Broke-Ass Tag: budget wedding planning


A bridal show? I know, I know. Like many of you, I am not a fan of the wedding industry or the cult of weddings. But, here I was surrounded by a sea of 20-somethings wearing “I said yes” sashes who, in my head, all have unlimited wedding budgets. I am a 30-something “he said yes,” nontraditional bride with an absolute maximum budget of $15,000. And, standing there at the entrance, I wondered to myself why I thought $10 for the Twin Cities Bridal Show was a good way to spend a Sunday.

There were two reasons I had thought it was a good idea: First, I was in search for a photographer, ideas and a general clue about how to do this whole wedding planning thing; second,because I felt the need to experience this for you, dear readers. So, I grabbed my mother and two huge coffees  and headed out to the convention center.

What had I gotten myself into?

We looked around, took a deep breath, and made our way to the first row.

At first glance it was just like I thought, geared toward the “traditional,” non-Broke-Asses. There were smoke machines and DJs and assumptions of grand marches, limo rentals and lavish weddings with themes. But, mixed in with the tuxedo rentals, the prom style backdrops and honeymoons in Bali, there were options for us BABs.

The first BAB-friendly thing I loved was that vendors had their prices listed upfront. As some of you may know, the wedding industry makes poor, busy BABs call every single vendor for prices. And even then, you still have to visit them to get a breakdown of what’s included in that price. At the fair, there were rows and rows of vendor booths all with cards, signs or items with price tags. Everything was listed and priced out. No need to go all around town.

I found many booths with photographers who’s work was simple and timeless and some even had packages in my price range ($2,000- I want really good pictures, y’all!). I was able to speak directly to the photographers themselves and get a feel for their aesthetic, price ranges and clarification about their packages.

And the flowers went well too. I sheepishly told a florist that I wanted to spend less than $500 on flowers (hey, the photographer’s budget had to come from somewhere!) She not only didn’t bat an eye at that, but showed gave me some ideas that would fit my budget:

Trendy AND inexpensive!

I was even able to check out affordable rings for my BAG. Along with ideas for invitations, flowers, designs, registries, photo booths and loads of other wedding related things I hadn’t thought about.

Titanium? Gold? They're all here in one place!

All in all, the wedding fair was pretty big BAB win.  I came home from the day stuffed with cake, and luging two huge bags of promotional items and brochures (pro tip- put a star on the vendors you really love, it was helpful the next day when I was trying to remember who was who.) I ended up with two great photographers to interview, a much better idea of comparable prices for everything, and some awesome design ideas.

Signage at the bridal fair

Moral of the story: if a wedding fair comes to your town, do it, BABs! You may have to put up with some tacky, cheesy wedding industry mandates, but just like your wedding, you can make it your own!

  • 10/12

    Well, BABs, I guess I’ve officially entered the drama phase of wedding planning! This past weekend marked the one-year countdown to our wedding! We just so happened to have a venue visit scheduled to really start planning. When we originally visited our venue and booked our wedding it was the middle of winter so the property was covered in snow and some sites were not available due to limited access with snow covered roads. Even in winter, it was beautiful, and we fell in the love with the feel of the place. The sales guy that we met with was wonderful, showed us around and was as enthusiastic as we were about things. After the countless other venues we had researched and visited, this was so refreshing. It just seemed like a great fit. We signed our contract and reserved a building that was due to begin construction that spring, 18 months before our wedding. This would allow us an all-in-one location with guest rooms, an inside and outside ceremony spot, and a beautiful reception spot. Sold!

