Posts in the 'wedding decor' Category

Real Bride Tiffany: When to BUY, not DIY

Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I often convince myself that I can create ANYTHING. Even though my brain and my severe lack of patience tell me otherwise. Even so, my wedding crafting to-do list reached about 10 items too many. To resolve this problem, I turned to my best Internet friend, Etsy.

BABs, if you are unfamiliar with Etsy, get outta town! But keep reading first. Etsy is like that one friend that can do anything and everything and oh, how you envy her skills. And every now and then you find such a well-priced handmade item on Etsy that you just simply can’t turn it down. Because the cost of supplies and patience to create it yourself are outweighed by the joy in making that little click to buy a homemade, handmade item from a small business. Here are some of the items I purchased for our wedding:

etsy

1. flower girl bracelet from Stargazing Lily | 2. cake topper from The Path Less Traveled | 3. clipart from Shh Maker Design | 4. garland from Funky Frills UK

Etsy browsing has become one of my many online hobbies, and I’ve purchased from quite a few different sellers. These ones in particular (with the exception of the clipart because you get to download it immediately and there is no interaction) feature great customer service and fast shipping. And trust me, I’ve had my bad Etsy experiences. We’ll talk flower girl dresses at a later date, maybe. But you guys already know my … ahem … skills as far as DIY is concerned, so for me it sometimes just made sense to throw money at it rather than try for the potential headache.

So BABs, my advice to you would be to take the time to browse a variety of Etsy sellers {Eds note: Aftcra is also a fabulous resource, and its wedding section is schamazing} before making a decision. Create lists of your favorites shops and items (within Etsy, not like actually on real paper). Check shipping costs and speeds. And if that cost is low enough, why not spend a little dough to check one of those many DIY projects off your list? Just click “buy” and let the Etsy pros do it for ya!

Five for Friday: Space-Inspired Extras for Your Wedding

In honor of the premier of the new season of “Doctor Who” this weekend (and because I have a serious obsession), it’s a perfect time to holler out to my Whovians and give a nod to those space-lovers out there for this Five for Friday. These are all fairly subtle accents, so it’s not like you’re going full geek — not that there’s anything wrong with full geek, some people just aren’t as apt to go that route as others. And they’re all under $75, so you can reach for the stars with your! (Sorry) Geronimo!


Navy Blue 24 Inch Paper Star Lanterns – $11.95

from: Luna Bazaar

Paper lanterns are fantastic. Add a little twist with a star shape!


Galaxy After My Own Heart Heel – $64.99

from: ModCloth

These are adorable, and the lower, chunkier heel probably won’t cause many problems comfort-wise. Maybe they’ll make you feel like you’re … wait for it … dancing on clouds! (Too much?)

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 10.05.01 AM

 

I Just Need Some Space, Man Astronaut Necklace, £16.50 (~$27)

from Eclectic Eccentricity

Guys, I own this necklace and I love it so. It always gets rad compliments, too.


Gold Confetti Stars, $8

from Amazon

Gold. Confetti. Need I say more?

Galaxy’s Greatest Glow-in-the-Dark Undies in High-Waisted

Galaxy’s Greatest Glow in the Dark Undies in High-Waisted, $25.99

from ModCloth

These can totes be your little secret … and guys, they glow in the dark, so your honey won’t have any troubles finding you.

How are you letting your geek card fly for your wedding, BABs? Do you have any ideas for upcoming Five for Fridays?

Ask Heather: Non-Spendy Alternatives for Flowers

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Image courtesy of Photo Pink

Dear Heather,

I refuse to spend big bucks on flowers. What else could I use?

Brittany

Dear Brittany,

The possibilities are endless, and I love non-floral decor. I even have a tag on my business blog dedicated to this very topic. Because I have faith in your ability to Google for images, I’m only going to include a handful of links in this answer. Mostly, I’m just going to throw out options.

