Posts in the 'budget weddings' Category

Real Bride Amy: Size Does Matter


Credit: Alicia Robichaud

The Guest List — how big it is, who’s on it — is probably one the most important and difficult parts of the planning process.  My primary saving strategy has been to keep my wedding small.  When there is a per person cost, it seemed like the best way to keep costs down.  Mostly, though, I prefer quality to quantity. I’d rather spend time with a more select group then have lots of guests that I don’t even keep in touch with (I’m looking at you, mom’s friends from work). When I say I’m having a small wedding, some people suggested it wasn’t worth it because with bigger groups you “make” more in gifts.  Well, I’m not in this to make a profit. Most people I’ve talked with say one of their major regrets was not having a smaller wedding and not having so many people they didn’t know well or care about. And if you can save money in the process, it’s a bonus, right?!

It turns out the small wedding hasn’t helped control costs as much as I had hoped.  We struggled to find a venue due to minimum head counts or costs that many venues imposed.  The only way we could have avoided those restrictions were to have our event on a weekday or in the off season.  Unfortunately, the off season in Upstate NY can mean a foot of snow.  We were so glad (relieved) when we found our venue! They have zero minimum; they accommodate 20 or 200. There are also several places on the property to hold the reception so that our small party won’t be overwhelmed by an empty space meant to hold 300. So important for a small group!

Although I’m not saving a ton of money on overall costs, we will still save some per-head costs by having a smaller group of people. Keeping it small also helps to keep other costs down.  I will have fewer tables, which means fewer centerpieces and table decor, fewer favors … but most important more of the most precious currency: time. More time to spend with the ones I love.

Real Bride Elizabeth: Insane in the Membrane?

Since my last post, I decided that planning a wedding long distance wasn’t quite enough stress for me. So, I decided to spice things up a bit and add moving across the country and starting a new job, all in less than a month! I think I might be losing it a little.

My fiance and I have debated moving back to North Carolina for the last year. The winters in Minnesota are brutal, and the amount of seasonal depression I suffer from during those nine months out of the year is taxing. I started applying for jobs in the Raleigh/Durham area, and at the end of June received word from one of Duke University’s study abroad programs that they wanted to meet with me.



Goodbye Minneapolis!

Now, working in study abroad is my dream job, for real. I’ve always been a huge supporter of people studying abroad, and to have Duke contact me — well, that’s pretty major. They flew me out for a whirlwind interview, and a couple days later I was offered the position. My fiance had already been contacted by a couple schools for teaching positions, so we were pretty sure he would find something.

I’m not going to lie, I am freaking out a little bit. My new job was very accomodating — originally they wanted to have someone start as soon as possible, but they are letting me wait until after the wedding.


Hello North Carolina!

Now Bryce and I are packing, selling furniture on Craigslist (anyone want an awesome sofa set?) and attempting to finalize details for the wedding. I’m also having to juggle showers, final hair appointments, and seeing people who I won’t see for awhile. We haven’t even really thought about finding housing in N.C., once we add that to the mix I think it will be even crazier!

These next couple weeks are going to fly by, and hopefully we make out the other side alive!

Have you had any major upheavals during your planning process? How did you cope?


Real Bride Emma: Introducing … The Am Dram Bride.

My name is Emma, and I am a fiancée. In real life I work in marketing for a publishing company, and my fiancé, Michael, works in insurance. We live in Bristol, England, and have been a couple for 11 years. We have a date in mind for our wedding – October 8th, 2015. And yes, that is a Thursday. More on that in a forthcoming post.

So far, so usual.

However, in our spare time we are also am drammers extraordinaire!

– A note on language — being from the UK I may glibly throw in phrases that mean nothing to readers from other shores. I will do my best to spot these and provide definitions accordingly. An “am drammer” is someone who performs in musical theatre on a non-professional basis (amateur dramatics). Whilst I understand that this is very popular in the US, in the UK we are usually seen as a bit “over the top” compared to the rest of the population. This is probably fair.

Here’s us as real people:


Credit: Me!

