Posts in the 'real brides' Category

Real Bride Meg: Real Advice From Real Brides

Spring is upon us, BABs, and you know what that means: wedding season is just around the corner! In honor of this fabulous time of year, I reached out to some of my favorite former BABs to ask them for their tried-and-true wedding planning advice. Every bride’s wants and needs are different, and it really shows in their answers. Needless to say, each one of them gives great advice!

Erin & Eric: Northampton Country Club, 6/14/2014

What is something you splurged on? I was honored and blessed to have an opportunity to wear my mom’s wedding dress. It ended up being the project that never ended, with the small tweaks and additions rapidly adding cost to the bottom line. I would never dream of changing a thing and I truly believe that it turned out perfect, however, it did end up going way over my originally estimated budget. I’m glad its the “something I splurged on.” I hope the dress will be considered a worthy option for future generations in my family.

Did you skimp on anything? What and why? I wouldn’t qualify this as “skimping,” but I ended up choosing a venue that was all-inclusive. My original vision was a venue that allowed for the selection of my own caterer, decorations, etc. However, I quickly learned that the a la carte wedding can be quite pricey.

Is there anything you wish you had spent less money on, or tossed out all together? I wish I would have done my own makeup. The makeup artist I hired was lovely, but I ended up wiping off quite a bit of the makeup after she was finished. I read all the articles but for some reason the desire to up the ante for my wedding trumped my common sense. I also spent stupid money on robes for myself and my bridesmaids. It was part of the gift I gave to each of my bridesmaids, but I doubt any of us have ever worn them since my wedding. They sure looked cute in pictures though!

Do you have any money-saving tips when it comes to wedding planning? Take advantage of personal connections. My in-laws had a close friend who was a florist who was just starting to do weddings. Due to her recent entry to the industry and relationship to my husband, she kept mark-ups low and went above and beyond in many ways. I had 180 guests at my wedding. The “display” cakes at my reception only had 60 servings. The rest were in sheet cakes that were kept in the kitchen. You wouldn’t believe how much this cuts down on cost!

Any other advice for brides? Don’t skimp on your photographer! I don’t feel like I skimped, but I was definitely cost-conscious.erin

Birds of a Feather Photography

Corrie & Jim: Spring Mill Manor, 10/4/2014

What is something you splurged on? I really splurged on the photographer because of a problem I had early on in planning. I had signed a contract with a company for a photographer and videographer. The package came with free engagement photos, however, the session was rushed and I wasn’t happy with how they came out. And to top it off, the session wasn’t free! I was offered two 8x10s for free and the rest of the package was over $650, a lot for someone who is planning a wedding and did not budget for that extra session. As it turned out, I absolutely loved working with Lynda Berry Photography, who ended up doing my wedding. It was totally worth every cent! I can’t stop looking at these beautiful, Pinterest-worthy pictures.

Did you skimp on anything? What and why? We didn’t skimp out on much due to the financial help from my parents. One thing I wanted and wound up turning down was having a calligrapher do my invitations. I’m not sure why people spend money on that.

Is there anything you wish you had spent less money on, or tossed out all together? I wish we would have spent less money on DIY items. For example, the centerpieces were made up of silk flowers by my mom, my sisters and myself. By the time we had finished with the centerpieces and made many, many runs to the craft store, they ended up costing us way more than if we would have just paid the florist to create our centerpieces.

Do you have any money-saving tips when it comes to wedding planning? I would say plan far in advance so you have time to save up or pay for things as you go without taking too much of a hit. Also, I would suggest picking the top two or three things that mean the most to you and make sure you have budgeted enough to spend what you want on those items.

Any other advice for brides? I found that when you look back on the day, it’s a blur. You don’t remember the details and it’s probably better that way. There are probably a bunch of little things that went wrong or you would have changed, but on that day, none of it really matters. So don’t drive yourself crazy — you only get to be a first-time bride once, so enjoy every single crazy second! corrie

Lynda Berry Photography

Meridith & Kyle: Fonthill Castle, 10/5/2013

What is something you splurged on? My own personal beauty prep. I really embodied the nature of “treat yo’ self.” I got custom nail art in NYC to match my decor, had a facial and wax, had my makeup/hair done for my shower, had individual eyelash extensions — the works! I felt that it was the only time in my life that I had to be the center of attention and I wanted to be the best “version of myself,” if you will.

