Posts in the 'real weddings' Category
Names: Peach and Jersey
Occupation: IT geeks
Wedding location: Little Gardens
Wedding Date: October 19, 2014
Budget: $15,000 – $20,000
How would you describe your wedding: We had an intimate, simple, outdoor garden wedding with a rockin’ party afterward. The ceremony was short and sweet, spiritual but fun, and we wrote our own vows. Afterward, everyone enjoyed cocktails, dinner and a fun party.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? The exit! Our venue didn’t allow anything thrown or flaming (like sparklers), so we provided our guests with party horns and glowstick necklaces. When Jersey and I were standing inside waiting for everyone to finish assembling outside, our ears were met with the most glorious, raucous, synchronized HONK-HONK-HONK-ing of the party horns! It was so funny and happy and celebratory that our faces just lit up with joy.
What did you splurge on? His suit. But we felt strongly that a perfectly tailored Armani suit is something that he can wear for YEARS to come … unlike me and my wedding dress. We don’t regret it a bit.
What did you save on? Many things!
- We opted to not have favors. Instead, my mom and dad graciously handled our out-of-town welcome bags, bless them!
- My dress — I budgeted about $2000.00, but found mine for $800.00!
- Programs — my Maid of Honor designed the gorgeous things, then called in a favor for printing them. (Rumor has it that our little 100-count program printing halted the work the printers were doing on the latest major Clinique ads. NBD.)
- We didn’t do name cards per person, but used a collage picture frame to list out each table’s people. (And saved a damn tree.)
- I printed out table numbers for free from Pinterest on card stock and used the venue’s included table clips to hold them.
- We double-purposed the bridesmaid bouquets as our table centerpieces.
- I also wasn’t afraid to bargain or offer to pay in full up front for a percent discount, which easily saved us at least a thousand.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Uhhh, yeah. I wrote an entire separate post about our blown budget. Go read this post for more details. But in short, I wish I’d known then what I know now: read the fine print, plan for the unexpected, ask more questions than you think are necessary and do not, DO NOT, pay one cent more for anything than you think you should.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? The guest list and RSVPs. With such big families on both sides, it was tough to choose only 100 to invite. And when about 10 people who RSVP’ed yes didn’t show up on our big day, it was such a letdown … It meant that we could have asked 10 *other* people who we really wanted there to come! Planning a wedding 100% showed me the importance of the RSVP.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? You can only control what you can control. Do your best to think through all the details, ask questions and don’t apologize for it. But when the big day arrives, LET IT GO. Things will go wrong, but your only job on your day is to be there and be happy and marry your person. Let everyone else freak out about the curveballs! Also, wine is a requirement when wedding planning. For realz.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- Seeing him standing there, waiting for me, while my dad walked me down the aisle. It made it all worth it.
- Having so many loved ones, from all over the US, in one place on that day just for us. Warm fuzzies galore.
- Dancing with my Dad.
- That we made our wedding day unique to our wants.
- I’m finally Mrs. Jersey!!!
Top 5 least favorite?
- Hands down, I hated feeling like I was under a microscope with everyone on the wedding weekend. “Are you okay?” “Are you sure you’re okay??” “You seem nervous.” Stop looking at me, swan.
- The day went so fast!!! We did manage to thank everyone personally, but it was all a beautiful blur.
- RSVPs: We hated having to hound people to tell us if they were coming. Nothing makes you feel more lame than inviting someone and they can’t be bothered with responding to you. Plus the no-shows, just grrrr.
- I wish there had been more time to spend with our out of town guests. We did our best, but it was still difficult.
- It’s a little thing, but I only got one bite of our wedding cake that day! My sweet tooth may have cried a little.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? I wouldn’t say I had any bad advice from anyone. However, there were more than a few well-meaning but quite obvious and/or obnoxious suggestions. But I was all: Yo. I got this.
The best? On the wedding day, take it all in. Look around and mentally note all the details, the people, the love in the room and enjoy it. We did, as much as we could.
Any other bits of wisdom? Yes!
- Brides and grooms: take 15-30 minutes the morning of your wedding day and just gather yourself. It helped me a bunch to have some quiet time to reflect, calm my mind and prepare my control-freak self to let go of the planning mentality.
- If you find you and your partner are covering much of the costs of your wedding (as we did), a long engagement will help tremendously. We were able to spread out the payments and time them so that we didn’t go into debt. And same goes for parents, too.
- Budget for the bridal party gifts.It adds up quickly, no matter how much you try to DIY or Etsy the hell out of it.
Venue: $13,000.00 *included: ceremony and reception space, seating, decor, linens, all florals, food/drink, cake, lighting, wedding planner and day-of coordinator
Dress + alterations: Enzoani Beautiful, $1040.00
Veil and bling belt: $250.00
His suit: Armani, with dress shirt and tailoring: $2400.00
Pearl necklace, my great-grandmother’s: Gifted
Cuff bracelet and earrings: 150.00
Badgley Mischka flats: $60.00
Photography by Lee Patterson (engagement session + day of, digital-only package): $1800.00
Videography: WeddingMix, $650.00
Save the Date Magnets: MagnetStreet $180.00 ← ordered waaaaay too many. Rookie mistake!
Rehearsal dinner invites: MagnetStreet $50.00
Thank You cards: MagnetStreet $72.00
Invitations: MagnetStreet $568.00
Guest Book: Shutterfly self-made $72.00
Wedding bands: $2300.00
Bridal party and parent gifts: $1000.00
Hair/makeup: $500.00 — with trials for both and the day-of, both onsite
Hotel suite, 3 nights: FREE – they were comp’ed for us due to a glitch with our hotel block!
Rehearsal Dinner: $450.00, but FREE – We paid for it ourselves with gift cards we’d received since the engagement, so $0.00!
Actual Total: $25,441.00
List of all vendors.
