Posts in the 'destination wedding' Category

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, hand mande 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. 

Real Wedding: Bridget and Steve’s Intimate, Beautiful Palm Springs Wedding


Man, you guys, I’ve been seeing so much about Palm Springs lately. I know it’s full of opulence and wealth, but it’s also pretty … pretty. And so many shimmering turquoise pool! Bridget (also Dana’s literary agent!) and Steve tied the knot in a very intimate but very gorgeous ceremony at a Palm Springs rental house surrounded by their closest family, then whisked away for a sweet dinner with everyone. Sit back and take in all this beauty!STEVE + BRIDGET EPFAVS-24

Name (s): Bridget and Steve Matzie

Occupation: Literary Agent and Economic Development Consultant for Usaid

Wedding Location: Palm Springs, CA

Wedding Date: 3/10/2012

Budget: Somewhere around $10,000


How would you describe your wedding: Beautiful, casual and intimate (immediate family only), self-designed ceremony with readings from our favorite pieces of literature and our own vows.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? Exchanging our vows and drinking lots of fancy Champagne afterward.



What did you splurge on? Champagne, dinner, rental houses, limo.


What did you save on? We lived in India for two years before we got married and we saved a lot by getting our rings, my dress and Steve’s suit made there.


Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Skipped the limo that we hired to take us to and from dinner. When we picked up our rental cars for the weekend Hertz gave us two awesome convertibles and those would have been more fun. We initially hired a small wedding planning firm but found them disorganized and the whole process of working with a planner more stressful than just doing everything ourselves. We ended up canceling the contract with the wedding planner.



What was your biggest challenge in planning? Designing a wedding from so far away — we live in DC.


What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? A fabulous wedding really doesn’t need much. And you can still feel all the wedding love and specialness with only your immediate family there.



What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? Our vows, the toasts that friends and family sent, which were read at dinner, the Palm Springs weather and setting, the houses we rented and my dress (modeled on a Monique Lhuillier design).


Top 5 least favorite? The limo, that’s really it.


What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? We didn’t receive any bad advice, but we ignored most traditional wedding suggestions in favor of our own style.


The best? To write our own vows.


If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges? We were together for 11 years before we were married so the challenges are essentially the same.



Any other bits of wisdom? Make a really strong effort to thank your partner for everything they do that you like and appreciate. Sometimes we can fall into a trap of letting our partner know what we don’t like, and when we’re upset, and we forget to compliment and thank. It feels so good to have even small things acknowledged. Also — compliment your partner in public and in front of family and friends — it makes it even better.


Budget breakdown?

Dress: $350, Made by a tailor while we were living in India

Steve’s suit: $300, made by a tailor while we were living in India, J. Crew tie

Rings: $2,000, made by Genesis Jeweler in India

Photographer: $1,500, Roger & Lyndzee Ellsworth from EPLove

Limo: $600

Honeymoon: $820 for 3 nights in Borrego Springs, Borrego Valley Inn

House rental for ceremony and lodging for most of family: $3,366, VRBO 262201

Cocktail hour catering: $385, Jennifer’s Kitchen and Catering

Private dinner for 13: $1,940, Villa Royale Restaurant 

Decorations: done by my mom

Bidal bouquet: David Madison / Madison Workshop West



Real Bride Elizabeth: Planning a Wedding Long-Distance

When I tell people that I am planning my North Carolina from Minnesota most ask me if I’m crazy. To be fair, before I embarked on this magical adventure, I would have said the same thing. So far, I have had a very good experience planning my wedding remotely (knock on wood). However, I can’t say I would recommend it to everyone. Here are the following things you should have to plan a remote wedding.

1.Amazingly supportive in-laws

I am getting married in my fiancé’s hometown, and luckily, his immediate family lives there. Since Bryce and I got engaged in Greensboro over Christmas and didn’t know when we would be back next, Bryce’s aunt Connie, who he lived with growing up, sprang into action and pretty much called everyone she knew that had some sort of wedding affiliation — from cakes to rehearsal dinner to make-up. When we visited Greensboro a few weeks ago, she took me to the farmer’s market to scope out flowers, to the BBQ place we are having cater our reception, and to restaurant possibilities for the rehearsal dinner. If she hadn’t been willing to help as much as she has, there is no way this process would be going as smoothly.