Did you skimp on anything? What and why? I only spent $20 on shoes for two reasons. 1) I was wearing flats because of my height. 2) my dress totally covered my feet so they couldn’t be seen anyway. We also opted out of a cake and had friends and family bake and make various desserts for a sweets table. Our guests were able to grab a cookie here and there and keep dancing! Last, we did not provide transportation for our guest after the wedding. Our ceremony and reception were on the same site and I had it in my head that we needed to be responsible for everyone getting back to their respective hotels when the night was over. I went so far as to price out school busses, but the costs were outrageous. In the end, I has to trust that my guests were responsible adults and that they take care of themselves after taking the time to celebrate with us.

Is there anything you wish you had spent less money on, or tossed out all together? I (via my mom) impulsively spent way too much money on a custom veil. I fell for the famous rookie move where the seamstress put a veil on my head at my fitting and then I just had to have it. It’s still one of my favorite things from my wedding and the photos are beautiful, but I could have been smarter in my choice.

Do you have any money-saving tips when it comes to wedding planning? Despite my aforementioned veil story, my advice would be to avoid snap decisions unless you’re really sure. The first dress I tried on was the one I chose — I just knew and was ready to pull the trigger. I think trusting your gut on things that feel right doing the due-diligence to research and educate yourself on other things creates a good balance in wedding planning. It’s different for everyone. You may have something that you just can’t live without and it could be totally impractical, but it’s your day, and if you can juggle the budget to squeeze it in, I say go for it. Also, if you can, avoid anything custom! Personalization, “made to order,” catered to you = big bucks. There are ways to bring in your wedding theme or your personal touch without adding monograms to everything.

Any other advice for brides? Have the best day. You will probably never again be in one place with literally every person you love most in the world. Everyone is so happy for you and it’s like being wrapped up in a big blanket of happiness. And you will notice things that go wrong or didn’t pan out the way you wanted them to, but you won’t even care. If you have to, spend a few minutes of your honeymoon venting to your new husband about how the champagne was flat and they forgot someone’s vegetarian entree. When you’re wearing the dress, in a circle of all of your favorite people, screaming your lungs out to your favorite song, never stop dancing. mer

Littlewing Studio Photography

Real Bride Kate: Remember Your “Yes”

Up to this point, my and Daniel’s wedding planning has revolved around proposed dates, hypothetical decorations, and just plain uncertainty. However, this is all about to end. Right now, we are elbow-deep in paperwork, but in just a few weeks, on April 8th, Daniel will have his interview with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. He will either leave that interview with an approval, at which point we can begin the official planning, or he’ll walk away with a denial, at which point I’ll drink way too much red wine and start back at square one.

As you can imagine, with our entire future on the line, this is a very stressful time for us. The visa process is going smoothly, but we never know what may pop up and make us reevaluate our situation. The only way I have gotten through it is remembering one thing: why we’re putting ourselves through this.

In that spirit, I was thinking about the night we got engaged, and I realized, I had neglected to share our story with The Broke-Ass Bride community! So sit back, relax, and let me send some happy, gushy, love vibes your way.

Captain America Shirt

Fortunately/unfortunately, I knew Daniel was proposing during his visit in November. After all, the whole immigration process doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity. Therefore, since surprise would not be part of the equation, I made two requests: don’t tell anyone else your plan and make it private.

Given the fact that he was not in his native territory, could not drive and was sworn to secrecy, Daniel nailed it.

On November 21st, Daniel and I went on a double date with two of our best friends, Teresa and Bryce. While Teresa and I were in class, Bryce and Daniel were hanging out in another town. We drove separately to the restaurant, Teresa and me in one car, the boys in another, and the guys were about an hour late to arrive. I was so angry. We had told them a specific time, and they weren’t there. After a long day of class, I was stressed and starving and just wanted to go home to bed. Of course, little did I know, Daniel was late because he was putting together a night I would never forget.

Teresa talked me down from my irritation, and the four of us ended up having a lovely dinner together. On the way home, Daniel and I drove by the hotel where we stayed during his first visit to me. As we neared, Daniel sighed, “Ah, there it is.” I laughed and replied, “You say that every time we pass here.”

