Posts in the 'wedding advice' Category

Fear-Mongering, Shaming and Budget Weddings

Fear-Mongering, Shaming and Budget Weddings

Credit: Elizabeth Bates Photography

It can be a cruel world out there for brides on a budget. So much of the pretty can be out of reach, and it gets exhausting trying to keep up with the Joneses. Bridal Burnout can take place way early on, because there is a butt-ton of brain juice going into your wedding. That’s why, here at The Broke-Ass Bride, we stress the importance of priorities and focusing your energy in the areas that matter most to you, rather than tossing your hard-earned cash at something you don’t necessarily care a great deal about. The Wedding Industrial Complex has a way of pre-shaming brides into having the biggest, the best and the prettiest, and the this and the that and just the absolute MOSTEST BESTEST.

And also why I want to bring attention to this really shitty thing that happened around the web this week. Our girl Jessica at The Budget Savvy Bride posted a great wedding tip in her series of budget wedding tips — which includes advice on cutting the guest list, bringing in your own booze or even doing non-floral florals. The particular tip in question? No. 18: DJ your own wedding. You know, like set up the iPod to rock the soundtrack to your reception. Not unheard of, right? Well, Jessica did it for her own wedding. We’ve had many Real Weddings featured that have done the same. I mean, I did it. Hell it’s something we’ve been suggesting on BAB since 2010, y’all.

But once Budget Savvy Bride’s tip hit Facebook? A massive shitstorm of vitriolic vile flooded the comments … from “professional” DJs. One even went so far as to use “#killyaself”. UM. Really? Budget Fairy Tale compiled some of the other putrid spew that came forth from this.

If having a big ol’ dance party isn’t your thing, and you’re just not that into the music, DIYing your wedding music is a really great way to provide ambiance — and even just make sure you get the version of a song you want, because not everyone has a copy of Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” laying around — without shelling out the big bucks that it takes to have a professional, whether it’s a DJ, band or a fucking opera singer, at your wedding. But hey, man, if you can afford it and it’s a priority for you, DO IT. But there should be absolutely no shaming involved.

Weddings are super, super personal. And they should be. They should represent you as a couple, and they should be something you’re comfortable with. Because, really, what good does it do you to host a party that you don’t want to attend? No good at all. Really.

But here’s the thing for us bitches on a budget: We put priority on different things. Tiffany and Justin totally cared about booze, so they got married at a brewery. Kate gave zero fucks about real flowers, but wanted literature — hence, her book flowers. Courtney and Carli got married in the morning in the loft of a barn. Bianca bought her dress for $10 and it’s still one of my all-time favorites while her groom spend $200 on his duds. Each wedding is different and special, because each couple is different and special. Weddings are personal.

No couple, ever, should be made to feel bad about the decisions they make for their wedding, as long as it’s right for them and their circumstances. Family may be involved, for some, and not for others. Budgets may be huge for some, and not for others. And sure, some weddings might not be super amazing for all the guests, but it’s not really about the guests. It’s about celebrating love.

And if a vendor, or anyone really, gets pushy and especially if they dare venture into being condescending or start shaming you? You might not want to work with them. Know who you’re hiring. It’s important, because it’s your money.

As Liz once said:

“A lot of time  brides feel pushed to do this or that, but really, there aren’t any “haves” in Wedding World, just “wants.” If you don’t want to spend the money, and you don’t see the value of it, don’t do it. That goes for all of your future wedding choices, too.”

So, let’s stop being assholes about the decisions people make for their own weddings and appreciate the differences and similarities we all have. Let’s not compare ourselves to the next person, nor expect them to measure up to us.

 

Let Your Wedding Crew Choose. Follow and Get Out of the Way.

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Credit: Powell Pictures

So, I’ve been checking in with my 2015 couples a lot this week. March’s backyard wedding was relocated to another backyard. May wants a photo booth.  I’m looking at venues with July #2 this weekend. June #1 is in way better shape than she thinks she is. And, actually, so are you. Remember that the next time you start to wonder.

What’s been interesting is that each of them asked about managing their wedding party. And managing their families. Or, rather, managing their wedding party and families’ questions and expectations.

There are just so many of them, you know? Wedding party and family members. And questions.

