Posts in the 'budget wedding planning' Category

Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Sparkly, Illusion Neckline Marchesa Dress

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Hey there, Broke-Ass Babes! Sadly, no ladies wrote in this week about their wedding dress budget woes. So, this week, I decided to pick one of my favorite dresses from the Marchesa Fall 2014 collection (Style: B10812) and WOWZA, she’s a beaut! A trend that has become very popular in the last few years is the illusion neckline, and if you love to spend hours gazing at gowns like me, you’re sure to see this in every jaw-droppingly beautiful collection of dresses. The neckline in this Marchesa dress is especially dazzling since it’s decked out in pearls and crystals, and the hand-pleated chiffon makes this dress look effortless, yet ethereal like something a Greek goddess would get married in. Are you ready to see it? Here goes, in all of its supreme, flowy, glittering awesomeness:

CAN’T AFFORD IT

Marchesa

Marchesa $$$$ ($3001-$5000)

GET OVER IT

H&M

Sleeveless dress in airy, woven fabric with beading and rhinestone embroidery at top (Style: 66-3399) $99 at H+M.

LightintheBox

A-line Princess Scoop Sweep/Brush Train Charmeuse Wedding Dress (Style: 604656) $119 at LightInTheBox.com

UniqueVintage
White Chiffon & Stone Cap Sleeve Gown (Style: 40778) $224 at Unique Vintage

ForHer&Him
Cap Sleeve A Line Wedding Gown with Decorative Buttons (Style: 0113925) $419.99 at For Her and For Him

Etsy
Romantic  Chiffon Wedding Dress Wedding Gown $438 at Whiterose on Etsy

KathyIrelandBBP
Satin sheath with hand-beaded illusion neckline and cap sleeves (Style: KI1307) $822 at BestBridalPrices.com
MAGGIE SOTTERO DESIGNSwww.maggiesottero.com
An illusion tulle neckline ornamented with beaded embroidered lace drapes the bodice, culminating in a gathered skirt that flows from an empire waist. (Style: 4MC890) $988 at BestBridalPrices.com
BHLDN
This floor-skimming silhouette balances the sleekness of flowing silk with intricately beaded shoulders and bias-cut styling. Harlow gown, $1,000 at BHLDN
MAGGIE SOTTERO DESIGNSwww.maggiesottero.com
Accordion pleated Paris Chiffon combines with embellished illusion tulle to create this Grecian inspired dress (Style: 4MK790) $1,049 at BestBridalPrices.com.

Another option you can consider is adding a beautiful, bridal capelet to your dress. They have some amaze options from the websites above (Like THIS stunner at BHLDN ) and will give your look even more versatility. Enjoy your weekend, BAB’s! Until we meet again…

Got a gown that you just can’t get off your mind? We’re happy to help you get over it! Just tell us in the comments below! 

Real Bride Kate: How to Marry a Foreigner

DISCLAIMERS:

  1. My and Daniel’s K-1 visa has just been approved. The visa has been issued and is in his passport. Therefore, I can tell you that the process described below DID work for us.
  2. However, even though we have successfully completed the K-1 visa process, we are not experts. We are not immigration lawyers and do not work for any immigration services. I am only offering advice, and if you want professional, 100% certain advice – go to a lawyer or government official.
  3. This information is only applicable to a U.S. citizen whose foreign fiancé(e) is immigrating to the United States.

So, you have fallen in love with a foreigner. No? Just me? Well, if you have, let me offer some rudimentary advice on how and why to go through with the K-1 visa.

Visa JB Graffiti

What is the K-1 fiancé(e) visa?

In layman’s terms, K visas are “family” visas that allow for family members to join their relatives in the United States. The K-1 visa allows non-U.S. citizens (like my Australian Daniel) to join their U.S. citizen fiancé(s) (like me!) in the United States. The immigrant DOES NOT become a citizen with this visa.

Can my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Technically speaking, there are only three requirements for getting a K-1 visa.

  1. You must be truly engaged to the immigrant (duh).
  2. The two of you must have met in person within the last two years (of the petition filing date).
  3. You must make above the poverty line for your household size. Or, if you are a part-time worker and do not make enough annually (like me, as a college student), you must have a co-sponsor, and the two of you together must make above the poverty line for your household size. This is to ensure that the immigrant will not become a ward of the state until s/he finds employment.