Venue: Little Gardens, Lawrenceville, GA
Photography: Lee Patterson
DJ: Lethal Rhythms
Officiant: Jeremiah O’Keefe-West
Hair: Joseph’s Salon, Lawrenceville, GA
Makeup: Andrea Carter
Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn, NE Atlanta
Dress: Ivory Bridal & Formal, Smyrna, GA
Suit: Saks Fifth Avenue, Atlanta, GA
Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Jim N’ Nicks BBQ
Names: Tiffany & Justin
Occupation: Educational Writer & Video Game Designer
Wedding location: Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens, San Diego California
Wedding Date: October 11, 2014
Budget: Well, here’s the thing. My kindly generous parents didn’t give us a solid figure to work with, but I wanted to be reasonable and arbitrarily chose $15,000. And then when we really got into things I realized that would be impossible in SoCal and pushed it to $18,000. Which as you will see was totally busted.
How would you describe your wedding? An intimate, nontraditional wedding with sophisticated brewery and geeky touches. A close friend was our officiant. She wrote our ceremony and we wrote our own vows. We wanted it to be an intimate party with our closest friends and family members, so we kept the guest list to about 100 (we ended up with 91 guests, which was perfect). Our decor was simple, yet vibrant and complemented the beautiful brewery space perfectly.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? Can I say all the things? Because ALL THE THINGS. More specifically, our first look. Our vows. And after the ceremony when we hid behind the building among the extra chairs and tables to have some quiet time together before our big entrance. It even took the wedding coordinators a while to find us, which they eventually did and brought us more beer and appetizers.
What did you splurge on? Photography, and we are so glad that we did. Also, a designer/day-of coordinator. She was especially helpful decorating the space and keeping me in line decor-wise.
What did you save on? We cut down a lot on flowers, mainly leaving out the family flowers. We also opted to not have favors and we haven’t yet heard complaints about that from anyone! We like to think that our open bar was a pretty darn good favor.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Justin says he wishes he would’ve eaten more mac ‘n’ cheese. I agree. I also think I would have communicated with our vendors a bit more, and been a bit more picky. MORE? Yes, more. Looking back there are some photos I missed (with our officiant, duh). I was very passive with my hairstylist and even with the florist. I was very much in the frame of mind that some things weren’t a big deal, and while they didn’t break the day they certainly caught my eye in photos.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Accepting that wedding-related things are ungodly expensive, and also patience. And of course, the guest list. While I am happy with the choices we made, I am not happy with the chatter I have heard about from those that weren’t invited. Maybe I should’ve made our intentions more clear. Or maybe people should just get over themselves. EITHER WAY. The guest list was a challenge, but in the end those who made the cut continue to show us how important they are in our lives.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? You cannot, and will not please everyone. But at the end of it all, the only thing that really matters is how much happiness your choices make you and your husband.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
Our vows, even though it was an incredible struggle to get through them without completely sobbing.
Our ceremony overall. It was funny and emotional and so memorable.
Seeing our friends and family partying together.
The venue, and how gorgeous it turned out with our decorative choices. And did I say the beer?
Top 5 least favorite?
Justin spilled beer on his shoe (see what happens when you ask for input?). I wasn’t even aware of this, but my dress was filthy.
Not eating enough mac ‘n’ cheese (again, thank you for the input, Husband of mine)
Getting too drunk before photobooth time. Whoops.
I ended up barefoot because no one could find my shoes.
The anxiety and unnecessary drama and worries leading up to it all.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
A tour guide on our honeymoon told us not to talk about finances after 5 pm. The logistics of that are just impossible, but we did understand her point. She also spoke to birds … so … you know …
Besides the basics (don’t be a douche, don’t go to bed angry, marriage is work … etc. etc.) we haven’t really heard too much. I think people realize we got this thing down pretty good!
Any other bits of wisdom?
One of your bridesmaids should have eyelash glue on hand, always. More importantly, if something matters to you, don’t let people tell you it shouldn’t. Or that it is wrong. Or inappropriate. Details mattered to me. Jewelry mattered to me. Our ceremony mattered to us. This day is for you and your husband, and the memories you want to create and remember forever. I think we did a darn good job of making our wedding unapologetically, 100% us. And it was awesome.
Venue (Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens. Includes all food, open bar, cake, dj, all linens, and ceremony setup): $14,350
Photographer + photobooth (Next to Me Studios): $3200
Coordinator (Events by Elisa): $1600
Flowers (Seven Stems): $975
Grooms Attire (Friar Tux): $200
Invitations + Save-the-dates: $600
Other Decor: $200
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).
The adorable Raechel and Joel are the perfect example of a couple who used their wit, creativity, and awesome friends to rock their budget-savvy sensibilities to the max, and have themselves a “cheap wedding” that was in no way cheap looking.
To start with, just look at their insanely creative save the date video. (Caution: be prepared to fall in love)
Ok, so while you’re wiping the drool off your keyboard, let me hit you with this mindboggler: these two cuties threw a wedding fully funded by themselves for only eight thousand dollars. $8,000, people!
Raechel works in visual sales at Anthropologie and worked her store discount for her hair piece and earrings, and she picked up her dress from J. Crew, which she ordered online at Christmas time to capitalize on the seasonal discounts… What a smarty pants! Her bridesmaids were asked to find dresses inspired by champagne colors, and they ended up ranging in budget from $30 to just under $150…. while the groomsmen and the groom all wore mixy-matchy vintage inspired suits.
Raechel and Joel knew that they wanted to splurge on their venue so they reserved a good chunk of their budget for the art gallery where the reception was held. Their evening reception featured drinks and desserts only, the couple saved a pretty penny on catering that way.
Now get this: They actually bought all of the desserts at Costco, which was a big money saver and thanks to Raechel’s creative arranging skills, you can hardly tell they’re store bought! Another one of crafty secrets? All of the wedding decor was from Raechel’s favorite hunting spot, “Wanda’s,” an old grocery store which converted to a thrift store in the ’80s. She scored loads of old crates, silver platters, wooden hat boxes, and milkglass vases for around $50 buckaroos. Talk about getting bang for your buck!
