Posts in the 'budget wedding planning' Category

Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

The weather in North Texas this week has been absolutely gorgeous, which is awesome because I feel like it’s making up for my less-than-awesome last couple of days in Mexico last week (more on that Monday). It’s been patio-drinking weather, even running on the side of hot more than once this week. I’m starting to see the telltale sundresses of summer emerge, and one color that keeps catching my eye right now is yellow, which doesn’t look all that great on me but is fun and bright regardless. Here are my five favorite yellow dresses right now:Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

That’s a Wrap Dress, $49 at Lulu’s

I love me a good wrap dress, and I’ve sort of been obsessing over them lately. I love the super bright color of this one — classic shape, unexpected color. That’s a great match.

Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Jessica Howard Floral Belted Dress, $99 at Macy’s

Put your bridesmaids in this dress, plz.Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

ML Monique Lhuillier Ever After Dress, $35-$55 to rent at Rent the Runway

Or, better yet, rather than making them buy a dress, put them in a scmancy designer dress that they can just rent for the occasion. So much winning.Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Ain’t It Sunny? Dress, $49.99 at ModCloth

Y’all know how I feel about polka dots. This dress is so cute for summer and spring, and there’s a really adorbz keyhole detail on the back.Five for Friday: Sunny Yellow Dresses

Petite Strappy Midi Dress in Crepe, $27 at Asos

For all you little ladies out there (woot!) this dress is sooo pretty. Throw ‘er on with some sandals and sick shades and you just sashay yourself all over town, mmkay?

What’s your favorite spring shade, BABs? Do you love any of these dresses? Tell me in the comments below!

Mind Your Own Wedding and Put Down the Gavel


Credit: Persimmon Images 

Hmmm …We’re beginning to notice something lately. And as the most adultish-adult around here (at least age-wise), I’ve been picked to say something about it:
The little, sniping, judgy being made about other people’s wedding choices.
Knock it off. It’s unbecoming. And honestly, it’s not making you feel any better about yourself or your wedding, right? Tearing someone else down doesn’t build you up.

Look, We All Do It.

Someone walks by you wearing, whatthehellisthat?? What, did they go out looking like that? Aren’t they afraid of what other people are going to think? I would NEVER wear anything like that. Hell, television dramas are built for that type of judgement. But it would never occur to you (I hope) to walk up to that person and tell them to go home and change. Or go into the multiple ways that they look a hot mess. Or explain to them that you would never go out in public like that. But it’s okay on the Internet? “Anonymous” doesn’t exist on the Internet. One real person just told another real person that their centerpiece looks tacky. Just because you’re hiding behind a user name doesn’t mean you — yourself — aren’t still being rude. And everyone has just seen you — yourself — be rude and not nice. So, there’s that.

Run Your Own Race

You have made decisions and choices that you are proud of. Be proud of them. Celebrate them, which you can do without attacking someone else’s decisions and choices. There is no “best” way to do anything, there’s just what’s best for you. And especially if you’re talking about weddings, which is all about style, and how you — yourself — feel about how something looks (we’re talking about the wedding, not the marriage part), then you can’t judge other people on that. It’s as pointless as questioning someone’s music taste. You would never listen to Taylor Swift. Okay, then keep doing that and live your life, and leave the Tayhards alone.

A wedding is not a pie-baking contest. Again, there are no better or best decisions — no universal consensus is available on table settings, or whatever. There are just the choices you’ve made and are going to make, that are going to build the wedding day that you want and have dreamed of. And that in no way depends on the choices some other bride has made. It doesn’t diminish your choice, just as your choices don’t diminish hers. They have nothing to do with one another.

Do Not Judge Lest You Be Judged

Which is probably already happening on some level. Your parents aren’t totally on board with some piece of your wedding. The caterer or the venue is — or is going to — have an issue with something you want to bring in or do. You worry about what your guests will think. The feeling of being judged, pretty much sucks, doesn’t it? Don’t perpetuate that on another person.

