Broke-Ass Tag: wedding advice


Real Bride Elissa: Putting Together the Wedding Puzzle

Love must be in the air: Between my graduate school cohort, the assistant lecturers with whom I share an office, and my Facebook news feed, I think I’ve seen about 10 engagements, six weddings, three babies, and one vow renewal in the last month alone. All this love and excitement lately has me feeling a little nostalgic; as a person who had a Pinterest board full of ideas (and even a Save the Date design) well before my actual engagement, I thought I was ready. to. go. once I had that ring on my finger. Even at the fancy dinner my brand new fiancé treated me to the evening after our engagement, visions of cake tasting and sunset ceremonies were dancing through my head. I couldn’t even look at the menu, I was so wrapped up in potential dates and venues. “Babe,” I remember him saying, as he stretched his hand across the table to hold mine, “we’ve got plenty of time for that. Let’s focus on how amazing our lives are right NOW.”

The day after that, we had brunch with some recently married friends. After the ooh-ing and aww-ing over our engagement story, the first thing out of their mouths was this: “Just take some time and BE ENGAGED. Don’t even start thinking about the wedding for at least a few more weeks.” If I hadn’t heard it the first time, it definitely sunk in the second. For the next few weeks, anytime someone pried me for details about the wedding, I’d tell them that “Your guess is as good as mine! Right now we’re just enjoying this time.” Though a few people looked surprised, most agreed that was wise.

I didn’t realize how much I’d appreciate that advice until I officially got started with planning. I got overwhelmed pretty quickly; I didn’t have specifics in mind, and was just reaching out willy-nilly to venues and vendors I liked, with basic questions like “How much for a wedding sometime in May?” I think I got on the bad side of one caterer, as I didn’t have a solid date, didn’t have a number of guests, and hadn’t a clue what I wanted on the menu. Each email response got further and further apart, and eventually he just stopped answering my questions altogether. The first few venues I emailed astounded me with their price quotes, to where I was convinced that a big-city venue could not be had for under $5,000. That led to a lot of stress about my budget, until I realized that while I had a decent strategy in collecting quotes from a variety of vendors, I was thinking about it all wrong. Even if a place or vendor seemed a little out of reach, it was worth at least checking their price and availability; once I knew what I could get for $5k, I’d see what I could get for $4k, and then $3k, and then $2k, etc. When my results stopped coming anywhere close to my vision, I knew I had established my range and could really focus my search. I wouldn’t have appreciated how amazing my final choices were if I hadn’t done so much research (and gone through so many letdowns in the process).

I started researching in the spring of 2014. Since it had to be a summer wedding due to my school schedule, many venues were already booked up through Fall 2015, on top of the crazy prices! Once I actually started finding vendors I liked, I quickly realized that the venue was the linchpin of all my planning — the style of the venue would influence my dress, the decorations, the theme of the paper goods, even the meal. And once we found our perfect venue, it even changed our wedding date, based upon its availability. Once we had that though, everything else fell into place. I now had a base for my budget, I was able to narrow down vendors within a certain mile radius of the venue, and could easily envision the style and mood I wanted my wedding to have. And surprise, I didn’t end up using a single idea I’d pinned to my wedding board before I got engaged. Now that I had my fiancé’s input and started thinking in real numbers, in real time, my REAL wedding took on a whole new life.

So now that I’m one of those recently married people, if I had to give my own advice to the newly-engaged, it would be this:

  • Don’t start planning your wedding right away. Take a week, take a month, take six! Talk about how excited you are spend your lives together, not about how you’re going to spend one particular day. Enjoy this warm, fuzzy feeling, all of the good wishes, and some free dessert when you go out to dinner (photo evidence below).
  • When you do get going, quotes are your friend. No one is judging you if you ask for a quote. Even if you don’t have any information at all yet, pick a few reasonable dates and numbers and see what you’re dealing with (and then thank the vendor for their time). Reach out to anyone and everything that tickles your fancy, and even some that don’t for comparison. Once you have a basic idea of what things are going to cost, start putting together the puzzle pieces until you find a combination that fits. And just like you start puzzles with the corners, officially begin your wedding puzzle by locking in that venue.
  • And finally, don’t get wrapped up in the wedding you thought you were going to have! Especially if that wedding came entirely from pictures you’ve seen on social media and wedding blogs. Together with your fiance, pick a few key priorities (e.g. photography, food, wine), then let your wedding grow organically from your everyday passions, and even the reality checks you encounter along the way. My mantra is “Everything happens for a reason,” and this was never proved to me more than during wedding planning.
Elissa Stooker
  • 10/30

    Hiya BABs! What have you accomplished in your planning this week? Now be honest, how much of it involved Pinterest?

