Broke-Ass Tag: wedding advice


Natalie and Rich Laguna Beach elopement 7

Credit: Seth Heringer

Hey BABs! You might recognize me from the Can’t Afford It? / Get Over It! posts over here. I’m a wedding planner based in Cleveland, Ohio, with a knack for helping couples to plan EPIC weddings on a budget.

If you’re wondering why it’s my words in your eyes today and not Liz’s, well, it’s because Liz is retiring from The Broke-Ass Bride advice columns so she can dedicate more time to working in-person with awesome clients while ya know, maybe having a little time left over to spend with friends and family — not an easy decision, I’m sure, but a totally understandable one.

Liz is a fantastic writer, savvy planner, and advocate for BABs like yourselves. Her columns have always been informative as well as entertaining and sometimes sobering. We’ll miss her wit and wisdom, and wish her the best, and above all thank you so, so much for her five years of very dedicated service to The Broke-Ass Bride. If you want to keep up with her part of Wedding World, check in over at Silver Charm Events.

It’s one tall order to fill Liz’ shoes (yeah, I mix metaphors — what of it?), but I’m honored to help out the BABs! So on that note, this week’s question comes from a reader, who says:

I came across your TV show…

Guys, BAB TV SHOW. Pretty exciting stuff, right?!?! Dana posted about that very TV episode earlier this month.

…and wanted to reach out to you, and get some information on how I can get the most value for my buck. My dream is to have beach ceremony and inside reception. My theme is blue orchid and that’s about all I got in my head so far. My wedding is not until next year and we had a date but it has to change because we were unable to make the deposit by the deadline that was required. We are looking to try to keep at a 100 guest but it could go to 130. We live in Chicago and the location is nice and intimate and what I want, except no beach ceremony, I do have the option to have it in the garden patio, however the location is 40 miles outside the city. This will get a little pricey when it comes to traveling for my out of town guest and that’s 80% of my guest!!!! BROKE ASS BRIDE PLEASE HELP!!!!!


Beachy Keen


Dear Beachy,

First thing’s first: deep breaths. It’s easy to feel like you’re tossing around inside a washing machine with all the moving parts involved in wedding planning, and I can tell by your message (and the accompanying exclamation points) that you are feeling pretty overwhelmed right about now. Amirite?

The easiest way out of overwhelm is to break things down into bite-sized chunks, so let’s tackle this one piece at a time, shall we?

Get some help. Find a friend or family member who is the most organized person you know, and enlist their help. Explain where you are in the planning stages and pick their brain for organization hacks to keep you on track. (There are lots of phone and web apps to help with this, too.) Fortunately you were able to keep your favorite venue by switching the date, but you’ll need to take a few steps now to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (But no worries! You’re back on track and YOU CAN DO IT!) 

Budget. Next, if you haven’t already, sit down and flesh out your budget with your partner (and maybe your Most Organized Friend or a family member, if anyone else is contributing to the wedding). That budget needs to be ship-shape! Once you know your budget, as soon as you start booking vendors (or the venue), plug your payment dates into your calendar. A shared calendar is even better — two or more people can watch the date and see changes in real time. If you’re a last-minute type, in addition to the deadlines, add reminders at intervals that will give you enough time to plan and save up for the payment — say, three months and then one month before every payment due date. Have fun with this! Use highlighters, colorful markers, stickers … you get the drift.

Set aside a Wedding Fund. While we’re on the subject of money, if you haven’t done so already, start a separate account ASAP — whether it’s in an actual bank or a piggy bank — where you keep the Wedding Fund, and *only* touch that money when you’re making payments for wedding expenses — or deposits, those are cool, too. BABs gotta be extremely disciplined about our expenses! Say it with me, I am in control of my own wedding budget. No one else can make me overspend!

Guest list. A range of 100-130 guests is just under the national average, but to quote Yoda, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” If you want (and can afford) 100 guests max, then invite no more than about 105-120 guests. (An average of around 5%-20% of wedding guests decline the invitation.) Unless someone else is paying for the wedding in full or in part (in which case you’ll need to consult with them about how the guest list and budget may be misaligned), you have complete control over the guest list. Time for more mind control tricks (humor me and visualize a swinging pendulum). Repeat after me: I am in complete control of the guest list. I will invite no more than 120 guests. 

Reba and Andy Wedding

Credit: Alison Yin

Beach. Only you know whether a beach ceremony is a must-have or whether a patio ceremony will make you happy. Food for thought, though, you can still have a local waterfront wedding (weather and city permits permitting) and then an indoor reception in a different location. Or you can have a beach-themed wedding on the reception venue’s patio, using a few well-placed decor elements that incorporate a beach vibe. Italian restaurant chains are notorious for creating a rustic, Italian countryside ambiance … in the middle of midwestern suburbia … so you can totally turn an intimate restaurant setting or outdoor patio space into a beach-inspired wedding!

