Posts in the 'real wedding' Category

Real Wedding: Kate and Daniel’s From Australia to Kansas, Do-It-Our-Way Celebration

Guys, I’ve been absolutely dying to get the whole damn story on Kate and Daniel’s insane, beautiful, literary, uncertain wedding … and it’s finally here! Her amazing red dress, the f*ck it all attitude about how things “should” be, the anxiety of the whole visa and immigration process … it’s been a helluva journey, but now Kate and Daniel are married. And it was the shit. Congratulations, you two. It’s been a pleasure sharing your journey.

Real Wedding: Kate and Daniel's From Australia to Kansas, Do-It-Our-Way Celebration

Name: Kate Colby & Daniel Gullotta

Occupation: Administrative Assistant / Student

Wedding location: Casa Somerset Bed & Breakfast, Paola, KS

Wedding Date: Saturday, September 27, 2014

Budget: $10,000

How would you describe your wedding? Our wedding was untraditional, at least by our families’ standards, and rather intimate (under 50 people). We had a civil ceremony, which we wrote with the help of our friend, Kristin, who acted as our officiant.

Wedding party and officiant

What was your favorite part of your wedding? Our favorite part of our wedding was taking photographs. This sounds really shallow, but during the long distance, we were never able to be together and take photos – it’s not like we could snap a selfie after a movie date, after all. So being able to build a collection of photographs together was really special. Plus, because most of Daniel’s family and friends couldn’t attend the wedding, it was very important to us to have photographs to share with our overseas loved ones.


What did you splurge on? Our two big splurges were a “getaway car” and a hotel room. We could have stayed on site at Casa Somerset in one of their lovely rooms, but we decided that we wanted to have the night entirely to ourselves (given that friends and family were staying there as well). Of course, we didn’t need a car to take us to a hotel, either, but we didn’t think driving would be the smartest option, and I fell in love with a 1963 Cadillac limo.

What did you save on? Everything else! Honestly, we cut out pretty much every other extraneous expense or found cheap options for the aspects of our wedding we didn’t want to eliminate.

Buffet line


Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? The main thing we would have done differently is left the wedding earlier. That sounds bad, but we had a very small wedding and everyone outside of the wedding party, our parents, and four other guests left before the getaway car even arrived. I would have liked for more people to be there to see us off — and I know we both could have used the extra hour of sleep.

Also, we probably would have figured out how to spend less money. Even though we came in about $1,500 under budget, it still makes us queasy to think about how much we spent on one day (not to mention how much our parents contributed, again, for one day), and with the costs of long distance and immigration, it would be nice to have some of that back.


What was your biggest challenge in planning? Because of Daniel’s immigration, the timing and guest list were the most difficult aspects. Our wedding date was entirely dependent upon when Daniel’s K-1 Visa got approved by the U.S. Government, and we only had 90 days upon his immigration to get married. Therefore, we had to organize his move and the wedding very carefully in connection to each other. The guest list was also troublesome, because we did not have an honest picture of how many overseas loved ones would attend for a long time, and we chose to limit who we invited from my family to keep things small and more “fair.”

Ceremony in progress

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? I learned that I am a people-pleaser. In the end, the wedding came out well, but there was a time during the planning where I was worrying a lot more about what other people thought than what I actually wanted. To be honest, I was Team Courthouse for 98% of the planning. However, in the end, I figured out how to convey my needs and wants to everyone involved, and I was able to get my dream wedding.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

1. Our Ceremony: We were very proud that we were able to write and design our own ceremony. It was short and sweet and entirely true to us.

2. Food: The food was delicious! It was all handmade and locally grown (except for the pasta, which was flown in from Italy!).


3. Dancing: Despite some hesitation from my parents, I stuck to my guns and insisted my dad and I dance to “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas. I am so happy we got to share our song together, and it’s a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. Also, we made our own dinner and dancing playlists and were our own DJs, which was great.