Future in-laws!

2. Connections

I got really lucky with this one. Since I’m a Broke-Ass Bride, it’s a given that my budget is tight. Luckily, one of Bryce’s good friends got married last year, and she gave me a list of all her vendors. Her DJ happened to be a family friend, and gave us an amazing discount. Since I had already seen the DJ in action at Bryce’s friend’s wedding, I felt comfortable booking him for ours. We also used the same photographer, who was graciously very willing to work with our budget. I was relieved to get a very high-quality photographer, as that was my Number One priority for the wedding. The fact that he went to high school with Bryce probably didn’t hurt.

3. The ability to let it go

One thing that I have learned about myself during this whole shebang is that I am really good at making quick decisions. When I was in Greensboro over Christmas, there wasn’t a lot of time to tour venues, especially since a lot of them were closed for the holidays. And, being a Broke-Ass, thus not able to fly back and forth every weekend, I had to decide fast. I’ve also had to prioritize what parts of the wedding I need to have a hand in and what I can pass off to others. There are definitely certain personality types that this would NOT work for, so I recommend knowing if this is something you’re capable of doing before deciding to plan a wedding remotely.



Sorry, I couldn’t resist


So, just so you know, planning your wedding long-distance isn’t impossible. Make sure you have a great support system and realistic expectations, and you’ll be golden.

Are you planning a wedding from afar? What troubles are you running into?

Partner Love: Let Bliss Honeymoons Tell You How Destinations Weddings Can Save You Big Bucks

Hey-yo! We’re letting our fantastic partners over at Bliss Honeymoons take the stage once again to present their killer tips on how to have a faboosh destination wedding without completely emptying your wallet (and checking account, savings account, etc…). Destination weddings often seem overwhelming because of the distance and the dollar signs, but surprisingly, you can score an amazing wedding for a fraction of the price it would have cost back home. Take it away, Bliss:

Exotic locations like Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and the Capes of New England may sound expensive, but when pitted against a hometown wedding with a bloated guest list you’ll find they can save you a bundle.

Aside from saving you time and hassle, here are the 4 ways a destination wedding can save you big bucks:

Destination weddings have smaller guest lists and smaller invoices

This is simple math. How many friends of friends of friends will be willing to travel to attend your wedding? While a hometown wedding naturally lends itself to a more inflated guest list, a destination wedding is a great way to keep your guest list intimate and focused on close friends and family. If you host a hometown wedding and reception you have to find room in your budget for dozens of acquaintances that you may not include in a destination wedding guest list. This saves money on everything from the venue to the food and drink to the chair and linen rentals and guest favors.

Destination weddings give you get the best of both worlds

You get an exotic honeymoon in an amazing location bundled with the memories of a traditional ceremony-but you don’t pay for both. For just a little more  than you would spend on an exotic honeymoon trip anyways, you can include your wedding at the destination. This aspect of a destination wedding saves you the hassle of planning a wedding and a honeymoon as well as saving time by combining the two.

Destination wedding packages save big bucks

Most resorts offer special all-inclusive destination wedding packages that not only include your stay and amenities but also cover the cost of the wedding ceremony, cake, and photographs. Unlike a hometown wedding where you pay for each vendor separately as well as the venue, a destination-wedding package saves you money by bundling all your wedding day and honeymoon services into one competitive price.

Destination wedding planners take the strain off your finances

A dedicated destination wedding travel planner is the best way to squeeze the most out of your budget. Often, because of all their professional connections, tools and tricks they can save couples the cost of their fee and then some. Destination and honeymoon specialists have close relationships with the resorts, visit them in person frequently throughout the year, and have access to special pricing not available to the public. Destination wedding planners have tools and tricks to whisk you to your far away locale with insider knowledge of flight itineraries and unpublished airfare deals.

Using a destination wedding planner ensures you will spend your far away wedding day enjoying the details, not managing them.

What’s your idea of a dream destination wedding?