Posts in the 'Travel' Category

Five for Friday: Extras to Pack for Your Beach Honeymoon

Affiliate Disclosure Statement

Unless you’ve been hiding under a social media rock — which, amen, sister! — you might have picked up that I’m in Puerto Vallarta checking out some of the amazing places to stay and things to do if you come here for your honeymoon or destination wedding. And y’all, stay tuned because I’ve got so much fun stuffs for you! But, first, I thought I’d share some of the little extras that have made my trip here a little more seamless just because I remembered to throw these bad boys in my bag.

Swim Spray

Swim Spray, $11.95

This stuff is like the miracle cure for pool and ocean junkies like myself. Especially blond pool and ocean junkies like myself. It helps repair and protect your precious tresses against the caca in chlorine and the sea.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser

Downy Wrinkle Releaser (travel size) $1.40

Those purdy dresses will look way less awesome if they’re full of wrinkles. This shit will help without having to bust out the cumbersome iron sitch in your hotel room.


Never Hungover, $17.94 for 6

You know what sucks? Feeling like shit any morning of your honeymoon. But when you’re on your honeymoon, there’s no reason for you to not throw back a few or indulge in some serious tequila tasting. Never Hungover helps ease that pain by making a pre-emptive strike.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.28.25 AM

ID-ON Stor, $18

Stash your room key and a credit card in your phone case and leave the rest of your stuff in the safe. You’re going to want to bust your phone to take pics, but you don’t need everything else all of the time.
Hollywood Deodorant WipesHollywood Deodorant Wipes, $7.20 for 5

I don’t know about y’all but this bitch is sweaty. And I get SUPER self-concious about it, so I always try to be sure to have some deodorant thing around. These are especially fab if you’re going from swimming to sight-seeing and dinner without much time in between.

What are your go-to items for your vacations? Tell me in the comments below!


BAB Throwback: How to Make the Most of Being a Broke-Ass Wedding Guest

I wrote this little ditty two years ago, but it’s just as valid now as it was then (though my life has changed considerably). Weddings are expensive for everyone involved, and I feel like I’ve been hearing some extra griping across the Internetz about the inconvenience from a guest POV. So, let’s sit back and get our week going with these tips on how to do wedding guesting, Broke-Ass style.

BAB Throwback How to Make the Most of Being a Broke-Ass Wedding Guest.jpg

Made with PicMonkey
Not everyone can be a baller like Metro kitty.

We all know being a Broke-Ass Bride is about being wise with your green and making sure it’s spent in the right places and with the right people. But what about when you’re a guest at a broke-ass (or not) wedding and you’re still a broke-ass? Unlike when planning your own wedding, being a guest isn’t necessarily at the constant forefront of your mind, occupying all of your money- and sanity-related thoughts. Your life is no longer engulfed by the “OHEMGEEZ how are we going to afford to feed/inebriate/entertain everyone we know and love AND get my hurr did AND pay for alterations AND make sure our friends know how much we appreciate them with gifts AND … AND … AND … ” Well, you know.

But being a broke-ass wedding guest can still have its panic-inducing, curl-up-in-a-ball kind of moments. I’m attending a wedding June 16 in Louisville, Ky. It is one of two I was invited to this summer, and the other I had to respectfully turn down because, well wouldn’t ya know it, it was on the exact same day. It was really difficult for me to say no because the bride was one of the first roommates Husbandface and I had together when we began cohabitating. But the one I eagerly said ABSO-FREAKIN’-LUTELY to is one of my nearest and dearests. In fact, she was in our wedding and her mama has been like my own for many many moons.

But! Louisville is pretty far from my little neck of the woods. And since off-season hit Husbandface and I like a fastball right to the schnozz (sorry, it’s also baseball season), things got pretty tight around here in a hurry. With him getting laid off until his new job starts in June and me working full-time, but for a newspaper — which, as an industry, tend to be notorious for mediocre wages — I knew I had to be uber wise about how I spent my cash, money, yo. But there was no way in a blazing inferno I would let my lack of flow hinder my only vacation this year and my chance to hang with my girls.