Travel. It’s awesome when couples think of their guests’ comfort and expenses — kudos to you for keeping it in mind. Guests traveling out of town for a wedding are accustomed to figuring out travel arrangements, though (and you could be a peach and help them out with that in your invitations by including maps and suggested lodging and travel accommodations), so 40 miles ain’t no thang — unless the alternative is to have the event at a hotel within walking (or shuttle) distance of the airport, then you could do that instead. My gut tells me you want that venue, though — enough to bump your date after a missed payment. Especially if your deposit is non-refundable, it’s your best bet to stick with the intimate venue you’ve selected.

If you’re still concerned, there might be affordable transportation options you can cover for your guests. Does the hotel have a shuttle? What are the average taxi rates between your venues, the hotels, and the airport? Offering that information will go a long way toward making your guests comfortable. Finally, you might let out-of-town guests know that their presence is their gift to you — no additional gifts required or expected. You might lose out on some registry gifts, but then your guests won’t get the double-whammy of travel expenses on top of the expense of their gifts to you.

Party on!

– Lisa 

Planning a wedding in Northeast Ohio? Here’s where you can find me for wedding planning assistance.

Got a planning question? Ask us in the comments below!

  • 9/23

    Affiliate Disclaimer New

    MagicCityDesigns get Shit Done Mug

    A little daily caffeine-filled reminder never hurt. From Etsy seller MagicCityDesigns

    Big revelation this week for me: I’m not the only person getting married! After all the stress of the last few weeks, I finally managed to download all my pondering, worries, and tasks to El Fiance.

    BABs: Top Tip for a stress-free wedding is INVOLVE YOUR PARTNER!

    I know it can be tempting to take it all on ourselves, to feel that if you want a job done you have to do it yourself (and maybe assisted by Maids) but the reality is that you’re getting married to someone that you can trust. What’s the point of making vows around doing everything together until you’re dead, if they can’t shoulder the burden of planning the thing with you?

    After making a spreadsheet of tasks, and then sending them to the boy, we have managed to:

    1) Buy two-thirds of all the wine we need
    2) Decide on and confirm with the registry office all of the song choices, readings and wording for the ceremony
    3) Finish sending out all the invites
    4) Order the cheese board

    Mad progress.

    A note on cheese:

    I thought long and hard about having a cheese wedding cake (as in, stacked wheels of cheese to resemble a traditional wedding cake). But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was form over function. You end up with one huge block of cheddar on the bottom, and a tiny amount of goat cheese at the top. And who wants that? I want huge hunks of cheese of all kinds. Hopefully my guests do too — because that’s what they’re getting.

    Till next time BAB’s and BAG’s,

    Am Dram Bride, out.

    Emma Watkins
  • 9/22

    milwaukee historic third ward by ron cogswell

    Ah, wedding style. I feel like choosing a wedding style is similar to choosing a major in college. From starting college as a graphic design major, then a social services major (I was gonna save the world!), then finally graduated in interior design. Today I work in web development, so -- just goes to show you that where you start out, is rarely where you finish.…

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    Ask Liz Wedding Time vs. Catring

    Dear Liz,  The second deposit for my venue is due next week, and when I looked at the contract and thought about what we want to happen that day, I'm starting to freak out. Our wedding is next month, we're getting married at 5pm, and the music has to be off by 10pm, so we can be totally out by 11pm. With the ceremony, cocktail…

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    vintage blue suitcase wedding decor

      Suitcase available from Etsy seller VintageAtmosphere Have you wondered what you’re going to do after the wedding with the loads of fake flowers, chalkboards and whatever other delightful piece of wedding décor you couldn’t bare to part with? You may even have magical ideas of turning it into a wreath for your front door or re-purposing it for the holidays. Of course, some make…

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  • 8/28


    Photo: Andie Freeman Photography Dear Liz, My fiancé and I are in the very beginning of planning our wedding. Naturally, we started with the venue hunt. But now we have a small problem. I  found a beautiful venue, it barely needs decoration, and it's sooo unique. However, they  only have one exclusive caterer, and they don't impress me. With our budget we would only be able to afford a…

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    A little reminder can help. Print by Etsy seller Hairbrainedschemes My friend Mindy is a Disney wedding blogger, and during her Q&A on Periscope (@MindyJoyM) yesterday, a bride asked her if she should cut one of her bridesmaids. It wasn't working out. Her bridesmaid didn't seem to be into the wedding and all it entailed, should the bride let her go? What would the best way to do…

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    Photo: Clane Gessel Photography Dear Liz, I've gone from being a Broke Ass Bride last year to  a Broke Ass bridesmaid this year, and I'm having a hard time with the transition. I've never been in a wedding before,so I have nothing to compare it to really, except for my own wedding.  I had to beg, borrow and steal to pull off my wedding, and we…

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  • 7/27

    With our wedding day fast approaching, we've started to pay more serious attention to our registries. As a second time bride, I can't emphasize the following enough: REGISTER FOR THE WAY YOU LIVE. From bridal websites and magazines to the consultants in the stores who take advantage of your excitement over holding a scanner gun,  there is a lot of pressure to register for a…

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