When it comes to centerpieces, my favorite floral alternative will always be candles. They can be floating candles or clusters of candles or only a couple of candles surrounded by petals (yes, flowers, but way cheaper than whole flowers). The key here is to make sure your venue allows open flames. Some do not, and it would suck to get your heart set on something that’s forbidden.

Other centerpiece options are stacks of books, feathers, silk fake flowers, paper flowers (there are *tons* of tutorials out there for making paper flowers, including one on my blog involving coffee filters or this one in The Broke-Ass Bride archives), or vases with glass beads or other items (maybe ornaments with your wedding colors for a Christmastime wedding) inside them. Or, heck, you could just use pretty colored vases, sans filling.

For bouquets, I found a Pinterest board devoted to eco-chic floral alternatives. There’s also a lovely post on Offbeat Bride devoted to nontraditional bouquets. For those who don’t feel like clicking on those links, some of the options include ornaments (again!), brooches (BAB’s own Christen had a brooch bouquet!), feathers, and paper flowers.

When it comes to general decor, I love the look of fabric pennants or streamers. I did tissue paper pomanders for aisle decor at my own wedding, which is what’s pictured at the top of this post. There are also many options for using balloons, or fabric back drops (think photo booth), or tulle hanging from the ceiling, tied in a stylish way. Gah! So many beautiful options!

Are you a fan of non-floral options? What are you planning on using? Let us know in the comments below!

Winning Wednesday: Get Pumped with a Party Disco Light Kit from Spencer’s!

OMG. YOU GUYS. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am (and clearly, a little jealous) about this giveaway.Spencer's Giveaway Redux.jpg

Images provided by Spencer’s. Collage made on PicMonkey.

Because of my v. steadfast rule opinion that every wedding should have a disco ball, I busted my butt to try to make this happen for one very lucky Broke-Ass Bride. And thanks to our seriously fun and awesome partner, Spencer’s Gifts, it is!

I very firmly believe that life with disco balls is better (bourbon, cats, Champagne, cupcakes, unicorns, glitter and burritos also count) and therefore, everyone should have one. And certainly, every wedding! Because, real talk, disco balls are one of those fun things that harken to prom or that awkward-squirmy 6th-grade dance where you finally got a kiss on the cheek from that dreamy boy in your gym class, and always add a great sense of nostalgia and sparkle. And aren’t weddings always full of nostalgia and sparkle? So, you know, duh. Perfect.

So, as per usual, each option adds an entry — do all the things on the list, get 9 entries! And, we still love you, but this giveaway is open only to residents of the US.

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

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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.

paper bouqet

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 also 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 also 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

DIY With Jenny Doh: The Hollywood Glam Frame + Win Jenny Doh’s Book, Stylish Weddings!

jennydoh

Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon was inspired by the famous premier signs of old Hollywood  movies for this project. There’s something so glamorous and exciting about big flashing  twinkle lights! For the inside of the frame, you could have a photograph, or follow Tiffany’s lead and create a chalkboard. It’s the perfect canvas for adding your own creative stamp to the wedding décor.

What You’ll Need:
Large vintage frame, with sides at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) wide
Tape measure
Strand of umbrella lights with globe bulbs
Black permanent marker
Wire cutters
Drill bit and drill
Scrap wood block
Staple gun and staples

What You Do:
1.  To arrange the lights evenly around the frame, measure the length and width of the frame, and then count the sockets on the strand. Measure and mark out the bulb spacing with a permanent marker.

2. If the sockets have umbrella clips, use wire cutters with a cutting edge to remove them.

3. Choose a drill bit slightly larger than the socket width, so that when you drill the frame, the socket can slide into the hole. Using a scrap wood block as backing for the frame, center the drill tip in each mark and carefully drill a hole from the front side of the frame through to the back. You may need an assistant to hold the frame to keep it from moving while drilling.

