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Real Bride Tiffany: Chalk This Up as a DIY FTW!

Real Bride Tiffany Chalk This Up as a DIY FTW.jpg

One of the few wedding trends I embrace is chalkboards. Mostly because they complement our space really well; otherwise I would’ve shunned them like I do everything else. I originally liked the look of stained wood signs, but with our venue remodel we are now surrounded by a lot of awesome reclaimed wood. Which led to the official chalkboarding decision.


Colorful chalk monogram from Green Wedding Shoes. Chalk wedding program from Style Me Pretty. And my own photo of the glorious reclaimed wood in our remodeled venue.

Once again, using my exceptional (and excessive) online shopping skills, I quickly came to the conclusion that holy sheesh sandwich-board chalkboards are NOT budget friendly. BUT WAIT. My mom is crafty! She used to toll paint in the ’90s! She hand-saws and everything! We could totally do this.

I reserved a weekend with her (because that is what I have to do so my other sisters don’t snatch her up) and sent her a few options for our DIYing. A simple one, and one that was a little more jazzy. The Friday prior to our DIY weekend extravaganza, mom went to Home Depot to get supplies so we would be ready to go. My youngest sister’s boyfriend, Logan, accompanied her and very carefully helped her choose all of the supplies we would need for the weekend.

And what happens next 1) proves that he is awesome and 2) saved mom and I a TON of time and stress.

You guys, he built them all by himself.

At first I thought, “well shoot there goes my DIYing.” And then I remembered that I’m not really good at DIYing and became totally thankful for Logan’s entire existence.

He didn’t just build one — he built four, as not to waste any supplies. My picture does not even do them justice, but we ended up with two large sandwich-style chalkboards and two small ones all for approximately $120, aka nearly the price of one of these bad boys on Etsy (yes, it would have been cheaper if we had used reclaimed would but ain’t no one got time for that).


I am really bad at that whole “bloggers taking pictures of everything” thing. But this is his final masterpiece.

So my advice to you — not-so-DIY brides-to-be — make sure there is a handyman in the family willing to take on these projects for you. So you can tend to more important things such as jewelry shopping!

Now who wants to come hand-letter these for me? Anyone? Bueller?

Ten for the Weekend: Le Creuset, Yoga Gear and deals galore!

affiliate disclosure

The weekend is almost upon us, Broke-Asses! As you head out to celebrate this weekend, be sure to take advantage of some of the killer deals being offered for Easter and Mother’s Day! From eco-friendly yoga gear to DIY flowers to much-coveted Le Creuset bakeware, there’s plenty of savings to go around!

1. Still looking for that perfect dress for your cousin’s wedding this summer? ShopAdorn wants to help you out by knocking $10 off special occasion outfits with the code SPECIALO.

2. Le Creuset, purveyor of all things colorful and gorgeous in the kitchen, is knocking 30% off its metal bakeware and offering FREE shipping on orders over $50 with code EASTER.

3. Remember when I got to play with gorgeous flowers? Now you can play, too! Bloominous and Gilt City have teamed up to offer some smokin’ deals, including a $50 merchandise credit for only $35 and a $300 credit for only $180. I mean … come on!


4. Struggling with what to get your mama for Mother’s Day? Make her feel extra special and save yourself some skrilla with A Gift Personalized. Take 10% off already reduced items with code AGPMOM.

5. Shutterfly has all kinds of discounty goodness going on! Save up to 50% on Mother’s Day gifts, ranging from photo books to calendars to home decor and more!

6. If wedding stationery is still on your to-do list, then jump on this 15% off offer from Minted. The spring wedding sale is a great way to get your hands on these gorgeous letterpress invites without having to spend too much cash.
Charm School Letterpress Wedding Invitations

7. Give your mom a real work of art: A canvas wrap photo of the two of you from your younger days! Save 45% at Canvas On Demand through midnight Sunday with code BUNNY45.

8. Calling all J. Crew lovers! The retailer, who tends to be just out of reach for us broke-asses, is having a sale of at least 40% off select styles! Get on it!

9. The warming weather means less clothes, and it’s always nice to look and feel good in those new outfits, and bonus points when you’re helping Mother Earth, too! Save 10% on eco-friendly yoga gear from YogaDirect through 4/22.

10. They’re back and offering even MOAR crafty goodness! The darlings at Darby Smart are showing Broke-Ass Brides some very special love with a 25% discount through Friday, April 25 with code BRIDE25!

