. We got manicures at Polished, had dinner at the gorgeous Cheesecake Factory on the Plaza, did a wine tasting at Cooper’s Hawk and finished up by meeting Daniel and a few of the guys at Ernie Biggs, a dueling piano bar.

I cannot emphasize enough how perfect this night was for me. In fact, let me tell you the reasons why it was so great, so that you can use them as inspiration for planning your favorite bride’s soiree.

1. It tackled a to-do list item

I’m super busy. I work three jobs and am attempting to cultivate a professional writing career. Planning this wedding is a huge time-suck for me. Therefore, I was so relieved when my friends took me for manicures. It crossed a very important and very time-consuming item off my to-do list in the best way possible – spending time with friends.

2. It pampered me

Have I mentioned that I’m busy? I have a horrible habit of never taking time to relax and spoil myself. Well, if getting manicures wasn’t pampering enough, my friends also took me out to a delicious dinner. Eating a lovely dinner and gorging on fancy pastries was a great way to unwind and reward myself for all my hard work. Of course, the amaretto sours didn’t hurt either!

3. It got me the right amount of tipsy

I’m not a huge drinker. However, I do enjoy my wines and getting a little tipsy on special occasions. By going to a wine tasting, my friends and I were able to get a nice buzz, while still feeling classy and not having to pick only one “poison.” What I most want to emphasize here is that bachelorette parties don’t have to be a sloppy drinking fest. If your bride is more of a wine tasting, get-a-little-giggly drinker, don’t take her out to a crazy bar. Also, keep in mind what the other guests/bridesmaids are like in the alcohol department. Sometimes, a calmer way to drink is more comfortable for everyone.

Wine tasting

4. I got to dance and enjoy music

I HATE clubs. I hate ear-shattering rap/dub-step/whatever-they-call-it music and rubbing up against sweaty, horny people. A dueling piano bar, where I got to sit in a chair, hear a wide range of music and dance on a spacious floor was perfect for me. Always keep in mind what kind of experience will be fun for your bride. She might love music, but what kind of music does she want to hear, what kind of dancing does she want to do? Always keep the party at her tempo.

5. I got to see my groom

After being long distance for almost two years, I don’t like to be away from Daniel. I know, it’s pathetic, but we’re still in that honeymoon post-move, pre-third-round-of-immigration-paperwork stage. Therefore, the fact that our parties were on the same night was great. The boys got to hang out at an arcade and bar hop, we girls got to visit the salon and indulge our palates, and then we all got to hang out and enjoy some music.

Real Bride Kate: A Bachelorette Just My Speed

Of course, the fact that Daniel brought me a stuffed Pikachu he won at the arcade may have strengthened my enjoyment at seeing him that night.

In short, my bachelorette party was fantastic. I had a phenomenal time with my best friends. They succeeded in planning the perfect night for me, and I truly believe that, if you take note of this formula, you can plan to perfect night for your bride, too! Thanks again, ladies!

Real Wedding: Ashley and Curtis’ Unique Farm Wedding

Ashley and Curtis’ sweet Minnesota wedding was put together with a lot of time, energy, effort and love. While the bride and groom did not set a budget (!!), they managed to pull off a great party and amazing wedding under around $18,000. While rain threatened to put a damper on their big day, the skies cleared up, the roads dried up and the party got started!

View More: http://katiemaier.pass.us/ashleycurtis

Name: Curtis and Ashley Cauley

Occupation: City Planner

Wedding Location: Carver, Minnesota

Wedding date: June 21, 2014

Budget: Curtis and I decided early on that we would not set a hard-fast budget. Rather, we would diligently research every decision to be sure that we were getting the most value for every dollar we spent. For us, this didn’t mean that we were picking the cheapest vendor. Rather, we considered how the price compared to other options and whether we would be satisfied with what we got for the price we paid. Most of the time, this meant we didn’t go with the cheapest option. {After some needling, Ashley threw out $15K- $18K as their final tally – Eds.}

View More: http://katiemaier.pass.us/ashleycurtis

How would you describe your wedding:  This will likely be the easiest question for me to answer. Our wedding was simply OURS. Growing up and getting married in a smaller town leaves you without a lot of options to make the wedding as unique as you are as a couple. Around here, more often than not people have their receptions at a golf course and serve chicken dinners. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we wanted something different.

