Broke-Ass Tag: unique wedding

6/3

Affiliate Disclaimer NewLongtime Broke-Ass Bride friend Georgia Hardstark emailed us recently about sharing her fun, funky, tradition-eschewing, $16,000 wedding. In the true spirit of The Broke-Ass Bride, Georgia and her husband had the wedding they wanted — at the venue they loved, in the clothes they adored, with the decorations they actually gave a shit about — and all within their budget and paid for the wholeshebang for their 105 guests themselves. Here’s how Georgia recommends having the wedding that’s right for you. And a huge shoutout to Timony Siobhan for the wonderful photos!

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanI have never been a traditional person. For one thing, I never thought I’d get married, so planning a wedding was a clean slate for me. I knew I didn’t want it to be “fussy,” and the only reason I was OK with it being “tacky” was because we got married at The Madonna Inn, which is charming because of its tackiness. I didn’t want to spend a ton on a dress, which I ended up buying from ModCloth, or on invitations, which we did online for about $100, or on flowers, which were picked out and bought the night before from the local florist. Basically I didn’t want a wedding to put Vince and I in debt, as we were paying for the whole thing ourselves.

What I did want was for our wedding to reflect mine and Vince’s quirky, laid-back personalities, and for all the guests to have an incredible time. Considering I’ve been told that guests are still finding glitter from the DIY photo booth in their clothes three months later, I’d say we achieved it.

Here are six ways I shirked tradition to make sure our wedding fit our style and personalities:

1. I Didn’t Have A Wedding Party

Having a bridal party seemed like a cruel thing to do to my friends, what with making them buy ugly dresses, throw me multiple parties and forcing them to do menial DIY labor leading up to the wedding. Aside from that, having a bunch of people flanking Vince and I at the altar seemed devoid of intimacy and more about honoring our friends instead of the bond Vince and I were celebrating that day.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony SiobhanI spent the whole morning with my closest girl friends: one doing my hair, another snapping pics and a couple others putting together my bouquet. They helped me set up the banquet hall to fit my vision, and the whole time we laughed and listened to Katy Perry and pounded coffee. It was freaking awesome. When it was time to walk down the aisle I already felt so blessed to have the best friends in the world. Total wedding day bonus.

2. I Walked Myself Down The Aisle

Having my father, whom I love dearly, walk me down the aisle seem archaic and didn’t celebrate the strong, independent woman my parents raised. I’m in my 30s and haven’t lived with my parents or relied on them financially for over 15 years, so having them “give me away” irked the feminist inside me.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

So I walked my damn self. I did hug my mom and dad when I passed them on my way to the altar, and I also had a father/daughter dance, which I hadn’t been planning to do before deciding to walk myself. We danced to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” as a nod to the music we listened to on road trips when I was a kid. Later my dad said the dance was “awkward and fun … just like our relationship.” Spot on.

3. I Did My Own Makeup

What I wanted on my wedding day was to look like the best version of myself. As someone who’s on camera for a living, I’ve had my makeup done more times than I can count. Professional makeup looks amazing on camera and in photos, but in person, it can look garish and overdone. Plus makeup artists will back me up when I say that the “natural” look takes almost as much makeup as glam does.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

So I called over my favorite makeup artist for a lesson, hit up Sephora for a consultation, spent half the GDP of a small country on products, and the day of the wedding I did my makeup myself. The biggest things I concentrated on were a good concealer for under my eyes and to even out my skin, great eyeshadow technique and my expert fake lash applying skillz (ask a makeup-savvy friend to do this if you suck at it).

OK and in interest of full disclosure, a bit of Botox and a lil Juvaderm helped give me a well-rested look. This is SO not necessary, but I felt I needed just a bit of help. Just be sure to do a test run months before the wedding to confirm that you like it, and get the actual procedure at least a month before your big day.