Happy weekend, darlings! 


Real Bride Ellis: I’m the glue, I’m the glue, I’M THE GLUE

I’m the glue. I’m the glue that holds this wedding together, the glue that seals the envelopes to pay the deposits and to keep the invites from falling out, and the glue that keeps just enough space between myself and the brink of insanity. I am. The. Glue.

We have been engaged now for 444 days. 444 days I have spent thinking about, obsessing over, dreaming (both day and terror) about and spending on this wedding. 14 months which went from a million questions from a million people to “when is your wedding again?” and “oh you haven’t gotten married yet?”. This is real.

I am burnt out. I am a “non-traditional” student which means I went back to school in my mid-20s (THE HORROR) instead of as a teenager and have been working towards my respected degrees ever since. I am in the home stretch of 6 months or a year or whatever from being finished and still, the only thing on my mind is this damn wedding.

Every night for the last few weeks I’ve had terrifying stress dreams about the wedding, where they used to only be every few weeks. The most recent: my wedding was held in a violent Russian sports bar, not a single person showed up. Another notable version of my wedding from hell had two large royal thrones in the center of the “stage” I was tying the knot on, where my fiance’s father and step-mother berated me. Excellent. Every time I have one of these dreams, a little piece of me hates the wedding and the wedding planning just a bit more.

I’m in the home stretch now, with just 108 days (or around three and a half months) and I am terrified. I keep getting phone calls from friends/family letting me know they probably can’t make it, and lets not even talk about the bridesmaid who dropped out in February because she wants to go to Vegas instead (!!).  I haven’t decided what kind of flowers, what kind of cake, or any of the small details, because honestly, I’m too bummed to even think about it. All my extra time and money is going towards this wedding that I have literally been grinding my teeth over for close to 6 months over.

So, I need a break. I need a wedding break. I need a life break. I need… a SPRING BREAK! I am going to California for 7 days to visit my family, shoot rolls of 35mm film, sit in the sun, and watch my niece receive a prestigious award. I am going to stop thinking about the wedding for 7 whole days and when I come back, just in time for Spring term (which marks almost to the day 3 months exactly to the wedding) I am going into SUPER planning/project mode.

Now, it hasn’t all been for not. I haven’t just been rolling around in my filth feeling sorry for myself,  for instance:

  1. I got my invites started
  2. added everyone to my weddingwire RSVP system (that took forever)
  3. spent around 15 hours putting rhinestones on a pair of wedding shoes (one at a time, while watching “7th Heaven”)
  4. finished all our wedding registries (DO NOT go to Target on a Sunday to do your registry if you have a short fuse)
  5. spent some time trying some new makeup looks for the parties/events surrounding my stressful day.

Wedding Makeup

Wedding rehearsal? I’d like to just be asleep during that whole thing.


Lets play the game of how many of my fiance’s family members can I offend with this hair color?


These only took an entire season of “7th Heaven.” Worth it.

I am excited to get married, but lets be real, sometimes there are days, weeks, and months where it’s hard to find the motivation or the time. A long engagement has been a bad decision and all I can say to my past self for suffering and to my future self for the nervous breakdown that is bound to happen is : My bad, sorry girl.

Now it’s off to the SUN!


Ask Liz: Getting Married – How and Where, Exactly?

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!


Dear Liz, 

I have a burning question! My  fiancé and I have been engaged for over a year. We are so ready to get married but we just don’t have the financial means right now. So a friend of mine who is ordained said that she would marry us. This is a great option for us due to our lack of finances and our lack of patience. I’ve never heard of this type of wedding until my friend said that she could do it. I’m a little embarrassed that I am so excited to get married but have absolutely no idea about how this process might work. What I do know is that she will be signing papers for us but what I don’t know is with those types of ceremonies is it typical for the couple to exchange vows or to even call it a ceremony or is it simply just signing papers? Please help me.!!!!


Blinded By The Aisle

Dear Blinded,

She’s ordained to perform your ceremony and sign your marriage license as the legal witness to your marriage. Sadly, that’s th best I can explain it. I’m a wedding officiant, too, which makes it even sadder! The  rules in every state are different as far as getting your license and how.  Here in California, for instance, the couple needs to appear together at their county courthouse in order to get a license. The officiant gives it to sign after the wedding ceremony. Vows are an essential part of it, and they have to include  an acknowledgement that the two of you have freely chosen to be married on that day. You can make your vows, and the rest of your ceremony, as simple or as elaborate as you want. But you need to start the legal process first, so google “Marriage license (your state)” to find out how.


