Broke-Ass Category: Wedding Inspiration


I am a huge DIY girl. I always look for a deal, and I have some crafty skills. I am also a photographer. I am sure that I could have saved some cash by shooting my own engagement photos. I chose not to. Here’s why: I wanted the experience of dressing up, showing up and going home. I know how much work is involved with photography, and I know how much it takes after the shoot to get to the final gallery. I did not want to put in the work to save the money, I wanted the experience of being photographed, I did not want the stress of a DIY on this, and I am so glad that I went with what I wanted. I splurged and it felt great!

I wanted a particular look for our session, so I set out to find the right person for the job. Looking for someone to capture your engagement session or your wedding day is a daunting task. It is overwhelming and can be expensive, but I believe it is worth it if photography is a priority for you. It’s not a priority for everyone, and that is okay too. I made it a point to make room in my budget for it, because it is sooooo important to me. I wanted heirloom type photos that were professionally done. I love the professional vintage portraits that I have of my relatives. I treasure that even though he’s been gone for many years, a lovely black and white photo of my Grandpop greets me from atop an antique desk every day as I walk through my front door. My grandmother, in her youth, sits on my end-table with finger waves in her hair and a lovely, pensive gaze that cuts right through the portrait. They transcend time. One day, I want my grandchildren to see me like this.

I talked to several photographers, and looked at many portfolios on websites. I looked at style first with everyone, not price. I made a list of people’s portfolios that caught my eye and I put them in order of 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc. Then, I inquired about price with only the ones that made my list of the best artistic fit. Because, to me, photography is an art form, I chose not to begin my search based on price. My search began based on what I was drawn to artistically, after that price became part of the process of course. I decided on Jessica Bailey Photography and set to work.

I posted before about the 1920s-’30s vibe I was going for in the formal shots, and that I had scored a serious DEAL on a bad-ass dress. When my photographer took us to a speakeasy (located inconspicuously on the back side of a deli) for this set, I knew that my splurge was worth it and I knew that she saw my vision too! So, here is how it turned out folks! Its like my vision was brought to life, and I couldn’t be more stoked about these!


Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

For the casual shots, I wanted a more light and airy feel. We had a more laid-back wardrobe on this set, and I love those options, too. We used one of the most unique special event venues that I’ve been to. It was a historic gym that had burned down, and the remains have been turned into an open air event venue complete with amazing antique brick. This was also a fitting location for the urban-esque casual shots that I described.

Heather's engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s themed engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's engagement session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

Heather's 1920s session || Photos: Jessica Bailey

My take away from this experience is that, its okay to spend on the things that are important to you. Whether its flowers, photos, or a bad-ass dress … if you can make it happen, do it! Its okay to not do it all yourself. Find what you want, and go after it. Don’t go overboard, but don’t miss out on the important experiences either!

All photos by Jessica Bailey Photography

What splurges were your top priorities? How did you choose the right person for the job?


  • 5/13

    Affiliate Disclaimer New

    Etsy PaperPunched Personalized Vows Wedding Book

    Personalized Vow Books available from Etsy seller PaperPunched

    Picture this: You’re well-versed in rom-coms and you’re full of ideas for personalized vows that you’re sure will melt your partner’s heart (and probably your mom’s, too). Weeks and months pass, and now you’re a week out from your W day with a recycling bin full of rejected vow drafts. What’s a Broke-Ass to do???

    Let’s back it up a sec. Writing your vows can seem scary — especially if you’re experiencing comparison-itis after having just watched some lovey-dovey wedding scene that left you in a puddle, with or without Channing Tatum. (One of my favorite wedding scenes of all time, y’all.) Today we’re going to take the fear out of vow writing, Alton Brown style!

    From a purely structural standpoint, vows are simple — and binary! YAY, MATH. If you can count to two, and follow two simple steps, then I promise: YOU GOT THIS.