When is the bridal shower, where is the bachelorette party? Should all 10 of your family members wear the same color as your bridesmaids and/or groomsmen? When should everyone, or anyone, fly in for the wedding? And on and on.

Should you let them choose, or just tell them what to do?

Well, yeah, definitely one or the other.

But here’s the thing: It’s up to you, what they get to choose, and what you want to  dictate. And it doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Most of the time, wedding-wise, people want (cough, cough, NEED) direction. But if it’s something that’s not a big priority for you, it’s okay to let them make the choice .

But let them know one way or the other.  And if the answer is, “This is what we’re doing,” remember to smile and say “Thank you.” And if it’s “Whatever you want to do,” give them a deadline to let you know, well, what they’re going to do. Every choice needs to come with a deadline. Every mandate needs to come with gratitude and a smile. Got it? Now go forth and plan …

What’s the last detail your wedding crew has thrown back to you? And which way did you decide to go. Let me know in the comments below! And if you’d like to learn a little bit more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit www.silvercharmevents.com.

 

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Real Bride Elissa: Getting Married is the Most Important Part

Real Bride Elissa: Getting Married is the Most Important Part of a Wedding || Photo: A Sight of Love Photography

Credit: A Sight of Love

A few weeks ago we had the first meeting with a minister from our venue, who we hoped would be the one to marry us. Luckily, she was totally lovely, and we checked another box off our (ever-increasing) wedding to-do list. She’s going to do some pre-marital counseling with us, which was something I felt was important. While the real bulk of the counseling starts at our next meeting, she asked a few preliminary questions to get us thinking about more than just which readings to have during the ceremony.

The questions were pretty basic, such as “What do you feel are each other’s goals for your life together?” As I pondered my answer, the first things that popped into my head when I thought of our shared “goals” were material: a four-bedroom house full of awesome vintage furniture, juxtaposed with all the latest gadgets. I continued moving down our list: a really nice washer-dryer set (I guarantee a decade of L.A. apartment-living will move this to the top of anyone’s fantasies), money with which to travel to exotic locales, money with which to go shopping without guilt about how I should be saving it, money with which to retire! But as I opened my mouth to answer, I knew these things were all wrong; I shut it and kept thinking.

We are by no means poor, but our dollars are certainly accounted for at the end of every month. Between both of our living expenses like rents and bills, food, transportation, pet care, and, now, wedding/honeymoon savings, we’re not at the point yet where we can splurge – especially in a city where surging living expenses are seriously outpacing incomes. But over the last few years we’ve weathered the stress from layoffs, unexpected bills, and education expenses with the best of them, and our relationship has felt a little more solid by the end of every storm. The realization I had can best be described as one of those “life flashing before your eyes” montages from a movie, as I remembered specific moments of affirmation from those times past.

I finally landed on a memory from only a few days before, right after Thanksgiving. Taking a walk hand-in-hand, we’d fantasized about the family we would one day build and which holiday traditions we’d create. Ah-ha! We wanted those bedrooms in our home to shelter kids and beloved visitors, money to take vacations so that we can give our children the same memories and learning experiences that our parents provided for us. A loving family was our shared goal, above all.

The strength we’ve found through love and creativity is why we’re proud to be a Broke-Ass Couple. I like to think that Broke-Ass doesn’t mean we don’t have money, it means that we have other priorities. Nick and I felt strongly when we got engaged that we should not spend a lot of money on the wedding, but by necessity of having the big family gathering we envisioned, we were forced to increase our ideal budget. Talking with our minister, who likes to work family into the ceremony as much as possible, reinforced the reason we’re doing all this in the first place: the actual marriage – the blending of two families into one, and the foundation of a new family unit.

As much as I’m stressing about catering (more on that next post), it’s been nice to take some time to focus again on actually getting married. What a relief, that the most important part of our whole wedding day doesn’t cost a damn thing.

 

BAB Throwback: Ask Liz – Jumpstarting Your Wedding & A Few Words About Bridal Shower Etiquette

 With BAB taking the holiday off, save for an EPIC Ten for the Weekend full of Black Friday deals and other goodies — GUYS: Pay attention, because you will find out where to get rad deals on twinkle lights, OK? — it seemed like a good time to take a trip back. This classic Liz post takes on etiquette in regards to bridal shower guest lists and gives the super basic rundown of how to even begin to tackle this whole wedding planning thing.