Daniel smiled and pulled out a set of keys, “That’s because we’re staying here tonight.”

I knew what was happening. But my hands still started shaking, I almost missed the turn into the hotel parking lot, and I could not come up with an intelligible response.

Daniel led me up to our suite and made me close my eyes. He walked me into the room and finally allowed me to look. In front of me was a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and this piece of artwork that he commissioned to commemorate our engagement.

Art by Pearce Hoskinson. Art by Pearce Hoskinson.

I turned around to see Daniel on one knee. At the time, I expected a speech or some other romantic oration. But he simply said, “There’s nothing else to say. Kate, will you make me the happiest man alive and be my wife?”

I had a million snarky, cute retorts rattling around in my brain. But he was right: there was nothing else to say that we hadn’t said to each other already. So I just said, “Yes.”

Was it the proposal I had always dreamed of? In all honesty, no. But the one element I had never been able to fully imagine, my fiancé, is better than any dream ever could be. After all, when you love someone more than anything, when that person knows you better than anyone, when you have shared nearly everything two people can share … you don’t need a fancy proposal. All you need is commitment, love, “yes.”

As we sludge through visa paperwork, as we have nightmares about rejections, as we hand over hundreds of dollars to the government, people ask us, is it really worth it? And there’s nothing else to say but “yes.”

If there is one piece of advice I can give to my fellow brides- and grooms-to-be at this point in my wedding planning, it is this – even when the planning is overwhelming, when the bills are stacking up, when you are ripping your hair out with uncertainty and frustration – remember why you are doing all this.

Always remember your “yes.”

Real Bride Peach: Finding the Dress and Budget Badassery!

Guess what, y’all?!?!  I found my dress! Wheeeeeee!

As you saw from my boutique reviews, I didn’t find my dress the first round. Or second. Or third or fourth or fifth!  In actuality, I found my dress on the SIXTH round of trying on.  Good grief, right? I think I stopped counting after 50-something dresses. And let me tell you, for a pretty simple, non-girly-girl, that’s a LOT of lace and poof to put on her body.

Before I became a BAB Real Bride, I wrote a few posts about my self-imposed guidelines going into the bridal gown shopping experience. You can find them here and here. But the short version is that I knew what I wanted, but I kept an open mind. I remembered to stay under my budget and staunchly ignore the shrunken sizing. I brought along my mom and MOHs for the first three boutiques, and a different set of girlfriends for the next one, and I did two appointments on my own. Through each experience, I learned more about what style flattered me most. And yes, without revealing too much, it WAS slightly different than what I thought would be my final choice.

Bonus points for friends who make these custom t-shirts to wear to the appointments! Because NO BUTT BOWS ALLOWED. EVER. (for me)

The shopping, overall? It was fun. Yes, you can read here about my not-so-pleasant trip to Bridals by Lori of “Say Yes To The Dress Atlanta,” but despite that one dark spot, who in their right mind can really and truly hate on getting to try on gowns worth thousands of dollars each that are designed specifically to make you look and feel amazing??? Not this Peach!  I slid my Crossfit booty into ballgowns, sheaths, drop-waists, strappys, backless-down-to-my-butt-crack options, sweethearts and dramatic v-necks in tulle, satin, chiffon and silk of all textures and colors from blush to peach to diamond white.  And it was awesome. Not gonna lie.

Real pic of me right before trying on my first wedding dress ever. Which turned out to be … terrible.

In the end, I found my dress at an appointment I’d made on a whim and I’d gone alone. The night before, I’d found a boutique online that was right around the corner from me. I booked an appointment for the next morning. After I woke up, got dressed and was armed with coffee, I left the fiance sleeping soundly in bed and went to the appointment. It was the 4th of 5 dresses I tried on there. And the minute I slid it on, I was laughing, posing, twirling and grinning ear to ear. Because I just knew. I could see it. The ceremony in the garden. Dancing with him afterward. Boogie-ing down with my friends. And maybe getting a little teary with my mom and dad before the ceremony. No other dress gave me the vision. It was as simple as that.  I said yes. I signed the papers. And I didn’t look back.