4. Remove the bulbs from the sockets and, starting at the bottom corner of the frame, push the socket closest to the cord end through the back of the frame. Carefully centering the staples over the cord (you do NOT want to puncture the cord), staple the cord to the frame on either side of the socket. Repeat with each socket.

5. Secure excess cord with more staples, or use tie wraps to tie excess cord together.

6. Screw in the bulbs and plug in the lights.

To make a chalkboard similar to the one pictured, cut a piece of Masonite board to the dimensions of the frame.  Spray the Masonite with several coats of black chalkboard spray paint. Let dry. Place the  painted board into the frame and use chalk to write a message for the guests.

Jenny Doh’s book, Stylish Weddings: 50 Simple Ideas to Make From Top Designers, takes all of the frustration out of the home creation of fifty different beautiful wedding details, spanning six different themes, so you’re sure to find something that will fit in with your wedding’s style. This week, we’re giving away one copy of Stylish Wedddings: 50 Simple Ideas to Make From Top Designers to one lucky blog reader! Want it bad? Get an easy free entry by subscribing to our newsletter. It’s packed with the best steals, deals, and wedding giveaways on the web, and we’ll never spam ya!

 
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Ask Heather: Dark Romance NYC Wedding on a Budget

Photo courtesy of Weddingbee

Dear Heather,

I’m a broke ass bride. My fiance and I are paying for our whole wedding, and my really optimistic budget is $8,000. My MIL keeps telling me not to worry about money, that she is going to help, but I’ve asked her directly what she can contribute and she doesn’t know… So I am planning the wedding as if that money does not exist. Did I mention, to make it all tougher, we are based in NYC?

The wedding is the evening of 10/25. So far we have a (probable) venue and a (probable) caterer. We’re transforming a raw gallery space and having a BBQ buffet. Because we are getting married close to Halloween, we are planning a red and black, dark romance, wrought iron and roses feel.

My question is, with my limited budget, how do I set a casual, fun feel for the wedding without looking cheap or tacky? What should I specifically avoid? I can’t afford a stylist or planner, so I’m looking for your good taste and lessons learned.

Thanks!
Ansley (and Derrick)

Dear Ansley (and Derrick),

Before I tackle your stylistic questions, I want to make sure that you’re on track with your budget. As a general guideline, approximately half of the total wedding budget tends to go toward venue and catering. Based on your probable vendors, hopefully this is realistic. If not, you need to reexamine some priorities. Also, I think it’s wise to not count on your MIL’s possible contributions until she gives you a hard and fast number. Worst case scenario – she chips in and you have extra funds. Whoohoo!

As far as your letter … the word “tacky” makes me sad. No matter what you do, odds are someone at your wedding or someone who hears about your wedding will find something about it that’s tacky. All weddings are at least a little tacky. Let’s all please promise to let go of tacky. All it does is tear us down. And now, a pause while I climb off my soapbox.

Okay. Now onto your questions! Quite honestly, I’m not really sure that “a red and black, dark romance, wrought iron and roses feel” meshes with “a casual, fun feel”. The former seems quite formal, while the latter obviously is not. So, I’m going to do my best, but I suggest that you give more consideration to how you want your wedding to look and feel, as there is a bit of a disconnect right now.

For your wedding, I suggest focusing on a few things: (1) Rather than doing formal floral centerpieces, I love the look of candles and scattered petals. This will likely be less costly, and everyone looks fabulous in candlelight. The catch here – make sure your venue allows candles, as some do not. (2) Give a thought to using some DIY uplighting. Lighting can have a really dramatic effect on an event, and it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. This will be especially helpful if your rental company only has white linens, which leads us nicely into (3) Don’t be afraid of using linens with a bit of color to them. Some rental places will charge extra for non-white tablecloths and napkins, but this is not universally true. Having some colorful linens will help with the dark romance theme without damaging your budget. (4) Do your best to buy used decor from another couple and sell the stuff you use when you’re done with it. There are a lot of sites that allow you to list and browse merchandise (the classified section on Weddingbee is the one that springs to mind most readily, but there are definitely more out there), so go to town seeing what you can find. (5) Definitely look for wedding inspiration online–I’ve seen gorgeous gothic weddings that pull off reds and blacks beautifully.