In December, I thought things would be peachy-keen. I bought a baller new dress (on sale, from ModCloth) and began browsing some swank digs to lay my head for the week. Then April hit and KABLOOEY! I still have the dress, but can no longer pony up for the luxe life.

As luck would have it, I’m traveling with the bride’s mama. And she is super spending-savvy. First we camped out on … you name it, to find the absolute cheapest airfare. Things were looking to bottom out around $500. Then, as if with a stroke of luck, the bride herself came through with the best news of all: She had vouchers from her and her fiance’s chaos-riddled journey to get to my own wedding. So, with the vouchers and a 5-hour drive to get to the nearest big airport, the round-trip tickets for both of us only cost $120. WHEW.

Next up was the hotel issue. Obviously, we wanted to stay at the hotel closest to the venue, which is the one where the block had been booked *YOU GUYS. If you don’t already know this, pay attention: Blocks often times cost money for the couple. But, if they can fill the block, they are not only saving you money (in some cases, like when we got married, HALF OFF), but sometimes they’ll even get a room for a night out of it. So really, it behooves ALL THE PEOPLE to take advantage of the couple’s legwork in setting these up.* However, it was a bit pricey to hole up there for the total of 10 days we were going to be there. So, we scoured the area for good deals. But Louisville is BIG. And we weren’t renting a car, thus we’d be relying on the bus system. And *Ta Da*!!! The bride’s Maid of Humor/Sisterface stepped in and offered up her crib AND her know-how of the city’s public transport.  So, Sisterface and I are bunking down at the aforementioned hotel for two nights surrounding the wedding, and I get to play roommate with two of my fave ladies in the world for the rest of the week.

Now, I only have to scrimp and save for food, booze and other accouterments (have I mentioned it’s baseball season? Because I’m TOTES checking out the Louisville Slugger factory).

Now, I know that not everyone will luck out quite in the way I did, but between my destination wedding and attending this wedding (the first one ever I’ve had to travel for without my parents), I think I’ve racked up some tips for you:

– Camp out on travel sites. Sign up for fare-alert emails, check back daily (if not twice!) and check out surrounding airports. The town I live in is generally at least an extra $200 to fly in/out of. One an hour and a half away knocks anywhere from $50 to $150 off that price. The one we’re flying out of? It’s a fairly big airport, so it’s super cheap to fly into another major airport. The drive makes the savings worth it.

– Take advantage of hotel blocks. Even if it’s just for a night or two around the wedding. After a fantastic event, it’s so nice to go somewhere close, maybe a little more upscale than what you would normally book, and bask in the glow of what you just experienced. Chances are you’re getting a killer deal, won’t have to deal with too much in the way of transportation to and from and will most likely run into fellow revelers for nightcaps or morning coffee. You’re also helping the newlyweds out.

– Take a chance and bunk up with a fellow single traveler. You could split the cost of the room and any taxis/shuttles you take during the week. And you could make a lifelong new friend. Also, by offering this, you could be alleviating any possible whining to the bride/groom/family that may be taking place. And everyone knows a happy couple means a rockin’ event.

What are some ways you’ve found to make travel, especially traveling for weddings, a little less painful on the purse?


Partner Love: Yes, You Can! Bliss Honeymoons Eases Your Woes Over Honeymoon Registries

Hiya, Broke-Asses! Our wonderful partner Bliss Honeymoons is back, and this time they’re easing your worries about how to pay for your honeymoon. If, like many couples, you and your love have shacked up together before your nuptials and just can’t fathom how another toaster or blender will fit into your living situation, then take a deep breath and check out how easy and awesome it is to register for that amazing post-wedding experience: your honeymoon! 

If there is one challenge that almost all engaged couples share, it’s where to come up with the funds to pay for their honeymoon. And while nine out of ten couples would love to ask for money for their honeymoon, finding a tactful way to ask for cash is hard! Fortunately this problem can now be a thing of the past, thanks to a honeymoon registry.

Let’s face it… weddings can drain your bank account faster than you can say “I do”. Many couples have considered postponing their honeymoon because they just can’t see how they can afford it. Your honeymoon registry offers tactful way for you to ask for money from your wedding guests, and its fun for the guests too!