They went the friendor route by buying all of their flowers wholesale and enlisting the help of a buddy who loves doing floral arrangements. The bouquets were tied together and finished off with some vintage champagne lace that Raechel scored at a thrift store for super cheap, and they looked like the bomb diggity. Getting your florals wholesale is a very simple fix if you’re a broke-ass DIY bride.
Our favorite part? Raechel’s words hit deep in our hearts when explaining the day: their wedding was much more of a community event than a random mix of vendors. Every one of her friends were an essential part of something special by helping the wedding come together. Raechel and Joel sure know how to pick ‘em!
So what have we learned from Raechel and Joel? Work at a cool clothing store simply for discounts, have friends who are photographers, culinary experts, and floral lovers, and live off of desserts and sweet treats only! Just kidding, but trusting in your own creativity and leaning on your loving and crafty friends is a lesson from which we can all benefit!
How are you using your friends and family to make your big day special? Are you decorating the space yourself? Are wholesale flowers calling your name? Let us know and send us some wedding porn of your own for us to drool over!
Oh, how naive I was to think I could cruise through these 8 months of wedding planning without any drama. And, much to my surprise, all this drama came from the groom’s side! You don’t hear that very often, do you?
Made with PicMonkey
Back in December when we got engaged, Bryce’s best friend from childhood, Ron, was back in their hometown of Greensboro. Ron has lived in Amsterdam as an artist for the past few years. Bryce asked Ron to be his best man almost immediately after they got engaged, and Ron accepted with no hesitation. He seemed genuinely excited to be a part of my day, and I was happy.
A couple months after our initial engagement, Bryce and I set out to get the tuxes sorted. Bryce got in touch with all the groomsmen and told them what they needed to do. We told Ron to just send us his measurements as I am pretty sure there aren’t any Men’s Wearhouses in Amsterdam. No response. Several other Facebook, Whatsapp and emails ensued. No response. Finally, in the midst of bachelor party planning, Ron’s brother Dan (who is also in the wedding and was planning the entire bachelor party) mentioned to Bryce that no one in the family had heard anything from Ron as well.
This baffled me. Ron was very active on Facebook and Instagram, and nothing indicated that he was in trouble or that anything was wrong. Bryce and Dan were trying to get in touch with him, asking if he was still planning on coming over for the wedding. Eventually, I messaged him on Instagram, saying that it would really mean a lot to Bryce if he would let us know either way so we could make further arrangements. No response.
Finally, less than two months before the wedding, Ron finally messaged Bryce and told him he couldn’t afford to fly out for the wedding in August.
Now, if anyone can understand about not being able to afford being in a wedding, it’s me. It has never been easy or convenient for me to be in weddings, and if I can’t do it, I tell that person ASAP. If he would have told me way back in December, “Hey, I don’t know if it’s feasible for me to fly over for the wedding,” I would have totally understood, and tried to come up with a way to get him here. He’s my fiance’s best friends, and if I had to contribute money towards his ticket, I would have had no problem saving some extra money for that. However, less than two months before the wedding … I just can’t make it work.
While I have since cooled down over this incident, I was pretty enraged at first. Like, who does that? I live in the Midwest, I get that kind of passive aggressive bullshit every day. It drives me crazy! Not to mention I was angry for my fiance. I was angry that he didn’t seem that bothered. Apparently, this is “Typical Ron” and “not unexpected.” How is that an acceptable excuse? How is this a good friend? F that.
However, my sister pointed out that if Bryce really, truly was not that bothered by it (which, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t), why should I waste negativity on it? I just had to take a deep breath, let it go, and focus on the positive parts of the wedding. I’m getting married in a month, that’s more than enough to make me smile!
Have any of you BABs had a bridal party member disappear from the radar? How’d you deal with it?
You’ve all read my past entries here at The Broke-Ass Bride, from the gnarly to the mushy. But today, I thought I’d weigh in as a Real Bride with the Pros and Cons of being an “older” bride. Yes, I am tackling a hot-button topic here at The Broke-Ass Bride. But before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, let me come out and say that I am 36 years old. I’ve never been married before. I have no kids. No pets. And only two long-term relationships ever (late bloomer, hi). Sorry, I don’t know y’all well enough to give you my “number.” The groom is also 36, never married, no kids, no pets. There. Now you have the facts about us.
According to TheKnot’s 2013 Wedding Statistics Release from March, the average marrying ages are: Bride, 29; Groom, 31.
I know I am hardly alone in my current situation of being a 36-year-old bride, especially as more and more career-driven women actively choose to wait for marriage and kids until later in life. But the reason I waited for marriage is simple: I wanted to be 100% sure.
If I’d met someone at the age of 21 and had known beyond a shadow of a doubt that *this* was it, I would have not hesitated to say “yes” to a proposal. But that wasn’t my journey. It took me a long time to fall in love. Then out of love with that person. And then in love with the person I am marrying. And even then, I waited years to be sure.
Now? I am ecstatic to be a bride, even at my so-called “advanced age” <– read that with an eye-roll, please. Or put me in the geriatric ward. So here we go …
Freedom: My mid-twenties and early thirties allowed me the chance to travel and explore. I checked off some major must-dos from the Mighty Peach Life List, like hugging sequoia trees and revisiting London. I was unattached and stable enough to roam this earth as I wanted. And despite some lonely times in there when I
cried constantly longed for my person, I do look back with gratitude and awe at the opportunities I had and accepted wholeheartedly. But this is not to say that my adventures have ended simply because I’m engaged! I still have a Life List to complete, after all. But now I’ll have a partner who encourages me to always go for my dreams (and someone to prevent me from having to take so many selfies!).
Life List #29 – Hug a Sequoia. ~Yosemite, July 2013
Life List #43 – Revisit London with the BFF. ~November 2013 *bonus for the self-photo-bomb.
No family pressure: Normally this would go under the Cons, but my family was 99.75% awesome about not pressuring me about getting married or producing another grandchild for them. And after I got engaged, they were super amazing about NOT saying the dreaded “it’s about time”s or “we thought it would NEVER happen.” Instead, they simply said, “We knew you were waiting for the right one.” In actuality, I was waiting for the one that would give me a marriage most like theirs: 41 years strong and filled with laughter, joy and love. I am truly a lucky woman.