Plus, you don’t — and will never — know what their circumstances are. Not just budgetary concerns, but maybe there are other reasons as well. Maybe they won’t have the time to hand calligrapher their place cards. Or maybe their fiance has vetoed an arch at the end of the aisle, or they’ve found a solution they both like better. Maybe they just like daisies, which is not illegal. At least, not yet. It’s a universal truth, but it’s still the truth — until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you don’t know why they’re walking or what they’re walking to in the first place. Just as they don’t know anything about you, or your life, or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t make assumptions, especially the assumption that they don’t know what they’re doing, and need to be told so. You would hate it if that spotlight was turned on you, and you had to explain all of your choices. It’s not anyone’s business, so let’s keep it that way.

The Insecurity Thing

That’s another thing I’ve personally noticed, when I find myself being judgy. It feels like I’m judging this other person, but what I’m actually doing is judging myself for the choices (professional, personal, what have you) that I’ve made or haven’t made. Because we’re not always sure, are we? And that’s just being human. But, if you’re finding yourself questioning someone else, think about what you could be questioning of yourself. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, remember you have both the time and resources to change it. What’s wrong and what needs to get fixed, in your opinion? Figure out what you need in order to feel better about your wedding? All of us are always around to help you get there. But leave everyone else’s weddings alone.

So, when was the last time you made a judgement call about someone else’s wedding, or felt the cold eye of judgement upon yours? Let us know how you handled that in the comments below.

See you at the end of the aisle,


Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Pretty, Comfortable Tiffany Blue Shoes for Under $200

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

Hey BABs! We’re gonna be checkin’ out some OMG SHOES again. It’s been a while since we’ve done shoes so I’m excited. We’re helping reader Brigid get over gorgeous Tiffany blue shoes that at $340 are well over the $200 she’s comfortable spending.

Here’s what Brigid has to say:

The At Tiffany’s in robin’s egg are the loveliest wedding shoes imaginable, and I love that they’re designed to be comfy.
I love these shoes. The color, the vintage feel, the touch of quirkiness. I need options under $200, though. Help a bride out?

I love this color! So great for spring and what’s cuter than a brightly colored shoe with your wedding dress? Comfort is so important when picking out wedding shoes because, y’all, you’ll be in those puppies all damn day. You’ll also notice not all Tiffany blues are created equally. I threw a couple in there that might not be the exact Tiffany blue you’re looking for, but at least you have a few more options.

Can't Afford ItShop Hey Lady Tiffany Blue ShoesAt Tiffany’s shoe, $340 from Hey Lady 

Get Over It

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Trotters “Prima” Pump, $108.95 at Nordstrom

ModCloth64Vegan Sky-Blue & Blush Kitten Heel Shoes $65 at ModCloth

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Rebecca Minkoff Brie Pump, $150.75 at Nordstrom

ModCloth65Turquoise Wedges With Glossy Petal Accents $65 at ModCloth

UniqueVintage78Low Slingback Heels With Bow (Style: P15478) $78 at Unique Vintage

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 9.22.42 AMBe Bright There Heel, $74.99 at ModCloth

Nordstrom89Crystal Embellished Satin Pump (Style: 97498) $88 at Nordstrom

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Say it With Sophistication Heel, $69.99 at ModCloth

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 9.28.47 AMAn Elegant Occasion Heel, $64.99 at ModCloth

Etsy114Wedding Ballet Flats With Removable Ribbons $114 by BeccaandLouise on Etsy


Ione T-strap Wingtip Spectator Pump, $66 at Unique Vintage

Etsy1441″ Heels With Dyeable Satin & White Bow $144 by Parisxox at Etsy

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Elegance in its Prim Heel, $79.99 at ModCloth


Open Toed Scalloped Barbie Heel in Mint, $96 at Unique Vintage

Zappos195Satin Pump With Floral Chiffon Accent By Badgley Mischka (Style: 8303860) $195 at Zappos


Nicola D’Orsay Pump, $64 at Unique Vintage

Voila! Shoes. I do have quite a few others that are that distinct, pretty, Tiffany blue. I didn’t post because they’re like, mega heels but let me know if you want to see them and I can send them to you no probs. Your best bet is to have something custom dyed if you can’t find something you love. So many places offer that option.  Hope I was able to help you at! Please let us know if you have any other questions. Until we meet again, BABs!