It’s the dress that I want and I found it my own way, which in itself is empowering, that no one has seen me in it (other than in pictures) but me.  I absolutely adore it and I feel amaaaaazing in it. Done and done.

And because this is The Broke-Ass Bride, I’d be remiss in not sharing my budget advice. First and foremost, stick to your guns. Don’t even step a pinky toe into a dress that is over your max budget, no matter what you’re told by a consultant. Keep in mind the extra costs: taxes, fees, alterations and accessories. I tried to keep those included in my budget to make sure nothing slipped!  And never, ever be afraid to politely ask for discounts. In my case, when it was explained what amount was due today vs. due later, I asked if there was an incentive offer for paying in full right now. Good businesswoman she was, she offered me a 10% discount on the dress, veil and accessory for paying in full.

Peach’s final tally for her dress, her veil and an accessory, plus all taxes and fees? $1150.00.   Not too damn shabby, if I do say so myself.

For what it’s worth, the dress that I ALMOST bought at a different boutique was $2499.00 just for the dress alone. And I think there’s a reason I just couldn’t bring myself to get it, despite how gorgeous it was. Not only was it already over my max budget (my MOH said she’d throw a car wash to make up the difference, bless her!), but I know now that it just wasn’t THE dress. And I don’t regret waiting until I found the one I bought. I love it.  YAY!

What about y’all? Did you find the dress the first time out? Did you have a huge entourage? Or was it more of an intimate solo experience like mine? 


Real Bride Kate: Cutting Costs & Adding Individuality

Daniel and I have three goals with our wedding: keep it cheap, keep it from looking cheap, and keep it unique. During these early stages of our planning, we’ve tried to come up with ways to save ourselves money without sacrificing our vision. Thus far, we’ve come up with several ideas that not only cut costs, but also make our wedding even more uniquely suited to our personal style. Take a look at our top five!

1. The Dress

This is my "marriage" dress from the ever-gorgeous Kitten D'Amour.  This is my “marriage” dress from the ever-gorgeous Kitten D’Amour.

Even though I plan to have two dresses (one for the “marriage” and one for the “commitment ceremony”), I am still able to have them both for less than the price of one regular wedding dress. How? I want a rather “untraditional” style. I want a tea length, vintage-inspired dress, preferably all lace and preferably red. My first dress is a stunning party dress from Kitten D’Amour, an Australian company that specializes in vintage-inspired luxury clothes. My second dress is to-be-determined and is proving difficult to find. However, there are several vintage-inspired brands that allow fully customizable dresses, and the most expensive dress I like is around $800 US. In short, don’t be afraid to go untraditional and/or custom – it’s cheaper than you think!

2. The Flowers (or lack thereof)

Book Page Bouquet via The Flower Girl Atlanta

Daniel and I aren’t really flower people. I don’t like them because they die so quickly, and Daniel just isn’t very interested in them at all. Besides, our venue has several gorgeous gardens in the springtime: flowers included! Therefore, instead of blowing the budget on floral pieces that will simply wither and fade, we’re considering replacing all the wedding flowers with material options. Boutonnieres? Try pocket squares. Centerpieces? Try candles and lanterns. Bouquets? Try vintage bro0ches or origami. Personally, I’m leaning toward book pages – perfect for me (as an English major/writer) and my potential bridesmaids, who are all English majors, writers, and/or bookworms!

3. The Favors/Gifts

Memory jar via Health Exchange

I have never understood exactly why guests and attendants need favors or gifts. Yes, they all deserve gratitude for showing up, showering us with love and support (and things of monetary value), and devoting their time and energy to our wedding. However, which guests really want a container of bubbles or tulle bag of candies? And which attendants really want a necklace or cufflinks? Shouldn’t your loved ones be willing to celebrate your union without expecting gifts? And more importantly, don’t they deserve better than something disposable or generic? Daniel and I do want to provide our guests and attendants with a favor or gift, but we want it to be something they can actually keep and treasure. We’re not sure what form this will take yet – maybe printed photographs with us at the wedding or personalized poems or my pseudo-infamous “joy jars,” but whatever it is … it will be better than a plastic container of bubbles.