And here we are as am drammers (Jesus and Mary in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” in case you were wondering).


Credit: Stewart McPherson

We met at school — secondary school if you’re in the UK, and high school for American readers. It didn’t take long for teenage me to realise that he was THE guy, and I patiently waited for him to run out of other options (women) before snagging him just before we left school. Thank goodness the long game works, because BOOM! 10 years later, we were engaged.

Whilst Michael and I are very similar in a lot of ways –we both love to perform, we’re both definitely dog people, we’re both ambitious and a little bit silly — there are some crucial differences. (Get your head out of the gutter I don’t mean those differences).

I have never been particularly traditional, and am pretty assertive when it comes to getting things done the way I like them. I’ve never wanted to be a princess, preferring to play sword fights and scraps (read: fights) with my little brother. I’ve always grown up thinking I’d get married some day, but despite doing the usual dress-up thing of putting a pillow case on my head and pretending it was a veil, I never saw myself as having a big fairytale wedding. Unusually still for the UK, I never saw myself getting married in a church, and cared much more about the music that would be played than the words that would be said. These ideals still hold true today, which you’ll discover as I take you through the planning process (you lucky devils).

Michael, however, is pretty traditional. Not in a “wants-a-wife-to-be-a-housewife” kind of way, but in a “I-think-it’s-nice-if-we-don’t-sleep-in-the-same-room-the-night-before-the-wedding” kind of way. He is also very laid back, which is probably for the best.

How did he propose? Pretty spectacularly to be honest.

We were on holiday with his family at a ski resort in France called Chamonix. In Chamonix there is an amazing lift called the Aguille Midi which takes you up to nearly 4,000 feet, right next to Mont Blanc. I have to say it is one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. At the very top there is a glass box which sticks out of the mountain, allowing you to feel as if you are stepping out over the valley. Now, as a woman who had been with her bloke for over 10 years at this point, it had popped into my mind that there might be a proposal on the way. After all, we were in a picturesque place, once-in-a-lifetime kind of view, and so it would certainly be appropriate. Bear in mind I had had many similar musings before, and of course none of these had yet come to fruition.

And I thought to myself:

“If he’s going to propose anywhere, it’ll be in that glass box.”

So what happened? I get in the box, and turn around to see Michael having a small panic attack because “it’s just so high.” No proposal, no ring, and so I figured “Ah well, not today.” We went back outside to the viewing platform, and I looked out at Mont Blanc. When I turned around, there he was — on one knee with a ring box in his hand.

Obviously, being a no-nonsense kind of girl, I burst into tears.

Luckily for us a stranger snapped a quick photo of us just after I managed to stammer a “yes.” He was kind enough to give us his email address so I could get the picture from him when we got home.

Here it is:

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 18.29.55

Credit: Anton Maes

Michael was also wearing a GoPro on his chest, so we have a video of the whole thing (from the point of view of his nipples). It’s pretty funny for us, and probably pretty dull for anyone else that isn’t us, but I’m glad he did it, mostly for the brilliant screenshots…

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Credit: The fiancé

So there you have it – a brief introduction to me and my fiancé Michael. I am really excited to be sharing with you my many madnesses over the next year and a half as we plan our wedding.

AmDram Bride – out.

Wedding Inspiration: Introducing Kristy + Que Sera Sera Themes

Hey Broke-Asses! It’s been a hot second since we’ve had a Wedding Inspiration Guru around these here parts, and Kristy was uber excited to step into the shoes of some rockin’ chicks before her. So if you’re struggling with ideas to fit in your theme, need a little extra push to realize your vision or just want to ogle some gorgeousness, come play as she helps provide the pretty! Welcome, Kristy! 


Let’s skip the casual ice breakers and get right down to it, shall we? Kevin proposed to me a year and a half after we started dating but as a 19 year old, I didn’t have much of a plan. We knew we wanted something fun and simple after a long engagement and now, 4 years later that is still exactly what we are doing. Seeing as we are all looking for the best deals and ways to cut corners without sucking the life out of our wedding, I will be serving up my most unconventional and over-the-top ideas on a silver platter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll give you all the glitz and glamour, but for now … *insert Toby Keith’s “I Want To Talk About Me” here*. I’ll go into further detail later down the line but today, I’d like to talk to you about themes to give you a general idea of who I am behind this keyboard and maybe spark some interest of your own.

