Posts in the 'real wedding' Category

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 leap, 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.)

BAB Throwback: Heather & Chris’ Elegant, Misty Mountaintop Wedding Affair

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

Heather and Chris’ wedding was originally posted 1/17/13 and appears on page 212 of the book.

Ladies and gents, today we’re SO pleased to feature the wedding of our fabulous contributor Heather (our resident “Can’t Afford It/Get Over It” maven), and her adorable new hubs, Chris. You can tell from these pics (and her regular blog posts) that Heather has excellent taste and fab personal style — and she absolutely brought both to her wedding day. Heather and Chris opted for a time and cost-saving wedding package from a gorgeous golf course in Burlingame, CA, which is half an hour outside of San Francisco. Metro area weddings can be twice the price of this beautiful celebration, but Heather and Chris have graciously provided us with an extensive wedding budget breakdown that shows how they pulled off a wedding with 120 guests for around $20K. So without further ado …

Your names: Heather Murtagh, Chris Vega

Occupations: Reporter at the San Mateo Daily Journal, Vice President for a San Francisco-based R&D startup, respectively

Wedding location: Burlingame, CA

Wedding date: Aug. 31, 2012

Wedding budget: $20,000 (But we went a bit over)

Approximate guest count: 120

How would you describe your wedding? Short reception, big party

What was your favorite part of your wedding?

Heather: The moment we first saw each other. We decided to see each other before the wedding so we could get some of our wedding party photos done before getting things started. The photographers set up a moment where Chris had his back to me and turned around to see me. He was so happy I actually thought he was drunk. He wasn’t. It was very sweet.

Chris: The time we spent together, the alone time.

What did you splurge on? Alcohol. We wanted to have an open bar for longer. And we really wanted to have a big party. We succeeded.

What did you save on? We went with a venue that offered a package deal. That was really helpful in keeping costs in check as well as for planning. Also, my dress was much cheaper than we originally budgeted thanks to a going-out-of-business sale at Priscilla of Boston.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? We would have gotten a videographer.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Gathering contact information was difficult at first. Other than that it wasn’t too difficult. We went with a location that offered package deals. That made things much easier.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone wants to help, they just need to know how.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

Heather’s list:

The first time we saw each other

Spending 30 minutes after the ceremony alone taking pictures. It was really nice to have that time to

ourselves. Turns out we giggle a lot when left alone.

Having so many friends and family together in one place.

My brother marrying us! It was so personal. He took it very seriously but also got in some jokes, which is what we wanted. There was a moment when he got really emotional; thinking about it gets me emotional. But my favorite part was when he said to Chris, “You may now kiss my sister.”

The after party! We went to our favorite local bar after with a smaller group of people. It was so much fun. The owner knows us and was very sweet by letting us stay late and providing free drinks for the bride.

Chris’ list:

Heather – she showed up.

My groomsmen were awesome.

Great supportive family and friends.

Photographers were great.

Venue and DJ were great.

Top 5 least favorite? (We failed and only came up two each… I guess that’s a good thing.)

Heather’s list:

Some people had attitudes on the big day. It was hard to not let that get to me. But ultimately no good would have come from focusing on it.

Our venue had a new person on hand to coordinate on the day. We made it work, but it was an inconvenience. Everything did work out though and we’d still recommend them highly.

Chris’ list:

The hangover.

Delta canceling our honeymoon flight multiple times the morning after.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? …

The best? It’s your day. Enjoy it.

Any other bits of wisdom?

Heather: We both were a bit bummed when everything – wedding and honeymoon – was done. It was like there was nothing big to look forward to after having a year of so much activity. It was weird to get back into the swing of non-wedding planning life.

Chris: Remember to savor the moment. It goes by so fast. Also, if you can, get away on a honeymoon right after. It will give you time to enjoy the high of your new marriage.

Heather & Chris’ wedding budget breakdown:

Venue: Crystal Springs Golf Course - $14,028.23

Food/Drink: Included in our Venue fee — We opted for a lower per person package cost then added on additional hours of a open bar. In total we covered the cost of three hours of bar and had a cash bar for two hours.

Attire/Accessories: Dress – $700 from Priscilla of Boston during their going-out-of business sale. Spent $150 on alterations. Bought Badgley Mischka shoes through Rue La La’s Sunday sale for $50 with tax and shipping. Rented Chris’ tux for $120 from Men’s Wearhouse.

Flowers: Flowers for the reception were included in the package. Paid $936.36 for the bouquets from Rosedale Floral Design – one for the bride and six for the bridesmaids; 10 boutonnieres and two corsages for our moms.

Décor: We really didn’t do much in terms of decor except add votive candles and little hershey kisses on the table. We had enough children for a kid’s table. So I went to the local dollar store and grabbed $15 worth of stuff. It was actually a total hit and hilarious to watch the kids decide who got what.

DJ/band/entertainment: Our DJ was included in our venue package.

Photography: Paid $2,706.25 for the Kermit and Miss Piggy package from Chasing Glimpses Photography, which included: 6 hours of photography at your wedding and nearby locations, Two photographers, 2500+Photos Taken, 6 hours on Site; 20 hours Post production, 75 photos in a modern flush mount photo album, Private 60 days Online Gallery for viewing, sharing, and purchasing DVD of approximately 500 of the best images of your wedding day. All images are enhanced, retouched, if necessary, for beautiful reproduction. We ended up with a DVD of 850 photos. Also, the girls were willing to stay an extra hour with no notice when I realized we hadn’t really gotten some shots during the reception.