As for what to avoid … You’ll likely want to smack me for my lack of specificity, but avoid anything that doesn’t make you happy. People will judge you no matter what you choose, but if you and your fiance like something, that’s all that really matters.

Do you have any other suggestions as to what decor Ansley (and Derrick) could use? Or did you have something “tacky” at your wedding? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Real Wedding: Lanny & Destry’s Super Intimate Rustic Vintage Soiree Under 5k

 

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 community that has watched them sow the seeds of their relationship, helped them nurture it, and witnessed it flourish.

Names: Destry & Lanny

Occupations: Destry is a design drafter,  Lanny was an administrator for a private travel company but currently attends business school full-time

Wedding location: Kingston, Idaho

Wedding date: July 27, 2013

Wedding budget: My crazyperson spreadsheet tells me our final total was $4,300-ish.  We didn’t give ourselves a hard maximum.  Instead, we decided to spend by priority.  Neither of us gave two hoots about centerpieces or expensive favors; instead we cared about food and photos and got INCREDIBLY lucky on both counts.  While we spent a lot less than the national average, we still feel like we spent an enormous amount of money for one day.

Approximate guest count: We limited our invited guests to 40, but counted on 35 attending for sure. We only invited our immediate family members and very close friends.  Destry is the oldest of five, so you can imagine that it adds up quickly.

How would you describe your wedding? At the risk of sounding cliché and ridiculous, I’d describe it as a balance of country, rustic and vintage.  We kept it subtle though. We didn’t want guests to feel like we were beating them over the head with kitschy crap.  We didn’t have time or energy to invest in kitschy crap either.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s a cliché, but it’s so true: It’s really hard to choose one favorite.  I would say that driving from our hotel to the venue together was so special and important to me.  We both had a chance to be alone together, in our own car, just being together, quietly.  Because we knew it was going to be such an emotional day, that short drive was so important to both of us.

We were lucky to have an equally-meaningful moment alone at the end of the night after everyone had left.  The sky was inky black with bright stars and the barn was lit up with twinkling lights woven throughout the Virginia creeper that covered its entire frame; we stood silently at the top of the hill wrapped in a blanket, looking down upon the scenery and reflected on the deluge of pure love we’d experienced that day.

What did you splurge on? Without a doubt, the food and furniture were our most costly expenses.  Our wedding was held over 60 miles from our home in Spokane.  So, we felt it was important that we provide a really solid meal to our nearest and dearest if we were going to drag them to a mountain farm in the middle of the woods.  Have you ever been to a wedding on a Saturday at 6:30 pm, only to find that it’s a cake and punch reception in the church gym/basement/lobby?  Those are basically the worst (in my opinion) and we were against that at all costs.

Additionally, we really scored with a venue that embodied everything we hoped for and wanted to provide some aesthetic continuity by using furniture that didn’t clash.  We found an up-and-coming furniture rental company out of North Idaho who provided some stunning pieces for us.

Also, I know it’s silly, but I totally went all out with my hair as well. I was pretty close with my hairdresser at that time, but after her two previous attempts at formal styles left me crying in the car we decided to go another direction.  My hair is fairly long, but I wanted it longer for the wedding, so she offered to pick me up some extensions with her discount and color them to match my hair.  After several unanswered texts and voicemails left me feeling like a jealous ex-girlfriend, I bought the hair myself and scheduled an appointment with someone else.  I ended up spending a small fortune on the whole ordeal, but it felt worth it:  $200 for the hair, $70 to color it, $50 for the trial and $100 for the wedding day style.  (I feel compelled to note that I’m still pissed that I spent as much as I did on the day of the wedding because the salon’s active price list shows the trial hair as included in the total price.)