Between our itsy-bitty-teeny-weeny budget and our lack of traditional values, our theme has mostly been left up to venues. It took (I kid you not) approximately 150 different quotes and six visits before we found our destined location. However, before that, our wedding has seen themes from a destination wedding, to vintage, modern, over-the-top-fancy, country and now to simply “Love.”

Kristy Venue

Every wedding day is filled with love (dur) so although it may not seem like a thing – or maybe I just made it one, whatever, it’s a thing now, okay? – it works for what we wanted out of our wedding. All we truly wanted at the end of the day was for our guests to have a blast singing karaoke (oh yes, there will be karaoke), dancing all night and laughing until they pee their pants. Alright … not literally, but you get the idea. Kevin and I have many passions and aside from a shared love of music, most of them are polar opposites. Settling on one idea to represent both of our laid-back and easygoing attitudes seemed much more difficult than we anticipated. I like bling, he likes gaming. I like country, he likes medieval. I love twinkly lights and he likes alcohol.

When we found our location, everything just simply fit together like puzzle.

OUR VENUEThis is it!

Twinkly lights surround ¾ of the seating area, you can sing your heart out on a stage with a city horizon backdrop and dance with your glasses of alcohol from the bar to the side. They have given us complete free range to go wild with the added bonus of being a turn-key venue. There will be a candle tree on each table, dessert will be served on a vinyl record-looking plate and we are allowed to bring in a gamer’s dream of a wedding cake. So yes, without giving too much away (since some of our guests may read this), you will walk in to see a little bit of everything and it may look cluttered but … Kev and I don’t live in a box, so why constrict our wedding to one? Our wedding will allow all the little stars that we love to shine, including our guests. So love … love the theme to my big day.

After bouncing back and forth from A to Z myself, I’ve gathered a ton of ideas from all different genres which I hope will either tickle your fancy or inspire your creativity.

How do you envision your big day? What is it that inspired you to choose the theme to your wedding? 


Real Bride Peach: Weddings, Too, Take a Village

Real Bride Peach | It Takes A Village

Via Pinterest

I bet a lot of brides out there are like me: self-sufficient, independent, strong and insistent upon handling everything herself. It isn’t a matter of being too stubborn to accept help. In it’s purest form, it all boils down to the fact that we understand our vision better than anyone and it just makes the most sense to take care of everything yourself. And besides, who really wants to be a burden on anyone? Right? Who’s with me in the “I’VE GOT THIS.” mentality?

That all sounds well and good. That is, until we get hit by the Great Wedding Steamroller of planning, organizing, details, bookings, money, photo shoots, appointments, family drama, dress angst, etc. and we find ourselves face-deep in a pint of Häagen-Dazs, trying to cope with the sheer amount of chaos.

Just me? Hope not. Listen up.

Here’s the revelation all brides-to-be should have:


Read that again. (Yes, I’m bossy.)

Whether you are planning your own wedding or have already lived to tell the tale, most of you out there understand the massive amount of effort it takes to pull off a wedding (big OR small). And in the same way the saying goes that “It takes a village to raise a child,” we should all remember that it takes a village to plan a wedding. So please, ladies (and gents), do not be ashamed or embarrassed to accept offers for help. Don’t be too stubborn or insistent on your own self-reliance to turn down extra hands or someone’s time and willingness to contribute. Yes, you may need to stand firm with your vision and set your boundaries clearly as you delegate, but let’s face it … we are not superheroes. 

When you first get engaged, everything is very exciting and swirly-love-emotions and happiness. The actual details of the planning seem a million miles away. (Remember this engagement post I did? If not, go read!) But then as time hurtles rapidly toward your big day, you come to realize that even though you CAN handle everything on your own, it doesn’t mean that you should have to. And where at first you were hesitant to delegate any small task, you begin to realize that no one wants to “take over” your vision. It isn’t about you relinquishing control. It IS about allowing those who care about you to help plan this very large, very elaborate party.