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! Please remember to include the budget you’re working with so we can find you the best alternative for you.

*As always, please do your own research before buying online. Team Broke-Ass is here to provide you with inspiration and resources, but it is up to the consumer to know what they’re purchasing.

Real Bride Shannon: Evaluating the State of our Union

As we close in on six months to the big day, the Pinterest slave in me couldn’t help but gravitate to all of those “Wedding Planning Timeline” posts. They all assume you’re engaged for over a year, so they’re so not for everyone, but since we fit in the presented timelines, I thought just maaaaybe I should give it a thought.

Finalize details with florist: Bwhahahahaha!

Establish plan with caterer: Ohhhhh, ho ho!

Choose and order bridesmaids’ dresses: Pssshhh! Ha!

The point is, according to these lovely little rectangles, all mint green and blush pink and seemingly better at this than I am, we’ve gotten a little behind.

I have a variation on the same dream where we reach the wedding day and nothing is ready, like, way too many nights out of the week, so it was time to get down to business and have what I’m calling “The State of Our Union” address. This one isn’t about saving money; it’s about making sure you know where your hard-earned dollars are going.

If you’ve been following my journey, you may have noticed the word “panic” and variations thereupon show up a lot. I’m … tightly wound. A bit, um, anal retentive. Oh yeah, and I’m a control freak, so I’d already made up my fiance’s mind for him: This was going to be awful and stressful and we were going to be v. mad at each other by the time it was over (spoiler alert: this wasn’t the case).

So, on a Sunday afternoon, Woody and I grabbed some adult beverages, a pen and ALL. MY. NOTES. and tackled this beast: what we have, what we need, and of course, how much money we have left to spend.

When we set our budget at $15,000, it was kind of unofficial. It was an estimation, at best. One thing was for certain: This is a cash-paid wedding. I’ll gladly sacrifice a few flowers here and a few appetizers there to keep us from starting our life together in debt. Not everyone has or can make the expendable income to do this and it’s always your call, but if debt-free is the way you wanna be, I cannot recommend a few powwows between you and your beloved enough.

The first thing we did was break down the budget into categories: Food, venue, clothing, etc., etc. Break those down into sub-categories like bridal gown, groom’s tux, accessories — anything you’re spending money on (yours or gifts).

When you’re making this list, be mindful of those things that often slip through the budget cracks: A marriage license is going to cost somewhere between $50 and $100 depending on where you live. The officiant could command anywhere from $2-$400. You’ll need stamps to mail those badass invites. It’s good form to feed your vendors and apparently, a lot of couples forget themselves in the catering headcount. Are you giving parents or the wedding party gifts? Go ahead and count that, too.budget

From there, we went through and gave a high-side estimation of what we were going to spend based on research. We know we have $1400 left to pay the venue and — file this under forgettable expenses — we also have to pay $400 for security. We’ve used every alcohol-party-calculator thing on the web and figure we’ll need about four cases of wine and 225 bottles of beer. Math-ing it out based on hand scrawled notes from our exploration trip to Sam’s Club, we’re in for about $600 worth of booze. When you’re doing a lot of DIY, you’ll have to ballpark some of your figures, but do take some time to research individual costs.


Next, we added it all up. $10,825.

With right at $3,000 already spent, that keeps us comfortably under $15k, BUT here’s where ish gets real. Based on our established record of savings, we’re going to be a little short without something financially good happening.