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After several disappointments with reception halls, a family friend offered us their farm. This was an opportunity for us to make the wedding unique and basically gave us a blank slate to work with. This opportunity allowed us to pick the vendors we wanted instead of a list of four or five vendors “allowed” to cater to each venue.

Our wedding theme was inspired by an invitation at a wedding fair and Curtis’ family farm. Our classy peacock and rustic wheat theme was perfect for us!

There so many things that we did to make our wedding OURS:

  • Commemorating those who have passed before us. My mother passed away six years ago after a yearlong courageous battle against breast cancer. Then tragically we lost Curtis’ dad two years ago unexpectedly. We decided that we would pick something to commemorate our parents. For my mom, I included two pictures of my mother on her wedding day. One of which was my grandparents walking her down the aisle. This was extra special because they walked me down the aisle. Before Curtis’ dad passed away, he passed down a pocket watch that had been passed down in the family for four generations. It only made sense that he would carry the watch in memory of him.

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  • Unity tree. Rather than doing a unity sand or candle ceremony, we branched out and had a unity tree celebration. During the ceremony we followed our wedding party in watering the tree that is now planted in the yard. The tree was also a beautiful décor piece in the church.
  • Ceremony song choices. Thankfully our pastor was open to letting us select our own ceremony music. We weren’t looking for anything “crazy” but wanted music that was special to us. Truthfully I think in the beginning I overlooked how challenging finding our ceremony music would be until I started trying to find music. Curtis and I decided a long time ago that I would walk down the aisle to Look at You Girl  by Chris LeDoux.

We ended up finding a string rendition of Stand by Me that we were both absolutely in love with. After hearing it there was not a doubt this was the song for our wedding party to walk into the church to. The issue was we couldn’t download the song since it was a preview for a string quartet that plays at weddings. We couldn’t find anything that beautiful and we tried to reach out to them. After a few attempts, I got a response saying they weren’t even sure if they had a copy of it and other copies were located across the county. However, after some chatting and some research on their end they emailed us a copy at no cost.

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The rest of the music just fell into place. My cousin sang a Miley Cyrus song. Yes, Miley Cyrus. (When I look at You.)

  • Invitations and programs. Over the course of several days, Curtis and I spent probably 12 hours looking through pages and pages of wedding invitations online. We couldn’t find something that we were in love with, and we weren’t willing to spend $4 an invitation. After coming up empty-handed, I decided I would spend a few hours designing our own to see what I could come up with. If we didn’t like it, it was only two more hours wasted on invitations.

I used designed a tri-fold invitation which included several of our engagement photos. They turned out beautiful. Then the only challenge was where to print them at a reasonable price. I called around and found that our local newspaper could print them. They printed them for 50 cents each including an envelope.

To save even more money, rather than doing RSVP cards which never get sent back, we set up a Wedding Wire account. Through the account people could RSVP electronically. The website was completely customizable and allowed us to include additional wedding information such as maps, hotel information, song requests and time lines.

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I also decided to take on our wedding programs. I fashioned them like a magazine and included more engagement photos. The programs included so much more information than a typical program. We were able to include our menu, a reception to-do list, paper airplanes, our story, a heart-felt thank you and information on our wedding party.

  • Paper airplanes. I hated the idea of doing bubbles or sparklers for when we walked out of the church. I almost skipped the idea entirely but then last minute decided it would be fun to do paper airplanes. It was perfect since we are waiting to take our honeymoon to Europe. So the airplane included the following poem:

The last two years have been busy and have kept us on the run.

Therefore, we’ll wait two years to have some honeymoon fun.

That’s right folks, we are waiting until our second anniversary

to enjoy Europe’s territory

Use this paper to fold a plane and set it aside,

Then let ‘er fly when the newlyweds walk outside.