Once you’ve nailed down the details of your dream honeymoon, your honeymoon planner can set up an account for the two of you. Your registry can be customized to your honeymoon destination with items like spa treatments, golf, zip lining, an upgraded room, etc. You’ll be provided with a link to your share with your family and friends, so they can easily jump online and make a contribution to your honeymoon registry.

Your guests will love it because they can purchase a wonderful gift with just a few clicks of the mouse with no boxes to ship and nothing to gift wrap. They can even leave you a message telling you what they’ve purchased and offering their best wishes for your fun in the sun.

The gifts in your registry are not physically purchased or set up. You’ll receive the gifts in the form of a check from the registry company. It’s secure, easy for you and your guests, and a sure-fire way to get you and your honey where you want to go.

Let’s face it-we’ve all given gifts that we suspected might end up being re-gifted. Great honeymoon memories are always a welcome gift. Your guests will be honored to be a part of the memories that you’ll have for a lifetime.

There are several ways to ensure your guest feel like a part of it all. Once you return post pictures of your trip and of the two of you enjoying some of the activities on you registry. Or, send postcard “Thank You notes” from your location. Unlike a gravy boat, a honeymoon gift creates memories you can share.

{Partner Love} Bliss Honeymoons Gives You The Lowdown On The Ins & Outs Of Travel Pricing

This is the first post in a series written by our amazing partners over at Bliss Honeymoons, who specialize in planning seriously amazeballs honeymoons and destination weddings for people with even teensy-tinsy budgets.

How does travel pricing really work?

If you’ve spent any time at all trying to plan a trip online, you probably know how confusing travel pricing can be. There are hundreds of websites all claiming to have some special offer or lower price than you can get anywhere else. And there are literally as many myths about travel pricing as there are people selling travel. So today what I would like to do is dispel some of the myths, and give you the scoop on how travel pricing really works.

Myth#1-Using a travel agent means I am going to pay more than I would if I booked it myself:

Fact- While it may be true that some travel agents do charge fees or mark up the prices; for the most part the price you get from your travel agent should be the same as the pricing that you find online on the hotel’s or airline’s site. Agencies also have relationships with preferred suppliers which may give them access to specials and promotions that you may not be able to find on online sites. Just last week we saved a client over $800.00 just by being able to give him a free upgrade certificate we received from a hotel’s sales rep.

Good to know-most hotels guarantee they won’t offer a lower price on their site than an agency is able to secure.

Myth #2: I can get discounts online that I can’t get from an agent:

Fact: Many hotels and cruise lines have a very strict no discounting policy because they want all agencies, both online and offline, to compete on service rather than price. One online giant was recently issued a stop sell by Sandals because they were illegally discounting Sandals’ pricing. So if an agency offers you a price that sounds too good to be true, it may very well be. And the hotel may not honor that deeply discounted price upon arrival, as one couple learned upon check-in for their wedding in St Thomas. They had to cough up over $1200 to cover what they thought was a travel deal they had purchased online. Again special pricing is offered to agencies and suppliers based on relationships, and in some cases, sales volume.

Myth #3-If I shop around, I can get a bunch of agents to compete for my business.

Fact: Your trip has four parts to it-airfare, hotel, transfers and insurance. Your travel agent doesn’t own any of those four companies, or set their pricing. However, your agent should know how to put your package together in a way that offers the most value and the best price.

Good to know-I actually had a guy yell at me once because he called the hotel and got the same price I had given him. The hotel shouldn’t cost more from a travel agent that it does from the hotel. But again, be concerned if it’s significantly less.

Myth #4-You can find everything you need to plan your trip from Trip Advisor and an online site.

Fact: While there is a lot of good info online, there’s also a lot of misinformation online. Online review sites in theory are a great idea. But unfortunately they’ve fall prey to all kinds of abuse; such as favorable reviews written by staff members, to unscrupulous shoppers who didn’t get a discount they thought they deserved. Here’s the thing to remember-no online reviewer is basing their professional reputation on the outcome of your trip. Your local travel consultant is. Who are you going to trust?

Ok, so now that we’ve cleared up the pricing misconceptions, why wouldn’t you use an agent?!