So, what became of my former stylist?  Well, I finally heard from her three days before the wedding letting me know that she had blocked out the entire day and we could go get hair, color and style it starting at 9 AM.  A note about that – the wedding took place on a Saturday, and the hair extension shop isn’t open on weekends, so despite the sketchy billing practices, I am glad I opted out.

 

What did you save on? Ev-er-y thing.  We saved by doing our own flower arrangements – actually, we didn’t use flowers at all. We bought raw cotton online and put everything together. The allergic reaction was totally worth it.  Picture, if you will, my then-fiancé and I in our non-air-conditioned kitchen, trimming and cleaning raw cotton bolls.  We spent countless hours picking dried leaves out of the cotton so we could spend ADDITIONAL countless hours stringing each one just-so on jute twine and arranging them into our respective bouquet and boutonniere.

I had intended to splurge a little and treat myself to a morning of girly pampering, however that never materialized.  I scheduled a makeup trial a few weeks prior to the wedding, but I didn’t feel that this woman was listening to me.  I’m 30, and I don’t think it’s in my best interest to try out a new personal style on my wedding day.  I’m old enough to understand what looks good and what works for me.  Since I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl, you can imagine how hard it was to mask my disappointment when she revealed my potential makeup.  Winged eyeliner and I are never going to be best friends, nor do I have aspirations of acquainting myself with berry lip-stain.  Adding insult to injury, I paid $75 (after tipping, because I’m a doormat) for a look I couldn’t wait to wash off my face.

Ultimately, I didn’t feel that she was especially honest or talented so I lied and canceled my appointment about a week before the wedding, citing something about the cost being budget-prohibitive.  The (supposedly) agreed-upon rate was $100 for both sessions, but I had already effectively paid the bulk of it after listening to her talk shit about everyone else in town while she applied makeup that didn’t match me or my coloring.  After the rage-tears subsided, I went to Nordstrom (alone) and met with the only kind of makeup artist I can trust with utmost confidence – a gay man.  I showed him a photo and he whipped my look into shape, directing me to all the right products and showed me how to recreate his work at home.  I hugged him, and practiced nearly a dozen times before the wedding and I’m thrilled with my choice to do my own.

The piece-de-resistance, though, were our photographers.  We happened to have two very close friends who are, not only incredibly talented, but provided their services for free.  Without their generosity, as every bride knows, we would have EASILY doubled our expenses.

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? Looking back, I would have asked more people to help.  We would have had a little more fun during the planning stages if we’d allowed more folks help us out from the beginning.  Instead, we stubbornly refused offers for help until much closer to the wedding date.  That cotton-stringing party I mentioned above?  Ultimately, my in-laws came to the rescue with four additional hands for stringing.

I can’t quite remember why we were so secretive about planning, but I suspect part of it had to do with a bizarre idea that someone might steal our ideas? Weddings make people crazy.  Like, crazy-crazy.

What was your biggest challenge in planning? 1.) Hurt feelings. If I had known beforehand, how personally other people would take our wedding choices, we might have eloped.  We received unsolicited suggestions, advice, and requests for invitations for people we’d never conceive of including in our celebration.  It was an ongoing challenge of (and testament to) our patience, kindness, and ability to tolerate other people.

2.) Money.  It would be so much easier to throw everything on a credit card, but that’s not our style for anything we do in life.  We felt incredibly fortunate to have been in such a position that allowed us to do everything we needed and wanted to do on our own terms.  Still, having more money might have abbreviated our timeline considerably but we don’t regret any of it.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a contingency plan.  ALWAYS.  For good measure, have three or four backups.  We picked out a favorite restaurant to host our rehearsal dinner and made reservations to hold the date (I can’t remember if we paid a fee or not).  A month before our wedding, my best friend drove up from Portland, Oregon for a bridal shower hosted by my mother-in-law and I had hoped to take her to dinner there … as we were walking up to the building, it dawned on me that they weren’t just not open, they were closed.  Like, for good.