With our handy, super-detailed list before us, we started highlighting the things that we know we don’t have wiggle room with. The venue, required security and event insurance cost what they cost. Pretty much anything legal is set in stone. Then we went through and determined where we had the MOST wiggle room. These are your extras, but a lot of time it’s the fun stuff. Be honest about what is and isn’t a priority. If it’s going to break your heart to nix the band or a fabulous cake, don’t say it’s ok now, but end up bitter later. Be willing to compromise and if you have to, remind yourself that getting married is the most important part. That always brings me back to center.

So, it’s time to slash.

I gave up some of “my” decorating budget.

He gave up “his” vintage getaway car.

We figured we didn’t need a super pricey honeymoon suite for the wedding night.

All in all, we came down to the decision that we have $13,000 to spend on our wedding and it’s still going to be amazing. If we end up with a little extra before the day, sure we can add a few more flowers or the fun car, but in the mean time, we’re just going to say this is what we have for this and we’ll have to make it work.

So what about my other BABs out there? What are you doing to keep the positive budget vibes flowing? Let us know in the comments!

Cool Wedding-y Shizz Around the Web: Pinterest Edition

Wedding Blogs to Follow on Pinterest

Rather than the roundup of awesome things rocking in Weddingland around the blogosphere this week, I thought I’d point out some rad Pinterest accounts to follow, especially for brides on a budget (that’s you)! While not all are budget-specific wedding blogs, many are. Some are just great for location-specific (mountains and coast) and some span content ranging from weddings to beauty to lifestyle. The one thing they do have in common, though, is they all serve up wonderful wedding inspiration on (nearly) everyone’s favorite discovery tool site.

DIY Bride — Of course it’s jam-packed with crafty ideas, but there’s lots of gorgeous inspo, too.

Kiss My Tulle — Not just for super budget weddings, KMT’s Pinterest board is full of life hacks, pretty inspiration and some goodies for your mommy friends, too.

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The Budget Savvy Bride — Great for more classical, traditional brides on a budget.

Mountainside Bride — Does getting married on a summit or at the base of towering peaks appeal to you? This might be the pinner to follow!

Pretty Pear Bride — Sick of seeing stick-thin wedding models? PPB has lots of plus-size real brides and inspiration.

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Budget Fairy Tale — If you’re planning a wedding to your Prince Charming, BFT is a great place to start.

On the Go Bride — Ever feel like you’re alone in the business of life and wedding planning? You’re not.

Hey Wedding Lady — The DIY board isn’t to be missed, mmmkay?

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The Big Fat Indian Wedding — I loooove looking at south Asian weddings: The henna, the colors the gold everywhere!

Classic Bride Blog — We love making our own body goodies, and the Apothecary board is full of awesome how-tos.

Rustic Folk Weddings – Her budget wedding board is bursting with great tips.

Elizabeth Ann Designs — Guys, EAD has a FREE PRINTABLES board.

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Chic Vintage Brides — CVB has a board that proves budget doesn’t have to equal cheap.

Oh Lovely Day — OLD’s DIY wedding board is gorgeous.

And, of course, you should follow us! We have everything from bridesmaid inspiration to life hacks to blogging tips and of course much of the amazing stuff you see here every day!


Real Bride Katie: New Love for Secondhand Items

The biggest piece of broke-ass advice I can offer is to not let yourself believe that you need everything to be new.

Think about it: The vast majority of wedding decor pieces are event specific, and they can’t easily be repurposed in a home, whether it’s because of how they look or just the sheer volume of them (I know my home doesn’t have room for 30 bud vases!). Accordingly, the market for secondhand wedding supplies is HUGE. I can *kind of* understand people worrying about bad juju if they’re buying used wedding rings, but do you really think there’s any negative vibes attached to some ribbon scraps or table runners? I don’t! If you take advantage of the secondhand market, you can save a ton of money.

One great resource is consignment stores. I never visited one when I was planning my first wedding, but this time I stopped by a couple when I was trying to finish my dress hunt. I was astounded at how much inventory they had! The best part is that once the items have been in the store for a certain amount of time, they go down to 50% off. I was able to buy partial bolts of black tulle and black glitter tulle, which will be used to make flower girl dresses, for super cheap.