Fact #1: The average couple spends 30 hours doing research for their trip.

That’s like having a part time job! Do you have that kind of time? Probably not! Using an experienced travel consultant can save you a lot of time and stress!

Fact #2: Agents can see red flags that most consumers miss.

Here’s a great example. Last week Bernie had a couple call her about a “great deal” they found online.

This “fantastic” deal would have had the clients staying at different mediocre hotels in a 7-day period! The other thing the “incredible” deal didn’t reveal was that the clients would have to overnight in Rome on the way back from Naples.  So that would add another hotel stay, bringing the total hotel number up to 4.  Due to the flight schedule they would not arrive home until the day they were supposed to have returned to work.  Another “perk” of the package was the rental car that was included.  Navigating the cliffside hairpin turns on the Amalfi Coast is not for the faint of heart, especially when one isn’t used to driving a manual transmission car or driving in a foreign country.  After realizing there was more to the “fabulous” online deal than she’d anticipated, the client had us take the reins to plan their dream trip.  Now they are scheduled on a relaxing trip where they have private transfers, a single 4-star hotel with amazing sea views for the entire time, and sightseeing excursions in which they will not have to do any driving.

So while a “cheap” trip may look like a good idea initially, there are almost always other factors to consider.  We’re confident that Gretchen and Bill will return home with many fond memories of the time they got to experience “la dolce vita” for themselves rather than all the time they had to spend checking in and out of hotels for that “great deal” they found online!

Fact 3: A travel consultant’s role is to advise and create a great experience.

There are two different business models in the travel industry-those who sell travel as a commodity based on price, where you do all the research and hope for the best; and those who regard your trip as an investment, and treat it as such. Here at Bliss, our belief has always been that being cheap is easy-anyone can come up with a lower price if they’re willing to spend countless hours doing it. Consistently creating honeymoons and anniversary trips that people are still raving about six months after they get home is much more challenging. We’d rather be known for the latter.

{Real Bride: Carrie} The Best Thing About The Wedding Is The Honeymoon!

Editor’s note: Carrie hasn’t actually made it to the altar yet, so her declaration that “the honeymoon is the best thing about the wedding” is not founded on actual facts or experience. We felt the need to tack on a legally irrelevant disclaimer alerting you, the reader, (henceforth referred to herein as “the reader”) of that fact. 

As you must have realized by now, Zach and I have a pretty hardcore love affair with travel going on. I started traveling internationally at age 16, when I went to Australia and New Zealand through a student exchange program. That experience was all it took to get me hooked on exploring and wandering the globe.  After that, I went on volunteer trips to the Bahamas and Kenya. If you remember all the way back to our “falling-in-love” story, you’ll remember that I left Zach in Ohio when I went to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania. After I got back and things got more serious between us, Zach caught my wanderlust disease hardcore. For the last few years, we’ve basically worked to travel, working overtime and saving all we could and then taking off on epic road trips and adventures. We’ve done multiple road trips through North America, and our seven-month Latin American Odyssey was the biggest adventure yet.

Our world map with pins in places we’ve been!

Needless to say, one of the wedding traditions we’re most excited about is the HONEYMOON!!!  There are just a few small obstacles to overcome first…

  1. We have no money.
  2. Zach has a real job now.
  3. We can’t decide where to go!

Yep, the sad fact of the matter is that just paying for our broke-ass wedding is going to clean out most of our excess funds. Will it be totally worth it? I’m sure! Do I sometimes think we should just go to the courthouse and then book it to Thailand for a month? Hell yes!

There’s also this whole “growing up and getting a real job” issue.  It’s something we’ve somehow managed to avoid…until now! Actually, I still don’t have a “real job” but rather a seasonal internship AND four shifts a week at a bar/restaurant. Zach however, stumbled his way into an awesome job as a line cook in a 4-star restaurant, complete with salary and benefits and everything! It’s a great new phase for him in a lot of ways, but unfortunately ample vacation days are not part of the deal. In the past, we always just up and left our jobs to travel and found new ones wherever we ended up when we got back. Not something we want to do anymore!

Suffice it to say, we will not be able to go on a big honeymoon anytime soon after the wedding, probably not anytime this year.