4. People: We are lucky to be surrounded by some pretty exceptional people. Our officiant flew in from Pennsylvania for us, even though she’d only met us once in person. Our photographer agreed to shoot our wedding, even though she didn’t plan on doing weddings this year so she could focus on her writing. Our sound/tech guy also flew in from Seattle (again after only meeting us once) and offered to step into that role with no hesitation. We’re really lucky.

5. My Red Dress: I think the thing I am most proud of about our wedding is my red dress. To me, it served as the ultimate symbol of our wedding, the “we are doing this our way, and it’s going to be awesome” symbol. Plus, the white dress is the most iconic “traditional” wedding symbol, and it is also about the least “me” thing I can imagine. I’m very proud of myself for taking the risk and wearing my favorite color. I can’t even fathom what our wedding would have been like without my red dress.


Top 5 least favorite?

1. The Cost: Even though our wedding was cheap by average standards, it was really painful to spend so much money on one day. After how expensive the long distance was and the immigration still is, it was very hard to throw down money on one event (and while our parents’ help significantly softened our personal blow, we feel a bit guilty that they spent so much of their own money on one day, too).

2. The Timing: As I said before, we didn’t have much choice in the timing of our wedding. Immigration and other international factors dictated our wedding date, and if I could have done it on a different weekend, I would have in a heartbeat.

Centerpiece and favors

3. The Fuss: Everyone kept making such a big deal out of the wedding. I know it was “my special day” and all, but it was really annoying to have people constantly asking me about color schemes and decorations and other minutia (especially considering most of my answers were “We’re not doing that.”). Plus, there were some people who were fussing and making drama out of nothing on the day-of, which really irritated me.

4. The Missing Loved Ones: While we knew going in that it couldn’t happen, we were very sad not to be able to share our day with Daniel’s family and friends, and we would have loved for more Australians to be there.

5. Unexpected Guest List Changes: Perhaps the most unexpected thing about our entire wedding was that we had two guests decide not to come at the last minute (in favor of a barbeque) and two guests show up uninvited. Luckily, as you can see, they cancelled each other out and the total guest number remained the same.

Crowd shot

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? We didn’t really receive any bad advice. However, two things we did not like hearing were: A) Something will go wrong; and B) But you have to do [insert wedding tradition here]. Again, I don’t understand what all the fuss was about, but our wedding went off smoothly, and even the unexpected aspects were easily fixed or not worth fretting over. The wedding world needs to take a chill pill.

The best? The best advice we received was simply, “Enjoy the day, because it goes really fast.” We found this to be overwhelmingly true. At the end of the night, we were sitting in the Cadillac and drinking our champagne, and we just looked at each other and were like, “Wow! It’s all over!”

Getaway Car

Any other bits of wisdom? As I said in my previous post: question everything and be true to yourselves. For every decision you make, be sure you are making the decision that makes you happy — not the one that you feel you should make. Likewise, don’t worry about what your wedding should be. Make it exactly what you want. It’s your day, your guests won’t remember every detail, but you probably will.

Make sure you create the memories that you want to have.


Budget breakdown?

Venue rental & rooms for out-of-town guests: Casa Somerset Bed & Breakfast, $930

Food (Rehearsal dinner & 3 course buffet-style wedding dinner): Casa Somerset Bed & Breakfast: $2,200

Beverages: $300

Batman Cake and 9 Dozen Cupcakes: The Elm Bakery, $267.57

Cadillac Limo: Pech Limo, $318.50

Wedding Night Hotel, Chateau Avalon, $279.46

Photography, Lucky Photographer, $1,000

Video camera and accessories: Target, $528.94

Wedding Band: MoissaniteCo, $525

Wedding Dress: Daisy Bridal House on Etsy, $294

Alterations: Mona’s Alterations, $385

Bridal Accessories: $63.25

Bouquets (Bridal and three bridesmaids): PumpkinsandButtercups on Etsy, $186.50

Hairstyling (Bridal Party, Mothers, & Officiant): $260

Groom’s Suit: K&G Fashion Superstore, $200

Groom’s Accessories: $164

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas, $172.71

Guestbook: Barnes and Noble, $21.80

Decorations: $160.50

Speaker System: Audio Rent KC, $150

Wedding favors, Faithful Crafter on Etsy: $106.35

Total Cost: $8,513.58

Real Bride Katie: Planning for My Own Halloween Wedding

Hey everyone!