Videography: Didn’t do it, but we regret that.

Cake: A delicious cake from Burlingame Cakery was included in our venue package. It was delicious and super easy to get put together. I emailed a photo of the cake design I liked and tried all the combinations. I think Chris liked this part of the planning the best.

Favors: $130 — I made our favors. I’m a huge supporter/volunteer of Make-A-Wish. Using scrapbooking paper, I put together little paper favors that asked people to “Make-A-Wish for the Bride and Groom.” Each had a $1 coin attached. We asked people to either put the coin in a vase near the door or make a larger donation. Anything collected we donated. In the end, we donated $310 to the Greater Bay Area Chapter.

Invitations/printing/postage: My friend designed the invitations and RSVPs. I work at a newspaper. After I asked the publisher about a printing contact,  he offered to cover the cost as a gift. We spent $91.75 on postage. Our Save the Date was a video made by a friend who is starting a side business. Check it out here!

Hair and make-up: $120 for a friend who is also starting a business. She did a test and also bought new makeup on the wedding day which I kept for touch ups.

Wedding bands: $600, we got simple bands and ordered them through a family connection who works in the jewelry industry.

Bridal party: Necklaces for the girls, personalized on etsy. $85

Coordinator/planner: Didn’t use one.

Officiant: My brother got ordained online for free.

License: $40

Other: $500 for rehearsal dinner. We hosted it at Chris’ grandfather’s house, which was less than a mile from the ceremony site. We hired a local taco vendor to come and make food. Then we took advantage of a local winery’s case sale for the booze. We ended up with lots of leftovers.

Also, we spent $310 on hotels over two nights. We did stay local but wanted to be separate on the day of the wedding. We let our siblings, who couldn’t really afford the hotel, crash at our apartment and stayed at the hotel on our wedding night.

Total: $21,792.44

Thanks so much to Heather and Chris, for sharing their big day with BAB, and special thanks to Chasing Glimpses Photography, for providing the gorgeous wedding photos! 

Real Wedding: Rhea and Rio’s Cabo Destination Nuptials for Under $10K

It might be super warm outside, but it doesn’t get much hotter than this sizzling fete Rhea and Rio threw in Cabo San Lucas for 35 of their nearest and dearest. The L.A.-based couple decided that having an intimate, sentimental wedding was what they wanted, so they made it happen, all for less than $10,000. And man, did they look good doing it!


Name or how you would like it to appear: Rhea & Rio Ingram

Occupation: Director of Marketing

Wedding location: Los Barriles, Mexico at Palmas de Cortez Resort

Wedding Date: 3.23.13

Budget: $10,000


How would you describe your wedding (civil? Traditions? Write your own vows? Etc.): Rio and I met in Cabo San Lucas in 2010 and both had family roots down there. So we knew the second we fell in love and got married, we wanted it to be in Cabo. It’s totally us and our hearts. Knowing that we were on a budget, we found out that it would be much more expensive to get married in the city. So, we ventured off the beaten path up an hour north of Cabo to Los Barriles. My grandparents have had a home there for over 15 years so I was familiar with the area. It’s a very small town with a beautiful beach, a few restaurants, and an amazing hotel. A big change of pace from the upbeat Cabo atmosphere. We knew it was for us. We wanted small,non-traditional ceremony with a stunning location. And goodness, did we get just that! We wrote our own vows and had a friend marry us. In Mexico, you cannot get married by law in the states unless you have a Catholic ceremony. So, Rio and I chose to write our own wedding to get married wherever we wanted and then had a civil ceremony following our honeymoon at home in Los Angeles.


What was your favorite part of your wedding? We kept it very small and intimate. Only 35 of our closest friends and family attended. We also made it exactly what we wanted it to be by not doing what we thought everyone else would want. This way, we were able to provide a laid back event for everyone to enjoy as a vacation in Mexico.

What did you splurge on? Flowers!

What did you save on? Seating, using the patio chairs for free (instead of chiavari chair rentals), buffet food and DYI décor.


Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would not have argued with my husband over such small things like spending a lot of our budget on chairs! We ended up using the patio chairs at the venue for free and they turned out beautifully. Silly arguments that don’t matter in the end aren’t worth the time.


What was your biggest challenge in planning? We had a very small budget and we were planning everything from the States. My wedding planner was pretty much incompetent so I had to take the reigns and handle everything myself. From finding a flower and cake vendor out of the city of Cabo San Lucas, to creating our own lace table overlays, to literally coordinating every other small detail of the event, Rio and I did it all. We also brought all of the decor down from the States, which was a small challenge, but made it a lot easier – thanks to my parents for bringing half of it in their suitcases.


What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Be patient, and give yourself time to plan. Everything and every detail takes time. We knew we had a small budget so we gave ourselves a year and a half engagement to plan ahead.


What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? The beautiful venue (and perfect weather), we made our wedding a 5-day vacation for all of our friends and family to enjoy, the flowers, having a traditional lasso ceremony portion of the wedding (nice to incorporate some tradition in a non-traditional wedding) and truly allowing the day of to be completely non-stressful.