While it is kind of sad, we’re going to make up for it in a couple ways.

#1. Vegas Friendy-moon!


A lot of our Ohio and east coast friends have never been out west at all. Because they’re a fun-loving bunch, a lot of them are planning to tack on some Las Vegas adventures to their trip when they come out and see us get married. Although Zach and I aren’t really “Vegas types”, we decided to join, realizing we’d never, ever again get a chance to party on “The Strip” with so many of our best friends.  Plus, I’m hoping the hotel will throw some perks our way if I tell them it’s our “honeymoon.”

#2. Real honeymoon in the future.

Despite our more settled, awesome life in San Diego, we can’t go very long without traveling abroad. We’re hoping to go somewhere, anywhere, for at least a few weeks as soon as we can swing it financially and job-wise.  The problem is, we have no idea where to go! Top contenders…

 Spain & Morocco

Gorgeous Spanish beaches


Possibly the most hipster honeymoon destination ever?


We’ve heard Turkey is an amazing country to explore.

Thailand or Indonesia

Southeast Asia would be a dream, but flights are so expensive!!!

Do you think planning two crazy nights in Vegas on the tail end of our wedding is a terrible idea?  And where should we go for the big trip?

{Partner Love} Honeymoon Pixie Has The Low-down On How To Save Major Moolah On Your Honeymoon

You guys remember our rad-tastic partner Honeymoon Pixie, right? Well, if you don’t, it’s the end-all, be-all place for you to forever forego the classic wedding registry and instead focus all your wants on your honeymoon desires. YES. Got all the toasters, whisks and napkins you could possibly need? Head on over to Honeymoon Pixie and set up a registry for your post-nuptial getaway.

Still trying to figure out where to go and even more important, how to save some skrilla on getting there? Andrew, CEO of Honeymoon Pixie, has some tips and tricks to keep you from bustin’ your budget:

– Put Yourselves Out There

Yeah, you may be a little timid about announcing that you’re newlyweds to all of creation. Or maybe you’re just sooo blissed out that you forget mentioning it all together. Snap out of it! Sing your status to the world and relish the hook-ups that flow your way. And start this early, like when you’re booking your reservations. Whether you get a bump up to first class on your flight or get ushered into a honeymoon suite at the hotel, there are certainly benefits to boasting about your new title. And even if you don’t get physical perks, people tend to be noticeably nicer to newlyweds.

– Pit This vs. That

You comparison shop at the grocery store, hardware store, even at restaurants. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your honeymoon? The Internet is a great place for you to play eenie, meenie, miney, mo between your options. Don’t have specific dates nailed down? Consider being flexible and looking through a range of departure dates. You’d be amazed at the difference a week can make when it comes to prices.

– Coupon-Clip and Cash In on the Deals

Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial are climbing fast on the popularity ladder. These sites utilize large groups to buy uber-discounted deals to restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. Most major U.S. cities and many international countries are among the offerings that can be found on Groupon and LivingSocial. Sign up for their emails and score some serious bargains on anything ranging from spa treatments to ziplining to mini-golf.

– Go On … Set Up a Honeymoon Registry

You know this was coming. Traditional wedding registries have kind of fallen by the wayside as more couples end up merging belongings they previously owned rather than registering for all new household goods. Rather, duos are digging into the concept of online registries, like Honeymoon Pixie, for things like house down payments and honeymoons. Your loved ones can contribute to a couple’s massage, romantic dinner on the beach or even airfare. Honeymoon registries are also a great way to experience things you might not otherwise be able to stretch into your budget.

– Go Local!

Hotel restaurants often jack up their prices because of convenience. With the exception of all-inclusive properties, it is often considerably more pricey to dine in house rather than venture out. So don those cute new sandals and step away from the hotel for cheaper and more authentic eats. Don’t be afraid to ask locals where they dine, because if locals eat there, you know it’s gotta be good.

– Cash in Those Points and Miles.

You know that airline credit card you used on your last pair of chic shoes? Check what kind of miles that helped you rack up. Got enough for part or all of a plane ticket? Score! Don’t have a miles card? Check out what other benefits come with your card. You’ll be surprised at what kind of nifty bonuses you may get.