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of experiencing both sides of the giving coin. You see, I’m currently the Maid of Honor for my friend Nette. Her bachelorette weekend was a few weeks ago and her wedding is very soon, YAY!!! I cannot tell you how much fun it was to spoil her rotten, take her out on the town and yes, embarrass her just a little bit. That’s my job as a MOH, right!?!? But in all honesty, the single thing that has given my heart the most joy is seeing how much our support, love and outpouring of help means to HER, that we would treasure her so much.

Seeing her gratitude and emotion really resonated with me and tripped my heartstrings. Because it made me realize that accepting help is not a sign of weakness. It’s an acceptance of love.

So put your parents to work with the out-of-town guest bags. Ask your siblings to be on airport shuttle duty that weekend. Let your MOH be the ringleader of the bridesmaid dress purchases. Or just let a friend treat you to a mani-pedi as a way to relax for a damn second.

Because I promise you, it doesn’t make you any less of a Broke-Ass Badass Bride to let yourself be loved by your people.  

Winning Wednesday: Let ModCloth Doll You Up for Your Rehearsal Dinner

affiliate disclosure

finished collage
There are few things that Team Broke-Ass loves more than ModCloth. From the prices to the styles to the superfun apartment swag, it’s almost like they’ve crawled inside our brains and set up shop. And that love only increased when ModCloth decided to start pimping some ridiculously gorgeous wedding wares. Swoon x 1000! It’s a problem.
So, obviously, when the chance came to share this mad obsession with you, our darling Broke-Ass Brides, we jumped at it. And since the ModCloth-BAB love seems to be so mutual, they’re not just trying to put you in a dress and call it a day. NOPE. ModCloth is tossing a $150 gift card your way to outfit you fully for your rehearsal dinner. I mean, haven’t you spent money on enough things already, without having to take a whole ‘nother outfit into consideration? With a v. large portion of their dresses falling well under $100, you’ll have enough left over to get some sweet new kicks and beautiful baubles, which should help you kick your bridal style into full gear!

Each method earns you an entry, so get to clicking so you can score this rockin’ $150 gift card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, what outfit would you rock for your rehearsal dinner, BABs?

Ask Heather: My MIL Has Kidnapped Our Rehearsal Dinner!

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Photo courtesy of Torley

Dear Heather,

Any advice for a bride who isn’t looking forward to the night before her wedding? My parents are paying for the wedding, so my future in-laws graciously offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner. We told them all we wanted was something relatively casual and with decent food–everything else was up to them, unless they wanted our input (they don’t live where the wedding is, so we were trying to be helpful here). They asked us for advice and we provided what we thought were a range of reasonable options.

Well, the rehearsal dinner is less than a month away, and I’m dreading it. My FMIL has rejected every single place of input we provided–every restaurant (around 50 of them over 6 months!), every idea, and every menu item. Planning this rehearsal dinner has taken more time and mental energy than the wedding itself, and it isn’t even the rehearsal dinner we want! Eventually the FILs decided they wanted something formal but not expensive, so it’s at a place that is kind of weirdly formal but with famously not-so-great food. And it is going to be a long, formal, multi-course affair, which is the opposite of what we wanted.

FMIL won’t even let us know what the menu is—in fact, she won’t send us the final menu, guest list, or even the dress code–which is now pissing my family off. The invites haven’t even gone out yet, and it’s in less than a month. I know my FMIL is fairly disorganized and tends to plan things last minute, but she has rejected every offer of help. Distressingly, she has also hinted that we will “find out when we get there” to several questions. I’m very concerned that she is planning some kind of surprise or series of surprises. I cannot stress this enough–I hate surprises, which she knows–but she is a fan of them.