The other resource I’ve found to be extremely helpful is Craigslist. I’ve found most of my items by going to my local page and then searching the for sale section for “wedding” and sorting by date. You get some junk in your results (like many posts for small appliances saying, “I got this as a wedding gift and we never use it,” so register carefully!), but you’ll also find the most relevant posts. I’ve also popped over to arts and crafts, and regularly check the free section for things wedding related and not.

I’ve had two really great scores. First, I found candy buffet vases for a steal — 8 for $25! I am  clumsy and ridiculous and broke two before I could get them home, but it’s still a great deal.

Candy Buffet by Beau-Coup

Photo: Beau-Coup

These aren’t the exact ones, but pretty close!

Most recently, I bought a lot of pumpkins that are basically everything I need for centerpieces, minus the 6 that my florist is handling.

Real Bride Katie Pumpkins

I spent about $125, and then probably another $50 on supplies. All told, I expect to be at less than $10 per table on centerpieces. Not bad, especially considering the florist’s centerpieces are around $35 each. This way, I get some fresh flowers, but I don’t have to pay what it would cost for flowers on every table.

My fiance does bodywork and painting for cars, motorcycles, and just about everything else, so he’s going to give the pumpkins a little bit of TLC. They need some smoothing and to be repainted. Some of the ivory ones will stay ivory, and the rest will go flat black. The fate of the glitter and metallic ones is yet to be decided, and I’ll probably see if I can resell the gourds. I’m envisioning using rhinestones, thumbtacks, paint and glitter to make a slightly different design for each of the 20 tables, with the common materials as a unifying thread. We’ll see once I really get crafting though — it may seem too overwhelming and then I’ll dial it back to 2-3 designs. Here’s my first draft of playing with the thumbtacks, plus my Pinterest inspiration!


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It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s a start! It just snowed in Minnesota after two weeks of sunshine, so I’m ready to go back into hibernation and get some crafting done. I’ll be sure to take pictures along the way, and maybe post a tutorial or two!


DIY Your Day-Of Schedule with Timeline Genius

Sponsored Post Disclaimer

Timeline Genius
One of the great perks to hiring a great wedding planner is that you have someone who already knows their way around a wedding timeline or two. But a wedding planner certainly doesn’t fit into every broke-ass’ budget, and you still need some sort of schedule to tell you — everyone else — what to do and where to be on the day-of.

You already know some of the basics: Ceremony at 5:30. Hair and makeup at 3. Reception at 7. Gotta be donezo and outta there at 11. But …

When does your partner and their crew arrive? What about the band? And the caterer? When is all the photoing supposed to happen? How about the cake cutting, first dance and toasts? Timeline Genius

Guys, that’s a lot to wrangle by your self when you’re DIYing your own schedule. But Timeline Genius can give you a little peace of mind. For about $60, you can plug in the pertinents — who, what, where and when-ish — and it’ll spit out a super profesh timeline for you and your crew to operate off. Timeline Genius is totally customizable by what you actually plan on doing during your wedding day — no first dance? No problem. Want to do a first look? There’s a button for that. If you’re wrangling tons of peeps or are just super nervous, you can spring for the VIP package — $99.99 — that includes a review with a Master Bridal Consultant (schmancy!) who’ll make sure all your shizz is in place to help you be a zen bride on your wedding day.

Once you get your super fancy sched from Timeline Genius, pass it out to your peeps — everyone from your photog to your hair and makeup to your flower girl’s mom — to make sure you’re all on the same page so you can glide down that aisle with your sanity firmly intact.


Real Bride Emma: Finding Fine Wine on a Dime

You may remember my telling you that English weddings tend to be boozy affairs. And by that I mean that most people measure the success of a wedding on just how trollied they were by the end of the night.



Trollied” is English slang, meaning “very drunk.” It does not necessarily require a “trolley” (for US readers, we mean “cart”), although this does sometimes happen as well.