– Set a Budget and Don’t Back Down.

Just like with your wedding, firmly plant your foot on how much you can and are willing to spend on your honeymoon. Any vacation, but especially your post-wedding trip, makes it easy to overspend with your blissed-out brain. Make sure to keep in mind all the little expenses, including cab fare, gratuity, bottled water, souvenirs, etc. Carry cash, traveler’s checks or prepaid credit cards so there’s no way you can go beyond your limit.

Got it? Now you’re all set to go enjoy your first vacation as a married couple. Get going!


{Real Bride: Carrie} Our Top 8 Wedding Goals

Wedding fun!

After getting engaged in Peru we were beyond excited.  I, being extremely type-A, couldn’t wait to dive into planning!  The only problem was that we were traveling for three more months after the proposal.  Being in South America and having no idea where we’d be living or working or anything when we got back, there wasn’t much detailed planning we could do.  So we decided to start with the big stuff.  Sitting on a park bench in Lima, Peru, drinking some beers while waiting for a night bus to leave, we decided to brainstorm and write out the goals we have for our wedding.  We hope these will help us remember what’s important despite how easy it is to get swept away in the little details and nonsense.  This way, if we’re struggling with a decision down the line we can come back to the goals and use them to help us make the right decision.  That’s the idea, at least.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Pay for our wedding ourselves and not go over $2500.

2. Agree on decisions together so that our wedding truly reflects our personalities.

3. Make our wedding more like a fun reunion than a showy formal event.

4. Be selective about our creative projects so that we don’t get obsessed with or overwhelmed by the details.

5. Make our wedding reflect our values: vegetarian, eco-friendly, etc.

6. Have a meaningful and sincere ceremony.

7. Handle any conflicts with courtesy and maturity while still standing up for ourselves on what really matters.

8. Have quality time with everyone at our wedding and involve our guests as much as possible.

What do you think?  Can we accomplish all of these?  Did anyone else sit down and write goals for their wedding before really beginning the planning?

{Real Wedding} Christen & Leigh’s Hawaiian Beach Karaoke Bonanza

Is it just me or is it fffffreeeeezing? It’s been a nice 12 degrees F here for the last few days. I think it’s ’round about time to heat things up and cruise down to the lush tropics of Hawaii. Leigh and I tied the knot, took the plunge, straight-up got wedinated there on July 2, which was also the three-year anniversary of our first date. We were joined by fifty of our nearest and dearest for a week of carousing, splish-splashing and general good-time-havin’. So throw another log on the fire, pour some schnapps into your hot chocolate and warm up with our wicked-cool bash.

Name: Christen and Leigh
Occupation: Copy editing guru/ AP Style whiz/Wedding Superhero in training. He’s a chef.
Wedding location: The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawaii
Wedding Date:July 2, 2011
Budget: ~ $20,000

How would you describe your wedding? We had one mission: Have a blast and don’t stress.

Accomplished? HELL YES.

My family lives in the states, mostly in Wyoming, where we live, and in Massachusetts. His is in Australia. Our first goal was to find some middle ground, so we (oh, sooo painfully) chose Hawaii. After contacting oodles of (seriously, like 15) hotels, we decided the Mauna Lani was the best fit for us price, location and turtle-wise.

From there, it was all about customization. We got in contact with the hotel-recommended officiant, obtained his basic civil ceremony and gave it a very us-style makeover. We wrote our own vows, included a wine box ceremony — complete with wording alluding to our TARDIS-esque wine box. We had an impromptu thumb-war and rock-scissors-paper. Our ceremony was concluded with a pinkie swear preceding our kiss, which was followed by a high-five.

Since budget (and being able to enjoy our vacation) were such high priorities, we did all of it on the cheap. Aside from the wedding package, hotel, airfare, food, cupcakes, Photographers of Awesome, my aesthetics and bar, we didn’t pay over $100 for any single item, including my dress. I had a brooch bouquet made out of baubles my mother had given me and other trinkets gifted by friends, family and co-workers. Leigh’s mum made the bunting and found the gel beads for the centerpieces. Leigh’s Gir figurine played the starring role on the top tier of our cupcakes.