I know most of my concerns are pretty petty, but I’m bummed out. I know that FILs are paying and that they get final say, which I have no problem with, but I had really hoped that at least one thing in the evening would be representative of SO and I as a couple. Instead it is going to be, according to FMIL, “their family’s party.” I’m also really concerned about possible surprises–SO has told his mother repeatedly that we do not want this, and her reaction is to tell him that “he doesn’t know how to plan things anyways” and then to act hurt that he doesn’t trust her. Any advice for getting through the evening? So far my plan is “grin and bear it.”

Oh, and as of last week, FMIL has also indicated that she would like to throw us another party 3 weeks after the wedding in her hometown so that their family and friends can have a party too. She was planning on telling us “later,” when things were already planned. I can’t even.

My Rehearsal Dinner Isn’t Really Mine

Dear Dinner,

I will never quite understand why weddings tend to bring out the crazy, and I suspect there are plenty of BABs out there who feel your pain. I’m so, so sorry your rehearsal dinner isn’t turning out to be what you hoped it would be. Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do about it, other than adopt a zen attitude and just go with it. Normally, I would suggest having your fiance talk to his mother, but you’ve already done that. I’d also suggest trying to compromise, but that doesn’t seem to be something that’s in your FMIL’s bag of tricks. If there happens to be a family member of FMIL who is on your side, you could ask that person to talk to her and hopefully make things at least a little bit better. Perhaps that person could mention that the venue she’s chosen isn’t exactly known for its fine cuisine, or that you’re serious about not liking surprises. But it sounds like FMIL has her plan and she’s sticking to it.

With that in mind, rather than discussing the details, which FMIL clearly doesn’t want to talk about, focus on the logistics. There are certain pieces of information that you absolutely have to have. Don’t offer to help her with any of this. Simply state that you need the following questions answered or tasks completed. Period. At some point (really, really soon), guests need to receive their invitation. You need to know the menu, just in case there are food allergy issues. And you need to know the dress code, so you don’t show up in something totally inappropriate. When it comes to the various surprises FMIL likely has in store for you, just view them as the price of admission to marrying your fiance. Once the two of you are married, you become family, and every family has their own weirdness. Trust me.

Now, in regards to the rehearsal dinner you truly wanted – while it wasn’t exactly the same, my MIL wasn’t thrilled that we weren’t inviting her entire side of the family to our Friday rehearsal dinner. My husband and I made this decision because we were paying for everything ourselves and inviting all of her family would have literally doubled our guest list, and we just couldn’t do it. We ended up having a “no-host” dinner on Thursday with just his family, which was a win-win. We got to see everyone, but didn’t have to break our budget. Perhaps you could do something like this on the day before your FIL’s dinner. It could be super-casual, maybe even a potluck, and only minimally financially impact you and your fiance. I’m envisioning something like a small gathering at your house/apartment, or a BBQ at a local park. If your FMIL questions why you’re doing it, simply explain that you wanted a more casual setting to chat with your guests, and leave it at that.

As for that after-the-wedding gathering – I’m with you. “I can’t even.” I don’t know how far away your FMIL’s hometown is from where you live right now, so I don’t even know if your attendance is feasible. Either way, planning an event without notifying the guests of honor in advance is ill-advised, as you obviously know. Let your FMIL know that you appreciate the sentiment, but based on your schedules as a couple, you and your fiance have to know when this party is going to happen, to ensure you can even attend. Try to get her to talk over the logistics of this party. And then, go home and have a glass of wine/bottle of beer/Xanax with your fiance.

Was your rehearsal dinner planned by your FILs? Did you have any input? How did it go? Let us know in the comments, or just commiserate with your crazy family stories and help Dinner feel less alone!

Do you have a burning question for Heather about your wedding day? Email info@brokeassbride to submit your quandary.

Real Bride Tiffany: Friend-fficiant

You’ve heard the word “friend-or” (which I am highly against which is probably a story for another day), but have you heard of a “friend-fficiant”? Probably not because I literally just made that word up nine seconds ago to use in my title. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “friend-fficiant” refers to a friend that is serving as your officiant at your wedding. I haven’t copyrighted it yet so please feel free to use it as you see fit.

