Posts in the 'destination wedding' Category

Can’t Afford It? Get Over It! Two Gorgeous Gowns for A Bride on a Budget – Part 1

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We’ve got a special two-parter for you this week, BABs! Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

BAB reader Kary has a dilemma. She’s fallen in love with *two* gowns (and a wonderful man), with a budget of about $2,000. She says:

I am planning a small beach wedding for June, 2016, in Sand Key, Fla., and a large, outdoor reception at home, after our return. It is a 2nd wedding for my fiancé, Paul, and me. I have fallen in love with a dress for each venue, and neither is attainable. The gown I would love for the beach wedding is a couture gown and way out of my budget. It is the Amelie gown by Samuelle Couture. I love that it’s soft and romantic, without being overly sweet. I’m 45 and past my princess days! Lol. I love that it’s different, has a free spirited feel, and will constantly move in the ocean breeze while I’m barefoot in the sand with my long curly hair down, marrying the most loving, kind man I have ever met! It also will provide this older bride a little more coverage than all the strapless gowns that we’ve seen a million times already. My close 2nd choices are the Sophia and Althea gowns, also by Samuelle Couture. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Awww! I love hearing couples’ love stories! Kary, you could be wearing a burlap sack and that would still be a beautiful wedding. Ok, so we want free-spirited, floaty, and romantic-but-not-too-princessy. Got it!

Can't Afford It

Amelie 1

Samuelle Couture Amelie, $$$$

Amelie 2

Samuelle Couture Amelie (back), $$$$

(Pssst! This gown was also featured in another CAI/GOI post.)


Samuelle Couture Sophia, $$$$


Samuelle Couture Althea, $$$$

Get Over It


Sabine by Jenny Yoo, $320 at BHLDN

(I have been *dying* to share this gown! So much Hollywood glamour, but with an air of “I woke up like this”. )

Pleated Chiffon CLV

Pleated Chiffon Wedding Dress by Camille La Vie, $500 at EDressMe

Moonlight Tango T598

Moonlight Tango T598, $526 at Best Bridal Prices

Modest Mignon

Modest White Evening Dress by Mignon, $598 at EDressMe

Alvina Valenta 9808

Alvina Valenta 9808, $595 at Tradesy

MS Taren

Maggie Sottero Taren 4MC022, $1,139 at Best Bridal Prices

Annabelle BHLDN

Annabelle Dress by Jenny Yoo, $260 at BHLDN

(This gown comes with an optional sash, which can be worn over the shoulders as shown, and spaghetti straps.)

Willow Maxi

Willow Maxi by Grace Loves Lace, $1,200 at Free People

1930s Vintage Fabgabs

1930’s Vintage Wedding Gown, $600 by Etsy seller FabGabs

(Ok so I lied. *This* vintage gown makes everything else pale in comparison!)

AP Floral Applique

Floral Applique Chiffon Dress by Adrianna Papell, $200 at EDressMe

Cassandra BHLDN

Cassandra Gown by Nicole Miller, $1,100 at BHLDN

Camille La Vie

Lace and Chiffon V-Neck Gown by Lana Bisset from Camille La Vie, $550 at EDressMe


MS Alicia

Maggie Sottero Alicia 4MS993, $1,198 at Best Bridal Prices

Moonlight Tango T623

Moonlight Tango T623, $548 at Best Bridal Prices


Raquel by Adrianna Papell, $280 at BHLDN

Lisa’s Bonus Pro Tip: If you’re a BAB on a mission to find a separate reception gown, take your total gown budget and divide by two — that will give you an approximate amount to spend on each gown. Then decide if one venue or gown means more to you, and allocate a little more toward that gown, a little less toward the other. With so many gorgeous gowns in the $100-$1,000 range, it can be done even on the strictest budget! 

Kary, I hope you can imagine at least one of these alternatives floating in the ocean breeze! (There’s room in your suitcase for lil’ ole me, right?) Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: The Home Reception Gown!

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 a gown 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 Amy: How Much Is a Picture Really Worth?