I’m so excited to report that things have gotten much better since my last post. The biggest and best news is that we set a date! We were getting very frustrated over the decision, which was really hard at a time of year when we’re both very busy anyway. I was even having stress dreams over it, and it is *WAY* too early in the planning process for that nonsense! We found out that the couple at the venue we wanted had confirmed their booking for 10/24, and my little sister informed us that she wouldn’t be able to attend on 10/31 either. Fed up, I made two mood boards, one for 11/7/15 and one for 10/10/15, and told Andrew to decide. He chose 10/10, and now the contract is dropped off and the deposit is paid (thanks to a lovely gift from his parents). What a load off!

Of course, 10/10 isn’t Halloween, but since our decorations are up well before October 1st every year, we’re usually deep into the spirit and we have no issues incorporating it into our wedding. We feel like it’s a win all around — we get Halloween inspired decor, no one expects to be in costume, no one has a trick-or-treat issues and all the must-have people can attend.

We decided with very little time to spare, too. Now, in addition to looking at things from the awesome post Christen made me, I get to shop Halloween clearance this weekend! Saturday will be the biggest day, because a lot of stores drop prices right away on 11/1. I’ll also be checking in throughout the week for items that are just on the Nice To Have list to get deep discounts. Here are my top 3 wants:

3. Non-Orange Pumpkins


Our colors will be a range of purples, grays, black and ivory. No orange allowed! But we still want to incorporate pumpkins. I will be looking for some like this one from Target to include. We will also probably get some real white pumpkins next year. {Psst! Katie! Check out these silver pumpkins – Eds.}

 2. Spiderweb Table Accents


Maybe not this one specifically, but lacy spiderweb table runners seem like the perfect accent for a Hallowedding table! These are also usually super reasonable, so it’s a great little decor boost with minimal budget impact.

1. Crow Lanterns


These lanterns are my number one goal for the whole trip. The orange backing is removable, so I plan to replace it with purple and have the bridesmaids carry these down the aisle instead of traditional bouquets (though I will probably have the florist embellish them a little bit). I’m a little worried because the closest Target to me is already sold out, but one of the great things about living in the city where Target is headquartered is that we’re even more saturated than everywhere else! I’ll search the whole metro if I have to!

What’s on your Halloween shopping list?

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce’s Romantic and Rainy North Carolina Nuptials

 It’s been nearly two months since contributor Elizabeth married Bryce on a rainy day in Greensboro, N.C., and they partied down in a Gatsby-looking fashion on a $7K budget. Today, Elizabeth is back to share the details, Real Wedding-style.

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

Name: Elizabeth & Bryce

Occupation: I work for study abroad at Duke University

Wedding location: Greensboro, NC

Wedding Date: August 9th, 2014

Budget: $7,000-ish

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

How would you describe your wedding: It was somewhat traditional (married by a pastor) but also had non-traditional elements (groomsladies, no garter toss or cake, uneven wedding party, non-traditional vows)

What was your favorite part of your wedding? Besides the actual getting married part, the décor was amazing. The space was transformed into a floral-Gatsby-dream.

What did you splurge on? Photographer — and after getting my pictures back it was SO worth it!

What did you save on? Flowers. We spent $350 on farmers market flowers and used them for bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and decorations

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have listened to my fiancé more, because I didn’t really realize until closer to the wedding how much he wanted to be involved. He was really great about letting me have my “vision,” but I realized he was a lot more hands-on than a “typical” groom.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? I was really good at the big picture things but absolutely horrible at the small details and making decisions. This drove my now-husband crazy, as he is VERY detail-oriented.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Pick your battles, and try to keep the goal (getting married) in sight.