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  • Cake and pie To say that I love cake would be a complete understatement. In fact, I could easily have eaten our entire three-tier wedding cake myself. Curtis, on the other hand, is not a fan. He loves pie, especially fruit pies. When it came to figuring out what we wanted, we decided to do both. People from our church volunteered to make homemade pies, which was perfect. In fact, I believe more slices of pie went than cake.
  • Pups. We have a mini and a toy Australian shepherd. They are our babies and we spoil them rotten. It would have been completely wrong for them to not be at the reception to celebrate with us. They wore matching bowties and enjoyed the reception right alongside our guests.
  • First dance. Curtis and I did not want to do the traditional stay-and-sway for our first dance but were not looking to break out to Baby Got Back. We settled on taking some dance lessons and showcased our new moves to (I had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing. No, we did not do or practice the infamous lift.

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  • Shoe Game. I shamelessly stole this idea from Pinterest. To avoid knowing what the questions were I printed off several renditions and sent them directly to our DJ. This game was absolutely hilarious and gave our guests a look into our relationship with a ton of laughs. Facing back-to-back, each of us had one of our own shoes and one of the other’s shoes. When asked a question, we answered by raising the shoe of the one who was more likely to do or exhibit that behavior. Some of the questions were serious like “who is the first to say sorry” and “who is the most stubborn” but ranged all the way to “who wears the pants in the relationship” and “who runs the TV remote.” The guests said the best part of the game was watching our faces as we answered.
  • Reception. Having our reception outdoors, we had so much space to do whatever we wanted. We included a hayride for our guests from their cars (which were parked a nearby farm). Dinner was under tents. We wanted our guests to have something to do even if they didn’t like to dance. So, we had yard games (including lifesize Jenga); a campfire and s’mores; picnic tables outside; and a photo wall with endless props. We found that our guests stayed way longer than at other weddings. It think it was largely in part because there were things to do for those who didn’t want to shake their groove things. The last song played at 1:15 in the morning and we still had over 50 people at the farm –30 of which were dancing.

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What was your favorite part of your wedding? Is it cliché if I say everything? Because I mean it, the day was absolutely perfect. The wedding was personal and so full of love. Our wedding is still being talked about as being the Wedding of the Year. I think it was all the small details that made the biggest impact.

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What did you splurge on? What did you save on? I can’t really answer these questions, since we just researched and were happy with all our financial decisions.

Was there anything you would have done differently? Had you asked me a month ago I would have said started my pictures earlier. But since then we got our pictures back and there are way more than I thought there was going to be. So nothing.

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What was your biggest challenge in planning?The biggest challenge was knowing when and where to start. I felt pretty lost during the whole process. Many women have their mother to help and guide them or at the very least to turn to advice or a good cry. We had no idea how much a wedding could or should cost. I got over this by religiously using my wedding planner. I buy one for each and every one of my friends who gets engaged.

What lessons did you learn from planning or having the wedding itself?

  • Have a “get stuff done” day. A friend held a couple days where she invited us over, gave us some wine and had us work on wedding projects. She highly recommended I try it out to get stuff done. I had one day where 15 people came over to help. We polished off a lot of wine but they got projects done so fast I was literally pulling more out to do. In one afternoon they managed to get more done than I had in the last year of crafting.
  • Learn to say noWeddings equate to everyone wants to sell you their services. It’s actually exhausting to listen to people try to sell you their stuff. I’m such a softie that I have the hardest time saying no to people. Finally I had to learn what it means to say no, I’m not interested.

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  • Something will go wrong. Everyone tells you that something will go wrong but the day of everyone seems to forget that. I had been telling myself for months that I was going to stop worrying about wedding stuff at 9 a.m. on my wedding day. Best thing I could have done. I let go of my schedule, let go of my tedious type A planning and lived in the moment. I have no idea if anything truly went wrong. I was too busy enjoying the day. 
  • Dare to be different. Our wedding was unlike any of the ones held around us and it was perfect. The day was unique and filled with love. Don’t just use something because it’s the only option. Find your option.