For our evening guests there is a bar, so they can take care of their own inebriation.

However we will be responsible for the boozy wishes of our day guests for several hours. And we want to get it right.

Our venue had perfectly lovely wine options, but we knew that we would get a lot more for our money if we supplied our own. Especially after we managed to negotiate down the corkage charge (top tip for success on this — don’t be afraid to be persistent. I had the same conversation with our venue manager over and over again for several days. Eventually one of us had to give ground, and it sure as hell wasn’t gonna be me).

This week I started looking seriously at different wine options. And there are SO MANY. Supermarkets, independent vineyards, wine clubs and many more.

If you’re going to supply your own wine the best thing to do first is figure out just how much you’re going to need. There are loads of wine calculators out there, but I used this one from Majestic Wine as it seemed most comprehensive.

Once you’ve done that you can start to shop around. We have narrowed ourselves down to two options:

1) Naked Wines (available in the US, UK and Australia)

Since last year I have been paying into an account for Naked Wines, a company who funds independent winemakers in order to secure the best prices on really great wine. They support small businesses and are all-round good guys. What’s great about having an account with them is:

  1. I put a small amount of money away each month (£20.00, although you can change this if you like) and I don’t notice it.
  2. They do loads of great offers on wines, including adding free ones after you order so many.
  3. They have a wedding service you can take advantage of.
  4. If you decide not to buy their stuff you can get all your money back, no questions asked.

Pretty darn tasty.

2) Majestic Wine Calais 

Wine in France is much less expensive than in the UK, and there are huge superstores over there who are entirely set up to just sell Brits cheap plonk. One such is Majestic Wine, who offer a fab service. You can pop over there on the ferry, try a load of wines in store and then head home, safe in the knowledge that you got your tipples for a tidy price. You can even pre-order online, if you know exactly what you are looking for, which offers you even more savings.

But how will we decide? Well, I am awaiting a quote from Naked Wines. If it’s not too much more expensive than Calais then I shall go with them, as I really support what they do. But at the end of the day, I am a Broke-Ass Bride, and if the savings on the continent are just too good to pass up … I shan’t.

So there you have it, alternatives to just going with your venue’s offering. There are deals to be had, my dear BABs – you just gotta go out there and Google for them!

Am dram Bride out!


“But How Will It Look on Me?” A Wedding Gown Test Drive

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

For all the talk we have on BAB about trying on wedding gowns, we rarely discuss our level of expectation when it comes to a gorgeous gown we’ve been ogling online vs. the reality once it hits our likely not-model bodies. With this in mind, I put my head together with the amazing team at BHLDN who came down to Dallas for a trunk show and managed to finagle an appointment for me to actually try on their gowns live and in person. I recruited the help of my girls at The Purple Pebble (the amazing photographers behind the brides in glasses shoot) and brought Real Bride Shannon with me for hair, makeup and emotional support.

The last time I put on a real wedding gown was during the aforementioned shoot with The Purple Pebble — which was also about 17 pounds ago. On my 5’2″ frame, 17 pounds is a pretty good chunk to add — especially given I already have a fairly large bust (36C) and a curvy frame. So, you could definitely say I’m not an exemplification of the girls you see modeling the BHLDN gowns on the regs. And that’s exactly why I wanted to do this shoot: You guys are just as real as I am — we come in all shapes and sizes. And because we feature BHLDN gowns so often, I felt it necessary to be able to have my own experience with the dresses. I made sure to try on a few favorites — Persiphone with her gorgeous tulle, Wisteria in all her shimmering goodness, Elsa with her removable skirt and Cascada who was just the softest and flowiest.

On the model:


Persiphone Gown, $1350

On the BAB staffer:

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How It Felt:

Oh, Persiphone. I love you. This Watters gown is so pretty. The beading at the top is heavier than I anticipated, but not overbearing. The dress overall is gorgeous, but since I was in a sample size and I probably should have sized up one or two, the sheath skirt underneath was a little tight and bunchy, but had it been my size it would have likely been perfect. For ladies looking for a little bosom bump without being too risque, the V-neck is showing but in a modest kinda way. The stylist added the Pearl Petal Halo, which is not necessarily how I, personally, would wear a headpiece, but I thought it complemented the look in a really fun, whimsical way.