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

– I got married to my wonderful husband!!!!

– Seeing all my friends and family together

– The venue/decorations were amazing

– Our photographer took us on a walk downtown after the ceremony and that’s where we got the best pictures

– Our pastor made our ceremony super personal. He asked our bridal party questions about us as a couple prior to the wedding and used what they said in the ceremony.

Top 5 least favorite?

– It was pouring rain the morning of — trying to transport all the girls without getting our hair wet was a challenge!

-I couldn’t find my headpiece until an hour before the ceremony

– I can’t think of anything else!

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I don’t think we really got any bad advice.

The best? Our pastor emphasized that it would be really easy to “float” through the wedding day, since it’s so chaotic and busy and overwhelming. I thought of that several times throughout the day and consciously reminded myself to be in the moment.

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

Any other bits of wisdom? Do pre-marital counseling! We had an awesome inter-faith minister who really knew what she was doing, and talked us through communication tactics, finances, and a whole bunch more stuff that I would have never even thought of. She gave us such a great foundation and lots of things to think about and work on for a successful marriage. Even though she’s in Minnesota, she said we can Skype her any time if we ever need a session.

We did a “first look” and I loved it. It really alleviated a lot of nerves and it was nice to have some time together before the ceremony to just chill out. Plus, the pictures are fantastic!

Also, I recognized my strengths and weaknesses in the wedding planning game. I hired my friend to come down and do all the decorating and day-of coordinating. In all honesty, I could not have done it without her, and it would have not looked nearly as fabulous as it did without Jenny. She has the creativity and eye for detail that I don’t have, and at the end of the night, people were asking for her card!

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

Budget breakdown?* (These are all very approximate)

Pre-Marital Counseling: Amy Reisenberg: $300

Officiant: Jimmy Renslow: $300

Photographer: Jon Black Photography: $2,500

Venue: Carolina Theatre, Greensboro, NC $1,000 total, $700 for rental of lobby for ceremony and $300 for rental of the room where the reception was.

Catering: Stamey’s BBQ: $1,200 for BBQ for 100 –cole slaw, hushpuppies, baked beans, sweet tea, and peach cobbler.

Planner (friend): $400 for plane ticket

Alcohol: Total Wine: $400 (wine and beer)

Clothing: Dress, $400 Accessories and alterations: $300 Tux Rental: $200

Cake and macarons: Simply Scrumptious Bakery $327

Flowers: Greensboro Farmers Market: $350

DJ: Jason Barnes: $575 for music during ceremony until about 11:00 p.m.

Hair: Missy Gosset, Studio 4022, $30

Makeup: Chakaras Salon: $75

Decorations: $500

Save the dates: $200

Invites: $0 (gift from my aunt)

Real Wedding: Elizabeth & Bryce's Traditional, Romantic North Carolina Nuptials

Congratulations, Elizabeth and Bryce! We’ve enjoyed having you share your planning stories with us! xoxo

Real Wedding: Ashley and Curtis’ Unique Farm Wedding

Ashley and Curtis’ sweet Minnesota wedding was put together with a lot of time, energy, effort and love. While the bride and groom did not set a budget (!!), they managed to pull off a great party and amazing wedding under around $18,000. While rain threatened to put a damper on their big day, the skies cleared up, the roads dried up and the party got started!

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Name: Curtis and Ashley Cauley

Occupation: City Planner

Wedding Location: Carver, Minnesota

Wedding date: June 21, 2014

Budget: Curtis and I decided early on that we would not set a hard-fast budget. Rather, we would diligently research every decision to be sure that we were getting the most value for every dollar we spent. For us, this didn’t mean that we were picking the cheapest vendor. Rather, we considered how the price compared to other options and whether we would be satisfied with what we got for the price we paid. Most of the time, this meant we didn’t go with the cheapest option. {After some needling, Ashley threw out $15K- $18K as their final tally – Eds.}

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How would you describe your wedding:  This will likely be the easiest question for me to answer. Our wedding was simply OURS. Growing up and getting married in a smaller town leaves you without a lot of options to make the wedding as unique as you are as a couple. Around here, more often than not people have their receptions at a golf course and serve chicken dinners. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but we wanted something different.