Self-confidence and awareness: I cannot speak for anyone else out there, but personally I am grateful that I’ve had these past 10+ years to grow into the person that I am today. I’ve had my share of heartbreaks, yes. But I’ve also learned some difficult life lessons and endured some crappy, crappy things on my own — and those experiences have made me stronger. They gave me a self-assurance that I am capable of not just powering through life’s hard times, but that I can thrive on my own as well. Some say that you receive back what you project out into the world. I truly believe that I found my love at the time of my life when my light was shining the brightest. There is a power in that.
Financial freedom: In a bridal world where the average costs are hitting nearly $30,000.00 on average*, we all know how stressful finances can be with weddings. Given our ages, and thereby years of experience and salary increases, my fiance and I are self-sufficient enough that we are not solely relying on the help of our parents. If our parents weren’t able to contribute at all, we could get by with covering all the costs ourselves. Lucky for us though, our parents are able to gift us a generous amount and alleviate much of the stress.
Enduring YEARS of the question from people: “So when are you getting married?” Let’s just say I have a special place in my heart for “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” It was my lifeline.
On the same lines, now that I’m engaged, “What took you so long to get married?” Ugh. Just ugh.
Enduring YEARS of the statement from people: “You know the clock is ticking, right? Your ovaries only produce a set amount of eggs in your lifetime.” As if I wasn’t already stressing this fact enough. And now I’m going to go face-eat a pint of Häagen-Dazs.
Our wedding well-wishes are sure to be riddled with those quotes above that my family was kind enough to avoid, along with continued nudging about having children like, tomorrow. I just hope I can keep a semi-smile plastered on my face while I soldier through it. Because it would sure be a shame to get blood on my wedding dress (kidding!). Or maybe I’ll just tell them we’re already planning on sextuplets in vitro and watch their jaws hit the floor. Hmmm …
In closing, it would seem that there are more pros than cons about being an “older bride”!
What did I miss? I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on being an older bride. Cool? Not cool? Doesn’t matter? Leave me some love.
You guys have a copy of our book, “The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide,” right? Right. That’s what I thought. (If you don’t, get thee to Amazon and snag it, yo!) Since you have it, and you’ve read it cover to cover, you surely are familiar with the Sample Budgets from Real Brides section (p. 194-223) that illustrate in words how these amazing couples pulled off their big day with the budgets they had to work with. And that’s all well and good to have the words, but what do those weddings actually look like? Oh, well. That’s where I’ve got your back, homedizz. Many of the weddings had been featured on The Broke-Ass Bride prior to the book’s release, but I’mma go ahead and bring that sexy back. So, every once in a while, we’ll have a BAB Throwback, featuring a wedding or post that visually coincides with the words in the guide. Pickin’ up what I’m throwing down? Let’s get it going with Dana and Sheldon’s amazing celebration, featured on page 201 of the book! – Christen
Are you ready for a glorious Southern DIY wedding? Many many thanks goes to Dana from the deliciously fun blog, Crafty Minx. This is her and her love’s absolutely whimsical wedding with so many crafty details that will tickle your fancy. Without further ado, read on!
Our wedding was an outdoor wedding at my parents’ ranch in Indianola, Oklahoma. We invited around 150 people and there were about 130 guests at the wedding. We decided to go with what we had for seating and talked my dad into baling enough hay for the wedding. The quilts were collected from both sides of our families and some friends. It was so special having so many family heirlooms be a part of our big day. I also talked my dad into letting us use some of his trees to make stumps for the aisle runners.
The whole wedding was a DIY extravaganza. I made everything; all of our stationery (save the dates, invitations, thank you cards), the center pieces, buntings, (cup)cake toppers, my dress, our bridesmaids’ dresses, boutonnières, guest book love notes, our photobooth, button favors and packaging, an activity table and handmade coloring books for the kids and the napkins. My dad and the men in our family built our dance floor, cut logs for aisle runners, made rustic wedding signs to have in a few places on the highway to lead to the wedding, and turned my parents’ ranch into a beautiful place for a wedding. A family friend made all of our flower arrangements for us. The week of the wedding was insane with everyone we know helping out with some kind of project.
We chose to try and spend the least amount possible and still have an amazing wedding because we didn’t understand why weddings are so expensive. Why spend $50,000 or more on one day? We saw this as a challenge and I think we succeeded. All of our guests said it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to and I believe that is because we put having fun and thinking of our guests in front of spending money and thinking of ourselves.
We didn’t really “splurge” anywhere, but there were a few things that we had to buy and not make ourselves. We rented a few items that we needed and hired an affordable professional photographer. We chose to serve a full meal and have drinks, which were probably the most expensive parts of the wedding, but doing it ourselves saved a lot of money. We also bought as many things as we could for our wedding party as a thank you to them for all of the help they provided us preparing for the wedding.
We had a fairly casual wedding so we decided to have Oklahoma comfort food: Smoked brisket and chicken, mac and cheese, baked beans, and coleslaw. We also had a BBQ sauce fountain, which was very popular with our guests. There was a cupcake buffet with 7 flavors of cupcakes and pecan pie (my husband’s favorite). Our family made all of the food: My dad smoked all the meat the day before the wedding and our moms and aunts made everything else. I even helped frost cupcakes the day before the wedding. For drinks, we had tea and lemonade, two kegs of beer, two cases of wine and a couple of bottles of Champagne for the wedding party.
My absolute favorite moment was leaving the reception after the speeches and dances and taking pictures at sundown with my new husband. Having 30 minutes away from everything was perfection. This was the photographer’s idea and I will love her forever for it.
When asked what they would have done differently, if anything? Dana responded, “Since I didn’t have a wedding planner, all of my ideas and timelines were in my head. I would have written down more of my plans for the actual day of and shared even more with my friends than I did so they wouldn’t have been stressing about getting everything right.”