4. The Decorations

bevfabriccrafts_2270_49726223 via SaveOnCrafts

Two of our best friends are getting married in a few weeks, and the bride has informed me that their wedding decorations are minimal. In her words, “why spend a bunch of money on decorations that serve no purpose after the wedding?” I totally agree. One reason Daniel and I chose a “vintage” theme is so our wedding will be filled with things we love that we can use again in our vintage-styled home (you know, once we’re done with graduate school and have money for a house, yikes!). So, the picture frame with chalkboard center that lists the wedding menu will become Daniel’s board for the grocery list or dinner options. The small suitcase that holds the wedding cards will sit on our coffee table and hold magazines (by which I probably mean GQ). You get the idea.

5. The Officiant

This is Daniel and our friend Gary at MorrisonCon. This is Daniel and our friend Gary at MorrisonCon.

Neither Daniel nor I are religious, so we knew we did not want to have a religious officiant. However, the idea of having a judge or justice of the peace marry us seemed a bit unromantic and impersonal. Therefore, we had the brilliant idea to ask a friend of ours to become an ordained minister and perform the ceremony. The advantages to this are: it is free, we can customize the entire ceremony (which is appealing for me as a writer), and we can be joined in matrimony by someone who truly knows us and blesses our marriage. Our officiant of choice? Our friend, Gary, who was in Las Vegas with us when we met. Gary was our first mutual friend, and he witnessed (and advised on) the first days of our connection – add in his dazzling sense of humor and teddy bear charm, and how could we do better?

Of course, nothing is set in stone until money is paid, return dates are expired, and the bride drops the “zilla” in the decoration category. However, we are feeling pretty confident that these ideas will save us some cash and add a few unique details to our wedding day. In all honesty, I think it’s just lucky that we both like “vintage” – but hey, I’ll take all the luck I can get in putting this wedding together.

Real Bride Jess: Saying Yes to the Dress

One of the first things I did after getting engaged was find my dress. This was purely by accident. It wasn’t on my to-do list to find my dress so early, but I was glad it happened!

First, I have to show some love to The White Flower where I found my dress. It was wonderful! I went twice and both times had great associates who were personable, friendly, and totally awesome. You schedule an appointment so that it’s just you, you entourage, and the stylist in the whole place. They were great about my vague “I want to spend as little as possible but get everything I want” budget as well as the fact that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.

The first visit I went with two of my roommates and the second time I went with just my mom.

Another awesome thing about this place: they let you take pictures! It was great to be able to go home and look through the slideshow and pick our favorites.

After I picked the dress, however, there was a whole new type of questioning that I hadn’t anticipated. This included:

– Can I see a picture?

– Will it be long enough?

– Is it white or ivory?

– Will it be hard to find a matching veil?

– Are those sleeves?

– How will you wear a bra with that?

– What will do with it after the wedding?

Some of these questions I could answer: Yes it will be long enough, technically it’s ivory, yes it has little sleeves, it has a built in bra thing.

The most difficult question by far is “Can I see a picture?”. Before I was engaged it was obvious to me- I wouldn’t show my dress to anyone but my mom. What I didn’t take into consideration was how freaking excited I would be about my dress! I wanted to show everyone! If you asked me if I had found my dress my answer was “Yes, do you want to see a picture?!”. What I decided was this:

a. The pictures that were taken at the salon didn’t do the dress justice, so it won’t really give it away to show them.

b. I’m not sending it to anyone, so the three seconds they see of the dress will probably be soon forgotten.

c. It’s fun! Who doesn’t love being oohed and awwed over?

That being said, I’m not going to put the pictures of me in my dress online (what if Michael saw them?), but I will give you a tiny peek.

Real Bride Ellis: Moms in Trees


It was winter in Portland, 2007. I was 22 years old, single, working 2 great paying jobs and living a relatively care-free life. I sold my car for a bike and lived off of deli sandwiches and PBR. I had just finished a shift at the vintage store I ran with my two best friends and was getting pumped for an all nighter of Rock Band, beers, oven-pizza, and fun. My phone rang, it was my mother, she was distraught. She asked if I was with my friends, and then told me she had something to tell me. In a split second my life went from everything I wanted to pure misery: my mother had cancer. It was spreading rapidly and they hadn’t pinpointed where it had started. I was the last of 4 children and pretty much my entire family to know. “You’re going to be alright though, right?” I asked her after the initial period of shock subsided and my heaping sobs leveled out. She couldn’t answer me, she handed the phone to my older brother. “She is okay,” he told me. I believed him.