Beau-Coup Gold and Glitter Decor Kit

Dear Liz,

My brother is getting married in May and his bride-to-be has asked for my help with planning the wedding. We will have to travel about four hours to where it is taking place. There will more than likely be 50 (or less) guests in attendance, which is what they want. She doesn’t feel terrible about leaving a lot of people out on her special day especially since she knows a lot of them wouldn’t want to make the trip. I was just wondering is it acceptable to invite uninvited guests to a huge bridal shower in her honor??

Signed,

Shower Struggle

Dear Struggle,

Yeah … no. You really can’t invite people to the shower who haven’t been invited to the wedding. Showers = gifts and money. So basically you’re telling them that even though they weren’t important enough to watch her get married, they can still travel X amount of hours to give her a blender. Plus, you’ll be positioning your future sister-in-law – publicly — as “the woman that didn’t invite them to her wedding.” At some point, to someone, she will have to explain why, and probably have to do so over and over again.  Trust me, someone will mention it or ask for details. Awkward. Awkward, awkward.  If you are worried about a low turnout, invite the guys, too.

Dear Liz,

I just got engaged! Is there some type of simple check list, for starting to plan a wedding? Like…

1- Budget

2 – Guest list

3 – Dress??

I’m so overwhelmed by the whole process!

Signed,

In the Deep End

Dear Deep,

Welcome to Wedding World! First of all, bonus points for putting your dress third. That sort of practical thinking will get you far around here. Start with your guest list — his list, your list, and your parents’ lists. And, yeah, if your budget is a consideration, figure that out while you’re getting your guests together. You should reserve half of your budget for your ceremony and reception site, and your catering. A little perspective – a comparable wedding dinner at Olive Garden for 100 guests would be around $5,000. Those are also the first three things you need to pay for. Once you got that done, I give you permission to start shopping for your dress. You should probably book a photographer first, but there’s no reason to be a saint. Have fun!

Who did you invite to your bridal shower? How long did you resist shopping for your dress? Just engaged, and got questions? Let me know below! And, you can find out more about me and my slice of Wedding World at silvercharmevents.com.

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

 

See you at the end of the aisle,

Ask Liz: Tough RSVP Convos are Tough

In light of all the guest list talk around BAB this week, Liz’s post about RSVP conversations that should and really, let’s face it, NEED, to happen is very appropriate. Yes, this one deals with kids, much like Mellzah’s post, but it’s kind of a good jumping off point for all those other tough conversations — whether it be a kid, a fairly new significant other or that “Dude, he could be the ONE” after one night person that really, honestly, you don’t know and aren’t ready to have at your wedding. Because you guys, you can and will and sometimes have to just say no. Consider this your fill-in-the-blank advice for those conversations. – Christen

Ask Liz Tough RSVP Convos are Tough

Dear Liz, 

Our RSVP cards have begun to arrive in the mail! I found myself in a state of disbelief when I opened an envelope containing a card filled in with “Mr. X, Mrs. X, and 18-month-old Baby X will be attending.” Why disbelief? Because the invitation was addressed to Mr. X and Mrs. X only. We are not having any children at our wedding per my parents– who are 100% footing the bill. My fiance and I were in agreement until this happend. Now my fiance is upset that he has to tell his friend he cannot bring 18-month-old Baby X to our child-free wedding. I am, naturally, caught in the middle. Can you advise me on how to handle all parties in this situation (parents, fiance, X family…)? Thank you! 

Signed, 


No Extra Guests Please

Dear No,

It’s a tough conversation, but if accommodating his friend’s child isn’t possible, then you or your fiance are going to have to tell him that – that your contract with the venue does not allow children to attend, which is why you’re having a child-free wedding. You don’t have to go into why they put their child’s name on the RSVP in the first place  or that your parents are paying for it and it’s a budget issue.
You don’t have to apologize.  Just, it can’t happen, and you hope that he and his wife will be able to find childcare arrangements and attend on their own. That last part is important. Keep it casual, and keep it quick.
Seriously, though. You’re either going to have the tough conversation with your friends, or a tough conversation with your parents. Pick one.

 if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit  www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Ask Liz: Self-Catering Rules

Ask Liz: Self-Catering Rules

 

Photo: Andrea Chesley

Dear Liz,

How to do your own food (with a bit of help from willing friends/family) for your reception??? Food item suggestions and logistical tips especially!