    Pinterest can be a double-edged sword for couples planning a wedding, both your BFF and worst enemy, the coach in your corner, or your opponent about to take you down for a TKO. Arguably, social media may even be killing weddings. In today’s post, we’ll examine The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of planning a wedding with the help of Pinterest.


    The Good: Pinterest is a Warehouse of Wedding Inspiration

    I’m sure I don’t need to tell most of you about the advantages of using Pinterest: It’s a gorgeous, centralized place to store your visual inspiration for weddings or any other project or event you’re planning — a veritable digital picture diary, if you will. House redecorating? Pinterest to the rescue! Need tips on cleaning, holiday recipes, or a DIY craft idea for homemade gifts? Pinterest has it all — and if not, you can easily add almost anything you find on the Web with the click of that little Pin It button. You can share secret boards with family, friends, or your hairstylist or wedding planner (if you’re going that route) while hiding surprises from the rest of the world. Or you can share images you find, and tag friends, like, or comment to keep others in the loop.

    Pinterest Color Trends

    The Bad: Pinterest Enables Indecision

    Pinterest has to be one of the top purveyors of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), right behind glossy magazines and “reality” television shows. There’s always more to see, and the sheer quantity of pins and therefore options and ideas can seriously overload the senses. It’s easy to get lost in the “research” (legit!) and never take action, making it a perfectly unproductive distraction from the more challenging and less pleasant wedding planning tasks. (Fess up! How many pins do you have in your Stuff Imma Make Someday board?) And we’ve all seen (or even experienced … ahem!) the Pinterest fails — expectation vs. reality. DIY projects often require a degree of skill that may not be disclosed in inspiration images — especially if you don’t bother to click the link to the source page — and our optimism might overshadow reason. (“I can totally knit 150 mini-sweaters for beer bottles as favors for my wedding that’s a month away!”)

    Pinterest Gowns

    The Ugly: Pinterest Might Blow Your Budget … And Your Confidence

    Worst of all, though, is that Pinterest can fuel neverending consumption, the longing for more, more, MORE!!! And that’s bad news for BABs planning budget weddings. You’ll put together your Wedding Inspiration Board only to see The. Most. Amazing. Wedding. Ever. on Pinterest two months later and want to change the entire thing, right down to the venue you’ve put a deposit on or the fully paid gown sitting in your closet. Guys, I’m here to tell you that this is dangerous, both for your budgets and for your sanity- – as well as the sanity of those around you.

    The Solution: Moderation With Inspiration

    So what’s a Pinterest-addicted BAB to do? My recommendation is to give yourself a month or three to explore Pinterest (and any other inspiration sources) to your heart’s content, then talk it over with your partner and settle on a loose design concept. With that in mind, going forward pin whatever you like — but pin ideas that don’t work with your current budget and plans to a separate Stuff I Love board. That way, you get to hold onto the idea for future inspiration without clouding your vision for your wedding, or overextending your budget trying to do All The Things. Once decisions have been made as to your main decor and functional elements, PUT DOWN THE PINTEREST AND NO ONE GETS HURT.

    Limit your time on inspiration sites like Pinterest, especially once you get past the six-months-to-the-wedding mark. If you’re prone to getting FOMO and feeling badly about yourself or your wedding when you see something amazing, ditch the inspiration sites altogether, at least until after the wedding. (But really, if that stuff makes you feel terrible, I’d suggest skipping it entirely. There’s no reason to subject yourself to unnecessary sources of stress or negativity!)

    If you use the safe Pinterest practices outlined above, there are plenty of hidden gems that will help you to save money while planning the next Pinterest-worthy wedding … yours!

    PSSST! When you do get images of that gorgeous and creative wedding you’ve planned (and possibly built with your own two hands), we’d love to see ‘em!

  • 10/28


    It’s getting down to the wire. The distance between us and our wedding is no longer discussed in months but rather weeks and pretty soon it will be mere days until we’re there. It’s been a long time getting to the altar for us but now that it’s almost here it feels like we’ve had no time at all to prepare. Add to that that…

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    Katie and Andy are Married!

    Credit: Traynor's Photography We're married! Everything went really well. The only minor snafu was that the best man didn't realize that our rings were supposed to get passed around the crowd, and he was so afraid of losing them that he kept an iron grip on them. The officiant didn't notice, and so he said all the ring warming text even though the rings weren't…

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    Hello to BABs everywhere, and welcome to the show to all newly-minted brides! I apologize for being MIA, but as the saying goes, "after the party comes the after-party." In this case, I mean honeymoon, family vacations and annual weekend trips with friends. Speaking of honeymoons, I should probably tell you about ours! Although we're the kind of people who don't really like to relax when…

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  • 10/2

    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…

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    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…

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    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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  • 9/11

    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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