I fought hard to keep my life the same but the truth is, it never got back to “normal” for me. After months of treatments, it was decided I was to move back home to help with her “end of life care” while our family transitioned into this extremely trying time. I watched my mother, once full of life and energy, slowly fade away in every sense.

It has been 5 years since she passed, and though I have been on the long, winding road of healing and rediscovery of myself, or who I am without a mother, or what that means to me; nothing has been more trying on this journey than planning a wedding without her. She never actually got to meet Andrew even though we were already dating when she was sick. It just happened too quickly and, to be honest, I didn’t know how I would come out on the other side.

Some people have to do this without their family, without their mothers or sisters or grandparents for many reasons. The most common reason is distance but no matter, it’s not easy. Looking for dresses was like pouring salt into open wounds, it stung pretty badly to stand there alone.

I’ve found comfort in those around me, people have played more than one role and it’s been the biggest blessing of my entire life. My maid of honor lost her mother when she was 16, her experience combined with being my wedding buddy has been more valuable than anything else. My future mother in law has stepped in with so much grace and love that, at times, I almost forget a huge part of my heart is missing.

Still, the days when I’m just working on the small details, or thinking about the way the ceremony might play out, I get a wave of sadness realizing that not only am I going to have to do this without her, but I am going to have to hold it together for the rest of my family who hasn’t quite reached the place of acceptance that I have.

I’ve always been a great griever, and some days I catch myself grieving myself for the sadness I have to endure on my own wedding day. I hope that by the time that day comes, in just a few months now, I have reached a place where I can embrace my blessings, my wonderful fiance, his exceptional family, my exceptional family and friends, and realize that though she is gone, she is not absent from my life completely.

Real Bride Elizabeth: Surviving My First Wedding Crisis

48811332_2b985302f3_o jilly~bean

These were the original dresses I picked. For some reason, no one was into them.

 I’d like to think that I am a pretty laid-back bride, and don’t demand too much from my bridesmaids. I have 6 of them, and the fact that they are all willing to fly to North Carolina to be a part of my wedding is amazing to me. I’m not telling them they can’t cut or dye their hair, I couldn’t care less if anyone is pregnant, and I’m letting them pick their own shoes.

Just so you have a frame of reference, here is my cast of characters:

Tegan (Matron of Honor): My little sister

Ali: My littlest sister

Jenna: My friend who I’ve known since we were 3

Cassie: My friend I met in college

Kasey: Another friend I met in college

Amy: My roommate for two years when I lived in Spain

I picked out my bridesmaid dresses pretty quickly, sent them the details, knowing they would get it done eventually. I wasn’t super worried about timelines, and I wasn’t hounding them every day to see if they had ordered the dresses.

Last week, I kept getting this feeling that I should remind them to order the dresses soon. I knew my mom had ordered my sister Ali’s dress, and that my other sister, Tegan, had hers, but I wasn’t sure what the status of the other four were. I was eating lunch on Thursday when I got a call from Kasey. She dropped this bomb on me. “I just ordered my dress and the lady at the store told me they are going to be discontinued in 12 hours!

Um, what? You would think someone might have mentioned it to me. I was at work, but quickly sprang into action, trying to track down my remaining ladies to see if they had ordered their dresses yet. I texted Cassie – she got right on it and ordered the dress online. I ordered Amy’s – since she is flying over from England, I was waiting to order hers until she got her plane ticket. I texted Jenna, the last one to confirm. “Did you order your dress yet?” No reply. I tried calling her. No answer. I wouldn’t say I was panicked at this point, but I was definitely a little frazzled. After about an hour, she texted me back. “I have my appointment tomorrow! I’m so excited!” Well, that wasn’t going to cut it, was it? I let her know the situation and she moved her appointment to the same day.

All I can say is thank goodness Kasey decided to go and get fitted for her dress that Thursday! I realize it would not have been the end of the world if they hadn’t ordered them that day. There likely would have been some left in stores, but still, the whole situation really got my blood pumping!