Top 5 least favorite? Worrying about people having fun for five days, not only for the day of our wedding, but prior. I wanted to make sure everyone was having a great time on each day, when really, it wasn’t my responsibility. I spent a little too much time in providing details about activities etc., prior to the event, which added more stress. Plus, even though we posted travel arrangement information to our website a year before the event, people still couldn’t get it together. So last minute, my husband and I had to figure out shuttle and room reservations (even though they were blocked months in advance) for almost everyone. But, being a bride, we wanted to make everything smooth and easy for guests traveling to our wedding so we made it work.


What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I don’t recall a bad piece of advice.

The best? Never give up on one another.



If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges? Keep faith even through the big life decisions that you will need to make together. Love will get you through anything.

Any other bits of wisdom? Always do what makes the two of you happy. Don’t do things just to make others happy. Keeping our wedding small and intimate allowed us to really focus on us and what we wanted the out of the wedding. Because of this, I was able to enjoy every second of the day and didn’t stress once. Also, remember in a marriage to constantly challenge each other to grow and be the best you can be, both together and individually (taken from our vows).


Budget breakdown?

  • Photography: Personal Friend Rate – Marissa Maharaj, – $1,500
  • DJ: $525
  • Bonfire on Beach Event (2 nights before wedding for guests):  $200
  • Venue Fees, Catering (Set Mexican Buffet) and Bar Tab: $2,543
  • Flowers and Cake: $1,340
  • Dress (Free from Mom, but it was an $800 sample dress)
  • Dress Alterations: $300
  • Travel: 2 round-trip tickets from LA to Cabo $600
  • Hotel: Free (comped for Bride and Groom)
  • Graphic Design for Wedding Invites + All collateral at the wedding: Free, created personally and by a friend
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $400 (other $600 paid for by Groom’s Parents)
  • Snacks and Alcohol for Guests prior to Wedding: $500
  • Groom Suit Rental: $250
  • Mexican Lasso: $100
  • Bride Hair and Make-up: $170
  • Wine Gifts for Guests: $600
  • Wedding Party Gifts: $500
  • Arts & Crafts Materials for Décor: $370
  • Shoes: $100
  • Wedding Planner Fee: $500

Total Wedding Amount = $9,973


Photography: Marissa Maharaj –

Cabo Flowers and Cakes –

Palmas de Cortez Venue –

BAB Throwback: Bianca & Andre’s Sweet, Intimate, Super Budget Wedding

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

Bianca and Andre’s Real Wedding was originally posted on 5/23/12

Oh, man. You guys. Have you ever seen one of those weddings where you’re all “HOLY CRAP I want to be friends with them,” and then audibly “D’awww” at the photos? Well, Bianca and Andre are one of those couples. This is one of those weddings. These two truly rocked a Broke-Ass-style event ($400!!!) and made sure their time and energy really went into all the right aspects – and they both smiled their way through their garden ceremony and cheesecake reception. Bianca also played it super smart by utilizing her resources: Marrying in a friend’s garden, trading services for the photography, having her best friend officiate, etc. They focused on what the day is really supposed to be: A celebration of one another, their loved ones and their future.

Name:  Bianca & Andre

Occupation:  Birth and Wedding Photographer & Server.

Wedding location: Friend’s garden in Tempe, AZ

Wedding Date: February 29, 2012 “Leap Day”

Budget*:  $400

How would you describe your wedding: We had a secular ceremony that was simple and sweet. I wrote my vows while getting my hair done the day of and he totally winged his at the ceremony.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? My favorite was our vows.

What did you splurge on? André’s outfit.

What did you save on? My dress! I bought an expensive $100 dress and hated it! I went to Ross Dress 4 Less and found a gorgeous lace baby doll dress for $10 by Miss Chievous.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have started my planning a little bit earlier to avoid the last minute stress that I had.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Everything. There are so many choices in themes and it got a little overwhelming. Our color scheme was purple and orange and from there I chose vintage for me and music for him.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? To have fun with it all. Making the decorations and seeing everything put together was amazing. People are always surprised when I tell them our budget.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? Both of our outfits, the garden, personal vows, having it small and having my best friend marry us.

Top 5 least favorite? Last minute planning and walking in those high heels. I only fell once though so I think that’s pretty impressive.


What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? Go all out. You will only do it once and it’s your big day.

The best?  To make it about us and how we wanted “our” wedding to be.

Any other bits of wisdom? Don’t get caught up in the wedding aspect of thing but the true meaning of why you are really having a wedding in the first place. Don’t spend money where it doesn’t need to be spent. You don’t want to return home and look at how much you spent and realize you are now broke. You never know, you could return home to a car whose clutch went out while you were on your honeymoon like I did. And lastly, good luck on your marriage. I wish all the happiness in the world.


Budget Breakdown?

Dress: $10 Miss Chievous

Shoes: $20 Bakers

Jewlery: $20 Charming Charlies

His Outift: $200  Men’s Wearhouse

Decorations/Invitations: $50

Cake: $30

Hair: $55 Deja at Bella Melange Salon

Photography: Puruhito Photography





BAB Throwback: Ila + Hiroki’s $10k Culinary Courthouse Commitment

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

Originally posted 10/18/2010

A few months back, The Broke-Ass Bride joined up with the ever-so-darling Suthi from Picotte Photo and held a contest for free wedding photography!