Dear Liz, 

We got engaged on New Year’s Eve. When I told people at work last week, everyone was really nice, but they kept asking me if we’d picked a wedding date and venue, yet. I guess it’s a standard question, but I keep thinking that we just got engaged, do we have to start planning the wedding right away? I said this to the last person who asked, and she told me that I should start thinking about it, because all the best places get booked up quickly. I didn’t want to spend forever planning my wedding, my sister took over a year to plan hers and it looked and felt like hell. But, I thought I’d have more than a couple of weeks! Now I’m panicking that I’m not going to find a good place. Do I really have to start looking now?


Rushing Past the Ring

Dear Rushing,

Don’t panic, it’s not useful. Congratulations on your engagement,and welcome to the show. If you do want to get married this year, then, yeah, you should probably start searching for a venue now-ish. You know, at least before the next round of brides joins the pool after Valentine’s Day! I’m kidding, sort of, although it does seem that venues are getting booked up faster every year. That being said, it also depends on your definition of a “good” venue. So, that’s the first thing you and your fiancé  should do – figure out what kind of place you want to get married at – indoors, outdoors, ballroom, barn? And, how many people you’re inviting. And, if either of you had your heart set on someplace specific. And when you can actually do this thing – come up with three dates that will work with your  schedules.That’s a conversation over dinner.

Don’t panic, plan. If there is a specific venue you like, call them and ask about availability ASAP. Tuesday-Thursday are the best days to reach the right person. You could get lucky and the first place you see is the one you love, but be prepared to let the process take a few weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And  – deep breath – try not to get frustrated. The next “wrong” place brings you that much closer to the right one. Annoying cliche, but still  true.

So, who’s “marrying” you? Are you feeling the pressure to get your venue locked down? Got questions of your own? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to

See you at the end of the aisle,



Ask Liz: Over-scheduling Your Destination Wedding Guests

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!


Dear Liz,

We live in Los Angeles, and I’m planning my wedding in Lake Arrowhead on Labor Day weekend, about three hours away. We’re both from New York, so most of our guests are coming from the East Coast. I’m worried about how to keep everyone entertained and make sure they’re having fun that weekend. Most of them are arriving on Friday, and the wedding is on Sunday. The hotel lodge has a lot of activities – kayaking, boat tours, field walks – and I’m trying to figure out what I should sign them up for, and when, when they’re not attending the wedding. I’m also thinking about scheduling a welcome cocktail reception or dinner that Friday night, but should I do a breakfast or lunch on Saturday and Sunday, too? I feel that if  I don’t structure their time outside the wedding, they’re going to end getting bored. What should I do?


Destination Nowhere

Dear Nowhere,

Couple of things: First, most people see destination weddings not just in terms of the wedding, but also as a personal vacation. They are there for you, yes, but it’s also a chance to get away! So, go easy on them. You do want to provide opportunities to hang out with you, but you don’t want to mandate a strict itinerary. The last thing anyone wants to feel forced to do, after a 6-8 hour flight, is get dressed for dinner! So, keep it casual. A get-together that first night is a great idea, but let them know (via email, wedding website, invite insert, what have you) that’s it’s okay if they can’t make it. A nice touch would be to add something about how late the restaurant or room service is open that night, just in case they’re hungry when they do arrive. You can even schedule another (casual) get together on Saturday, after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Otherwise, pick one thing that you really want to do and book that as a group activity – like the boat tour, for example – and invite them to join you. But, definitely let everyone know that kayaking, the guided field walks, and whatever else the lodge has to offer is available, and they can contact the lodge if they are interested.

Second thing: Don’t worry that your guests are going to get bored. It’s not as easy as you think, getting bored at a wedding. There are people each of them is looking forward to reconnecting with, and there are new people to meet.  There’s an unfamiliar and beautiful location to get to know and enjoy. There is a ton of stuff to do, if they want to do any of them. Or, they can relax, and not do anything, which might be the best wedding “favor” of all.

So, how are you “structuring” your destination wedding? What’s the one “fun” thing you want to do when you get there? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to

See you at the end of the aisle,


Ask Liz: Your Wedding vs. Your Catering

Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what’s up!