I’m sure this is only the first of wedding snafus and snags that I will encounter, but as long as I end up with a husband at the end of the day, it’ll all be fine.

Real Bride Tiffany: Fifty ‘leven girls

Ahhh, bridesmaids. Your ladies in waiting. Your personal party planners. Your servants. Your army of skanks. Lucky for me, my mom birthed a bridal party so my decision was relatively easy. Three sisters? Boom. One cousin that is basically like a sister and was your ever-trusted partner in crime growing up? Also, boom. One best friend who would do absolutely anything for you including address all of your save the dates? So boomed.

Five. Five ladies. Yes, I did leave one long distance best friend out and yes we had words about it, briefly. I told her it was for her own good and that she could just enjoy all of the festivities without having to shell out approximately one million dollars. And also that I don’t believe in bridal parties bigger than five. Because what is with these ginormous bridal parties? And here I go bitching again…

I made them wait about 4 months after the engagement for the official announcement, which was hilarious. There was a lot of speculation and a lot of “Well, I don’t want to assume…” which made my black heart giggle with joy. I wanted to be able to announce them all together and throw them a little party. Also, I wanted a great excuse to binge eat cheese and binge drink wine.

This was the first opportunity for me to test my DIY skills and learn my DIY tolerance. The results? Not great, Bob. Not great at all. I was able to use my remedial design skills for the invitations and survival guide. However, I printed almost half of them upside-down and backwards which led to me not being able to use our printer with Justin’s supervision. I also wanted to make one of those super cute and allegedly easy tassel garland situations. It didn’t turn out awful. But, after about 10 tassels I was donezo.

Remedial DIY skills aside, the party was a success. I wanted to give each girl something fun, but not wasteful. So many of the things on Pinterest for this type of occasion are just throwaways, and I don’t have that kind of money to waste! I gave the girls a personalized wine glass and a goody bag filled with survival kit items such as bandaids and advil.

But most importantly, to me at least, was the survival guide. Which had some preemptive FAQs and all of the information we knew about our wedding day up to that point. Really, I just wanted to be able to avoid answering questions because I’m an asshole like that. So I can now just say, “REFER TO THE PAMPHLET.”


guide 1.jpg survival guide 2It has worked 80% of the time. There is always that one sister-maid that wants a backless dress. I should’ve added that to the Bs…

Overall, the party was a success and my army of skanks has been delightful thus far! I do believe they are planning the bachelorette party before the bridal shower and that is how we roll.

Yes, those flower girls have veils on. I cannot even handle them. Yes, those flower girls have veils on AND princess dresses. I cannot even handle them.

Real Bride Andrea: Battling the Elements

We decided we were getting married in Joshua Tree. A wedding in the desert is not exactly desirable because Travis and I are not real fans of the landscape. This is mostly due to the fact that we both spent most of our lives in the “dry heat” of Phoenix, AZ. A desert to beat most deserts. But Joshua Tree is central for almost all of our guests coming from the Southwest and since we DID both grow up in a desert, it seems appropriate. Plus, we are both mild hippies and J-tree is a hippie retreat. And as far as deserts go, Joshua tree is a great one.

There's a reason U2 named an album after it. There’s a reason U2 named an album after it.

 We found a prospective location through a friend who had been to a “really cool” wedding there before. It is a modern, mid-century style home in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert called, “Shangri-la.” It is even rentable through Airbnb here. I looked through the pictures and fell in love. It did seem “really cool.” So, Travis rented the place for 2 nights for us to stay, have a mini-vacation, and scope out the place! What a great treat to be able to stay at your private wedding venue and possibly stay there for future anniversaries.