4. I Cherry Picked Traditions

I’m Jewish in tradition, not religion, and Vince is equally devoid of all things non-secular. He was surprised to hear that I still wanted to steal a few traditions from Judaism, but what is a party without a Hora? And you don’t get many chances in life to be lifted in a chair by your strongest family and friends. Plus, smashing a napkin-wrapped glass right after the ceremony is super fun, and has the added bonus of meaning the past is the past, and life starts now.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

Even if you want some religious aspects to your wedding, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Pick the ones that actually have meaning to you and make you feel a closer spiritual connection to your future spouse and to your family. And feel free to tweak the ones you pick and even make up new ones!

5. We Had Our 2nd Favorite Person Marry Us

Vince being a comedian and both of us having a ton of funny, creative friends gave us a huge pool of potential people to officiate our wedding, which honestly made it harder rather than easier. Do you pick your best friend? His best friend? If you pick the latter will it piss off the former? If you pick your cousin and then find out he recently had an affair does that doom your own marriage?*

*true story

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

Instead of choosing from our pool of friends and family, we choose a guy whom we both really liked, is super funny and comfortable on stage, we aren’t that close to, has a great marriage and had officiated before. He got to know us over a few dinners, and we got to know his lovely wife and their love story. He was the perfect person to marry us, and I can’t imagine having a better ceremony thanks to his wit and sincerity.

6. I Chilled The F*ck Out

Listen, things are gonna go wrong the day of your wedding. I promise. It was literally pouring rain the entire day of our wedding. Our photographer was late and a few of our more wild friends dropped LSD before the ceremony. As I walked down the aisle I was trying to hold back the tears so it all came dripping out of my nose and when I got to the alter I realized I didn’t have a tissue so I had to stop the wedding and ask for Vince’s pocket square which I proceeded to soak with snot. Someone stole a bottle of vodka from the bar and poured it into the non-alcoholic punch and even though I purposely didn’t invite little kids to the wedding, suddenly the party was awash with tiny fingers poking the cake and trashing the photo booth set up.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

But guess what?! It was awesome! All of it. If you accept that things aren’t going to go perfectly, as it tends not to in life, you’ll be much more likely to roll with the punches. Grasp the perfect moments and pause them in your head because those are the things you’ll want to recall when the day is over and you have the rest of your life to think about it. Unexpectedly high-fiving my 6-year-old nephew on my way to the alter, the unplanned but perfectly timed tossing of my bouquet to my best friend when it was time to read my vows, seeing Vince the first moment I walked into the ceremony and how awestruck I was that this was real; I was really getting married, and to the best person I’ve ever met!

Hold those little things close and let the other stuff be funny stories you tell after the fact and when you’re giving advice to friends planning their own wedding. Ideally this will be the only wedding you ever have, so make sure you hold it close to your heart and enjoy it. But maybe ask your friends save the LSD for the after-party.

A Real Wedding that Eschews Tradition || Photo: Timony Siobhan

Thank you, Georgia, for sharing your fun wedding story with us! And a huge congratulations!

Catch more of Georgia’s fun and funny life adventures by following her on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

christen
  • 3/24

    Real Wedding: Jessica and Andrew's Most Unique, Eclectic and Fun Arkansas Wedding

    I was over the moon when Jessica emailed me to say that she’d won free wedding photography from Beyond the Ordinary Photography’s contest because she’d read about it in our newsletter, because it’s always exciting when the work I’ve done has helped to make a real difference in someone’s life. If you’re already subscribed to our newsletter, you know that Beyond the Ordinary Photography is running another contest this year, and if you aren’t subscribed, you can change that now! Congratulations, Jessica and Andrew, your wedding was amazing and it was an honor to have played a tiny role in it.

    Shoes and Paper Bouquet || Real Wedding: Jessica and Andrew's Most Unique, Eclectic and Fun Arkansas Wedding

    henna

    Andrew close-up

    ring bowl

    Names: Jessica Keahey and Andrew Beekman

    Occupations: Civil Engineers

    Wedding location: Fayetteville, Arkansas.

    Wedding date: 10/20/12

    Approximate guest count: 210

    How would you describe your wedding? Eclectic and fun. We didn’t have a theme; we just made individual decisions on what made us happy or what we found to be really enjoyable or interesting. We decided that we wanted our wedding reception to be a very fun party that everyone attending would enjoy. Up to a year later, we have had people tell us that ours was the best wedding that they have ever attended and how much fun it was.