Should my fiancé(e) and I get a K-1 visa?

Making the choice to immigrate to a foreign country to be with the person you love is exciting and romantic – it is also stressful and risky.

  1. First, ask yourself all the traditional “ready for marriage?” questions. Are you certain about this person? Do you truly love him/her? All that jazz.
  2. Next, are you (as an individual) ready to have your entire relationship literally examined and picked apart, not only by the government, but by your family and friends?
  3. Is one of you really and truly willing to leave your home country (and family and friends and everything you’ve ever known) for the other person WITHOUT EVER GUILTING THEM ABOUT IT OR USING IT AGAINST THEM LATER?
  4. Can you afford it? The entire visa process (counting postage and final plane ticket) costs roughly $3,000. This cost is spread out over several months, but it is still something to consider.

Is there any way to save money?

Obviously, as Broke-Ass Brides, we’re always looking to save. Unfortunately, because most of the fees are government-mandated, there are not many opportunities to save money. Here are the few (read: only) ways Daniel and I have found to save money during this process:

  1. Don’t hire a lawyer to help you. This one is a risk. On one hand, an immigration lawyer comes with a guarantee that your I-129F petition will be accepted. On the other hand, they cost at least $1,000 and honestly, you still have to provide all the same information and do most of the grunt work. We decided to skip the lawyer, and it worked out fine, but it was a risk.
  2. Do it right the first time. Seriously, quadruple check all directions before you begin your forms. Quadruple check the forms before you mail them. If you mess up, you may have to start over from square one, and then you’ve lost your entire investment.
  3. Sign up for frequent flyer points. Daniel and I have been extremely lucky in that we have had several visits together. From the second visit, Daniel has been accumulating frequent flyer points for our airline of choice. Plus, his family and friends have contributed to those points as well. Because of this, his final plane ticket will be (close to) free. This will save us about $1,200 to $1,500.
  4. Exploit the conversion rate. Right now, the U.S. dollar is stronger than the A.U. dollar. Therefore, my money goes farther than Daniel’s does, and visa expenses are “cheaper” for me. Some people may struggle with putting up cash for their significant other, but the way we see it, this is a joint venture, and in the end, what’s mine is his and his is mine anyway.

So how do you even get a K-1 visa?

There are quite a few steps and a TON of supporting documentation, but here are the bare bones:

  1. Get engaged (again, duh).
  2. The U.S. citizen completes an I-129F petition (and sends in a ton of paperwork). This says, “Hey, Government, my fiancé(e) and I love each other. He/She’s pretty cool. Will you let him/her apply for a visa to be with me?”
  3. Once the I-129F is accepted, the foreign fiancé(e) applies for the actual K-1 visa. This says, “Hey, I’m the fiancé(e). Can I come over?”
  4. Once the K-1 visa is approved, the immigrant has six months to move to the U.S.
  5. Once the immigrant arrives, the couple has 90 days to become legally married.
  6. Once married (yeah, it’s NOT over), the immigrant applies for an “Adjustment of Status,” which makes him/her a permanent resident of the U.S. and gives him/her a “temporary green card.”
  7. After two years, the immigrant receives a permanent green card.

Again, the immigrant is NOT a citizen at the end of this process. S/he is only a permanent resident, which means s/he can remain in the United States permanently, but will not have all the rights of a citizen. Citizenship is a whole different barrel of monkeys.

How long does this take?

It depends. The I-129F petition can take anywhere from one month to one year to get approved. Ours took 1.5 months. After the petition is approved, it typically takes another three to six months to get an interview with the U.S. embassy/consulate in the foreign country. Daniel’s interview was only about 1.5 months after our approval date. At that interview, the immigrant will receive an approval or denial.

Where can I get more information?

  1. Always check out the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services first.
  2. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S. Dept. of State) also has a helpful guide.
  3. Another great resource is Visa Journey, which explains the entire K-1 visa process with handy dandy step-by-step guides and timelines.

Visa Love

I know it’s overwhelming. I know it seems ridiculous and crazy. But, trust me: if you really love someone and cannot live without him/her, it’s worth it! If nothing else, now you know why this international bride-to-be has way too much on her plate to pick out flowers just yet!

And to you other international couples, best of luck!

Real Bride Jess: Registries … aka Buy Us Presents

Wedding registries are hard. Everyone’s telling you “don’t forget anything!” “register for more than you need!” “don’t forget China!” “you can always return it!”