Real Bride Amy: How Much is a Picture Really Worth?
Finding a photographer has been a challenge. Pictures are probably the number one priority for me for the wedding, so it’s something I really want to get right. It’s the one thing I’m not willing to skimp on, however I don’t really want to spend a million dollars either. I thought by doing a Sunday morning affair, I could save on photography costs a bit, especially since I’m not looking for anything, but the digital images — no prints, books, engagement sessions, photo booths, etc. I anticipate only needing about 6 hours, not the usual 8-plus. Since I’m not having a bridal party, there won’t be any large group shots and it’s all at one location, so no travel.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Apparently not.  I’ve been disappointed to find the fees are the same, and many photographers have standard packages that don’t offer much room for customization, regardless. Sigh. Money aside, I’m finding it’s a hard decision to make. All the pictures look nice!
Before we even selected our venue, I found a local photo duo that I LOVED. The images on their website were beautiful — really works of art. I contacted them for more information, and off the bat, they were out of my price range, but I learned an important lesson: Get access to a full album, as this is what they would send to the bride and groom. The album reflected a much different style then the photos on their website. There were one or two good ones, but on a whole the images were pretty average. The didn’t inspire the awe their site did, and weren’t worth the asking price to me, so I moved on.
Back to the drawing board, I scoured countless photog websites for hours and hours.  On the recommendation of a friend, I looked into another photographer I really liked. He gave great answers to the questions I had, and I liked his work a lot. So much so I consulted him before booking my date to be sure he was available. When we did book, I contacted him to tell him it was official and provided some more details of what I was looking for to get an exact quote and put a contract in place … and I never heard back. I didn’t pursue him because I felt like if you can’t even follow up with me when I want to hire you, how reliable will you be through the process? I’m feeling okay about this decision, but as I’ve still struggled to find someone, I wonder if I should give him another chance.
Since I exhausted all my local options, I decided to look for photographers near our venue. This presented it’s own challenges, particularly that I don’t know the vendors’ reputations as well or know people that have used them, and they are 3 hours away so it’s not easy to meet them. I found a short list of candidates I liked based on their portfolios. One was booked on my date (20 months in advance … wow!). One insisted on calling me even though we played phone tag for two weeks and I consistently followed up via email and asked her to send me some information before delving into a phone conversation. It ended up being futile.
And then there were two.  One is a lot cheaper than the other but other than that, I can’t decide! They were both responsive and have nice pictures …
Ao I’m looking to my fellow BAB: how do you choose? Anything you wish you asked or did differently when selecting your photographer?

Real Bride Amy: The Mom Factor

Real Bride Amy The Mom Factor
For Mother’s Day, my mom and I went away for the weekend.  We had nice time, and chatted here and there about the wedding. While we don’t argue, I will say we are totally not on the same page. We aren’t super close, my mother and I. We aren’t estranged, but we also aren’t Rori and Loreli either! The wedding is just an example of how my mother just doesn’t get me. We have different priorities and come from very different generations. A wedding in the late ’70s and one in 2016 are just a little different.
It’s hard, because I want to involve her, but I don’t want to start an argument that I know is unwinnable because she doesn’t see things the same way. For example, she asked me why I would hire a photographer.  Yes, that was a serious question. I laughed out loud.  For me, this is one of the few things I would bust the budget for. Good pictures are important to me. She looked at me confused and asked “Can’t people at the wedding just take pictures with their cameras?” WHAT! She also thinks open bar encourages drunken foolishness and is a waste of money, and thinks I should have bridesmaids to essentially get my due since I did so much for other people. She also asked me “Are you going to wear a dress?”  As opposed to what? I mean, I have a shoe closet and proudly sport pink lipstick; I’m not the pants-suit type.
Then there’s the growing list of people she wants to invite. I’m having a small wedding, which I explained to her. My guest list is too big as it is, and there are people I want to invite that I won’t be able to, and it’s my wedding, so I don’t think she should be able to invite other people. It’s going against the goal of my wedding, to keep it small and only have people I really care about there. Her friends that I see once every two years do not fit that criteria. I won’t look back and say “Geez, I really wish my mom’s friend from work could have been there.” Nope. She doesn’t see anyway not to invite them, and already has despite the fact that Save the Dates haven’t even gone out! Needless to say, this conversation is ongoing.
I’m envious of friends whose mother helped to plan their shower and made favors with them. My mom would just question why I’m even giving favors. I’m basically just doing things and filling her in after the fact because I can’t deal with having to try to explain or justify things up front. I probably won’t even take her dress shopping. I don’t mean to be cruel, but this whole process isn’t easy to begin with. And that’s not even mentioning my future mother-in-law. Don’t even get me started there.

