2/10 Real Bride Elissa: Riding Off Into the Sunset

Right after I got engaged, my mom called me from her local bookstore. “I’m looking through all these wedding guides — is there one that sounds good to you? Here’s one called The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide — haha!” We chuckled over the great name, and she ended up mailing me a couple of bridal magazines to start with. Little did I know then what a role The Broke-Ass Bride would have in my life over the next year and a half!

I first submitted to be a Real Bride after a vendor basically laughed at my budget, telling me to call them back when I found more money. I already was feeling like even the most basic wedding items were laughably expensive, so to hear that what I felt was a significant amount of money wasn’t enough really got me hot under the collar. In addition, I was having trouble finding online wedding resources for Southern California that weren’t a few years out of date, so I hoped that at the end of my process, I could have a list of great recommendations for SoCal couples with perfectly fine budgets.

So in the midst of starting a Master’s degree program learning about statistics and theory, I also began researching weddings. And researching. And researching. While I planned to blog about the vendors and resources I was finding, I discovered a lot of feelings instead — from stressing about (and getting over) my self-image in my engagement photos, to waffling back and forth about changing my last name, to a surprise stint in the intensive care unit a month before the wedding that really made me re-evaluate my priorities, blogging about these things became a release valve for wedding stress. This was my much more environmentally-friendly version of putting a message in a balloon and releasing it into the wind.

Professionally, I’m a college advisor. I help students, mostly freshmen, choose their classes and acclimate to life in college. Much of my job is often just to be a sounding board, and to ask questions like “have you thought about it this way instead?” I firmly believe that just by talking out an idea — putting it into the universe — you will come to your own solution. I spent probably two weeks agonizing over what I wanted my veil to look like, but after publishing one blog post and reading a few insightful comments, I knew I had to take a leap of faith on an idea and ended up loving what I chose. Now, when my recently engaged friends ask for advice, I tell them to just get all their wedding thoughts out of their heads. On paper, on a blog, into the air of a Korean restaurant or over a glass of wine and a whole container of hummus and chips (true stories).Real Bride Elissa:

Credit: A Sight of Love

So thanks, BABs. You gave me a place to throw my ideas and see what stuck, and thousands of friendly shoulders to lean on, so I didn’t drive my poor besties too crazy. Because of all my researching and all the networking I’ve been able to do, I was able to throw an incredibly fun, meaningful, reasonably-priced wedding and get my incredibly fun and meaningful marriage off to a great start, without going in debt! It turned out my budget was definitely enough to have all of the elements we dreamed about and then some. The things that didn’t work out and seemed like they were going to be disappointments ended up leading to even better situations. And our fabulous family and friends gave their time, energy and more to make us feel loved and part of the community. The other thing I tell my engaged friends is that all your current stress is WORTH IT. All of a sudden it will be over, you’ll have some awesome memories to laugh over, and you’ll be so proud of all the work you did.

People often ask me if marriage feels any different; it doesn’t really day-to-day, but standing up there in front of your loved ones and vowing yourselves to each other really did feel like pulling tight an invisible knot. There were definitely times in the planning process that our ropes felt a little frayed, but together, we’re stronger. And that same sentiment goes for your relationships with your wedding party and your relatives. Always remember you’re not alone in this; that’s why I’m so grateful to The Broke-Ass Bride for welcoming me into the family. 

Real Bride Elisa: Riding Off Into the Sunset

Photo Credits: A Sight of Love Photography

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Elissa!

Are you interested in becoming a Real Bride with Team Broke-Ass? Apply today!

Elissa Stooker
Elissa is currently trying to figure out what possessed her to go back to grad school, all while working full-time as a college advisor and planning her totally awesome garden wedding. Blogging for The Broke-Ass Bride is her much-needed break from writing papers about communication theory! A Southern transplant to the West Coast, her favorite things in life include Mexican food, useless trivia, and her snaggle-toothed rescue dog, Pickles. If you like pictures of flowers and puppies, follow her on Instagram at @socalliss, and on Pinterest at socalliss for all things wedding.