Signed,

Self-Serving

Dear Self-Serving,

Funny thing is, I  talked to someone this morning who catered his own wedding, and he did not have fun with that.  Logistically, it’s a nightmare. You have to buy the food (for 100 people), then store the food before you can cook the food (for 100 people), wherever that’s going to be. Then you have to figure out when you’re going to cook the food (for 100 people) before or in between getting ready to get married, getting married, and whatever you have to do after you get married – take pictures, talk to your guests, and generally enjoy your wedding without worrying about the food. Plus, how you’re going to serve it, where you’re going to serve it, and who is going to serve/monitor it? A buffet will not relieve you of that responsibility. And, even if it’s for less than 100 people, you still have to figure out when and where you are going to do all these things. It’s not less work, it’s definitely not less stress, it’s just less food.

So, the first thing you need to do, way before deciding on a menu, is address each of the above points, every single one. When, where, how and who? And, remember that everything is going to take more time than you think. And everything takes longer if you have less people to manage it.

Menu? Keep it as simple as possible. No more than two entrees, no more than two side dishes, plus a salad. Stick with stuff you already know how to make, or that you and your family and friends can (and will) practice cooking before your wedding. Good but simple food. Not a lot of chopping, not a lot of ingredients, not a lot of steps.

Hey, you asked.

It’s doable, but obviously, I’m not recommending it! If you’re trying to save money, there are tons of restaurants – probably some of your favorites -that will cater less expensively. If you want to serve a particular dish, you can make that and add it to the buffet. But, if you are determined to do it yourself, don’t ignore everything you’re going to have to do in order to pull it off.

Does anyone reading have any experience catering their own wedding, or helping someone else do it? If you’ve got something to add, let me know in the comments below. And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit  www.silvercharmevents.com.

 

See you at the end of the aisle ,

 

 

Liz

Budget Wedding Myths That Need to Die

Last week on Facebook, a friend of mine, who’s also a wedding planner, linked to a blog about a $6,000 wedding. It was on her personal page, and it definitely wasn’t one of her weddings – that’s well below her usual clients’ budgets.  She wasn’t posting it because of  the budget, at all, she was focusing on the potential griminess of the Doritos bar the couple created. Yes, these are the sort of conversations we vendors have while amongst ourselves. We also talk about shoes a lot, but that’s a discussion for another day. Anyway … Budget Wedding Myths that Need to Die It was a very cute hipster wedding in a loft in Brooklyn. The bride wore Converse and a $300 dress, of course. The groom wore a bow tie and tight pants. It really did look like a lot of fun, and I personally, would be all over that Doritos bar.

But  $6,000 for a 100-guest wedding?

Photographer? $2,400.

Their clothes and accessories? ~$1,500.

The loft? They found it on Airbnb, $1,100 for 3 days

Rentals? $860. Metal chairs, uncovered plastic tables, and a small stage. I’m not judging, this is what they had, per the pictures.

Servingware? ~$300 Dinner?

Not included in the breakdown, because they got a, and I quote, a “huge” discount from a caterer friend.

Dessert: Ditto.

Videography? Ditto.

DJ: Ditto.

Appetizers from Whole Food? Also not on the budget breakdown.

The bar? Not even mentioned.

Decorations: DIY, pom-poms, spray-painted bottles with flowers in them, put together by family and friends.

Material costs, even? Nope.

At this point, I was gritting my teeth. Basing the actual cost of this wedding on prices in L.A., which are significantly cheaper than New York? At least $10,000-$15,000 is missing from this budget. Which is just … GRRRR … NOT FAIR.

And not helpful. Because, come on, you guys. Why don’t you have friends who are caterers, bakers, videographers and DJs? Why can’t you rent a loft from  a company that, in my experience, is fairly adamant about not renting for large private events? Why can’t you spend two days setting up and a whole day breaking down for your ceremony and reception ? Don’t you have space to spray paint 50 mason jars and store the flowers to fill them? Why come you can’t figure out how to only spend $6,000 — or less — on your own wedding?