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What were your top 5 favorite things?

Top 5 least favorite? This question is really hard to answer, since I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything went perfectly, so much so that I’d be afraid to do it over again in fear it wouldn’t go so well the second time.

So, I’ll fill this section with a major challenge. Two days before our wedding we got 10 ½ inches of rain in 24 hours. Almost every road was either washed out or flooded, houses were flooding and there was literally water everywhere. Rumor has it that our town of 5,000 made the world news. Thursday was supposed to be our set-up day leaving Friday for the relaxing day to finish up details and get our nails done. Obviously the rain made us change our plans.

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Thankfully, everyone was accommodating and we were able to change our Friday appointments to Thursday when it was pouring. Looking out the window as the day passed made the reality of how much water we were getting set in.

Our church and reception site were only ½ mile apart on a gravel road. Before we went to bed on Thursday, the road between the church and the reception site washed out. I put a message on Facebook asking friends who had some free time to come help us make up for lost time.

By Friday morning, the county was fixing the small township road (someone must have put in a good word) and 20 people were in the yard with one tent already assembled and a kitchen crew was slicing pies. It was enough to make me cry, it was so overwhelming as we were so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.

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I only had one moment where I broke down and cried for 20 seconds. I am a Type-A planner who had a floor plan for all the tables, candy bar, cake table, DJ stand and food to fit under the tent. Well with all the rain we couldn’t use my plan anymore. I had to walk away for a minute before I realized how silly I it was. This was my wedding, and there was no way I was going to let something so silly get in the way of so much hard work, excitement and planning. In what I was planning to take a day and a half took about seven hours because so many people came to help. People say it takes a village to raise a baby, but I think it also takes a village to pull off a wedding.

This may leave you wondering how things turned out. Our wedding was the only wedding in a string of seven where it didn’t rain. Most of the yard dried out and most of the roads were at least partially opened in time for the wedding,hich was fantastic since we had so many travelers. We had representatives from 12 states joining us. Other than a few well-placed sheets of plywood no one would have known we had just had so much rain.

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What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “The details don’t matter.” I think that everyone talks about in the grand scheme of things, no one will know that it was supposed to be there or it was missing. It’s probably true but when the details are there, people talk. Dare I say it … we had Port-A-Potties for restrooms at our wedding. We placed a pop-up tent in front of the bathrooms, hung lanterns, stocked baskets with tons of grooming items, hung mirrors and rented hand-washing stations. I am not kidding … people talked about how awesome our bathrooms were.

We spent a lot of time draping the ceiling with lights and tulle. While it wouldn’t have mattered, it looked spectacular at night. I also hung large pieces of fabric at the shed entrance with a “best day ever” sign. People dubbed the wedding the “Best Day Ever” and would not stop talking about how awesome the shed looked.  

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The best? The best advice I got was to use the WedPics app. It’s an app that allows your guests to upload all of the photos they took in one space. Then people can look, download and print the photos right from the app. We ended up getting over 400 photos through the app and helped us be patient while we waiting for our professional photos. It was so fun to go look through the photos the next day and see all the smiling faces of our friends. Also, some of our friends took some photos that our photographer missed.

Any other bits of wisdom? This is so long I think I covered just about everything. Ha.

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Church:
West Union Lutheran Church, Carver, MN | Wedding Dress: The Wedding Shoppe, St. Paul, MN | Tuxes: Tuxes by Theresa, Belle Plaine, MN | Venue: Family friend’s farm | Rental company: G&K Rental, New Prague, MN | DJ: Showtime Entertainment, River Falls, WI | Florist: Corey Ann Allen Designs, New Prague, MN | Photographer: Katie Maier Photography, Belle Plaine, MN | Videographer: Kaj Kjellesvig, Friend, Hopkins, MN | Cake: The Cake House, Glencoe, MN | Caterer: Dangerfields, Shakopee, MN | Hair and make-up: The Hair Saloon, Belle Plaine, MN