Dana’s advice for those in wedding planning mode right now:
A wedding is just one day in your life and you probably won’t remember most of it, so don’t stress out if something doesn’t go right. Your guests won’t realize something is out of place if you don’t make a big deal about it. Have fun and enjoy the day that you put so much work into!
Google documents is your friend! I used it for the guest lists and keeping track of our budget. I shared the docs with my fiancé, best friend and mother so we could have access to them at any time and update them as needed. It kept me from having to worry about sending updated information and doing everything myself. If my mom wanted me to invite someone, she would add them to the list.
We spent about $6,000 total.
The following items were free!:
- Venue – Having a beautiful location for the ceremony really cut decoration costs too.
- Tent – A friend of the family, the owner of a local car dealership, loaned us the tent for the reception.
- Officiant – A mutual friend, she did an amazing job!
- Tables – Borrowed from my mom’s church
- Back up location in case of rain– Mom’s church, thankfully we didn’t have to use it, but we were so glad we had it just in case and it was less than 3 minutes away from the wedding location.
- Seating at the ceremony – Since the ceremony and reception were in two different parts of the ranch, we used the rented chairs at the reception and opted for hay bales from my dad’s ranch covered in vintage quilts for the ceremony.
Congratulations again to Dana and Sheldon! Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful day with us. Thanks also go to Juniper Photography for all the images. An incredibly amazing job of capturing the day of love!
Lydia from Ever Ours
Your “I dos” are a moment of gravitas, a quiet but weighty culmination of your decision to spend your lives together. In honor of their serious decision to make this commitment, Destry and Lanny decided on a similarly intimate wedding ceremony and reception: 40 invited guests, immediate family and the closest of friends. By this decision, they were able to spend more time with the community that has watched them sow the seeds of their relationship, helped them nurture it, and witnessed it flourish.
Names: Destry & Lanny
Occupations: Destry is a design drafter, Lanny was an administrator for a private travel company but currently attends business school full-time
Wedding location: Kingston, Idaho
Wedding date: July 27, 2013
Wedding budget: My crazyperson spreadsheet tells me our final total was $4,300-ish. We didn’t give ourselves a hard maximum. Instead, we decided to spend by priority. Neither of us gave two hoots about centerpieces or expensive favors; instead we cared about food and photos and got INCREDIBLY lucky on both counts. While we spent a lot less than the national average, we still feel like we spent an enormous amount of money for one day.
Approximate guest count: We limited our invited guests to 40, but counted on 35 attending for sure. We only invited our immediate family members and very close friends. Destry is the oldest of five, so you can imagine that it adds up quickly.
How would you describe your wedding? At the risk of sounding cliché and ridiculous, I’d describe it as a balance of country, rustic and vintage. We kept it subtle though. We didn’t want guests to feel like we were beating them over the head with kitschy crap. We didn’t have time or energy to invest in kitschy crap either.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s really hard to choose one favorite. I would say that driving from our hotel to the venue together was so special and important to me. We both had a chance to be alone together, in our own car, just being together, quietly. Because we knew it was going to be such an emotional day, that short drive was so important to both of us.
We were lucky to have an equally-meaningful moment alone at the end of the night after everyone had left. The sky was inky black with bright stars and the barn was lit up with twinkling lights woven throughout the Virginia creeper that covered its entire frame; we stood silently at the top of the hill wrapped in a blanket, looking down upon the scenery and reflected on the deluge of pure love we’d experienced that day.
What did you splurge on? Without a doubt, the food and furniture were our most costly expenses. Our wedding was held over 60 miles from our home in Spokane. So, we felt it was important that we provide a really solid meal to our nearest and dearest if we were going to drag them to a mountain farm in the middle of the woods. Have you ever been to a wedding on a Saturday at 6:30 pm, only to find that it’s a cake and punch reception in the church gym/basement/lobby? Those are basically the worst (in my opinion) and we were against that at all costs.
Additionally, we really scored with a venue that embodied everything we hoped for and wanted to provide some aesthetic continuity by using furniture that didn’t clash. We found an up-and-coming furniture rental company out of North Idaho who provided some stunning pieces for us.
Also, I know it’s silly, but I totally went all out with my hair as well. I was pretty close with my hairdresser at that time, but after her two previous attempts at formal styles left me crying in the car we decided to go another direction. My hair is fairly long, but I wanted it longer for the wedding, so she offered to pick me up some extensions with her discount and color them to match my hair. After several unanswered texts and voicemails left me feeling like a jealous ex-girlfriend, I bought the hair myself and scheduled an appointment with someone else. I ended up spending a small fortune on the whole ordeal, but it felt worth it: $200 for the hair, $70 to color it, $50 for the trial and $100 for the wedding day style. (I feel compelled to note that I’m still pissed that I spent as much as I did on the day of the wedding because the salon’s active price list shows the trial hair as included in the total price.)
So, what became of my former stylist? Well, I finally heard from her three days before the wedding letting me know that she had blocked out the entire day and we could go get hair, color and style it starting at 9 AM. A note about that – the wedding took place on a Saturday, and the hair extension shop isn’t open on weekends, so despite the sketchy billing practices, I am glad I opted out.
What did you save on? Ev-er-y thing. We saved by doing our own flower arrangements – actually, we didn’t use flowers at all. We bought raw cotton online and put everything together. The allergic reaction was totally worth it. Picture, if you will, my then-fiancé and I in our non-air-conditioned kitchen, trimming and cleaning raw cotton bolls. We spent countless hours picking dried leaves out of the cotton so we could spend ADDITIONAL countless hours stringing each one just-so on jute twine and arranging them into our respective bouquet and boutonniere.
I had intended to splurge a little and treat myself to a morning of girly pampering, however that never materialized. I scheduled a makeup trial a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I didn’t feel that this woman was listening to me. I’m 30, and I don’t think it’s in my best interest to try out a new personal style on my wedding day. I’m old enough to understand what looks good and what works for me. Since I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl, you can imagine how hard it was to mask my disappointment when she revealed my potential makeup. Winged eyeliner and I are never going to be best friends, nor do I have aspirations of acquainting myself with berry lip-stain. Adding insult to injury, I paid $75 (after tipping, because I’m a doormat) for a look I couldn’t wait to wash off my face.