Well here are the winners, in all their married glory! Congratulations to Ila and Hiroki!

Because Ila and Hiroki won the contest so close to their actual wedding date, rather than shooting an engagement session, Suthi tagged along for their charming Santa Ana courthouse wedding.

Ila and Hiroki then had a wonderfully intimate reception with close friends and family at Old Vine Cafe.

{On Saving Money} Ila: We didn’t really “try” to save money, but since my sisters and I are a crafty bunch, we did a lot of DIY, which ultimately saved us a pretty penny. Also, not splurging on a wedding dress helped. We found a beautiful ivory dress in the prom dress section at Bloomingdales; when I tried it on, I knew that this was the dress. So comfy! And not restricting on the belly! (to ensure that delicious food goes into the belly).

Ila potted baby succulents and made fabric birds to scatter around the tables.

She and her sister also made strawberry-prosecco jellies, jarred them, and decorated them using leftover fabric from past craft projects, so the cost was really low. Read more about her details here.

Place cards, menus, and table numbers were printed at home on paper from the Paper Source.

{On their One Big Splurge} Ila: FOOD. My husband was gung-ho about serving good food, so we had our dinner at our favorite restaurant. Our budget was $10,000, and most of the budget went to food and wine!

Ila: Would I have done anything differently? NOPE. I think we did a darn good job for a 4-month engagement, and it was *the* party of our lives. Our small guest count kept it cozy like a family dinner instead of a meet and greet, and people still talk about the food to this day.

{Ila’s Best Bridal Advice}

I would tell you that research is important, but you knew that already (that’s why you’re reading The Broke-Ass Bride, right?). So here’s a few tips from me:

1. Brush up your computer skills. Knowing html, css, and Photoshop {Eds: Or PicMonkey} will save you money. If you can’t figure it out, make your husband-to-be learn it.

2. Buy stuff like card stock paper on Amazon or Overstock. It’s waaaaay cheaper.

3. Be nice to your friends, because they’re the ones who’re going to help you the most during this grueling process. Seriously, there’s no excuse for going bridezilla on your friends.

4. Eff “tackiness.” I bet your Mom thinks that your poof veil is “tacky.” and that Aunt Jo thinks that the charger plate is “tacky” because it ain’t bone china. Something is going to be tacky to someone, so why bother?

5. Know your boundaries, your cans and can’ts. It’ll save your sanity. When my fourth attempt at macaron favors went kaput, I gave up and made something that I know I’m good at instead (jams and jellies).

6. Handy-pack wet wipes will save your day (from wine and spaghetti sauce and other things that are attracted to wedding dresses).

*  *  *  *  *

{Ila + Hiroki’s Budget Breakdown}

Location: Old Vine Cafe, Costa Mesa
Number of Attendees: 54
Meal: 4-course wine paired meal, details here

Room Fee: $500 (we had a Sunday supper wedding, which slashed the room fee down by A LOT)
Food + Wine + extra Prosecco for toasts (for 54 people): $6000, including tax and gratuity
Bride’s Outfit: Dress (a prom dress from Bloomingdales! $275) + shoes ($65) + custom-made fascinator ($40) + jewelry (something borrowed – $0) = $375 + tax
Groom’s Outfit: Suit (already owned) + chucks ($40) + cufflinks ($40) + necktie ($60) = $215 + tax
Bouquet and Bout: $175
Flower Bouquet for parents: $50
Paper for invites, menu, placecards, and stamps: roughly under $100 (not including printer ink)
Favors: $45 for jam jars, including shipping/tax
Centerpieces: succulents ($45) + pots (donated from Mom in law – $0) + cactus soil ($10) = $55
Centerpieces: fabric birds (hand-made = $0) + wooden stands ($5) = $5
Thank You Cards (including stamps): $120
Domain name for wedding website: $10
Rings: groom ($1100) + bride ($1600) = $2700
Total Cost = A wee over $10,000
What I should add:
- free photography that I won on Broke-Ass Bride and Picotte Photography (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!)
- free photobooth (a wedding present from my friends who are professional photographers)
- free day-of coordination (from my friend who just opened her own wedding planning business - A Good Affair, FYI)
- free invite design by my baby sister
- random things borrowed from friends and family, like picture frames, easels, bird cages, and other props

*  *  *  *  *

Thank you so much to Ila and Hiroki for sharing their gorgeous day with you all!
And a side note, Ila writes an adorable blog called I Nom Things. So check it out. She has great wedding recap posts, scope them all out here!

Many thanks also to Picotte Photography for all these swoon-worthy images. See more of Ila and Hiroki here.


Real Wedding: Donna and Larry’s Kick-Ass, Family-Centric Kentucky Wedding on a Cliff

You guys, did you know that the unofficial state slogan of Kentucky is “Kentucky Kicks Ass”? Welp, now you do. And this real wedding (geez, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had one of these hasn’t it?) does just that. The ceremony was held on a cliff, in Kentucky, and was full of family and love and general creativity. This is one broke-ass, kick-ass wedding for the books … and check out that sunset!