Our laptop acted as DJ. We had no flowers.

But we did have an open bar.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? In general, seeing 50 of our friends and family, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time and many of whom we were meeting for the first time, tearing it up on the dance floor, playing drinking games and lounging about together throughout the week.

Personally, our  pinkie swear. It’s a very significant thing for us, something we do to resolve fights or make a promise (especially when we want to get out of awkward social situations), so to include it in such a momentous event was like the most baller buttercream icing on top of the greatest cupcake in the world.

We were also amazingly overwhelmed by people’s generosity. Be it chipping in with decorating, planning fun activities, helping out financially or just being there, we were and still are beyond fortunate to have such giving, caring people in our lives.

What did you splurge on? The hotel and wedding package definitely took the biggest bite out of our wallet, but it was completely worth it. We got a room upgrade at no cost and they ended up comping us one night. The service was unbelievable and the wedding ladies, Pinkie and Lauren, definitely know what they’re doing. Even though it was a bit spendy, we were well taken care of and didn’t really have to do anything once we showed up. It was also our first vacation together ever and the first for us in years individually. We really wanted to make it count and it certainly did.

What did you save on? Everything else. I camped out on airfare websites to find cheap tickets. We bought things from independent artists who threw some things in for free. Even our photographers, kind of. We found Kat and Justin of Persimmon Images on BAB about a year before the wedding when they ran a promotion. We got some money knocked off the top and were able to pay them down over time, so it wasn’t a huge hit all at once. They also shot four days’ worth of activities, so even with their flight, hotel and overall pricing, it broke down to be relatively inexpensive. We were really blown away by the end product, and super excited about gaining some seriously awesome friends out of it.

And my dress. Ohhh, my dress. I was kind of dragged to David’s Bridal (Shock! Gasp!) and tried on a few different dresses. I’d walked by one on the clearance rack and asked if I could try it on. The saleslady was a bit trepidatious because it was a whole whopping size bigger than what I’d been trying on, but I stood my ground. I put it on, grabbed some straps, slung ‘em over my shoulder and declared right then and there I’d be taking it. My cousin was shocked and sure I hadn’t tried enough on. I, however, was satisfied (it wasn’t love, yet. More like first-date butterflies) and knew with a little alteration, it would soon be everrrrlaaassstttiiingggg loooove (whoop … forgive me. I really shouldn’t sing in front of an audience).

Leigh’s mum helped track down a turquoise petticoat, I found the turquoise buttons and a seamstress in town whose prices were perfect, and since she makes wedding dresses, she knew what she was doing. A few inches off the bottom, petticoat sewn in, straps added, nip here, tuck there and my little clearance-rack beauty was mine … all mine.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? It was all pretty awesome, and nothing huge was amiss. However, I probably would have taken my stubborn-ass hair under better consideration and chosen a style that would have not taken 3.5 hours, effectively swallowing the time allotted for shots with my homies. Mara did the best she could with my pigheaded hair and pigheaded self. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and she offered up the best compromise (hint, keeping the braid, nixing the curls). I still looked rockin’ and my pics are still amazeballz. Besides, I suck at posing and would have looked uber awkward anyway. However, timeline? A MUST. Plz. I didn’t. But I hate that I didn’t. Could have ended up with even MOAR AWESOME.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Money and emotion. We had a really tough few months about a year into it, when my mother passed away and, separately, our financial situation plummeted. But I dug my heels in, using planning as a way to pull myself out of the grief hole. And the lack of money made us focus on the truly important stuff, thus doing away with extraneous BS. We stripped away the MUST BUY ALL THE THINGS attitude and focused on the nitty gritty. It helped to really zero in on the whole reason behind the planning. And made our bank account not give us the silent treatment.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? That I freaking LOVE to plan shit. Seriously. Who knew? My organizational skillz leave a lot to be desired, but it’s something I’m working on. Oh, and that compromise thing. It’s kind of important. And I learned how to say “no” nicely but effectively. I learned that people will always surprise you, and for the vast majority of those surprises, it will be amazeballzfantasticlikewhoa.