Ultimately, I didn’t feel that she was especially honest or talented so I lied and canceled my appointment about a week before the wedding, citing something about the cost being budget-prohibitive. The (supposedly) agreed-upon rate was $100 for both sessions, but I had already effectively paid the bulk of it after listening to her talk shit about everyone else in town while she applied makeup that didn’t match me or my coloring. After the rage-tears subsided, I went to Nordstrom (alone) and met with the only kind of makeup artist I can trust with utmost confidence – a gay man. I showed him a photo and he whipped my look into shape, directing me to all the right products and showed me how to recreate his work at home. I hugged him, and practiced nearly a dozen times before the wedding and I’m thrilled with my choice to do my own.
The piece-de-resistance, though, were our photographers. We happened to have two very close friends who are, not only incredibly talented, but provided their services for free. Without their generosity, as every bride knows, we would have EASILY doubled our expenses.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Looking back, I would have asked more people to help. We would have had a little more fun during the planning stages if we’d allowed more folks help us out from the beginning. Instead, we stubbornly refused offers for help until much closer to the wedding date. That cotton-stringing party I mentioned above? Ultimately, my in-laws came to the rescue with four additional hands for stringing.
I can’t quite remember why we were so secretive about planning, but I suspect part of it had to do with a bizarre idea that someone might steal our ideas? Weddings make people crazy. Like, crazy-crazy.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? 1.) Hurt feelings. If I had known beforehand, how personally other people would take our wedding choices, we might have eloped. We received unsolicited suggestions, advice, and requests for invitations for people we’d never conceive of including in our celebration. It was an ongoing challenge of (and testament to) our patience, kindness, and ability to tolerate other people.
2.) Money. It would be so much easier to throw everything on a credit card, but that’s not our style for anything we do in life. We felt incredibly fortunate to have been in such a position that allowed us to do everything we needed and wanted to do on our own terms. Still, having more money might have abbreviated our timeline considerably but we don’t regret any of it.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a contingency plan. ALWAYS. For good measure, have three or four backups. We picked out a favorite restaurant to host our rehearsal dinner and made reservations to hold the date (I can’t remember if we paid a fee or not). A month before our wedding, my best friend drove up from Portland, Oregon for a bridal shower hosted by my mother-in-law and I had hoped to take her to dinner there … as we were walking up to the building, it dawned on me that they weren’t just not open, they were closed. Like, for good.
Obviously, we ate elsewhere, but I was determined to keep from getting ruffled by the situation. Later in the week, my fiancé and I ate at another restaurant that had recently undergone a major renovation and appeared to be a great place to host our rehearsal – so we booked it on the spot.
By sheer bad luck, we were forced to resume our search on June 17 (about a month before our wedding) because our second choice BURNED DOWN. I crowdsourced suggestions on Facebook and had friends beg me to stop ruining Spokane with our wedding. It was about this point that I stopped giving a shit about it but it turned out to be better than I ever could’ve imagined. A family-owned bar/café where we spend Saturday nights playing trivia stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam (those are the same sport, right?) with how they handled our dinner. We told them how much we could spend, the headcount, and offered a vague suggestion of the kind of food we liked. It was such a success that our families are still raving about it to this day.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? It was a day full of love and laughter and ridiculously delicious food. Because we chose to invite literally nobody outside our immediate families and our closest friends it made the day so ridiculously special, I still struggle to elucidate my feelings.
Top 5 least favorite? We had a lot of people offer to help or provide something (mostly food) and we were far more comfortable hiring people to do that job for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) sanitation. Remember, if you will, the comment above where I mention that the venue and our hometown are sixty miles apart – now imagine chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and basically mayonnaise-based anything in someone’s back seat for nigh on two hours. Sounds like fun, right? Sorry to let the booster club down, but I’m not trying to battle diarrhea on my wedding night. For the sake of feelings, let’s just say it’s because I want everyone to have a good time and avoid being unfairly labeled bridezilla, okay?
One of my photographers is married to a former marine and bodyguard. Why on earth is that even remotely of consequence? Because my husband’s ex-girlfriend (one he’d broken up with before we even met; IN 2002.) has a super-adorable habit of making her presence known. Neither of us expected anything especially dramatic, but he studied photos as a precaution and kept her out of sight when she did, in fact, show up.
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “Just relax! It’ll all come together” – Everyone who ever planned a wedding but experienced a subsequently immediate Telenovela-style bout with amnesia. Nothing ever just “comes together” and anyone who suggests otherwise probably didn’t have a DIY wedding if you know what I mean. Are you fucking kidding me? RELAX? I am relaxed (sort of), but I am still allowed to give like, ONE shit about how this day goes down. Will I remember all of it, not likely; but I don’t expect to.
The best? From my older sister, more than ten years ago: “Wedding planning is so stupid. It is literally the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.” Having done it, I can confirm that she’s right. The wedding itself wasn’t stupid, but the kinds of things that consumed my thoughts throughout the planning process were so cosmically insignificant; but they felt so god damned essential in the moment.
Second best was between my husband and me – it became kind of a mantra between the two of us: “This is our party; our wedding is not our marriage.”
Any other bits of wisdom? Just Relaaaaax! Okay, I’m kidding … kind of. It’s easy to get upset and overwhelmed when people overstep boundaries, but standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do when you’re planning your wedding. I desperately wish I had just told a few vendors to piss off directly instead of skirting the issue as if their feelings were supposed to take precedent above mine. I wish I had been more assertive and direct when people acted in a way that made me feel like they were taking advantage of an emotionally charged event. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. (Except write some passive-aggressive Yelp! reviews.)