So what’s a bride to do? Did you involve your mom in every step? Or go your own way? Is it complicated if your parents are contributing financially?

Real Bride Amy: Saving More Than Just Money

I want to save money where I can on my wedding (#duh), but more than anything, I want to save my sanity. Wedding planning can be stressful. For many, it becomes a second job.  I already have two jobs; I don’t need a third, so minimizing the stress level is the name of the game for me.

The biggest way to minimize my strife was to give myself a long timeline. I got engaged in the fall, which, with wanting to have an outdoor wedding and how far in advance things book around here, meant I either had to plan everything in less than a year, or wait almost two years. So I went with door #2! It gave me more time to find a venue that fit my needs, and less pressure to jump on the first place I saw or bust my budget. The same goes for all of the other vendors. I have time to comparison shop, do research and I don’t feel like I have to find all of my vendors at once. I can focus on just photographers, then move on to florists. Hopefully this will all save me some stress in the long run as well since I’ll be able to find vendors I’m really confident in, I’ll be more likely to be happy with the end result on the big day.

Our beautiful, all-in-one wedding location, the Mountaintop Inn, VT.

Finding a venue that would lighten the load was important to me as well. I know a lot of people like to do lots of DIY and shop around for caterers, etc., to get better deals, but I know myself and don’t have the time or patience to be coordinating all of that, let alone being sure all the various pieces fit together on the day of, so I looked for a venue that was all-inclusive. I can still choose to use some outside services, but I know the major things are a one stop shop. The ceremony, reception, food, cake and lodging will all be at the same place. They even provide spa, hair and makeup services on site, as well as shuttle services around the property for guest that aren’t as mobile. They even help coordinate child and pet care if necessary and have activities for guests during their stay on premises.  This means I won’t have to worry about any of that. How are people getting home? What if the cake doesn’t arrive on time? Not things I have to consider. I also wanted a setting that was pretty as is so I didn’t need to do a lot of extra decoration to spruce it up.

All in all, these things will make for a much more relaxed planning process and wedding day. In some cases, it may end up costing me more money, but the overall cost-benefit works out.

So how are you saving your sanity?  Using a wedding planner?  A great group of friends?  Wine?

Real Bride Amy: Not Maid for Me

A few years ago, I was in a lot of weddings.  It seemed like all of my friends got married within a short period of time. Although I was honored to be a part of their special days, I would be lying if I said that the ‘maid duties didn’t put a strain on my enjoyment of the event.

J1 313There I am in the bridal cheering section!

Being in a bridal party is demanding and can be costly.  In addition, almost every party I’ve been in or known has had some sort of drama with their fellow maids. Getting a group of women from different groups together to make decisions is challenging, and can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Many of my friends don’t even talk to some of the girls that stood up for them at their weddings.

So, to save money and potential strife, we are not having a bridal party. I don’t have sisters or cousins, so putting a group together would get out of hand anyway. It would become another who’s in or who’s out situation.  My fiance also doesn’t have siblings or close relatives, and only has a select few close friends so our party would be unbalanced at six to two.  Primarily, though, I feel that placing certain obligations on my friends to wear a certain dress, etc. diminishes that I just care about them and want them there with me.

I want my friends to come and have fun, feel no obligation to participate in any of the preparatory events, but I hope that they will because they want to. As a bonus, they not only save money, but I do too!  My floral budget is reduced to only one bouquet, no bridesmaid gifts, no hair and makeup expenses for the party.

It’s a win-win, and will allow all of us to focus on what really matters, enjoying the day, celebrating and spending time with each other.

How did you make your bridal party decisions, BABs? Have you considered going it solo?


Real Bride Amy: Who Makes the Cut?