The Myth of the Budget Wedding is that if it’s this cheap and easy for them, it should be just as cheap and easy for you, too.  But, trust me, this wedding was not that cheap, and definitely not so easy. I give the bride credit for acknowledging how lucky they were to have those hook-ups, though, I really wish they’d been more upfront about what they spent and how much they saved. Actually.

Is it possible to have a fantastic wedding for $6,000? Of course it is. But you need to have realistic expectations about what’s possible, what stuff costs, and how much time and energy you have or are willing to put in. Is it worth it? It will be. So, what do you think? Do you find these myths as frustrating as I do? What are you doing to realistically stay on budget, yourself?  And, if you’d like 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,

Liz

Ask Heather: What Are Our Other Registry Options?

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Image courtesy of cb4me

Dear Heather,

I’m helping my daughter with her wedding details. She and her fiance are 31 and 40 years old and have been living together for several years, so they don’t need the normal registry items like a toaster, a blender, towels, etc. They are hoping to buy a home together and maybe some larger pieces of household furnishings. Is a money tree an option? If so, how do you set it up and does it need to be attended at the reception? What about cards, or a gift basket? How do you address this issue in an invitation? Are there other options? I look forward to your input. Thank you.

Jlee (older generation mother-of-the-bride that got toasters!)

Dear MOB Jlee,

I’ve somewhat addressed this issue in a few previous columns, but I think it’s worth it to tackle it again, since it seems to be an ongoing issue with BAB readers.

When it comes to registering for a wedding, there are many, many options. Speaking of not getting a toaster, BAB did a post a while back about PresentValue, which is a way to ask for monetary gifts rather than more traditional items. Other options include Hatch My House and Traveler’s Joy, a honeymoon registry. Even with these types of registries, though, I would still have a more typical registry, since there are some guests who simply prefer to give an actual gift rather than money. I have faith that your daughter and her fiancé can come up with some material items they could use. Personally, I’m of the opinion that one can never have too many towels, and spare bedsheets are always useful. They could also register for upgraded versions of items they already have.

In regards to letting folks know where you’ve registered, it’s typical to include this information with shower invitations, since the whole purpose of a shower is to “shower” the guest of honor with gifts. You can also have a wedding website and include registry information on it, with the URL for the website printed on the wedding invitations. And simply letting close friends and family members know where the couple has registered also works.

As far as having a money tree, I’m not a huge fan of setting one up at the wedding reception. It looks a bit too “gift grabby” in that setting. Instead, I would have a basket or box for cards, and a table for those folks who bring the gift to the wedding rather than sending it to the couple in advance. Doing a money tree at a bridal shower, though, would be far more appropriate.

Are you planning on doing a money tree? Did you use a cash registry website? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask Heather: How Do I Return an Off-Registry Gift?

Ask Heather How Do I Return an Off-Registry Gift

Dear Heather,

I have an etiquette question for you. Someone sent me a gift in the mail, and it was off registry. It is a kitchen item I already own. It didn’t have a receipt, so I don’t know how or where to return it. What do I do?

Ansley

Dear Ansley,

Hopefully there was a card with the gift, so you at least know who sent it. If so, and it’s a close friend or family member, I see nothing wrong with calling them and explaining that, due to them clearly having fabulous taste, you already own what they purchased for you, and that you’d like to exchange their present for something you don’t already have. If they’ve already given you something, clearly they want you to enjoy whatever you end up getting! In a perfect world, they might even still have the receipt, which would make your life much easier.

If that won’t work, but the item in question is fairly common, I’d go to a store with a liberal return or exchange policy and simply ask if you can exchange it for something else, explaining that it was a present without a gift receipt included. You can verify ahead of time, either online or in person, that the store sells the item you need to exchange.

If the gift is uncommon, or only sold at stores with a painful exchange policy, you can attempt to exchange it for something else, or save it for later re-gifting. Just make sure you don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you.

Have you received any off-registry gifts that you either already owned or did not want? Did you exchange them or just end up keeping them? Let us know in the comments below!