    What was your favorite part of your wedding? Andrew and I both agree – our favorite moment was dancing with our very best friends and the catering staff from Geraldi’s, (best lasagna in Northwest Arkansas), at the tail end of the night. I’m sure this will seem very strange to your readers, but it was an incredibly happy and carefree moment in time that stands out so clearly to us both. With the night winding down, I walked into the kitchen at the back of the reception location to find the caterers all lined up in a row like well-dressed soldiers awaiting orders to do food battle. Juxtaposed against the revelry on the other side of the kitchen door, it seemed pretty surreal to me – so I invited them to come drink and dance. The young staff literally cheered when their boss relented, and we had a total blast boogie-ing and tapping the kegs with them.

    fekt gearts

    upclose heart pin

    drink ceremony

    cocktail preparation

    What did you splurge on? The food, the booze and the reception venue. Andrew and I believe there are 3 things that are vital elements to a great wedding reception: good food, good booze, and good music. I’m a vegetarian while Andrew is a carnivore, so we wound up picking each of our favorite local restaurants to cater a buffet-style dinner. We also had a candy bar, popcorn machine, and a huge tower of cheese in addition to a mouth-watering cake. Feeding and providing an open bar to over 200 people was our biggest expense, but it was really important to us. Early in the planning process, we struggled with finding a local venue that was 1) large enough (and had enough room for dancing), 2) open late enough, 3) allowed alcohol or otherwise had booze available, 4) permitted outside food to be catered in, and 5) was within our price range. The UARK Bowl, Fayetteville’s first bowling alley and iconic local landmark, fit the bill and was within walking distance of the ceremony. The venue rental also included tables, chairs, linens, place settings, use of their kitchen, our name in lights on their outdoor marquee, a stage and sound system, bar and 2 bartenders for the evening, clean-up, and the help of an event coordinator during the day-of the wedding — which kept us from having to coordinate with a bunch of other vendors and rental agencies.

    What did you save on? The decorations – We made almost all of the decorations and favors. All the DIY projects were incredibly time consuming but very rewarding, and our amazing friends really pulled together during the day-of to help us get it all put in place. (See below for more details on our DIY projects.) Our rings – We both decided that we wanted something unique and didn’t want to support the diamond industry, so we each picked a handmade ring from artists on Etsy. Our attire – My dress was simple and really incredibly affordable. Andrew got his suit on Black Friday when we were visiting a friend in New York. And while $850 may seem like a lot for our duds and accessories, Andrew got a really nice suit out of the deal that he still wears (along with a badass tie, pocketwatch, and cufflinks), and I got some fantastic shoes to add to my closet. We really tried to think about long-term use rather than spending a chunk on something that would get worn once. The photographers – Beyond the Ordinary photographers Charity and Nicole honored us by choosing our wedding as “the most unique” entry in their 2012-2013 contest for free photography. I had enough airline miles and hotel points to fly them to Fayetteville from Chicago and put them up for free. The ceremony venue – We had our ceremony at the Greek Theater on the University of Arkansas campus (where we met). It was free! Bonus: it’s an amphitheater, so no expensive chair rentals required! The honeymoon – Andrew had accrued enough airline miles to snag free tickets to Japan for our honeymoon. While there, we used airbnb to save a ton on lodging by staying with locals and, in the process, got to meet some really incredible families during our stay.

    Jessica

    Jessica (2)

    Andrew and Jessica

    Seurat

    invites and crafts (2)

    Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would forego buying disposable cameras. We really thought they would capture some great candid shots, but they were relatively expensive to develop, the picture quality was quite grainy, and the shots were overall pretty underwhelming.

    What was your biggest challenge in planning? I’m really not very good at delegating and didn’t have to, as we forewent a traditional wedding party. Our close friends joked that we had built up a lot of wedding karma by helping them at their events over the years because we were able to call in a lot of favors from these very talented and generous people who helped us out of love.