First of all, I want to give a shout out to the all the Newbie Brides and Grooms out there. Welcome to Wedding World. It’s very pretty, you’re going to love it!

Photo by Robin Dini Photo

Dear Liz, 

My partner and I are deciding between having our wedding at an upstate location or in the city (New York). We could do a Central Park wedding at 11am with 100 people, then go to a restaurant and do a lunch/brunch with 40 people? and then meet the rest of the dinner folks at a rented venue with music and passed food. But then I thought what if all 100 people go to brunch/lunch after the ceremony and then we pay for only 40 of those people, and the other 60 pay for themselves. Is that a bad idea?
A Forty-Percent Solution
Dear Forty,
Yeah, no, you can’t really do that. First and foremost, you’re going to get some serious etiquette-related blowback on that, and I think you probably know that! For another thing, the logistics of making sure that only certain people are paying for their meal would be insane – just think about it.
I totally get that you want to have all 100 people at your wedding/reception, but you don’t think you can afford to do that. This doesn’t have to be so complicated. Invite 40 to the ceremony, invite all 100 to the appetizer reception that night. Sounds a lot cheaper that way, too.

Dear Liz, 
I’m planning my wedding in Rhode Island, and to save on catering, I’m opting (or trying to opt) for a cocktail reception with lots of yummy hors d’oeuvres instead of a full sit-down meal.  We’re hoping to stock the bar ourselves and hire a bartender, as well.Today I received a catering proposal from a company who wants to charge us $10,000 for a cocktail reception for 100 people.  That’s $100 per person for 4 hours of snacks and drinks! When I told her I was hoping to spend around 1/3 of that, she said “We’re not the caterers for you” and told me to check out a local grocery store. Am I crazy to expect to not spend more than $3,000-3500 for this?
Catering Cash Chaos

Dear Chaos,
No, you’re not crazy, that caterer just can’t work with your budget. That’s all. Keep looking, but next time, tell them what your budget is before you ask for a proposal. A little perspective: $100 per person for 100 people over  4 hours, breaks down to $25 per person, per hour –  2-3 pieces and a drink (or two)? That’s maybe a couple of bucks more than you would pay non-happy hour at a restaurant, if you think about it. Plus, and I haven’t seen the proposal, obviously, but it sounds like they’re not only charging for the food and drinks, you’re also paying for staff and labor,  people to make it, maintain it, serve it, and then also clean up after it. So, they’re including that in your $25 per hour price, too?

“Go to a grocery store,” is kind of (!) a snotty response, but seriously, if you want to cap it at $3500, you’re going to have to think small and simple, because that’s only $35 per person. Definitely supply your own alcohol and limit the bar menu. Think less types of appetizers, or more appetizer stations, or less passed appetizers. Consider having the food dropped off and set up,with a couple of staff to monitor it and clean up.  Before you despair, I’ve found restaurants and caterers here in L.A. who can swing that, so Google “(Your city) catering drop off menu,” and go from there.

And, FYI, this is why the answer to the question, “Is a cocktail reception cheaper than a sit-down or buffet dinner?” is, “Not necessarily.” Sorry about that.

How are you managing catering for your wedding? Or do you have questions about catering your wedding? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you want to learn a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to
See you at the end of the aisle,

Ask Liz: Bare vs. Ballroom Venues, & How To Find And Pay For Them

Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what’s up!

Re-mem-ber: Compare Apples to Apples.
Photo by Shelly Smith Photography

Dear Liz, 

My Fiancé and I want to have our wedding and reception at his fathers house outside along the river. I’m getting into pricing with rental companies and I’m thinking it may be cheaper for us to rent a barn venue. What do you think?


Open the Barn Door?


Dear Door,

You know, I love this question, and it’s come up a lot with my couples this year. Is it cheaper to have a “bare” wedding venue, where you have to bring everything in, or a “ballroom” venue, where everything is already there? Obviously the barn isn’t a ballroom, but you know what I mean. Once you start pricing chairs and tables and silverware and linens and a bar and stocking the bar and servers and oh, yeah, bartenders, you’re looking at some good money. Which one is less expensive?  As it turns out, the only way to find out  is to finish crunching the numbers. It looks like it will cheaper to go ballroom, but what about after you add in tax and service?  What are your bar options and how much do those cost? Is a cake included?