    Real Bride Amy: Venue Switcheroo?
    Fast forward 8 months. The snow is gone; the sun is out. I mentioned in a previous post that I had some concerns with the coordinator we were assigned to, most of all, she suggested a day for a visit and then told us she wouldn’t be available so she would allow us to explore on our own. Yikes! I ended up calling the venue and talking to one of the managers before our visit.  He said he spoke with her, but we are still paired with her. Needless to say, I have reservations already. The food and beverage director met us to answer so questions before we were given keys to some spaces and set free.
    Our format is a little different. We’re doing a weekend mini-destination, hoping to have people come and hang out for a few days rather than a few hours, so we’re renting a house on the property Saturday, hosting a BBQ and party Saturday night for whoever is there, and doing our ceremony and reception Sunday morning with brunch. Ideally, people would come up Friday night through Sunday afternoon, or Saturday morning through Monday morning so we get some QT with our guests and we can all enjoy the activities at the resort.  Sounds great, right?!
    The first thing we found out is that the new construction was never approved, and the building won’t be ready so we have to go with a Plan B site. Deep breath. Second, as we were talking about our Saturday night plans, we were told that the house we planned to rent only holds half the number of people we were originally told. Half. Then, small, but still annoying: They aren’t able to offer cake as planned, although they did hire a pastry chef; he just doesn’t do cakes … so I will have to identify a vendor and arrange a separate tasting with them. As we went down my list of questions, everything that I had previously received a “Yes, Absolutely!” to, I now was hearing “Well … not exactly.” *Blood pressure rising* I don’t think I got a positive answer to almost any question. “We can do anything you want for your menu.” OK, waffles. “We don’t do waffles; how about pancakes?” I have some vegan guests. “OK, well they’ll have to eat whatever they can eat.” REALLY?!? After that inspiring meeting and my fiance thinking I was about to become Bridezilla, we took our keys and set out to explore the property.
    Our first destination was our Plan B reception spot. It’s located on the beach with a beautiful view, but … the inside left something to be desired. Let’s say it was much more rustic and had more of a camp feel than what I had envisioned. It would be OK, but would require a lot more decoration than I had planned. I was hoping to be budget-friendly and keep it simple. This would need more work, i.e., more money. AND, we were told were couldn’t have access the night before (as we would have with the Plan A spot), and could only get in at 9 a.m. that day, 2 hours before my ceremony! They later gave me one more hour, but that still seems like very little time to decorate the whole space and set everything up. Also, our built in ceremony spot is also gone, and the rain location is this tiny deck space. *Sigh* At this point, I’m super stressed. We checked out the house we planned to rent and explored some other spots on the property and then headed to the bar because I needed a glass of wine!
    Real Bride Amy: Venue Switcheroo?
                                                                            Plan B aka Reception Site Option 1
    Real Bride Amy: Venue Switcheroo?
                                                                                      But the view, though.
    For the rest of the week, I engaged in an email exchange with them trying to express my concern and come to a solution. They did offer me an alternative, but it means a big change of plans!
    Here are my options:
    1. Stick to the plan. Rent the same house and squeeze in double the amount of recommended people, 20 versus 40 (hope it doesn’t rain). Resort staff will have to stay and supervise until there are 12 or less people to ensure the normal capacity is not exceeded — in other words: babysit. Who knows if all those people will even come up the night before?  Only 10 people could show.
    2. Use the lakefront location and get creative with decor, probably having to hire someone or rely on friends to carry out the design while I get ready that morning. Again, hope it doesn’t rain for the ceremony.
    3. Do a 180. Rent a much larger house that would safely hold 40+ people, but would require some guests staying there to fill some of the six bedrooms and pay me for their stay to defer some of the cost. Host Saturday evening there. Would likely not be able to bring our dogs as planned since this house is not pet-friendly. The larger house includes access to a tent for the duration of the weekend, so the reception Sunday would be held there. I would have access all weekend to the tent for decoration purposes, but a tent vs. a lodge style venue  may change the vibe of the day. If we can get enough people to stay, this option will cost us around $1,000 more.
    Real Bride Amy: Venue Switcheroo?
                                                                                                    Option 2
    Real Bride Amy: Venue Switcheroo?
    So now I’m faced with some big decisions when I thought I was at the point of moving forward and being done with all the major stuff! It’s been a crazy couple weeks, but I’m glad this happened a year in advance!  That’s the only silver lining.

    What would you do? Also, do you think the venue should make some concessions due to the change in so many of the initial plans?

  • 10/9

    I Rest my Grace Dress || Modcloth

    Happy Friday, Broke-Asses! Cooler weather is *finally* starting to grace North Texas (though it's still pretty warm) and my birthday is this weekend (eee!), so I'm in self-shopping mode. I love patio-drinking season, and pretty much live in my skinny jeans and T-shirt year round, but I love being able to layer with a killer sweater, fun accessories or some kickin' boots. Fall is that…

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    Flower 6

    Alright guys, I'm gonna be honest, I never thought I'd be a pocket square kinda guy. They always seemed too fancy and fussy. One day, just for shits and giggles, I thought I'd try one out for a wedding I was going to. Wouldn't you know, I totally dug it. In fact, I favored it over my tie, so I went tieless and open collar.…

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  • 10/8

    Real Bride Emma's Hobbit-Themed Hen Party

    Hi BABs! The big day is almost here, and I am super excited! Over the last few weeks I have been surrounded by awesome generosity: El Fiance truly stepping up and doing more than his fair share of wedding prep; a fantastic, hilarious, Hobbit-themed hen party organised by my wonderful 'Maids with 22 absolutely incredible women; and so many random messages of support that it…

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    Names: Meg & Steve Occupations: Development Coordinator for a community revitalization non-profit; high school Spanish teacher Wedding location: Pearl S. Buck Estate, Perkasie, PA Wedding Budget: $25,000 ** Number of Guests: 207 Wedding Date: June 20, 2015 How would you describe your wedding: Our wedding had a little bit of everything. We had some traditional elements, but also did things our own modern way. For example, we had…

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    Hello to BABs everywhere, and welcome to the show to all newly-minted brides! I apologize for being MIA, but as the saying goes, "after the party comes the after-party." In this case, I mean honeymoon, family vacations and annual weekend trips with friends. Speaking of honeymoons, I should probably tell you about ours! Although we're the kind of people who don't really like to relax when…

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  • 10/6

    And DONE with the JUS Cleanse!

    Way back when, in the early days of BAB, we had a series called Flab to Fab, which chronicled some health and weight loss tips that had worked for us. Those of you paying attention on Instagram a couple weeks ago might have noticed this pop up as a hashtag as I embarked on a three-day juice cleanse. Health, happiness and general badassery have always been a…

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