Broke-Ass Tag: Budget Wedding


As a brand new Real Bride Contributor, I thought I’d share with you how I became a Broke-Ass Bride in the first place.

As a teenager, I worked at a hobby shop with an enormous magazine section covering every possible topic you can think of. I would cautiously walk past the bridal section but wouldn’t dare flip through any for some inane fear of jinxing myself into being a life long old maid. This is a true story. Aside from some casual Pinteresting, I’ve totally steered clear of anything related to wedding planning until I was actually engaged. Not to completely digress, but I never thought it was right to get my heart set on anything without having the groom in mind.

I always thought that the first thing I’d do after I got engaged would be to run out to the hobby shop and come home with an armful of bridal magazines to swoon over. A magazine in one hand, and a glass of chardonnay in the other. (The chardonnay was added to this daydream later, you know, after I turned 21.)

It didn’t exactly happen that way.


I ended up at Barnes & Noble since I live on the other side of town now, and I’m pretty sure that hobby shop is closed anyway. I did get my stack of bridal magazines, and also Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette (highly recommended, btw). I may, or may not have had my glass of chardonnay. Truthfully, I don’t recall and that detail is irrelevant.

What I remember is the sinking panic that resulted from the sticker shock I felt when I saw that dresses were upwards of $3000-$4000. Then I started looking at local photographers, and those were a few thousand dollars, venues were a few thousand dollars. I was going to have to figure out some way to pay for all of this. I was totally, and completely unprepared.

Do guests really expect a four-course dinner? In an upscale ballroom? With a DJ, photographer and videographer? Two hundred of my “closest” friends and family members? Pyrotechnics, glitter and smoke machines? {Eds. note: Always glitter}

A solid month or two of anxiety, hyperventilation and some brass tacks budgeting followed.

We’ve been engaged for five months now, and I can confidently answer these questions:

No, your guests expect nothing but to share in the joy of two people they love, making a commitment to one another. (And food. Yeah, probably some food.) Anything else is a bonus. No one will be disappointed if your wedding doesn’t resemble William and Kate’s, Kanye and Kim’s, or another celebrity’s outlandish wedding du jour. Wedding magazines are gorgeous, but they are often extravagant, and far from representational of what ordinary people actually do. There should really be a disclaimer, or footnote —  or maybe a declaration of the family’s income when magazines share real wedding stories.

Reading magazines and doing a little initial vendor research made me feel as though the one day that I’ve thought about my whole life would be a disappointment to me, and the people I love. A bride-to-be should never feel that way. That includes you, dear reader. This is how I became a Broke-Ass Bride.

I’ve accepted our frugal budget as a personal challenge. I refuse to go into any debt to pay for our wedding. I will also not spend the next 14 months being a hermit to save up for it either. This budget was created so that we can have a lovely wedding, and still enjoy ourselves in the meantime. Summer in Milwaukee is a pretty amazing place to be, and I don’t want to miss out on the festivals, rooftop patio-sitting, and other fun things that make this city great.

With a little due diligence, thinking outside of the box, and some trips to the crafts store, we’re going to throw the best damn wedding. I’m excited to share with you how we’re making this work, and hopefully provide a little inspiration to another Broke-Ass Bride at the same time.

  • 4/24

    Hi BABs! Apologies for being AWOL – February and March went by in a blur! As we got closer to our Pi Day wedding, I felt a lot of stress and pressure coming at me from all sides. Despite my now-husband’s best efforts to calm me down, I worried a lot about our wedding and making sure everything was perfect. I know, I know, it’s such a cliché for a bride to be worried about having the perfect day, but deep inside every bride wants to see the day she planned come out perfectly.

    The Tuesday before our wedding was a tough day: my company held layoffs, which affected my colleagues and several friends. While I wasn’t laid off, it was a very difficult day for me, saying goodbye to many people I’d worked with. It was a very somber situation, and I took some time to process my feelings before I shifted focus onto our wedding.

    The days leading up to the wedding seemed to go by in a flash. One highlight was getting a chance to reconnect with my bridesmaids who live out of town, just having drinks and catching up. The day before the wedding my bridesmaids, my mother and I had a relaxing morning at the spa, which was much needed. Nothing like a little pampering to get yourself ready for the wedding excitement!

    Friday evening we had a very smooth wedding rehearsal, followed by a rehearsal dinner hosted by my mother-in-law. We had so much fun with our guests, we moved the party to the hotel bar. In honor of our Pi Day wedding, my husband and I wore matching Pi Day shirts to our rehearsal activities. Cute huh?

    Pi Day Shirts

    Our wedding day turned out to be a beautiful day, starting with the weather. Minnesota weather is notoriously tricky in March, and we didn’t know what type of weather we were going to get. Luckily, it started to warm up a few days before the wedding, and we were blessed with 65 degrees and sunny skies on Saturday. Our day started and stayed on schedule, from my initial hair appointment, to our first look and beyond. In fact, everything went extremely smoothly, which was such a relief. Our awesome coordinator Maddie from Ask For The Moon Events made sure everything stayed on schedule, solved problems, and allowed us to be guests at our own wedding, which is what we wanted.

    All day I was filled with joy, which you can see in each of our wedding photos. I enjoyed every moment of our wedding day, celebrating our marriage with our friends and family. It felt like the Universe conspired to bring us the day we’d both dreamed of, and every element felt perfect. I felt beautiful in my wedding gown, and I was overjoyed that I married the man of my dreams. Each of our nerdy details, from the chemical element table numbers to the mini-pie favors, turned out great and our guests loved them. We ate delicious food, devoured our yummy wedding cake, and partied all night with our guests.



    We had such a great time at our wedding, I didn’t want the fun to end! At the end of the night, I was amazed and thankful that we’d had such an awesome day. After 10 months of planning and lots of stress, we had the wedding of our dreams!

  • 1/5

    Heeeyyyoooo! Welcome to 2015, BABs! For those newbie Broke-Ass Brides, welcome to the party! For those of you who've been partying for a minute, yay! You made it through the hols, hopefully with your sanity fully functional. Regardless, darling, you're engaged. And that means you've got some biiiig things coming your way. And we're here to help! A great place to start would be here:…

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    The Broke-Ass Bride's 2014 Gift Guide For the Love of Design

    There's nothing quite like a well-designed product -- either aesthetically or for usefulness ... but it's really great it it's both. Whether it's sleek and simple, fun and quirky or just one of those "D'oh! Of course! It makes total sense!" (See: this cutting board, which I didn't include because I've obsessed enough over it.) And of course, once I got to looking, it was…

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    BAB Throwback is a series that highlights some of our favorite posts from the days of yore, and some feature the Real Weddings you’ve read about in our book, “The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide.” Because we’re firm believers that photos help tell the story, we want to help you match the blog post to the Sample Budgets from Real Brides found in the book (p. 194-223). The adorable Raechel and…

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  • 7/2

    We've talked about my DIY skillz before (read: they don't exist). If I were set out into the wild of crafting land (Michael's), I'd have no freaking clue where to start, what kind of goodies to get, etc. I mean, it's very likely I'd get caught in a vortex of "Oooh! Shiny!" and "Lookit all the pretty coooolllloooorrrrsssss!!!" and I'd walk out with paint and…

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  • 6/3

    Ah, the wedding website. A necessary thing in this day and age. And a necessary thing for someone like me who hates answering questions. It is on the Internet, I say! I do actually always say that ... don't ask me, puh-lease just Google that shizz. We wanted traditional paper invitations because: #1 I love me some paper and some graphic design and; #2 not…

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