Obviously, we ate elsewhere, but I was determined to keep from getting ruffled by the situation.  Later in the week, my fiancé and I ate at another restaurant that had recently undergone a major renovation and appeared to be a great place to host our rehearsal – so we booked it on the spot.

By sheer bad luck, we were forced to resume our search on June 17 (about a month before our wedding) because our second choice BURNED DOWN.  I crowdsourced suggestions on Facebook and had friends beg me to stop ruining Spokane with our wedding.  It was about this point that I stopped giving a shit about it but it turned out to be better than I ever could’ve imagined.  A family-owned bar/café where we spend Saturday nights playing trivia stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam (those are the same sport, right?) with how they handled our dinner.  We told them how much we could spend, the headcount, and offered a vague suggestion of the kind of food we liked.  It was such a success that our families are still raving about it to this day.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding? It was a day full of love and laughter and ridiculously delicious food.  Because we chose to invite literally nobody outside our immediate families and our closest friends it made the day so ridiculously special, I still struggle to elucidate my feelings.


Top 5 least favorite? We had a lot of people offer to help or provide something (mostly food) and we were far more comfortable hiring people to do that job for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) sanitation.  Remember, if you will, the comment above where I mention that the venue and our hometown are sixty miles apart – now imagine chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and basically mayonnaise-based anything in someone’s back seat for nigh on two hours.  Sounds like fun, right?  Sorry to let the booster club down, but I’m not trying to battle diarrhea on my wedding night.  For the sake of feelings, let’s just say it’s because I want everyone to have a good time and avoid being unfairly labeled bridezilla, okay?

One of my photographers is married to a former marine and bodyguard.  Why on earth is that even remotely of consequence?  Because my husband’s ex-girlfriend (one he’d broken up with before we even met; IN 2002.) has a super-adorable habit of making her presence known.  Neither of us expected anything especially dramatic, but he studied photos as a precaution and kept her out of sight when she did, in fact, show up.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received? “Just relax! It’ll all come together” – Everyone who ever planned a wedding but experienced a subsequently immediate Telenovela-style bout with amnesia. Nothing ever just “comes together” and anyone who suggests otherwise probably didn’t have a DIY wedding if you know what I mean. Are you fucking kidding me? RELAX?  I am relaxed (sort of), but I am still allowed to give like, ONE shit about how this day goes down.  Will I remember all of it, not likely; but I don’t expect to.

The best? From my older sister, more than ten years ago: “Wedding planning is so stupid. It is literally the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.”   Having done it, I can confirm that she’s right. The wedding itself wasn’t stupid, but the kinds of things that consumed my thoughts throughout the planning process were so cosmically insignificant; but they felt so god damned essential in the moment.

Second best was between my husband and me – it became kind of a mantra between the two of us: “This is our party; our wedding is not our marriage.”

Any other bits of wisdom? Just Relaaaaax!  Okay, I’m kidding … kind of.  It’s easy to get upset and overwhelmed when people overstep boundaries, but standing up for yourself is the best thing you can do when you’re planning your wedding.  I desperately wish I had just told a few vendors to piss off directly instead of skirting the issue as if their feelings were supposed to take precedent above mine.  I wish I had been more assertive and direct when people acted in a way that made me feel like they were taking advantage of an emotionally charged event.  But there’s nothing I can do about it now. (Except write some passive-aggressive Yelp! reviews.)

Oh, and don’t you dare listen to anyone who has the nerve to tell you that you must spend more or else your wedding won’t be “everything you ever dreamed of.”  Your wedding will be everything you dreamed of because you’re marrying someone you love.  Anyone who suggests otherwise is presumptuous, snide and condescending.