We arrived after dark because we don’t know how to manage time. Ever. Arriving after dark proved undesirable because getting to the home requires a long ride on a couple of dirt roads in the pitch-black, middle of the desert. You can only see streets and signs as they come into the view of your headlights. The night time drive seemed to go on forever. I was so excited to see this place, that arriving after dark was really frustrating. I couldn’t get an idea of what the house actually looked like.  It took us forever to figure out how to turn lights on. (Its written clearly in the guest book but we needed lights to find that. A lot of them are on dimmers.) Once we figured out how to turn lights on, we were impressed with the décor, artwork, and photography, but I was a little shocked at how small the place was. (I think I had imagined in my mind it was bigger. I do that sometimes. I’ll imagine things the way I want them to be.) It is a 1 bed/1 bath home that is perfect for a couple on a retreat, but will it fit my 5-6 bridesmaids and our hair and make-up stylists? Is the kitchen big enough for a caterer to work? How can we light this place up for a large event, etc? I wandered around inside and outside the home that night wondering all of these things and was getting overwhelmed. Travis looked at me and said, “What’s wrong? You seem disappointed.” And I hated to admit that perhaps I was. I had created this dream place in my mind and the reality was, I was standing in a small home in the middle of the desert with the closest amenities miles away. What the hell was I thinking having a wedding here?! We decided to let it go and at the very least enjoy the vacation. We had a great dinner and went to bed. (Super comfy, BTW.)

Then morning came and shed some light and with it, 360 degree views of desert and snow-capped mountains! It was beautiful and serene. The property also has some fun things on it, like a swing set and a fire pit, and 3 train cars that have been fitted with lighting and electrical outlets. One even has a ping-pong table. Others can potentially be used for T n’ A themed rooms. It has an outdoor shower and a ton of windows. It is like an oasis in the middle of the desert. Other than that, the property is all dirt and desert landscape. Every table, chair, light, and decoration will need to be brought in. We’ll likely even need a generator and a port-a-potty. Every area of the wedding would need to be creatively designated: parking, the ceremony, cocktail hour, the reception. Travis and I walked around and tried to imagine everything. And though it seems it should be possible, all I think about is how much money this is going to cost and how easily this could be a decor/DIY disaster. I want people to think, “Wow! That was an amazing wedding!” not “Wow! They certainly did what they could with that venue and tiny budget. How sweet.”

Here is a view of the house from the "back yard." The property is huge. Here is a view of the house from the “back yard.” The property is huge.

This is the view from the house and it would also be the ceremony "space." You can't tell from the pic, but there are snow-capped mountains back there. This is the view from the house and it would also be the ceremony “space.” You can’t tell from the pic, but there are snow-capped mountains back there. Obviously you’ll have to use your imagination with decor. I’m trying.

The train cars. I feel like there are lot of cool possibilities here. They all open up and have wood flooring and lighting. The train cars. I feel like there are lot of cool possibilities here. They all open up and have wood flooring and lighting.

This is the fire-pit and where I imagine we would put all the reception tables. They'd go along the left. Travis thinks we could set the band/DJ and dance-floor up over by the side of that grey train car. This is the fire-pit and where I imagine we would put all the reception tables. They’d go along the left. Travis thinks we could set the band/DJ and dance-floor up over by the side of that grey train car.

There's plenty of room for parking along the side of the house.... The trick is to organize it and keep cars out of view of the ceremony. :-/ There’s plenty of room for parking along the side of the house…. The trick is to organize it and keep cars out of view of the ceremony. :-/

Still, the day at our wedding retreat had brought me renewed confidence in my wedding venue choice. Then, about mid-afternoon, the wind started to blow. The wind blew so hard, it shook the house and it became miserable to be outside. I began to read the book that guests sign when they stay and at least 50% of the entries were like, “The wind blows pretty hard out here!” and “Man-o-man, that wind!” and “Good thing its just as fun to stay INSIDE the house because its WINDY!” That wind continued to blow with a fierceness that is admirable well into the night and even woke me up once. At which point, I laid awake stressing out about the likelihood of wind ruining my wedding. I had not even considered the elements. It would surely not rain, but the WIND?!? With no indoor retreat, we would, LITERALLY have to cancel it and send people home. OH. SHIT.

I need to know/hear two things from my fellow BrokeAss Readers:

  1.  Tell me it’s possible to beautifully create my “designated spaces.”
  2.  Should I risk the possibility of wind? (Considering the evening before was serene and calm.) Any ideas for day-of back up plans if I stick with this venue?

Also, here is an example of some of the artwork in the home. I just really need to have my wedding where there exists a piece of wood that looks like a vagina.

The lighting really captures it's essence... The lighting really captures it’s essence…

 Sincerely stressed,