Why can’t I just register for the things I want? Neither Michael nor I drink coffee so we really don’t need a coffee maker. My parents have used their wedding China maybe one time, so I probably don’t need wedding China, can’t I just get regular cute dishware? I do see the use of those “things most brides forget to register for” lists, I like to look at those lists! But I don’t think I’m a bad bride for ignoring the item Espresso Machine or Fondue Pot.

What I love about this day and age is you can basically do all of your registering online. The one thing I did want to do in person was register for sheets. I wanted to feel them & make sure that I wasn’t going to receive some thin sheet sized cardboard, but rather cloud-like perfection.

Now I thought this was going to be easy: go in, say you have a registry & would like to add to it, they give you a scan gun, boom. False. You have to sit down, they have to give you paperwork, they discuss your registry & why you don’t have certain things. I felt like I was being interrogated by undercover cops. And THEN (this part was actually the most scarring) someone has to go with you and scan what you want! You’re not even trusted to handle a scanner. The reason for this, I’m sure, is to make suggestions as to what else you should register for and drive up the amount of money guests will hopefully spend. I did succeed in only shopping for bed-related things, but she did win and get me to register not just for sheets but also for fancy pillows,a comforter and a quilt.

Will I be glad to possibly have these items: yes. After I recover from my bitchy resentment will I be glad I went to the store to feel the sheets: yes.

Ok, whining over.

I do have a confession: I am a registery-o-holic. I have four registries. I just like options! I registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Target and Anthropologie. You want to know something else? If four registries is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

 

Real Bride Andrea: Venues, Venues, VENUES!

I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my original Joshua Tree location was a bust. The wind, small size, and remoteness have officially become deal-breakers. It would’ve been so hip and cool! Look at the train cars again!

Train cars

There’s a ping-pong table in the pink one!

After a few weeks of whining and pouting at the thought of having to look for another venue, some advice from The Broke-Ass Bride team, and lots of wine, I think I’ve found 3 real contenders that have me even more excited than the last one! I’ve sent out inquiries and everything!

  1. Pioneertown, CA- Pappy & Harriets and an Old Western movie set

Pioneertown, CA, is just outside of Joshua Tree and is basically comprised of a restaurant called Pappy & Harriets, a motel, and an abandoned Western movie set.

Pioneertown

Pros: We could get married on an old Western movie set! AND then we’d get to have our reception at a deserty-westerny-folksy type restaurant/bar/concert venue. This is great because (we hope) to have a really fantastic blues/folk band play as well as amazing DJ. This place would be all set up for that! Food, bar, tables, etc would all be included and provided and I wouldn’t have to worry about all that!

pappy and harriets

Cons: I never thought I’d like to have my reception at a restaurant because I’d feel like it might not be very personal. It also could be really expensive! (I don’t know how expensive yet. But it could be just as much as if I had to bring in everything myself….)  I couldn’t have a lot of say in designing the menu, use my cute bartender friends’ bartending company, decorate with all my Pinterest crafts, etc. Also, the ceremony and reception would be at two different place. I would love to cut down on how much my guests would have to travel once they’ve arrived.

pappy and harriets bar

The bar! Coooooool.

2. The Boulder House “Boulders outside. Boulder Inside.”

A large and beautiful adobe home just outside of Joshua Tree that is surrounded by boulders and the desert landscape!

boulder house

 

Pros: This place is beautiful, serene, secluded and has the desert landscape in Joshua Tree we so desire! And bonus, its an adobe house and really, really neat inside! It is large so if the elements were against us, we could move inside. It sleeps 14 so we could invite our bridal party over the night before (or after!)

boulder roomThat’s a room carved into a boulder, everybody.

Cons: We’d have to bring in everything! I don’t know that I necessarily mind this because I can be choosey about the little things, like dishes and signature cocktails. It does seem secluded, but there could be rules about noise levels that prevent us from having our awesome band and DJ. We might have to bring in equipment for them to play as well.

3. 15 Room Private Hot Spring Retreat

hot springs

The entire Desert Hot Springs retreat is rentable relatively inexpensively and sleeps several as it is spa retreat. Its 2 pools, 1 outdoor and 1 indoor, are fed by the desert hot springs! Fun fact: When it is not rented on Airbnb, it is a nudist resort. (Tee hee, “penis.”) So there’s that.