Names: Donna and Larry Roseberry
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Wedding location: Pine Crest Camp Lodge, Beattyville, Kentucky
Wedding Date: 4/12/2014
Budget:* $3,500
How would you describe your wedding: Nontraditional with many ancient Celtic traditional elements such as a ring warming, hand fasting, and prayer circle. Our vows were ancient Pagan/ Celtic vows that spoke to us in a deeply spiritual way.



What was your favorite part of your wedding? My sweet husband is a musician. He wrote a song especially for our wedding day and sang it to me during the ceremony while playing the guitar as well.


What did you splurge on? Catering. We found a local couple who prepared a delicious dinner which included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans, slaw, rolls, biscuits, tea and lemonade. They charged us around $ 650 but completely worth it.


What did you save on? We used many found items collected during previous trips in our wedding. Our cake topper and table decorations were made from pinecones we collected on hikes. Our toasting glasses were souvenirs from a wine tasting we attended the week we were engaged. Many of our decorations were items we already had at home such a family pictures, we even took our favorite picture off the wall to include! Friends and family donated burlap, quilts, baskets, etc. We waited for items at Hobby Lobby to go on sale at half price and then purchased them. DJ and Videographer were free. We also saved money by hosting both the wedding and reception at the same lodge. We rented the entire 10 acre property all weekend for $950. After guests paid for their rooms, our cost was only $650. This included 2 nights’ accommodations, reception, hay bales, 2 kitchens, campfire, and an atmosphere that is unrivaled!


Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have decorated with more inexpensive grocery store flowers. We placed spring blooms in old wine bottles, soda bottles and mason jars. It turned out to be one of my favorite, easiest and least expensive touches.


What was your biggest challenge in planning? Putting together a wedding 5 hours away from the destination took more time and planning than I expected. The mere task of transporting everything to the Lodge was quite a task!


What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Don’t buy into the idea that you have to make your wedding look like Pinterest! Make it your own and you won’t regret it.


What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? All four of our children were part of our wedding party, and my oldest son walked me down the wooded path to the ceremony site. Instead of a guest book, we took pictures of the surrounding area on previous trips, printed them on card stock and cut them out like postcards. We then asked guest to write us a note filled with advice or well wishes and had guests place the “postcards” in an old donated and rescued mailbox.


Larry cut two saplings from the property and placed them in old moonshine jugs, once they were standing upright, we strung twine between the two tress and clipped old family wedding pictures to the “clothesline” with clothespins. Our cake topper was fashioned from pinecones we collected on previous hikes.Our wedding ceremony included ancient Celtic vows, a ring warming and a hand fasting. My father gave a prayer of blessing while our parents, children and ourselves held hands in a circle of love. Instead of buying a lot of decorations, we rented them from a local wedding planner … it was a win for everyone! A friend of ours donated 2 gallons of homemade strawberry wine. We placed it in a big Mason jar decanter and labeled it “smooch hooch” — guests were encouraged to have a sip before or after the ceremony.


Anyone lucky enough to get a kiss from someone could ring the bell located at the “smooch hooch” table in celebration! Our exit song was “I’m Gonna Be (500miles)” by the Proclaimers, so when the music started, the kids, Larry and I just began to dance in celebration! Soon, everyone joined in the dancing and celebrating … right there on the cliff!


Top 5 least favorite? Worrying about weather in an outdoor wedding is stressful. Although we didn’t need it, I wish I’d had a better back up plan. I had some issues getting the bust of my dress to fit correctly, and right before the ceremony, our officiate had to help me fashion a makeshift fastener to fix the dress! The day went by SO FAST! I wish I could have stopped time and enjoyed every second.


What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? My mom told me I shouldn’t wear white because it was my second wedding. I just smiled and bought that pretty white dress anyway.


The best? As long as you, your partner, the officiant, witnesses, and marriage license show up: everything else is fluff! Make the day your own! Be quirky! Have fun!


Any other bits of wisdom? Keeping our wedding small and intimate was one of the best decisions we made. We enjoyed every person in attendance, the love was overwhelming, and the budget manageable.

Budget breakdown?*
Dress and alterations: $360 (bought the dress off the Budget rack at David’s Bridal)

Groom’s suit: $115 (On sale at Kohl’s)

Bride accessories: $85 David’s Bridal

Officiant, Bride and Groom Flowers, Photography, Cake, Cupcakes, photography package through a FANTASTIC couple who run a wedding service called My Tiny Wedding: $930

Family and ceremony flowers $72 from local couple who run a small shop, Beattyville Horton’s Florist

Decorating rentals (lanterns, table runners, wooden slabs, candles): $122 , Simple to Elegant

Venue: Pine Crest Camp Lodge.

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Catering: $650 included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans, slaw, rolls, biscuits, tea and lemonade. Provided by a local couple referred to us by the lodge owners, Everett Marshal

Beer/ Wine: $100, Sam’s Club

Invitations: $15, Sam’s Club

Programs, postcards: made ourselves at home: free

Favors: we purchased personalized honey pots and decks of cards using a coupon from David’s Bridal we received after purchasing the wedding gown. $75

Decorations: $100, Hobby Lobby

DJ: Free – donated by a friend

Videography: Free – donated by a friend

Cake topper: free –my daughter made them from pinecones we collected on a hike

Hair and makeup: Free – from a friend.

Total: $ 3225

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

Real Bride Jess: Wedding Countdown – 4 months to go!