Oh, and don’t you dare listen to anyone who has the nerve to tell you that you must spend more or else your wedding won’t be “everything you ever dreamed of.” Your wedding will be everything you dreamed of because you’re marrying someone you love. Anyone who suggests otherwise is presumptuous, snide and condescending.
Wedding vendors and links:
Venue: French Gulch Farm and Garden, Kingston, ID
Furniture Rental: The Attic, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Catering: Couple of Chefs, Spokane, WA
Bride’s Makeup: BRIDE!
Flowers, bouquet and decor: Bride and Groom designed all decor using dried wildflowers and cotton purchased online. Tabletop arrangements were styled by Groom’s brother and sister in law. (Bride made bouquet, Groom made his own boutonniere)
Rings: Bride (same ring, except blue) Groom
DJ: iTunes, operated by Groom’s brother
Invitations: Designed Online, Printed at Home (We purchased the full suite; including save the dates, thank you cards, and custom map)
Photographers: Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)
Today we have quite a treat for you, BABs … it’s our beloved Real Bride/BAB Editorial Assistant Extraordinaire MELLZAH’s wedding! (She’s chosen to use her formal name here, but trust me, it’s her.) If you’ve read her DIY/real talk-centric “Real Bride” columns, you already know that Mellzah and her man Jason were faced with the arduous task of keeping it Broke-Ass in the pricey Seattle metro area. Of course, they met the challenge with mad aplomb, and turned their wedding into a glamorous, sci-fi themed, Friday the 13th pizza party that none will soon forget! We love you, Mellz!
Names: Jason and Melissa Bolton
Occupations: Jason, software engineer; Melissa, editorial assistant at Broke-Ass Bride, propmaker, furniture refinisher, and internet wiseass
Wedding location: The Antheia Ballroom, Snohomish, Washington
Wedding date: September 13, 2013 — Friday the 13th!
Wedding budget: Approx $11,000–we’d planned for $10,00, but little things add up and there’s ALWAYS something else. Toward the end, we just started flinging money at things in an “I DON’T CARE, JUST GET IT DONE” manner and also in a “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had _____?” manner. Neither are recommended if you want to save money!
Approximate guest count: 90–we’d planned for 100 but had some no-shows.
How would you describe your wedding? Glowing outer space lovefest dance party! Before the wedding, we called it our “beer and pizza party” because talking about a beer and pizza party is way less stressful than talking about a wedding. Also, we were serving beer and pizza so it seemed appropriate.
What was your favorite part of your wedding? Our first dance. Not because we danced particularly well, but it was probably the only time all day we got for just the two of us until the wedding itself was over…and then we basically passed out after taking care of our dog. Also, the song we picked was perfect.
What did you splurge on? The venue, the food, the flowers, and my dress.
What did you save on? Just about everything else! We got super lucky and won several things: our wedding photography from the amazingly awesome Brilliant Imagery (Hire her! DO IT NOW!), sparkling wine for our toast from Veuve Ambal, and Jason’s wedding band from Ben Bridge. We also ended up getting our photobooth from BrideRush at about half price! Most everything that we could do ourselves, we DID do ourselves.
Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have gotten a venue that let us party later into the evening–we had to have the music off at 10:30 and be out by 11:30, which makes for a short evening when the wedding itself is at 6:30. I think if I had looked at the contract more closely, we would have selected somewhere else based on that alone.
What was your biggest challenge in planning? Honestly, dealing with all of the influx of wedding stuff on all sides, owing to my job here. I was constantly surrounded by weddings and it made me second-guess everything. Was it “me” enough? Did it look fancy enough? Did it have enough impact? Could we spend a little more and get something better? About six months into planning, I changed EVERYTHING save the venue, which we’d already booked. The colors, the look, everything, wasting some money and leaving some projects in the lurch. It turned out for the best as the wedding ultimately reflected us both better for it instead of being inspired by something I oohed over in a magazine, but it was a frustrating time.
What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Make time for the things that are most important to you–I was insistent upon having group photos taken in Seattle prior to the wedding, and those are some of my absolute favorite shots. It made for a long day but it was absolutely worth it.
What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?
- Seeing everything we worked on for the past year and a half come to life. Up until that point, they were just individual projects. Once they were all together, it was breathtaking.
- The ceremony and especially our vows. The friend who introduced us acted as our officiant, our friends and family shouted “SO SAY WE ALL” as part of the ceremony, and Jason’s vows were terribly sweet.
- I got to be with many of my favorite people in the world all at once–we may never all gather in one place again, so it was truly special.
- The dance party! The dance floor was never empty, and having everyone fling their hands up while singing along to Macklemore is a moment I’ll never forget.
- Our Seattle photo shoot–I only wish the Iron Throne had still been at the Experience Music Project so we could get a picture of House Bolton on the throne! Our house sigil wouldn’t be a flayed man, though, it would be the laughing/crying masks. House words? “Strange, that’s never happened before.”
Top 5 least favorite?
- Not having enough time with the guests–one friend I hadn’t seen in 13 years happened to be in the States from Australia and was able to make it to the wedding. I wish I could have spent more time with her, I wish I could have spent more time with everyone.
- Remember how I was quite certain I didn’t want kids at the wedding? I backed down for the family children and the only baby there fussed through our entire wedding vows. You literally can only hear the baby squealing on our wedding video. I still get livid when I think about it, which I don’t think is unreasonable, given that we spent upwards of eleven thousand dollars to have this party, the whole point of which is the vows. Stick to your guns, people! STICK TO YOUR GUNS.
- The caterer was extremely late, which pushed back our reception, which cut even MORE time out of the dance party.
- Like I said before, the venue made us shut off the music at 10:30 sharp when the dance floor was still full.
- Someone was super late and arrived mid ceremony, talking loudly on their cell phone. To this day, I have no idea who this person was, and it’s probably better that I don’t, because seriously, who does that?!
What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
“Everything will fall into place.” Malarky. If I hadn’t planned and prepared meticulously and had an amazing day of coordinator to handle everything at the venue, things would have fallen apart rapidly. Everything will fall into place is the motto of the naive.