Pros: The hot springs pools! It has 15 rooms so family and wedding party could stay with us if they wanted. It would cut down on their travel expenses, for sure! The “tantric” suite could double as our wedding night suite quite nicely (wink-wink). There is lots and lots of space to prepare for the day and for the guests to meander throughout and ample parking. It is a really unique space for a wedding, so I’d have those bragging rights.

That pool gets up over 100 degrees because it's fed by a natural hot spring!

 That pool gets up over 100 degrees because it’s fed by a natural hot spring!

Cons: It is a clothing optional resort by day and I’m pretty sure I saw a sex swing in one of the photos. Not that my wedding has to be clothing optional as a result, but it could make some of my more religious guests uncomfortable. (The sex swing would come down…) This is another place I’d have to bring in everything and it’s hard to tell from photos if there would be enough space to set up a ceremony. Maybe I could make an aisle over the pool? That seems ambitious. But I’m nothing if I’m not ambitious.

I’m pretty happy with these venues to choose from. I’d love any thoughts BAB readers might have. Perhaps there are pros and cons I’ve missed?

I’m a happy wedding planner again,

 

Ten for the Weekend: Cufflinks, Crafty Goodness and more discounts!

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The weekend is upon us, so before you bust out your shopping shoes and grease up that debit card, take a gander at the 10 rockin’ deals I found for this week’s Ten for the Weekend! Whether you’re aching for some killer Cole Haan pumps or scheming ways to share your wedding photos, there’s surely something her to strike your fancy!

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1. Make sure your groom and his dudes are well-accessorized with rockin’ cufflinks.Buy 3 and Get 20% Off with code buy3get20 until 4/30 at CuffLinks.com! And if he has a killer collection already, make sure he can wrangle them in one place with a nifty armoire. Get a free Deluxe Armoire ($200 value) on orders $399+ with code gwp200 until 4/30.

2. For all you pro photographers out there, get a leap on organization this season. Score 15% Off SmugMug Professional Subscriptions for Wedding Photographers.

3. Hey, crafty ladies! If you don’t know Darby Smart by now, you should. And here’s your stellar introduction: Get 25% off all Easter crafts! (My fave are the etched jars or the bunny candle holders.)

darby smart easter crafts

4. Still looking for the perfect headpiece? I’mma help you out with that. Accessory Avenue has some stunning headpieces and now you can score one with a nice 15% knocked off with code BROKE15.

5. Apparently, this week celebrated National Siblings day. Being an only child, this is nowhere near my radar, but Cole Haan seemingly knew, and kicked off its Friends & Family Event by offering 30% Off your purchase! Ends April 15th.

6. If the hunt for wedding favors or gifts for your bridal party has you wincing at the impact on your wallet, then jump on this: American Bridal is shaving a cool 20% off purchases over $175, plus free shipping on orders over $149.

7. What would make your girls feel fancier than wearing a hot, stylin’ dress on your wedding day? Not much, and BCBG is knocking an additional 30% Off Final Cut Dresses Online Only! Valid 4/9-4/20.

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8. Have you gotten your engagement photos back, and now are wondering what the deuce to do with them? How about getting a sweet book to display them? Even better, get that book at 50% off from Mixbook until 4/14 with code APRLMX.

9. Y’all, Groupon has wedding deals. YES. You read that right. GROUPON HAS WEDDING DEALS. Check ‘em out here.

10. One of my favorite things in life is the feel of crisp, new sheets when I climb into bed at the end of a long day. BeddingStyle.com must be reading my broke-ass mind, because they’re rocking a killer 20% off discount right now with code bed20. Valid through 4/16.

Real Bride Kate: Remember Your “Yes”

Up to this point, my and Daniel’s wedding planning has revolved around proposed dates, hypothetical decorations, and just plain uncertainty. However, this is all about to end. Right now, we are elbow-deep in paperwork, but in just a few weeks, on April 8th, Daniel will have his interview with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. He will either leave that interview with an approval, at which point we can begin the official planning, or he’ll walk away with a denial, at which point I’ll drink way too much red wine and start back at square one.

As you can imagine, with our entire future on the line, this is a very stressful time for us. The visa process is going smoothly, but we never know what may pop up and make us reevaluate our situation. The only way I have gotten through it is remembering one thing: why we’re putting ourselves through this.