Our engagement has FLOWN by. Am I the only one who feels this way?  I thought our 11-month engagement was perfect … until seven of those months just disappeared. The problem with wedding planning is that most of us have never done this before. Some people have friends or sisters that they help out, but it isn’t the same. I feel like I need a whole ‘nother year to plan, but I want to be married right now! What I’ve started telling people is, “I understand why people elope.”


Our adorable Save the Dates.

I know you’re all wondering: Well, what have you actually accomplished? Here’s the answer:


And the scarier list- things I still need to do:

  • Actually pick a florist

  • Pick a DJ

  • Get a bartender

  • Tablecloths, cutlery, plates, glasses, etc.

  • Hair and makeup people

  • Rent a dance floor (this seems silly, but is a real thing)

  • Lighting

  • Get Michael a wedding band

  • Outfit my flower girls

  • Outfit the Michael & his groomsmen

  • Venue decorations

  • Buy and send out my invitations


I’m sure this is not even the full list, but you get the picture. At the end of the day I’m definitely overwhelmed but more than that I’m excited to be so close to finally marrying the man of my dreams.



Real Bride Andrea: A Fly on the Wall

I had the rare opportunity this weekend to attend a wedding where I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t a guest or a guest’s date so therefore I was able have a completely objective, fly-on-the-wall perspective of someone else’s special day. I got to watch a shoe-string budget wedding almost fail. But guess what? I was the only one who seemed to notice.


Our food at the Gedding. Simple and beautiful. We were proud!

A chef friend of mine asked if I would be her sous-chef for a wedding for about 40 people in Nipomo, CA. I love to cook and I love weddings and now I love to see what other couples are doing, so I agreed to do it with her. It should be noted here that one of the grooms (it was a gay wedding, a Gedding) is a co-worker of my chef friend. So, she (and I) were doing this for free. Free Catering from a genius chef and her cute sidekick? Nicely done, Grooms. Nicely done. The wedding was held at a modestly beautiful, country home. The ceremony was set up outside in the backyard with white folding chairs and several vases of flowers. The reception tables surrounded the ceremony area, ready to have the ceremony chairs added as soon as it was time to eat. About 5 hours before the ceremony was to begin, we arrived to several family members and friends (half the wedding guests) making favors, stringing lights and putting together flowers. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it was clear they’d been working all morning. There were people running around asking where things were, who was supposed to be where, etc. It seemed a little stressful to say the least.

We found the kitchen to be really well stocked for our needs, so we got to work on what seemed like 57 different small plates the grooms wanted us to put together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto chicken, pulled pork sliders, curried cauliflower, crème fraiche potatoes, tapenade, etc, etc. (It all ended up being delicious!) The kitchen was a central location so I got to see and hear everything. So many things went awry, that even I was getting stressed out.


This is the “Chef friend,” Stephanie. We call her “Chefani.” I suppose I could’ve named her in the post before now. She is also one of my bridesmaids!

It seemed to be due to sheer lack of organization, so as a soon-to-be bride, I was taking notes! I got to see a lot of mistakes addressed in The Broke-Ass Bride book first hand! Here is what I learned for my own wedding:

Lesson 1: Be careful in using friends as vendors and have a back-up plan! The Dj cancelled last minute and they decided to “just turn on the iPod” (Yikes.) The DJ was “an old friend” of one of the grooms. Why would he cancel last minute?! From what I could tell, there was no other entertainment planned for the reception. After everyone had eaten and they had cut the cake, the sun had not even gone down yet and there was NUTHIN’ going on. By the time my chef friend and I left, (6pm) people were shuffling around to get ready to leave.

Lesson 2:  Limit alcohol consumption (and Lesson 1 again.) The owner of the venue (another friend of the Grooms’) began taking tequila shots at 1pm. Approximately 7-8 of those shots later, (And 7-8 times that I turned her down in joining her) she had, (surprise, surprise,) forgotten to make her special BBQ sauce for the pulled pork sliders. (I still haven’t decided if all the tequila was because she was nervous or that was a regular thing. Either way, it was impressive because despite 1,000 repeats of the joke that she was “trying to sauce the cooks” by offering us shots, she stayed pretty with it.) When she finally did remember, she barreled into the kitchen, pulled out several pots and pans, her laptop for the recipe (for her special sauce,) all the ingredients she might need, and more tequila. She started her sauce and promptly forgot that she was making said sauce so my chef friend came in to save it. Thank goodness! (I’m pretty sure the owner of the venue took all the credit for that sauce that she didn’t really make.) By the time the wedding was to begin, she had cleaned up pretty well but had a little sway to her. After the ceremony, she had moved on to wine and probably didn’t last much longer after we left. She invited us to Christmas Eve dinner, but probably won’t remember.

Lesson 3: No matter how small the wedding, make sure your wedding guests know where to go and when to go.  As the guests arrived, not one person knew where to go, not even the officiant! With all the family and friends helping with wedding favors and decorations when we arrived, you’d think they would’ve made some cute signs directing people where to go. They had so many cool areas set up, the ceremony area, a wine and beverage bar, the food tables, etc. Let people know that’s what’s happening! I was just the caterer’s assistant, and part of my job became directing people where to go and greeting other vendors (more friends) as they arrived. Throughout the wedding, people were like, “I guess the ceremony’s starting?” “Do we eat now?” “Is the bar open or what?” My chef friend and I had all the food set and ready to go as soon as the ceremony ended. Everyone approached the food tables and NO ONE partook. We had to run outside and yell, “Go ahead! Eat!” People really need to be given permission at weddings. Even small weddings need timelines.