When it comes to rentals, catering, and service at his Dad’s place, you will have a little more control over the content and the costs. Be realistic about what you’re going to need (hints: 250 plates for 100 people is actually the correct number. And, yes, you are going to need extra trash cans). Count taxes, service charges, and delivery (!), too. Compare apples to apples, and decide.


Yup. This thing again.

Dear Liz, 

I just got engaged. Where do I start? I assume with venues, but there are so many. Also, how do you ask family/parents if they’re able to contribute to the wedding?


Starting Gate Jitters


Dear Jitters,

Wow, these are like QUESTIONS OF THE WEDDING UNIVERSE, here. I feel like I should yell, “Forty-Two!” and run away. Bonus points if you got that reference.

So, first things first. Yes, you would start with finding a venue. Actually, you would start with a budget, and then with a venue, since your venue and catering…are going to take up half your budget. Determining that budget? Cost of Wedding will show you what the average wedding budget is in your area. Before you die of sticker shock, remember 1. It’s an average, which means it’s possible to spend less, just as it’s possible to spend more, and 2. The #1 rule of sticking to a budget is “stick to your budget.” Anything is possible, some things take a little more work. Bottom line: Pick an amount that you’re comfortable with.

I wrote a bit here about finding a wedding venue, but basically, think about what you want your wedding to look like – outdoors, ballroom (real or metaphorical), ocean view, what have you. is a really good resource for finding what’s available near you, as is, or Or google, even.

The best way to ask your family if they are contributing is just to take a deep breath and do it. Bring specifics, such as what your overall budget is, or exactly what you would like them to help with and for how much. Venue fee? Flowers? Whatever they can spare? They will ask, so have an answer.

Did you go “Bare” or “Ballroom”? How did you ask your family for financial help? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you’d like to find out a little more about me and my part of the Wedding Universe, go to

See you at the end of the aisle,






On Marriage: 37 Years Later…By David Mickus

Editor’s Note: Today, we continue our “On Marriage” series with another poignant essay about divorce. I can’t stress how essential it is to read pieces like this, and to encourage your partner to do likewise, in order to avoid falling into the same relationship pitfalls, year after year. 

It means something.

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 37 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had:

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.

Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

The woman that told him ‘I do’, and trusted her life with him, has been waiting for this man to step up.

If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at, and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.

MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.

Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.



{Real Bride: Mellzah} When Enough DIY Is Enough

How cute is this? How hard would it be to make one for myself? AND SO IT BEGINS.

I am generally all about DIY projects; if I see something I like, my gears start spinning as to how I can recreate it for myself, and wedding planning has provided ample opportunities for me to build and tweak and tune every detail to my heart’s content. It also has provided me ample opportunities to go overboard.

At one point, I read an article criticizing wedding DIY as creating a culture of a disposable day filled with throwaway things…and I took that as a cue to dye, cut, sew, and hand-embroider all of the wedding napkins lest people think poorly of me for using monogrammed disposables. That particular madness ended when I changed the wedding colors/scheme and didn’t want to start over from square one…at least I have a heck of a lot of cocktail napkins to use from now until the end of eternity.

The commitment to quality DIY, however, didn’t stop there, and got much worse for a while. For instance, we picked our venue because they were on the preferred list of a caterer we tried at the Seattle Wedding Show. Later, when we discovered this particular caterer was out of our budget (severely so), we were glad that the venue provided a sizeable kitchen and didn’t require you to hire one of their preferred vendors because we were going to (wait for it) cater our own wedding. I figured out recipes, tested them, figured out how to scale them up/pre-prepare and freeze them, but ultimately decided that while it might be possible to do this ourselves, that I didn’t want to spend my wedding day freaking out about what was going on in the kitchen, or IN the kitchen, which is where my perfectionist ass spends 99% of the parties I throw. I also didn’t want to set my bridesmaids on that task, in the back in their pretty dresses, frying up eggrolls, not least because grease tends to do a number on chiffon.

Later, I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun to do all the flowers?” We didn’t plan on having floral on any of the tables, so it just meant bouquets and bouts…and then I remembered that more people get bouts than the wedding party, and mothers and grandparents should have corsages and then I thought it would be nice to have a little floral at each table, and it was already galloping out of my control and I knew it was going to explode into a giant pain of wilted, angry “Why did I think it would be fun to do this?/ I don’t have time to do this! /I’ve decided to set the venue on fire instead.” the day before/the morning of, and that my fury face, though funny, doesn’t translate particularly well to lovely photographs.