Religion is not a part of our lives, and we decided that having someone we know be our officiant would be so gosh darn special. And also PAYING someone to officiate your wedding? Insane. Absolutely insane. I understand that there are professionals that are realllllly good at officiating weddings and creating perfect ceremonies. But I am also incredibly stingy and I knew that I could get someone to do it fo’ free, naturally.

And beyond the cost-savings, we do have a very special (not “special”) friend that just happens to be the reason for our entire coupled existence. She is the one whose fiance worked for the same company as Justin and who invited me to crash that infamous Christmas party that would forever change our fate. She is also incredibly well-spoken, and shares our core values and beliefs so close that we could all actually marry each other and live on a compound. Which, would make her endlessly happy because she has been trying to get us to move up to Seattle ever since she left us in San Diego. BUT I DIGRESS.

me and em

Like the real ladies we are.

We have a really rad friend who is MORE than honored to be our officiant. FRIEND-FFICIANT. After we told her, she immediately got ordained through the internets (once she finished crying). IMMEDIATELY. She also chose the title of “Doctor of Space and Time.” And I mean, that just totally validated our decision.

Having a friend-fficiant is a fairly new concept to my family — my family with Catholic roots. My mother probably suspected I would never get married in a church, but I do think that she did expect us to have a professional minister conduct our ceremony. It just felt so cold to us, and so incredibly impersonal. It was just not our gig, at all. Non-traditional is basically our gig.  How special to have someone who knows our relationship from the very start to seal it in marriage for us? I can’t think of anyone better (besides Bill Murray, H. Jon Benjamin, or Herschel from the Walking Dead)…

Are you considering a friend-fficiant?

Sticker Shock: Average Cost of Weddings Flirts with $30K

I’ve been waiting for a new tally on the average cost of a wedding, but I don’t know if I was ready for this.


For 2012, the national average was $28,427. This past year? Yep, nosing right up to $30K — $29,858, to be specific. That’s a helluva jump and makes this Broke-Ass shudder.

Here is what the XO Group Inc., survey has to say about this “trend”:

Couples are spending more on their weddings than ever. Following the trend of growing budgets for the past two years, wedding budgets are at an all-time high with the average wedding cost hitting $29,858, the highest level ever. Less couples (20%) say the economy affected their wedding budget – a statistic that has continually decreased year over year, since reaching an all-time high of 34% in 2009. Wedding standards also continue to rise, in fact, about 1 in 8 couples (14%) spent more than $40,000 on their nuptials, and nearly 1 in 4 (24%) didn’t even have a budget.

You guys, this is just straight frightening. At least it is to me, a person of little to no disposable income, and I would imagine it would be about the same to you, BABs. According to our reader survey conducted at the end of 2013, about 42% of The Broke-Ass Bride readers have an annual household income of about $60,000 but 59% of BABs are budgeting $15,000 or less for your big day. That’s HUGE and savvy.

Now, Team Broke-Ass isn’t about to tell you to not spend the cash-money, if that’s what you really want to do. If so? Then, baby, have at it! Go wild! But if you’re on a budget, or are setting a budget for yourself because you’re also trying to buy a house/pay student loans/travel the world on a G6 (really, if this is the case, holler at me), then we’re really happy to help.

In addition to our ridiculous archives of real stories and snippets of advice on how and where to cut costs without sacrificing the overall vision of your day, we’ve added this great Resources for the Newly Engaged page, which gives you the lowdown on some of our favorite books that help keep purse strings and sanity intact, points you toward awesome registry sites that ha
ndle cash and gifts and hooks you up with places to set up free wed-sites.

Being a Broke-Ass Bride isn’t necessarily just about having very little skrilla to toss around; it’s also about being smart with your spending and making sure you’re making the right choices for you and your love. Because it’s not how much you spend, it’s about how you spend it!

So, BABs, how can we help you? Are you struggling with one aspect of your wedding day budget? Are you fighting to find ways to get your wedding day vision accomplished? We’re here, and we’re ready to help!