In that spirit, I was thinking about the night we got engaged, and I realized, I had neglected to share our story with The Broke-Ass Bride community! So sit back, relax, and let me send some happy, gushy, love vibes your way.

Captain America Shirt

Fortunately/unfortunately, I knew Daniel was proposing during his visit in November. After all, the whole immigration process doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity. Therefore, since surprise would not be part of the equation, I made two requests: don’t tell anyone else your plan and make it private.

Given the fact that he was not in his native territory, could not drive and was sworn to secrecy, Daniel nailed it.

On November 21st, Daniel and I went on a double date with two of our best friends, Teresa and Bryce. While Teresa and I were in class, Bryce and Daniel were hanging out in another town. We drove separately to the restaurant, Teresa and me in one car, the boys in another, and the guys were about an hour late to arrive. I was so angry. We had told them a specific time, and they weren’t there. After a long day of class, I was stressed and starving and just wanted to go home to bed. Of course, little did I know, Daniel was late because he was putting together a night I would never forget.

Teresa talked me down from my irritation, and the four of us ended up having a lovely dinner together. On the way home, Daniel and I drove by the hotel where we stayed during his first visit to me. As we neared, Daniel sighed, “Ah, there it is.” I laughed and replied, “You say that every time we pass here.”

Daniel smiled and pulled out a set of keys, “That’s because we’re staying here tonight.”

I knew what was happening. But my hands still started shaking, I almost missed the turn into the hotel parking lot, and I could not come up with an intelligible response.

Daniel led me up to our suite and made me close my eyes. He walked me into the room and finally allowed me to look. In front of me was a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and this piece of artwork that he commissioned to commemorate our engagement.

Art by Pearce Hoskinson. Art by Pearce Hoskinson.

I turned around to see Daniel on one knee. At the time, I expected a speech or some other romantic oration. But he simply said, “There’s nothing else to say. Kate, will you make me the happiest man alive and be my wife?”

I had a million snarky, cute retorts rattling around in my brain. But he was right: there was nothing else to say that we hadn’t said to each other already. So I just said, “Yes.”

Was it the proposal I had always dreamed of? In all honesty, no. But the one element I had never been able to fully imagine, my fiancé, is better than any dream ever could be. After all, when you love someone more than anything, when that person knows you better than anyone, when you have shared nearly everything two people can share … you don’t need a fancy proposal. All you need is commitment, love, “yes.”

As we sludge through visa paperwork, as we have nightmares about rejections, as we hand over hundreds of dollars to the government, people ask us, is it really worth it? And there’s nothing else to say but “yes.”

If there is one piece of advice I can give to my fellow brides- and grooms-to-be at this point in my wedding planning, it is this – even when the planning is overwhelming, when the bills are stacking up, when you are ripping your hair out with uncertainty and frustration – remember why you are doing all this.

Always remember your “yes.”

Real Bride Elizabeth: Family Matters

IMG_4820

 Sisters!

I am extremely close with my family. Of my three younger siblings, it’s difficult for me to think of three people I would rather hang out with. I was convinced that all the horror stories I heard from friends about family members going crazy during the wedding planning process would not happen to me — no way, no how. Then my younger sister, Tegan, got married. There wasn’t too much drama, but there was a tense moment the night before the wedding when Tegan told my cousin she would prefer she not wear a white, lace dress to the ceremony. No brainer, right? What followed on that wedding eve consisted of my aunt telling my sister she was a spoiled brat who had never been told no (if you know my parents, you would know this is laughable) and Tegan dissolving into tears.

Still, my naïveté persisted and lasted until my engagement bubble was rudely burst, all by family members. I am still four months out, so I am sure there will be more, but I’d like to present you with the top three most dramatic moments in my planning so far, ranging from “Excuuuuuuse me?” to “WTF?!?!?”

1. My mother (would the list be complete without a mother-of-the bride moment?)

My mom has made it clear from Day 1 that she is not happy with my choice to get married in North Carolina instead of my hometown in Wisconsin. My fiancee has a majority of his family and friends in North Carolina, and mine are scattered all over the US. Plus, I’ve always wanted a destination wedding but didn’t have the budget to pull off Mexico, so this was a happy medium. Every couple weeks I get a text or a call along the lines of, “Why are you getting married in North Carolina again???” She tries to pull everything from the tradition card (I’m not that traditional, so doesn’t bother me) to the fact that a lot of my extended family won’t be able to make the trip (that’s the point!) to try and get me to change my mind. Deposits have been made, appointments set, there’s so going back at this point.