On the model:


Wisteria Gown, $2,100

On the BAB staffer:

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How it felt:

When this BHLDN line first hit the Internetz, contributor Elaine emailed me IMMEDIATELY with this dress saying she thought it was just so me. And she was totes right. This gown has nearly everything I like — shimmer, twirliness, a surprising color and straps. I kept getting nervous with the detail, though, because I’m totally one of those people whose jewelry will get caught on everything and I was so scared to rip one of those gorgeous metallic lace pieces. Wisteria has a little bit of an edgy punk-rock kind of feel to her, which I’m totally drawn to. And she’s light as hell — seriously. I put her on and, with the exception of the million extra feet of material since I’m obviously closely related to a hobbit, it was so easy to move in.

On the model:

Elsa Skirt

ElsaElsa Gown, $1494 and Elsa Tulle Skirt, $595

On the BAB staffer:

012_BHLDN Shoot_BAB

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How it felt:

With all her intricate beading, Elsa is kinda heavy, but she slinks over your body in such a way that it feels really good and she makes a great sound when you walk. The removable tulle skirt is super fun, but I kind of wish that rather than having to step out of it or slip it over my head, there was a button so you can just undo it and let ‘er drop, a la snap pants style. Its hook-and-eye closure does streamline the removal process, though. This look was styled with the Floret Tulle Sash as a headpiece, which again, isn’t really my style, but it did make me realize that this dress is incredibly versatile — you can totally do anything with it. I was very surprised by how I felt in Elsa, because she’s certainly the slinkiest of the bunch which made me a little trepidatious at first, but she made my curves stand out in such a way that I felt sexy and gorgeous and confident, which is exactly how I want to feel in a wedding gown. Her beading is so, SO gorgeous in person. I truly thought that one of the gowns that would show off my upper half while camouflaging my lower half and highlighting my waist would be my preference, but Elsa did a significantly better job of making me feel wonderful than some of the others.

On the model:

CascadaCascada Gown, $1600

On the BAB staffer:

021_BHLDN Shoot_BAB

023_BHLDN Shoot_BAB

020_BHLDN Shoot_BAB

022_BHLDN Shoot_BAB

How it felt:

If ever there is a reason to venture outside your preconceived notions with your wedding vision, Cascada is it. With her little strips of fabric and uber boho look, she is so not what I would gravitate toward, but I fell in love with her the second I put her on. She’s light, she’s soft and she totally brought out a sassy side in me. Cascada is comfortable to walk around and sit down in, and she flows like you wouldn’t believe. Getting married in the woods, in a back yard or on the beach? This could be your homegirl. Cascada was styled with the Honeysuckle Halo, which I also really liked, but would be more apt to wear traditional headband style. I’m just not a halo person, I guess.

Overall, I was just as thrilled with the BHDLN gowns as I hoped I would be, which is awesome — because how much does it suck to love something until you personally experience it? There were definitely a few surprises: Never in a million years would I think that a slinky sheath would make me feel more confident than a ballgown or fit and flare, which — adversely — made me feel a little more self-conscious about my height. But it’s a good reminder that as my body changes, it’s important to explore outside my standard comfort zone to figure out what makes me feel the best — because when you feel good, it shows.

A good tailor is always key when it comes to wedding gowns, too, because they’ll make the fit right for you and your body type. I, personally, recommend using an independent seamstress who is knowledgeable about wedding gowns and their structures, because those things can be complicated. A seamstress like this may often be cheaper than your average bridal salon, and s/he could have a faster turnaround.

A special thanks goes out to Ally and Megan at The Purple Pebble, Jessica and team at BHLDN, the crew at Anthropologie in Southlake, TX and Real Bride Shannon.