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After several disappointments with reception halls, a family friend offered us their farm. This was an opportunity for us to make the wedding unique and basically gave us a blank slate to work with. This opportunity allowed us to pick the vendors we wanted instead of a list of four or five vendors “allowed” to cater to each venue.

Our wedding theme was inspired by an invitation at a wedding fair and Curtis’ family farm. Our classy peacock and rustic wheat theme was perfect for us!

There so many things that we did to make our wedding OURS:

  • Commemorating those who have passed before us. My mother passed away six years ago after a yearlong courageous battle against breast cancer. Then tragically we lost Curtis’ dad two years ago unexpectedly. We decided that we would pick something to commemorate our parents. For my mom, I included two pictures of my mother on her wedding day. One of which was my grandparents walking her down the aisle. This was extra special because they walked me down the aisle. Before Curtis’ dad passed away, he passed down a pocket watch that had been passed down in the family for four generations. It only made sense that he would carry the watch in memory of him.

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  • Unity tree. Rather than doing a unity sand or candle ceremony, we branched out and had a unity tree celebration. During the ceremony we followed our wedding party in watering the tree that is now planted in the yard. The tree was also a beautiful décor piece in the church.
  • Ceremony song choices. Thankfully our pastor was open to letting us select our own ceremony music. We weren’t looking for anything “crazy” but wanted music that was special to us. Truthfully I think in the beginning I overlooked how challenging finding our ceremony music would be until I started trying to find music. Curtis and I decided a long time ago that I would walk down the aisle to Look at You Girl  by Chris LeDoux.

We ended up finding a string rendition of Stand by Me that we were both absolutely in love with. After hearing it there was not a doubt this was the song for our wedding party to walk into the church to. The issue was we couldn’t download the song since it was a preview for a string quartet that plays at weddings. We couldn’t find anything that beautiful and we tried to reach out to them. After a few attempts, I got a response saying they weren’t even sure if they had a copy of it and other copies were located across the county. However, after some chatting and some research on their end they emailed us a copy at no cost.

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The rest of the music just fell into place. My cousin sang a Miley Cyrus song. Yes, Miley Cyrus. (When I look at You.)

  • Invitations and programs. Over the course of several days, Curtis and I spent probably 12 hours looking through pages and pages of wedding invitations online. We couldn’t find something that we were in love with, and we weren’t willing to spend $4 an invitation. After coming up empty-handed, I decided I would spend a few hours designing our own to see what I could come up with. If we didn’t like it, it was only two more hours wasted on invitations.

I used designed a tri-fold invitation which included several of our engagement photos. They turned out beautiful. Then the only challenge was where to print them at a reasonable price. I called around and found that our local newspaper could print them. They printed them for 50 cents each including an envelope.

To save even more money, rather than doing RSVP cards which never get sent back, we set up a Wedding Wire account. Through the account people could RSVP electronically. The website was completely customizable and allowed us to include additional wedding information such as maps, hotel information, song requests and time lines.


I also decided to take on our wedding programs. I fashioned them like a magazine and included more engagement photos. The programs included so much more information than a typical program. We were able to include our menu, a reception to-do list, paper airplanes, our story, a heart-felt thank you and information on our wedding party.

  • Paper airplanes. I hated the idea of doing bubbles or sparklers for when we walked out of the church. I almost skipped the idea entirely but then last minute decided it would be fun to do paper airplanes. It was perfect since we are waiting to take our honeymoon to Europe. So the airplane included the following poem:

The last two years have been busy and have kept us on the run.

Therefore, we’ll wait two years to have some honeymoon fun.

That’s right folks, we are waiting until our second anniversary

to enjoy Europe’s territory

Use this paper to fold a plane and set it aside,

Then let ‘er fly when the newlyweds walk outside.