2. My aunt

I heard through the family grapevine that one of my aunts had confided in many family members that she was on “Team Ex,” and was not pleased that I was marrying Bryce because she didn’t think he was “as fun” as my ex. Well, that’s pretty offensive to both me and my groom-to-be. Yes, my ex was a nice guy overall, but there were definitely reasons I called it off. And while he may have been more outgoing and extroverted around my family than Bryce is, I’m the one marrying him, so it really matters how we interact with each other, right? If you like my ex so much, why don’t you marry him?

IMG_4838

 At the end of the day, you don’t remember all the drama that happened before the wedding.

3. My other aunt (the same one that threw the white dress fit at my sisters wedding, shockingly)

This one definitely takes the cake. After we got back from North Carolina, we headed to Wisconsin to see my family there and celebrate the good news. My aunt and cousins were there as well, and everyone seemed really happy for us. However, I woke up the next morning to a text from my aunt asking if I was sure my fiance was straight. OK, I admit, I can somewhat understand this. Bryce loves Beyonce, shopping and watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” When I met him, the thought that he was gay did cross my mind. When we started dating, one of my friends was convinced I was his beard. At this point in our relationship, I’ve dotted my t’s and crossed my i’s.  I assured her I had the situation under control, but she continued to tell me that “many” of my family members have expressed the same concern. I think what bugged me more was the fact that all these family members were lip-flappin’ about my personal life!

Throughout all this drama, I have chosen to take the words of my homegirl RuPaul to heart: What other people think of you is none of your business. This has become my mantra throughout the wedding process, and will keep me going until I walk down the aisle. This is my wedding, and I’m doing it the way I want, with the person I want.

Real Bride Jess: Wedding Countdown – 4 months to go!

Our engagement has FLOWN by. Am I the only one who feels this way?  I thought our 11-month engagement was perfect … until seven of those months just disappeared. The problem with wedding planning is that most of us have never done this before. Some people have friends or sisters that they help out, but it isn’t the same. I feel like I need a whole ‘nother year to plan, but I want to be married right now! What I’ve started telling people is, “I understand why people elope.”

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Our adorable Save the Dates.

I know you’re all wondering: Well, what have you actually accomplished? Here’s the answer:

 

And the scarier list- things I still need to do:

  • Actually pick a florist

  • Pick a DJ

  • Get a bartender

  • Tablecloths, cutlery, plates, glasses, etc.

  • Hair and makeup people

  • Rent a dance floor (this seems silly, but is a real thing)

  • Lighting

  • Get Michael a wedding band

  • Outfit my flower girls

  • Outfit the Michael & his groomsmen

  • Venue decorations

  • Buy and send out my invitations

 

I’m sure this is not even the full list, but you get the picture. At the end of the day I’m definitely overwhelmed but more than that I’m excited to be so close to finally marrying the man of my dreams.

 

 

Real Bride Andrea: A Fly on the Wall

I had the rare opportunity this weekend to attend a wedding where I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t a guest or a guest’s date so therefore I was able have a completely objective, fly-on-the-wall perspective of someone else’s special day. I got to watch a shoe-string budget wedding almost fail. But guess what? I was the only one who seemed to notice.

 

Our food at the Gedding. Simple and beautiful. We were proud!

A chef friend of mine asked if I would be her sous-chef for a wedding for about 40 people in Nipomo, CA. I love to cook and I love weddings and now I love to see what other couples are doing, so I agreed to do it with her. It should be noted here that one of the grooms (it was a gay wedding, a Gedding) is a co-worker of my chef friend. So, she (and I) were doing this for free. Free Catering from a genius chef and her cute sidekick? Nicely done, Grooms. Nicely done. The wedding was held at a modestly beautiful, country home. The ceremony was set up outside in the backyard with white folding chairs and several vases of flowers. The reception tables surrounded the ceremony area, ready to have the ceremony chairs added as soon as it was time to eat. About 5 hours before the ceremony was to begin, we arrived to several family members and friends (half the wedding guests) making favors, stringing lights and putting together flowers. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it was clear they’d been working all morning. There were people running around asking where things were, who was supposed to be where, etc. It seemed a little stressful to say the least.