Lesson 4: If you do use friends as vendors, figure out a way to thank them that doesn’t involve making your wedding a walking advertisement for their companies/services. There were, what seemed like, 100 “toasts” that went on forever thanking all the friends for their contributions for the wedding. “Thank you to Ben from Cakes R’ Us for the beautiful cake. You can find more of his cakes at!” or “We can’t thank our good friends at Wines R’ Us enough for their contributions today. They’ve been making wine since 1986 …”  Maybe some people might disagree with me on this and I do think that friends and family who make a wedding possible should be thanked, but this wedding sounded more like a golf charity event.

Lesson 5: As long as you’re happy, your guests will be happy. Ultimately, everyone was there to see the couple get married. They looked handsome and seemed really happy and that is really what matters. It is really a comforting feeling to know that, even if all my grand plans for the most awesome wedding of all time don’t all work out, people are still going to be happy to be there for us. And for that reason, we cannot fail.

But in all seriousness grooms, no entertainment? The iPod never even got turned on.

Catering a Gedding wouldn't be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Catering a Gedding wouldn’t be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Still don’t have a venue …


Real Wedding: Angela and Jay’s $5000 Laid-Back Family-Powered Semi-Traditional Arizona Fete


Angela and Jay had their beautiful wedding in January of this year, incorporating meaningful locations, the support of their community, and some Arizona flair. Seriously, how cute are these cactus favors? It goes to show that you don’t need to spend $30,000 to have a beautiful, memorable wedding day…and since their family and friends were involved throughout, they were able to start their married lives feeling truly loved and blessed.




Names:  Angela and Jay

Occupations: Angela- PhD Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, Jay: Video Game QA Lead, Red5 Studios

Wedding location: Phoenix, AZ (Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and the Science and Heritage Park)

Wedding date: 01-04-14

Wedding budget: Original $3000…..Actual $5000

Approximate guest count: 100

How would you describe your wedding? Laid-back, informal, with traditional aspects

What was your favorite part of your wedding? I loved getting to talk with all of my friends and family during the reception. I just wanted it to last forever.





What did you splurge on? The reception venue. We met on NYE 4 years ago at a bar owned by my husband’s friend. The venue is RIGHT behind it, so we both wanted to celebrate our marriage there, even though it was pretty expensive for our budget. It didn’t include much. It had a small catering kitchen and tables and chairs we could use. I also spent $444.00 on my wedding gown. I felt guilty for this, since Jay was wearing a suit he already owned. I REALLY wanted a simple white dress, off the rack. But I couldn’t find anything I liked. My mom made me go to a David’s Bridal one day and I found something that wasn’t too shiny and fancy for me. I hoped to sell it…but, then a friend burned a cigarette hole in it, and I spilled my beer on myself. I’m sure someone would still buy it…

What did you save on?  Everything else!! The cake/cupcakes were made by my best friend from high school. I won a few bottles of champagne in an online contest. I cut out all the paper flag decorations with my mom. My brother bought decorations off Craigslist from a woman who had similar colors for her wedding (candles, cake plates, lights, lanterns). I bought all the servingware (bowls, trays, and tongs) at a dollar store. I didn’t want flowers at first, but my mom wasn’t having that. So I found 10 bouquets at Costco for $100. They doubled as bouquets for the bridespeople and table decorations. We gave small cacti as favors (only 50 of them) and my friend purchased them for me at cost ($1 per cactus) from his cousin who runs a nursery. We decided a build your own sandwich bar would be good instead of a caterer. It was very simple. We had sliced cheese, turkey and roast beef with condiments. We bought bolillo rolls from a Mexican bakery which was cheaper than the same rolls at Costco. I made three grain/pasta salads that were very very inexpensive. One was quinoa, one was a pasta salad, and one was Israeli couscous. The biggest saving was the alcohol. My husband’s friends who own the bar gave us free beer and wine! We also received free coffee due to a mixup at the coffee house. That was a nice surprise!



Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have done two things differently. First I would have managed time better. We were married in a church service and since my husband is not Catholic, we didn’t have the full ceremony. In fact it only took 30 minutes. We had no idea it would be that quick! This meant that our guests had to wait about 2 hours between our ceremony and the reception. Since our reception was only a block from the church, most of our guests just headed to our friends’ bar for food and drinks. We had to set up the wedding while they did this. We decided to set up our own wedding to save money (of course!). Since we were early, the young men we had hired to set up the tables hadn’t gotten started yet. Everyone was stressed out and working hard. They wouldn’t let my husband or I do much, which was nice, but also frustrating.

The second thing I would have done differently is I would have hired a day-of coordinator. I would have just asked an old friend and paid her $50 or something. That way she could have fielded the 10,000 questions everyone had for me that day. The questions freaked me out because I really wasn’t very picky about how everything looked, but of course no one believed that. Most of the questions were related to the decorations.