As I mentioned, I’m trying to keep my wedding small as one way to save money. I want my guest list to be more “want tos” than “have tos.”  There are inevitably a few in the “have to” category, mostly extended family. Another perk of having a wedding at a bit of a distance is that it weeds out those that care from those that just want a free meal. Even though my wedding is over a year away, I’m sending save the dates out soon. Since it is a destination, we want people to be able to plan for the trip.  I’m also hoping if things come up, people will let me know in advance so I’ll have a better idea of my numbers when it’s formal invitation time. So now, I have to decide who is really invited — who’s in and who gets cut.Real Bride Amy: Who Makes the Cut?

Spreadsheets for dayz!

Determining who’s in and who’s out is probably one of the hardest parts of planning. Over the past 6 months, the list — er, lists — has been constantly changing. There are definite A-listers, a B-list composed of the “have tos” and the”‘invited, but not sure they will comes,” then the “if we have room” C-list, and the final “I just can’t decide” group. Perhaps, what is even harder is that the people that I want to invite seem to be more understanding of my desire to keep the list to a minimum than those that aren’t on the list. Plus, I’m already arguing talking to my mom about all the people that she apparently planned to invite.

So where do you draw the line without going from 50 people to 200? And how do you break the news, if necessary, to those that don’t make the cut?

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter’s Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

When this super sweet, laid back wedding from Lauren Lindley Photography fell into my lap, I spent some serious time living vicariously through the subjects of the photographs, with sand between their toes, mountain air surrounding them and pops of color livening up this sweet, family-oriented South Lake Tahoe wedding. The couple, whose sons played part in the ceremony, chose the destination because the bride grew up in the area. Summer and Peter, who planned from their home in Eugene, Ore., hosted 25 guests for a lakeshore wedding celebration complete with a (super colorful!) knot-tying ceremony, buffet-style dinner and a chandelier-adorned arch on the beach (whaaatttt???? YES. This, you guys). Let’s join them, shall we?

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
Name: Summer & Peter
Occupation: Oncology Nurse
Wedding location: Round Hill Pines, South Lake Tahoe
Wedding Date: 7/3/2014
Budget: $3500
How would you describe your wedding (civil? Traditions? Write your own vows? Etc.): Casual, intimate.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
What was your favorite part of your wedding? I loved it all! If I have to choose my favorite part it would be the reveal. Five quiet minutes with my soon to be husband

What did you splurge on? Airbrush makeup!

What did you save on? A reception venue, we had it at the rental house.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have hired live music for our ceremony.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
What was your biggest challenge in planning? With it being a destination wedding, I had to rely on the Internet, and pictures. I had to have faith that my ideas came across clearly to people I had never met.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Although sometimes you can’t wait for the planning to be over, it is a precious time, and should be enjoyed.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? My amazing husband and children; the beautiful scene my mom created for us; the rental house Stonehenge, South Lake Tahoe; our photo booth at the reception; and the knot tying ceremony.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Top 5 least favorite? Timing: the sun was burning our eyes, and I felt like I was melting! Would have had it 30-45 minutes later. Our wedding venue: Although gorgeous, it was one of their last weddings and I felt like they were “not in to it.” Really I can’t think of anymore dislikes :)

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding


Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? To go traditional, and not do the reveal. Good thing I didn’t listen-Loved that part!

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
The best? Enjoy every minute, and get your hair and makeup done professionally.

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding

Real Wedding: Summer & Peter's Family-Friendly Destination Tahoe Beach Wedding
Photography: Lauren Lindley Photography

Flowers: A Floral Affair

Caterer: Racheal K’s Home Cookin

Ceremony: Round Hill Pines

Rental House: Stonehenge Tahoe

Decorations: Kathie Giove — My Momma

Hair and Makeup: Rah Hair Studio

Bride’s Dress: Rosebud’s Boutique (Junction City, Ore.)

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 Wedding: Courtney and Carli’s Sentimental, Intimate, Barn Loft Nuptials

You guys, ever since one of the brides, then the photographer, made contact with me about featuring this wedding, I was dying for the whole thing to land in my inbox. I knew it was a story full of love, but I didn’t know all the deets nor had I seen any photos yet … but I just knew it was one that would tug at my heart strings. And oh man … You can actually feel the love emanating from the words and pics. The wedding was held at 11 a.m. in the loft of the barn where one of the brides had ridden horses prior to their move to South Africa. Their sweet pup, Kobane, even joined Courtney and Carli — bedecked in a bow tie and all — for the reception. As conservationists, the brides had their wedding bands made from recycled silver and formed to resemble budding twigs. All of the decor was reminiscent of their relationship through the years, or was an actual piece of their history! So sit back, relax and enjoy all the love from this gorgeous Canadian wedding!