“Do not touch your phone the day of the wedding!” Aside from getting in touch with a friend to escort us up the Space Needle, I was so glad to be able to NOT run point on other people’s questions when I had enough to do as it was.
If you’ve been married for more than a year, what have been some challenges?
Even being engaged has its challenges. Over the course of our engagement, we bought a house, we were at odds about wedding details, we had to learn to discuss money with one another and we had to learn how to compromise.
Any other bits of wisdom?
If you can build it, and the process of building it doesn’t drive you mad, then you SHOULD build it. I loved having our hands in just about every pie as it made our wedding unique. We made our wedding website, I made our matching save the dates, our invitations, our centerpieces, our Battlestar Galactica dog tag escort cards. I spent hours creating the perfect ipod playlist and tinkering with levels so the volume would be consistent from one song to the next. I wrote our ceremony, we wrote our own vows, I made my hairpiece and our table numbers, we made our own wedding wine, I made our programs, our cake topper, and our napkin rings. We also made some of our photobooth props, and a custom photostrip background. We even assembled our own favors! I could literally bore you to death with photos of every detail we worked on, step by step, from my hairclip to every page of our wedding program. (I want to carry a copy of it around with me and show it to strangers, THAT’S how good I think it is! Would you like to see it? I’ll show you! I’ll show you everything!) That said, your wedding isn’t a competition and you shouldn’t feel badly if others do more than you–at first I was eyeballing doing our own catering and I am SO GRATEFUL that we decided against it because I know I would have spent the majority of the wedding in the kitchen despite my best intentions.
Also, while I’m happy I let my bridesmaids pick out the style dress they preferred, it took over six months for said dresses to be made and shipped–the store insists that it’s because they were different styles, and while I think it’s more likely that they forgot to put in our order for a while, it’s worth mentioning in case it is true and you’re running short on time.
Also also, instead of hiring a limo, we rented a giant SUV that we could haul everyone around in for the day. Not only was it easier than trying to coordinate with yet another vendor, but we absolutely would not have been able to haul everything to and from the venue without it, since we needed to cart in EVERYTHING, from linens to beverages (Three kinds of wine! Two kegs of beer! Sparkling cider! Sparkling juice beverages! Oh, our aching backs!)
Also also also, enter every single contest you see that could possibly apply to you, no matter how slim you think the odds may be. We saved over $4500 by getting lucky three times. (Psst, I make sure to include every contest I find in The Broke-Ass Bride Newsletter. Sayin’.)
Decor and Flowers: $2000
My Dress and Accessories: $1600
Groom’s Outfit: Free
Bridesmaids dresses: ~$200 per bridesmaid; they bought their own dresses.
Groomsmen Outfit: ~$200 per groomsman, we provided the ties.
Hair: $300 for the wedding party
DJ: Free, we used an ipod on the venue’s sound system
Invitations and Stationary: $200
Photographer: The photography itself was free as we won a contest, we paid $700 in travel expenses.
Aaand let’s just assume we spent at least another $500 on other assorted things, because I’m not good at tracking receipts.
Photographer: Brilliant Imagery by Rachel Anne Garcia
Venue: The Antheia Ballroom
Flowers: Flowers by Tiffany
Cellist: Alex Ho
Food: Pompeii Woodfired Pizza
Beer: Mac & Jacks African Amber & Serengeti Wheat
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Bari Jay
Bride’s rings: Greenlake Jewelry Works
Groom’s ring: Ben Bridge
Wedding Cupcakes & Cutting cake: New York Cupcakes
Photobooth: ShutterSpeed Photobooth
Linens: Purchased from ClothConnection Outlet
Macaron favors: Mon Amie Bakery
Groomsmen’s ties: CyberOptix Tie Lab
Groomsmen’s tuxes: Jos A Bank
Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page, and let us know what’s up!
Our current plan is for my fiance and me to have a local celebration party with friends and my family, and a destination wedding with his much larger family.
The hitch with the local celebration is that he and his friends are Muslim. My fiance is also a nurse and so he absolutely has no time or patience for drunken antics. My friends and family, on the other hand, are largely not of the faith, some of them are raucous Uni students, and they expect to be drinking.
I know that having a bar that runs dry is a definite no-no, but I was wondering what the etiquette is for an alcohol-free event, if such a thing is possible? The last time such a prospect was raised it was met with derisive laughter.
Where’s the Party?
I’ve never coordinated a wedding where alcohol wasn’t served at all, but I can certainly think of a few examples where that would happen: Couple isn’t old enough to drink; an alcoholic getting married; the wedding of a close family member of an alcoholic; and, of course, if there are religious restrictions. But it sounds like you’re going to get more flack than it’s worth, if there’s nuthin’ to drink. So, why don’t we talk about limiting the bar as opposed to nixing it. What about any of these or a doing a combo of:
- Sticking to just beer and wine, no hard alcohol. Two choices, both of which take a while to get lit off of. Even better if you can decide how many glasses or bottles get served.
- Forgoing a 5-6 hour party. Do a long dinner instead … 2-3 hours? Three to four? Less time for drinking, and to get out of control drunk.
- Keeping the bar open for a shorter period of time. Three hours as opposed to four? Two hours as opposed to three? Figure out how long you want your party to be, and make the “last call” for the bar a couple of hours before that. Sodas, water and coffee are the only drinks available once alcohol service is over.
- Having a Cash bar. I don’t really like this one, because it doesn’t go over very well, and it’s not particularly hospitable. That’s my personal opinion, but still. You could convert the bar into a cash bar after last call for the hosted bar, but be prepared for grumbling. It is what it is.
The other thing to remember is that your fiance is aware of how your friends and family are, how they behave, and what they will expect. It’s one night, you’re hosting a party. He and his friends don’t have to drink if they don’t want to. You should definitely discuss the options with him, though, and see which ones he’s the most comfortable with. Go with those.
Anyone else out there with the same issues? Or are you not serving alcohol at your wedding? Tell me below! And, if you want to find out a little more about me and my part of wedding world, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,