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  • Cake and pie To say that I love cake would be a complete understatement. In fact, I could easily have eaten our entire three-tier wedding cake myself. Curtis, on the other hand, is not a fan. He loves pie, especially fruit pies. When it came to figuring out what we wanted, we decided to do both. People from our church volunteered to make homemade pies, which was perfect. In fact, I believe more slices of pie went than cake.
  • Pups. We have a mini and a toy Australian shepherd. They are our babies and we spoil them rotten. It would have been completely wrong for them to not be at the reception to celebrate with us. They wore matching bowties and enjoyed the reception right alongside our guests.
  • First dance. Curtis and I did not want to do the traditional stay-and-sway for our first dance but were not looking to break out to Baby Got Back. We settled on taking some dance lessons and showcased our new moves to (I had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing. No, we did not do or practice the infamous lift.

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  • Shoe Game. I shamelessly stole this idea from Pinterest. To avoid knowing what the questions were I printed off several renditions and sent them directly to our DJ. This game was absolutely hilarious and gave our guests a look into our relationship with a ton of laughs. Facing back-to-back, each of us had one of our own shoes and one of the other’s shoes. When asked a question, we answered by raising the shoe of the one who was more likely to do or exhibit that behavior. Some of the questions were serious like “who is the first to say sorry” and “who is the most stubborn” but ranged all the way to “who wears the pants in the relationship” and “who runs the TV remote.” The guests said the best part of the game was watching our faces as we answered.
  • Reception. Having our reception outdoors, we had so much space to do whatever we wanted. We included a hayride for our guests from their cars (which were parked a nearby farm). Dinner was under tents. We wanted our guests to have something to do even if they didn’t like to dance. So, we had yard games (including lifesize Jenga); a campfire and s’mores; picnic tables outside; and a photo wall with endless props. We found that our guests stayed way longer than at other weddings. It think it was largely in part because there were things to do for those who didn’t want to shake their groove things. The last song played at 1:15 in the morning and we still had over 50 people at the farm –30 of which were dancing.


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What was your favorite part of your wedding? Is it cliché if I say everything? Because I mean it, the day was absolutely perfect. The wedding was personal and so full of love. Our wedding is still being talked about as being the Wedding of the Year. I think it was all the small details that made the biggest impact.

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What did you splurge on? What did you save on? I can’t really answer these questions, since we just researched and were happy with all our financial decisions.

Was there anything you would have done differently? Had you asked me a month ago I would have said started my pictures earlier. But since then we got our pictures back and there are way more than I thought there was going to be. So nothing.

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What was your biggest challenge in planning?The biggest challenge was knowing when and where to start. I felt pretty lost during the whole process. Many women have their mother to help and guide them or at the very least to turn to advice or a good cry. We had no idea how much a wedding could or should cost. I got over this by religiously using my wedding planner. I buy one for each and every one of my friends who gets engaged.

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

  • Have a “get stuff done” day. A friend held a couple days where she invited us over, gave us some wine and had us work on wedding projects. She highly recommended I try it out to get stuff done. I had one day where 15 people came over to help. We polished off a lot of wine but they got projects done so fast I was literally pulling more out to do. In one afternoon they managed to get more done than I had in the last year of crafting.
  • Learn to say noWeddings equate to everyone wants to sell you their services. It’s actually exhausting to listen to people try to sell you their stuff. I’m such a softie that I have the hardest time saying no to people. Finally I had to learn what it means to say no, I’m not interested.

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  • Something will go wrong. Everyone tells you that something will go wrong but the day of everyone seems to forget that. I had been telling myself for months that I was going to stop worrying about wedding stuff at 9 a.m. on my wedding day. Best thing I could have done. I let go of my schedule, let go of my tedious type A planning and lived in the moment. I have no idea if anything truly went wrong. I was too busy enjoying the day. 
  • Dare to be different. Our wedding was unlike any of the ones held around us and it was perfect. The day was unique and filled with love. Don’t just use something because it’s the only option. Find your option.