This is how I devised my rules of DIY. When I decide to take on a project, I ask myself the following questions:

 Is it necessary? As in: do I need it or just want it? Will it be an integral part of the day, or something that that I’ll look at later and wonder why I’d wasted the time and effort? By this question, something like personally designed and assembled invitations would be worth pursuing as they’ll presumably be tacked to the fridge for a while and set the tone for the event itself. Envelope calligraphy that will just be thrown away…not so much.

Does it have impact? Is it something that the guests will see and take in as part of their overall impression of the day, or is it something that only I would worry about and notice? With this question, I was able to focus my efforts toward special centerpieces, and not decorating the bathrooms (I trust that people will still know that they’re at a wedding when they step through the door).

Is it reasonable? Will making it prove just as expensive or more expensive than buying it? Is it a reasonable use of my time, or will I feel upon completion as though I climbed Mount Everest by myself, naked, with only a vuvuzela and a herring strapped to my back in an aquarium? I am aware that I can generally ask my friends for help, but I also want to be reasonable in my requests for their time. It’s one thing to spend an afternoon together working on a project, and it’s another to spend every weekend for a month toiling in a friend’s sweatshop because she had to have handmade paper menus for her intimate wedding of 500. For instance, it took some time and effort to make our wedding website (and very little in the way of financial resources), but no more time than was reasonable, and we found the results extremely worthwhile. Not so much with the napkin thing.

Have you ever done anything like this before? Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up calligraphy or floral arranging or, I don’t know, welding your own seats out of found scrap metal, but if you’ve never done it before, practice it way ahead of time. If you’re not familiar with the process, things could take much longer and not turn out the way you’d like. Spraypaint has the unfortunate tendency to not dry when it senses you’re in a rush, glue likes to fail, and spot welds will crumble before your eyes: these things are law. When you give yourself plenty of time, you can invest a little and see if the project is worth pursuing or if you’d rather not undertake the task.

Is there a better way? Just because I first envisioned making it one way doesn’t mean that it’s the best, most resource-effective way to do it. It’s worth taking the time and brainstorming other ways to see the task through to completion. For example, I’ve got my heart set on Battlestar Galactica dog tag escort cards, but my initial idea (based on a tutorial I found online) of flattening pennies on a steel plate proved extraordinarily difficult (I’d have to take a few breaks to rest my shoulder during the flattening of each penny) and the results weren’t proving to be worth it. I’ve got a couple of new ways to do it battling it out in my brain and I know that one of them will prove more effective than spending every night for the next two months pounding pennies.

Can it be done in advance? The less a DIY project can be done in advance, the greater the side eye you should give it. Your time is a resource, and in the last few weeks leading up to your wedding, it will be at a premium. You don’t want to be making favors, assembling centerpieces, arranging flowers, frosting cupcakes, and putting the finishing touches on your dress the day before, unless you get that exciting runner’s high from stress.

Speaking of time: Is it worth it for the amount of time you’ll have to exchange for it? What’s the personal cost to you if you miss a year or more of baby showers, birthday parties, movie nights, and cookouts because your every free moment is devoted to wedding projects? Are you willing to look back on that year of your life as The Year of Wedding Projects?

Do you really want to DIY it, or do you just not want to pay for it? Granted, planning a huge shindig at the expense of our married future has never been one of my aims, but I’ve been particularly conscious of it because of my time here at The Broke-Ass Bride, because I don’t think it’s authentic for me to preach to everyone the virtues of hard work and saving a dime if I don’t do it myself…but at the same time,  I have come to realize that I don’t need to be punishingly strict with the budget, and that some things are worth paying for to have them off my plate. So we’re paying a caterer, and we’re paying a florist, and that frees up my time and mental energy to work on the details that are important to me (the perfect ipod playlist to get the party grooving)  AND have some much-needed me time. All that should matter in regards to our budget is that we end up with a total cost that seems reasonable to us. Yes, some people will spend less than us, and some will spend way, way more, but everyone has different circumstances and for us, it’s worth spending a bit more to have a party that we’ll remember fondly than a shindig that we’ll groan just thinking about the work involved.

Walk through my questions the next time you have a DIY project that you’re on the fence about—I hope it will help you pare down to projects that are reasonable for your time, skills, and budget. And if you have any DIY questions, feel free to hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out. I’m so not handmaking 500 pieces of paper for your menus, though.