We found the kitchen to be really well stocked for our needs, so we got to work on what seemed like 57 different small plates the grooms wanted us to put together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto chicken, pulled pork sliders, curried cauliflower, crème fraiche potatoes, tapenade, etc, etc. (It all ended up being delicious!) The kitchen was a central location so I got to see and hear everything. So many things went awry, that even I was getting stressed out.

 

This is the “Chef friend,” Stephanie. We call her “Chefani.” I suppose I could’ve named her in the post before now. She is also one of my bridesmaids!

It seemed to be due to sheer lack of organization, so as a soon-to-be bride, I was taking notes! I got to see a lot of mistakes addressed in The Broke-Ass Bride book first hand! Here is what I learned for my own wedding:

Lesson 1: Be careful in using friends as vendors and have a back-up plan! The Dj cancelled last minute and they decided to “just turn on the iPod” (Yikes.) The DJ was “an old friend” of one of the grooms. Why would he cancel last minute?! From what I could tell, there was no other entertainment planned for the reception. After everyone had eaten and they had cut the cake, the sun had not even gone down yet and there was NUTHIN’ going on. By the time my chef friend and I left, (6pm) people were shuffling around to get ready to leave.

Lesson 2:  Limit alcohol consumption (and Lesson 1 again.) The owner of the venue (another friend of the Grooms’) began taking tequila shots at 1pm. Approximately 7-8 of those shots later, (And 7-8 times that I turned her down in joining her) she had, (surprise, surprise,) forgotten to make her special BBQ sauce for the pulled pork sliders. (I still haven’t decided if all the tequila was because she was nervous or that was a regular thing. Either way, it was impressive because despite 1,000 repeats of the joke that she was “trying to sauce the cooks” by offering us shots, she stayed pretty with it.) When she finally did remember, she barreled into the kitchen, pulled out several pots and pans, her laptop for the recipe (for her special sauce,) all the ingredients she might need, and more tequila. She started her sauce and promptly forgot that she was making said sauce so my chef friend came in to save it. Thank goodness! (I’m pretty sure the owner of the venue took all the credit for that sauce that she didn’t really make.) By the time the wedding was to begin, she had cleaned up pretty well but had a little sway to her. After the ceremony, she had moved on to wine and probably didn’t last much longer after we left. She invited us to Christmas Eve dinner, but probably won’t remember.

Lesson 3: No matter how small the wedding, make sure your wedding guests know where to go and when to go.  As the guests arrived, not one person knew where to go, not even the officiant! With all the family and friends helping with wedding favors and decorations when we arrived, you’d think they would’ve made some cute signs directing people where to go. They had so many cool areas set up, the ceremony area, a wine and beverage bar, the food tables, etc. Let people know that’s what’s happening! I was just the caterer’s assistant, and part of my job became directing people where to go and greeting other vendors (more friends) as they arrived. Throughout the wedding, people were like, “I guess the ceremony’s starting?” “Do we eat now?” “Is the bar open or what?” My chef friend and I had all the food set and ready to go as soon as the ceremony ended. Everyone approached the food tables and NO ONE partook. We had to run outside and yell, “Go ahead! Eat!” People really need to be given permission at weddings. Even small weddings need timelines.

Lesson 4: If you do use friends as vendors, figure out a way to thank them that doesn’t involve making your wedding a walking advertisement for their companies/services. There were, what seemed like, 100 “toasts” that went on forever thanking all the friends for their contributions for the wedding. “Thank you to Ben from Cakes R’ Us for the beautiful cake. You can find more of his cakes at www.cakesrus.com!” or “We can’t thank our good friends at Wines R’ Us enough for their contributions today. They’ve been making wine since 1986 …”  Maybe some people might disagree with me on this and I do think that friends and family who make a wedding possible should be thanked, but this wedding sounded more like a golf charity event.

Lesson 5: As long as you’re happy, your guests will be happy. Ultimately, everyone was there to see the couple get married. They looked handsome and seemed really happy and that is really what matters. It is really a comforting feeling to know that, even if all my grand plans for the most awesome wedding of all time don’t all work out, people are still going to be happy to be there for us. And for that reason, we cannot fail.

But in all seriousness grooms, no entertainment? The iPod never even got turned on.

Catering a Gedding wouldn't be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Catering a Gedding wouldn’t be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Still don’t have a venue …