What were your top 5 favorite things?

Top 5 least favorite? This question is really hard to answer, since I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything went perfectly, so much so that I’d be afraid to do it over again in fear it wouldn’t go so well the second time.

So, I’ll fill this section with a major challenge. Two days before our wedding we got 10 ½ inches of rain in 24 hours. Almost every road was either washed out or flooded, houses were flooding and there was literally water everywhere. Rumor has it that our town of 5,000 made the world news. Thursday was supposed to be our set-up day leaving Friday for the relaxing day to finish up details and get our nails done. Obviously the rain made us change our plans.

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Thankfully, everyone was accommodating and we were able to change our Friday appointments to Thursday when it was pouring. Looking out the window as the day passed made the reality of how much water we were getting set in.

Our church and reception site were only ½ mile apart on a gravel road. Before we went to bed on Thursday, the road between the church and the reception site washed out. I put a message on Facebook asking friends who had some free time to come help us make up for lost time.

By Friday morning, the county was fixing the small township road (someone must have put in a good word) and 20 people were in the yard with one tent already assembled and a kitchen crew was slicing pies. It was enough to make me cry, it was so overwhelming as we were so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.

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I only had one moment where I broke down and cried for 20 seconds. I am a Type-A planner who had a floor plan for all the tables, candy bar, cake table, DJ stand and food to fit under the tent. Well with all the rain we couldn’t use my plan anymore. I had to walk away for a minute before I realized how silly I it was. This was my wedding, and there was no way I was going to let something so silly get in the way of so much hard work, excitement and planning. In what I was planning to take a day and a half took about seven hours because so many people came to help. People say it takes a village to raise a baby, but I think it also takes a village to pull off a wedding.

This may leave you wondering how things turned out. Our wedding was the only wedding in a string of seven where it didn’t rain. Most of the yard dried out and most of the roads were at least partially opened in time for the wedding,hich was fantastic since we had so many travelers. We had representatives from 12 states joining us. Other than a few well-placed sheets of plywood no one would have known we had just had so much rain.

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What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “The details don’t matter.” I think that everyone talks about in the grand scheme of things, no one will know that it was supposed to be there or it was missing. It’s probably true but when the details are there, people talk. Dare I say it … we had Port-A-Potties for restrooms at our wedding. We placed a pop-up tent in front of the bathrooms, hung lanterns, stocked baskets with tons of grooming items, hung mirrors and rented hand-washing stations. I am not kidding … people talked about how awesome our bathrooms were.

We spent a lot of time draping the ceiling with lights and tulle. While it wouldn’t have mattered, it looked spectacular at night. I also hung large pieces of fabric at the shed entrance with a “best day ever” sign. People dubbed the wedding the “Best Day Ever” and would not stop talking about how awesome the shed looked.  

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The best? The best advice I got was to use the WedPics app. It’s an app that allows your guests to upload all of the photos they took in one space. Then people can look, download and print the photos right from the app. We ended up getting over 400 photos through the app and helped us be patient while we waiting for our professional photos. It was so fun to go look through the photos the next day and see all the smiling faces of our friends. Also, some of our friends took some photos that our photographer missed.

Any other bits of wisdom? This is so long I think I covered just about everything. Ha.

View More:
West Union Lutheran Church, Carver, MN | Wedding Dress: The Wedding Shoppe, St. Paul, MN | Tuxes: Tuxes by Theresa, Belle Plaine, MN | Venue: Family friend’s farm | Rental company: G&K Rental, New Prague, MN | DJ: Showtime Entertainment, River Falls, WI | Florist: Corey Ann Allen Designs, New Prague, MN | Photographer: Katie Maier Photography, Belle Plaine, MN | Videographer: Kaj Kjellesvig, Friend, Hopkins, MN | Cake: The Cake House, Glencoe, MN | Caterer: Dangerfields, Shakopee, MN | Hair and make-up: The Hair Saloon, Belle Plaine, MN

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.