    What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Everyone has their own opinion about what the perfect wedding should look like and consist of (some of whom may be quite vocal with these opinions), so it’s definitely tricky navigating through it all – especially for a non-traditional, secular wedding. We had a fairly long engagement period, so that helped give us the time we needed to consider all the options available and make our own decisions.

    What were your top five favorite things about your wedding? 1) Having so many of our loved ones attend and celebrate our love. A good friend serving in the Peace Corps in Yerevan, Armenia, at the time even flew back to officiate. We had such support for our friends and family and so much help through it all.

    2) Our vows – It was important to us that the ceremony truly focused on us as individuals and our love, so we wrote our own vows. I’m a former slam poet, and Andrew writes the sweetest love letters/poems on the planet. Let’s just say there was a lot of laughing and crying. A friend was actually so inspired that she wrote a song based on a line from Andrew’s vows which has been put to song by a local artist.

    3) Our unity cocktail – A few months before our wedding, Andrew and I made nocino, an Italian walnut liquor, from green walnuts on a tree behind our house. Another friend made an accompanying liquor that he presented and which our parents assisted in blending together into a quaff during the ceremony. It was a distinctly unique and meaningful moment for us.

    4) The reception as a whole and all the revelry – The reception was really unique in that we showcased the talents of our fantastic friends, from singing and instrument playing to juggling and dancing with giant silk fans. And there was so much dancing – A rock-n-roll professor of ours agreed to get his band together to play a set. They unexpectedly jammed out the whole night and got everybody on their feet dancing. Afterwards, Andrew’s band played a set before we put on our digital playlist of hand-picked dance jams for the late-night crowd.

    5) The before and after events – Prior to the wedding, I convinced the lady who did henna at a kiosk in our mall to come to my house for a mehndi party with my best girlfriends. It was tremendous fun, and I got to have beautiful wedding henna. Then the day after the wedding, some very dear friends threw us a brunch. The day of the wedding itself was so hectic that it was nice to get to spend more quality time with friends and family after the big day.

    cake (2)

    invites and crafts

    cheese tower

    Top five least favorite?  1) The expense – We saved quite a bit of money on some elements so that we could splurge on the food and drinks. But overall, weddings with a large number of attendees just cost a goodly amount of money.

    2) The sheer amount of time and energy spent – It took a long time and a lot of planning and energy to pull it all off. I definitely had “wedding brain” for a while and then a bit of wedding PTSD afterwards.

    3) A no-show vendor – We booked a caricature artist who didn’t show up. It was a bit of an annoyance, but at least we didn’t lose any money on a deposit.

    4) The hotel that night – A total disaster. It was really a sour ending to a beautiful day. But now we can kind of laugh at how terrible the experience was.

    5) A missed toast – I found out later that my dad had written a toast that he didn’t give. I really wish that we could go back in time and hear it.

    What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? That we “had” to do any one thing in a specific way because of tradition or expectations. It’s one of the biggest and most memorable days in a person’s life, so we decided we would make it exactly what we wanted it to be. We rejected a lot of “traditions” like the garter and bouquet tosses or standard wedding registries because they just didn’t have any significance or meaning to us.

    The best? Looking back at the outpouring of love and written/spoken words of advice, it’s really hard to pinpoint one voice above all others. We received much advice on the theme of how to maintain love and respect for a lifelong marriage. I think there’s probably no one single piece of advice that’s the magical key to a happy union.

    thumprint sign

    thumbprint canvas

    fancy hat

    ginseng

    Any other bits of wisdom? My childhood BFF was driving me to the venue, stopped the car and very seriously looked at me and said, “Ok, this is it. Are you ready to do this? Or do you want to drive to Mexico?” I about died from laughter, but with all the craziness of the day it was a snap back to the true core of what the day was all about – being ready for a lifetime of commitment with someone. The meaning of it all can easily get lost in the planning and hubbub, so my last bit of wisdom is to keep the reason for your union in sight at all times. And make sure you have a really, really good friend willing to drive you to Mexico, if need be.