Also, if people have enough notice and you truly want something bad enough, it can and likely will happen. We knew we were taking a gamble by having a destination wedding, but we gave everyone a two years’ heads-up and tried to provide a plethora of cost-effective options.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

I’m gonna just throw out that getting married and who I’m marrying are a given, so  …
1. My lil sale dress with the blue petticoat and buttons. What? Yes. (Srsly, I have a lurve affair with it.)
2. Partying like it was 1999 with some of the coolest peeps ever.

3. Impromptu karaoke. It tends to happen with us (he proposed on karaoke night).
4. Pinkie swear
5. Seeing El Padrito bawl like a 5-year-old. YOU GUYS. So rare. So awesome.

Top 5 least favorite?
5. My painfully asshole-ish hair, even though it came out looking awesome.
4. Severe lack of time for photos. I really should have checked Liz’s timeline bettah.
3. The veil-in-face, can’t-hear-groom Hawaiian trade winds. Good timing, fellas.
2. Not winning the thumb-war or rock-paper-scissors.
1. It ending. That really was the crappiest bit.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “It’s your day. You call the shots and people need to give you what you want because you’re the bride.” Yikes. No. Also, “It’s the most important/special/amazing/wonderful day of your life!!!!” Really? So, I could just die now? Granted, it was rad, and it was kind of cool to be fawned on all day, but the reason behind the wedding is the marriage. It’s everything that happens after the party. It’s a pre-Oscar party. If the Oscars don’t happen, then what’s the point? Amirite?

The best? “Take a minute, or five, with your [partner]. Soak it in.” YES. We did. Even when Kat and Justin were tailing us, we still had moments for the two of us. Y’all, so worth it. Make time for one another … and then keep doing it throughout the marriage.

Any other bits of wisdom? Cliche, I know, but when it all comes down to it, there’s one important thing about getting married: That you get married. The wedding is the means to an end. The end is the marriage. I mean, yes have that amazing party you have always (or maybe not) wanted. Try to get the dress of your dreams. Obsess over detail. Or don’t. Just get married and smile until your face falls off.

Logistically, because we booked both our venue and our photographers at least a year out, we got to nail down prices before they went up, and because we were able to pay them down over time, it saved us quite a bit of money. If you find a venue/photographer/whatever you love and know in your heart of hearts is the best option for you, try attempting this approach. With each the Mauna Lani and Persimmon Images, we saved at least $1000.

Budget breakdown?
Dress: $211 (David’s Bridal; Buttons: $11 LiD Designs Supplies on Etsy; Petticoat: Gift, eBay)
His outfit (total): $96 (Shorts: $26 Volcom on; Shirt: $39 Express for Men; Shoes: $24 Converse; Suspenders: $7 eBay)
Veil: $0 (Made by his mum)
Bouquet:  $0 (Assembled by his mum, brooches gifted)
Groomsmen Gifts (pocketwatches): $32 each x 5 = $160 from Amazon

Brideside Gifts: $40 x 2 = $80 (Garter flasks by You-Nique Garters and Flasks), $32 (Curious George flask) $30 (Pearls by Shari) = $142
Bunting: $0 (Made by his mum)
Hair and Makeup: $225 (Lilikoi Hair Studio)
Airfare: $1000 roundtrip for both of us
Wedding Bands: $25 + $28 = $52 (Kathryn Reichart on Etsy)
Custom Turquoise Pearl Necklaces: $52.20 (North Atlantic Art Studios on Etsy; she gave me the earrings as a gift)
Red Sox garter:  $33 (Garters by Kristi on Etsy)
Hotel: $1800
Photographers: Persimmon Images $2600 – $350 BAB discount + $2625 (travel expenses)

Venue and wedding services breakdown:
A la cart wedding package (includes both ceremony and reception locations): $1911
Reception tables, chairs, linens, set up and breakdown: $156
Appetizers: $2746
Cupcakes: $325
Enhancement Rentals (tiki torches, Chinese lanterns, lounge set): $1877
Unlimited open bar: $2956

Grand total: $18492.20

The Broke-Ass Bride is always looking for rad-tastic Broke-Ass weddings to feature. Interested? You can submit via Two Bright Lights or by emailing us directly!

-xoxo, Christen

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