What was your biggest challenge in planning?  We had a few challenges. The biggest challenge was money. We don’t have a lot and everything really added up.  I was in Washington teaching for the Summer and Fall semesters right before the wedding. So not only did Jay and I not get to see each other, but all of my planning was done through email and phone calls. I didn’t even see the church until the rehearsal dinner. Luckily we were familiar with the reception venue.



What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?

1.Our families really care for us. When we needed help purchasing something they always came through and just gave us money. We didn’t abuse this privilege, however.

2. I wouldn’t have bought so much food. Lots of our friends who said they were coming didn’t show, so there were too many sandwiches. Also, we had made sure to tell people that we were only serving light food, and during that 2 hr break between wedding and reception, lots of our guests ate dinner. My mom ended up donating bread to a soup kitchen which was great, but it would have been better for us not to spend the money in the first place.

3.I also learned that dancing is not as important to other people as it is to me. I spend what seemed like weeks and weeks creating our playlist. It was nuts. I went from slower dancing at the beginning to all out party music at the end when everyone would have been drunk. Well, The only dances that happened were our first dance and the father/daughter dance. Everyone else just used the wedding as a way to catch up with old friends and family, which was lovely, but not what I had envisioned. I wish I’d not cared about the music so much.



What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? 

1. Seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen for years. I have lived in CA and WA for the last 4 years, so I’m out of touch with a lot of my Phoenix peeps. My husband is the same way. It was nice to have everyone together.

2. The cake and decorations! I really loved what I did. Yes it was simple, but it reflected us. We aren’t flashy people. I was really proud about the money I saved.

3. The help we received from friends and family. They worked so hard and the night of the reception I felt really very guilty for it. I saw my mom running around putting lunch meat on platters and making a veggie tray. My bridespeople and other friends all helped immensely with various food and decorations. It made me feel awful at the time, but everyone says it wasn’t a problem and that they had a good time. Also, it made me feel very loved.

4. Wine and beer! Not only was it free, but it helped both me and my fiance loosen up a bit.

5. Getting to celebrate our commitment to each other in front of all our friends and family. Although Jay and I have been committed to our relationship for a while, it felt good to share that with everyone else. Everyone was really happy for us, and that felt great!

Top 5 least favorite?

1. I didn’t like the music at the wedding ceremony, but it wasn’t a big deal. It was just boring church music that didn’t really fit the wedding.

2. My fiance was nervous and I didn’t know how to cheer him up. He didn’t smile once during the service and his hand was sweaty when I met him at the altar. I felt like I was failing him by not creating a happy wedding. He finally loosened up at the reception after we cut the cake….. about 3 hrs in…

3. I don’t have a picture of my parents walking me down the aisle.

4. Friends and Family who said they were coming that did not show up.

6. We only paid for a 3 hour reception. I wanted it to last at least 2 hours longer into the evening. We did all move over to the bar, but my fiance and I didn’t stay as late as our guests. I guess that was probably a good thing!


What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I didn’t have any bad advice, just a LOT of judgement from others. When you tell people that you are getting married, suddenly everyone has an opinion on things. (tablecloths, flowers, food, “You HAVE to have the Chicken Dance!”, etc.) That was a little annoying at first, then a lot annoying. Also, I really thought that our relationship would somehow grow deeper at a profound level after getting married. It didn’t. I still feel the same love for him that I felt before the wedding. Although there are times when I think “Wow, that was a whole fiasco, wasn’t it? Getting married in a church when neither of us are religious, having a fancy white dress, registering for gifts, etc. I can’t believe he loves me SO much that he would do it all and not complain once.”

The best? A few friends told me “Do what you want and try not to listen to other people.” and “This is about a marriage, not about a wedding.”

Any other bits of wisdom? Just have fun on your wedding day! Soak it all in and try to remember everything. Smile and say thank you as much as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Budget breakdown?

Venue (4 hour rental, includes a $500 refundable deposit): $1645.00

Security (We had to hire an off-duty cop for the venue.): $120

Marriage License: $107.00

City Fees (sound permit, alcohol permit): $38.00

Food,cups/napkins (Costco, regular supermarket, Mexican Bakery): $423.00

Sparkbooth (only 5-6 guests used this…I could have skipped it.): $55.00

Stereo speaker rental (we borrowed a few from friends too): $80.00

Vistaprint invitations w/postage(we emailed most people but sent out 60): $61.50

Photography ( $500.00

Decorations: flowers ( Costco ) Tablecloths ( TableclothsFactory ): $406.87

Dress (David’s Bridal): $444.99

Shoes/Veil (DSW Outlet and Claire’s Workshop ): $52.30

Church marriage prep: $350.00

Hair (The Root Salon)$65.00

Bouquet (made by a friend who does this as a small side business): $100.00

Rings (I used my grandmother’s but it needed a few prong repairs. I traded in some gold to help pay for that. We bought a stainless steel one onAmazon for Jay for the ceremony. He got a tattoo of his ring because he doesn’t like jewelry): $210.00

Hotel room for wedding night ( Sheraton Phoenix Downtown ): $112.00

Total: $4770.66

Free items: Cake/cupcakes, alcohol, tables/chairs were included with rental, extra help setting up was a gift from BIL’s girlfriend, Church fees were paid by my parents (because they wanted the church wedding), Coffee (there was a mix-up at the coffeeshop, so we got it for free!), and FIL paid for the rehearsal dinner.