Names: Courtney & Carli le Roux

Occupation: Conservationists

Wedding location: Rockwood Park Stables, New Brunswick, Canada

Wedding Date: 24 May 2014

Budget: $2500 CAD (~$2,305 USD)

How would you describe your wedding: A very intimate, quiet and special day full of small touches that are “us”; from the suitcase of letters we’ve sent each other, to books bound in twine that we’ve shared, hand written menu cards and an “our story” board.



What was your favorite part of your wedding? We loved how intimate it was, and how every tiny element held meaning. Exchanging vows was the favourite part, because we wrote them in the same room at midnight the night before we were married, but didn’t get to read each other’s.


What did you splurge on? Our photographer. Photos of the day are absolutely beautiful and we are a bit panicked even at the thought that we nearly didn’t have them.


What did you save on? Food, venue, dresses, decor and rings. We self-catered everything in a brunch-style buffet. Our venue was the hay loft of the barn where one of the brides rides and was loaned to us for free, so long as we cleaned it out and set it up. We managed to find an off-the-rack dress that was not only 50% off, but fit one of us perfectly, and the other was handmade by Courtney’s mother. The décor was all handmade and items that we already owned — from old suitcases and books tied in twine, to an old typewriter and vintage camera with case, and we made our archway out of branches that had been broken in a recent winter ice storm. We used old tables that were already in the barn and covered them with inexpensive linen, and used items and dishes that we already had to decorate them. Our rings were handmade and found on Etsy, and were given to us as a gift by Courtney’s sister, Alishia-Marie.


Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? We are really happy with how everything went together, but we really shouldn’t have spent so much time and energy worrying about the food. We stressed ourselves out about it and on the day, there was no need — we had far more than enough, and everyone who attended would have been fine even if there hadn’t been. The day was about us, not the food, the decorations, the dresses.



What was your biggest challenge in planning? We planned everything in less than two months, and initially we hadn’t intended to use the hay loft and so trying to find a venue in such short notice was a bit stressful, until we were offered the loft. If you can, use a location that doesn’t require much decorating, and something that family or friends own — a nice, big yard, a cottage, a beach — it will save so much time and money.



What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Whatever happens doesn’t matter — the day is about you as a couple, and nothing else. Anyone at your wedding will understand that. Relax. It isn’t actually as serious as it’s made out to be — the commitment you are making is, but the day itself isn’t. And have fun! The things that go “wrong” make wonderful stories.


What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

1 – How intimate and personal it was.
2 – That everything in the room had some kind of meaning to us.
3 – That the place we got married at had so much meaning for us.
4 – I had a surprise FaceTime call from one of my closest friends, who was unable to attend because she is living in Korea.
5 – The ceremony itself. We rewrote the template ceremony given to us by our officiant, and it made it so much more special.


Top 5 least favorite? We can honestly say that we have nothing to fill in here, other than we wish certain people had been able to make it.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? Have favours! Print programs! You need this … You need that …
Basically, people forgetting that the wedding was ours and ours alone, and that we were free to do whatever we pleased.


The best? Just enjoy it, and it’s about you. When we would get stressed out or worked up about something that really didn’t matter on the day, we were reminded of that fact. That all that mattered was us, and that we were happy.


Any other bits of wisdom? We know that so many people say it, but it really is not worth the stress. All that matters is that that paper gets signed – everything else is just for fun.


Budget breakdown?
$1000 Photogtapher Alicia Robichaud of
$350 Dress for Carli, that needed no alterations
$75 Fabric for Courtney’s dress, handmade by my mother
$250 Food, self-catered (and delicious!)
$275 Officiant
$100 Marriage License
$100 Hair for both of us
$100 misc DIY decoration supplies, linen, dish and chair rentals, etc.
$250 Wedding shoes, which were riding boots that are still being worn by both of us
$225 for both recycled silver wedding bands, given to us as a wedding gift.
$2500 Total

Congratulations, ladies!

Do you have  a wedding you’d like to submit? Email for details.