    dancing

    groom drumming

    marquee

    Vendors

    Jessica’s ring: Adzias
    Andrew’s ring: Jewelry by Johan
    Wedding reception: UARK Bowl
    Ceremony location: Chi Epsilon Greek Theater
    Dress: Unique Vintage
    Photographers: Beyond the Ordinary
    Caterers: Geraldi’s and Lucky Luke’s BBQ
    Cake: Meridienne (very sadly now closed, I believe)
    Ring Dish: Crystal Peace Studio
    DIY projects:

    – I learned how to make paper roses from blog tutorials and made my own “flower” bouquet and boutonnieres for our friends and family out of old sheet music. Similarly, I learned how to make dahlias out of felt for corsages for the moms.

    – I made my own hair fascinator from scraps of my altered dress and butterflies from the craft-store.

    – In lieu of a traditional guestbook, we went with a thumbprint canvas. A friend painted a whimsical leafless tree and our guests filled in the “leaves” with their inked thumbprints and names. Now we have a nice piece of art (rather than a book that gets hidden away) that reminds us of our special day and our friends/family.

    – We designed and printed our own invitations with the help of (again) some amazingly talented friends. It was also worth every penny of the $20 we spent at Office Depot for them to do the folding!!!

    – Other DIY projects included hand sewn felt heart pins for all our guests, whimsical military medals for the dads and gents, huge bunches of balloons, colorful banners of flag pennants, handmade signs aplenty, cootie catchers, large table mats of sheet music, pinwheels, and more. We set up all the decorations, including long bolts of colorful fabric and an arch (we owned and refurbished) at the Greek Theater, with the help of friends and family. We also borrowed and set up PA equipment for the ceremony to save some money.

    Budget breakdown

    Photographers: $0
    Rings: $1,000
    Ceremony Venue: $0
    Reception Venue (and parking): $3,000
    Food and booze: $4,500
    Attire: $850
    DIY Projects: $125
    Other Decorations and Disposable Cameras: $150
    Flowers: $0
    Band: $500
    Cake: $650
    Invitations (including postage): $250
    Hair, Makeup, and Henna: $200
    Dance Lessons: $300

    Mellzah
  • 3/4

    As a blogger and overall blog enthusiast, upon our engagement I made sure to add every single wedding related blog I could find to my reader. Every. Single. One. I had more than 100 posts to gaze at each day, and while it was fun at first it quickly because tiresome and then just flat out annoying. And the thing that annoyed me the most?…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    2/27

    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…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    2/26

    Choosing a venue can be one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning. And in San Diego, the options are endless. You can get married at the beach, on the bay, at the beach, at a winery, at the beach, on a ranch, at the beach, in the city, and also the beach. Did I mention THE BEACH? If you are sensing snark, your…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!
  • 2/4

    A great place to begin personalizing your wedding is with the save the dates; while wedding stationery is often quite formal, save the dates give you the freedom to be a bit more quirky and fun. Now, you don't need to send save the dates--depending on how soon you're getting married, and the number of people you're planning on inviting, they might be an unnecessary…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    9/26

    Now that the zombie apocalypse and/or dinosaur attack wedding photos have had their 5 minutes of fame, I hereby declare THIS COUPLE to be the winners of the internet's "best engagement photo session awards" for at least a week. Redditor hamburgersandwiches shared this inspired set of iconic movie scenes, re-imagined as starring he and his fiancee, with the title "I'm getting married Sat. I know these…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!

    8/28

    Bringing personality to a wedding while still keeping costs low  is a challenge all couples face. Etan and Megan added a great amount of character to their celebration with lots of DIY décor, and a group of people willing to dig in their heels and help this self described “bookish” couple. This Los Angeles duo focused on celebrating what they absolutely loved without going overboard.…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!
  • 8/1

    I am generally all about DIY projects; if I see something I like, my gears start spinning as to how I can recreate it for myself, and wedding planning has provided ample opportunities for me to build and tweak and tune every detail to my heart’s content. It also has provided me ample opportunities to go overboard. At one point, I read an article criticizing…

    Read the full article →
    Share this!