    Before You Get Started: Tips For Writing Your Wedding Vows

    • Know that you don’t have to write your own vows. You can follow your officiant’s script and never think up, write down or remember a single word. Only write your vows if you’re moved to do so.
    • Sometimes, due to poor acoustics, lackluster sound equipment or an inability to squeak out audible language in the moment, the couple can’t be easily heard by guests while speaking their vows. Bottom line: Your vows are for yourself and your partner. (And of course the officiant legally has to hear you both say “I do.”) Don’t stress about your vows, and don’t worry about what others might think. But do keep them PG-rated.
    • Talk about it with your partner. Will you write your vows separately, and surprise your partner? Will you write them together? Will you both repeat the same vows (traditional), or will you each write different vows (nontraditional)?
    • Start with a template. (We’ll get to that in a sec.) Whether you’re writing them together or separately, it will help if you choose a template so you’re on the same page.
    • Get inspired. Surround yourself with music, poetry, photos and things that remind you of your partner.
    • Use the medium that suits you. Type it out, write it longhand, record a voice memo or video on your phone or paint it on a canvas. The more relaxed and creative you are with your medium, the easier it will be for the words to flow.
    • Remove distractions. Choose a place where you’ll be uninterrupted and turn off your phone.
    • Leave out the inside jokes and embarrassing details, but feel free to share funny moments from your past. Your vows don’t have to be all serious.
    • Keep your vows short and sweet. Two short paragraphs — or two minutes — is plenty! Two Steps, Two Minutes. You can handle that, right?!
    • Finally, practice speaking your vows out loud — over and over again until you feel comfortable enough to almost go without the paper — and then print out three copies (one for the officiant, one for yourself and a backup for an attendant to hold in case something happens to your copy). Even if you don’t need it, the printed version will be like your security blanket.

    Writing Your Vows In Two Steps

    Step 1: Write About The Feels

    Directly address your partner by name, and say something genuinely awesome about who they are. Name some reasons why you love your partner and why they give you All The Feels, All The Time. Tell them you love them.

    Step 2: Write Your Promise to Your Partner

    This is the really important part. It’s the part where you say out loud what you are committing to your partner. Each couple and relationship is a little different, but don’t be afraid to use traditional commitment phrases here if it suits you. If your ceremony is religious, this is the section where you talk about how your beliefs will shape your marriage. In this section you can talk about the ring or symbol you’re using to represent your commitment — or not. (It’s usually the point in the ceremony when you would exchange rings.)

    Sample Wedding Vows

    Quirky & Creative

    (Partner’s Name), you are my unicorn. You’re beautiful, compassionate, smart and spirited, and you show everyone around you a kindness that is pure and magical. Loving you makes me better … makes me sparkle. I love you, and I’m so excited that I get to do it forever.

    I promise to love you no matter what, and to surf life’s calm or crashing waves with you. I’ll always have your back, and when it’s my turn to lead, I’ll be your shield. I promise to love, respect and support you in every way, every day, for all time.

    Classic & Minimalist

    (Partner’s Name), every day I’m grateful to know and love you. You are patient, kind and generous with your love. I am the luckiest person in the world to be standing next to you today, and to be sharing a partnership with you.

    I promise to be your friend and equal partner in all things, through all life’s celebrations and challenges, and to be a faithful and loving wife for all the days of my life.


    So what do you think of the Wedding Vows 2-Step? 

    – Party on!


    Planning a wedding in Northeast Ohio? Here’s where you can find me for wedding planning assistance.


  • 5/4

    Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 10.19.40 PM

    On top of making my wedding dress and flowers for my centerpieces, I came to the conclusion not that long ago to yes, DIY most of our printable materials for the wedding as well. This isn't because I'm a crazy-insane person that decided to take on even more to DIY during our wedding planning chaos, but resulted from not finding the exact kind of designs…

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    Photo available from Etsy seller KevinKlimaPhoto Hotels have been my largest vendor disappointment to date. Last year, I was really excited to learn that a brand new, boutique-style hotel was being built directly across the street from our ceremony location and venue. Couldn’t get much easier than that, right? I knew it would be a bit pricey, but was prepared to shell out some cash…

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    Beau-Coup Rock Candy on a Stick

    I've had the idea of carnival weddings on my mind ever since Rachel revealed that would be the theme for her Ohio nuptials. I've seen a few weddings with the theme before and have always loved the fun, colorful, eclectic vibes and gorgeous blend of whimsy and romance. It's kind of impossible not to feel like a kid at heart when attending an event with…

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  • 4/27


    Bridal shows -- also known as insanely crowded, chaotic mob scenes. Well, that's my experience anyway, limited as it may be. Prior to April 3rd, I had never been to one. I had no desire, and none of the brides I'm close with ever asked me to tag along to one. I do understand their appeal, and I know they can be extremely useful, but they…

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  • 4/12


    When Matt and I were planning the wedding, I stressed big time over how to incorporate all the different things I wanted to include in the theme in a cohesive way. We were getting married in the fall purposely because the decor for that time of year is awesome, but we wanted to do something more than throw some red, orange and yellow leaves everywhere…

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