 

Budget breakdown

 

TOTAL

VENUE

$235.00

FOOD

$1,128.85

FURNITURE

$961.57

OFFICIANT

$200.00

LIQUOR

$200.00

FLOWERS

$250.00

CLOTHES (D)

$300.00

INVITATIONS

$105.00

HAIR

$420.00

CUPCAKES

$135.00

REHEARSAL

$400.00

 

    TOTAL:  $4335.42

Wedding vendors and links:

Venue: French Gulch Farm and Garden, Kingston, ID

Furniture Rental: The Attic, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Catering: Couple of Chefs, Spokane, WA

Attire: Bride – David’s Bridal, Spokane, WA Groom – Duchess Clothier, Portland, OR

Hair: Bride – Douglass McCoy, Spokane, WA Groom – Porter’s Barber Shop, Spokane, WA

Bride’s Makeup: BRIDE!

Flowers, bouquet and decor: Bride and Groom designed all decor using dried wildflowers and cotton purchased online. Tabletop arrangements were styled by Groom’s brother and sister in law. (Bride made bouquet, Groom made his own boutonniere)

Rings: Bride (same ring, except blue) Groom

DJ:
iTunes, operated by Groom’s brother

Invitations:
Designed Online, Printed at Home (We purchased the full suite; including save the dates, thank you cards, and custom map)

Photographers: Andrew Callaci (Portland) and Nicole Varnell (Spokane)

Twice the Awesome: Reuse Your Wedding Things as Home Décor

*This post brought to you by our friends at Luna Bazaar*

So now that you’re starting to get into the nitty gritty of the wedding planning, I’m sure you’re starting to think about and look at the details. And OMG. There’s soooo much to do, so much to make, so much to buy! All the deets have to be perfect!

Chill, darling.

While there are a bajillion and a half amazeballz pics of wedding details strewn across the internetz (yes, even I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the little thangs), they don’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, there are a lot of little things you can do to ensure you aren’t wasting your dollaz on a one-time-only, use-it-or-lose-it kind of décor purchase:

1. Inject a good amount of YOU into your purchases.

You know how all of Weddingland says that your wedding should still represent you, just a shinier/more colorful/more expensive/more dressy/etc., version of you? Well, kinda. Definitely keep you, your partner and your life in mind when deciding on your wedding theme. And if you’re looking to stretch your budget, keep in mind the kind of décor you like to look at, over and over again. I mean, if you’re uber into color and disco balls (ahem, moi), then find colorful, sparkly objects to surround yourself with.

These Disco Ball String Lights from Luna Bazaar shoot off cool beams of light, which make them perfect to illuminate table centerpieces or for a little sexy accent above your bed.

Yeah, that’s right. I keep a Wyoming license plate and a badass unicorn poster over my bed.

Can you feel the sexytime mooooood?

 

2. Go timeless, but in a way that excites you.

Now, I’m not saying stick to all white or don’t pick something new and funky-fresh, just make sure it’s something that makes you happy. Chinese lanterns are a pretty go-to pick for wedding decor. They add a little oomph and are oh, soooo cheap to pick up by the many. Obviously all white is classic and elegant, but you’d be surprised what a mix of colors can do. Whether you go monochromatic or have a colorsplosion, Luna Bazaar offers a RIDICULOUS range of sizes and shapes, to mix up the fun. And when the party’s over, hang them from your ceiling for a little extra decor oomph. Since they assemble and disassemble super easily, they’re a no-brainer when you have to move or redecorate.

BONUS: If you have a feline friend, it will be captivated by the moving globules above. Which, for you, is wildly entertaining.

 

3. Go for functionality.

You know what the best kind of decoration purchase is? The one that can be used for a holy buttload of things. Candle holders can go from sweet centerpiece accents to the source of seductive lowlight around your living room. Baskets can hold programs or favors and later, your stack of Real Simple magazines. And vases of all sizes and shapes are useful for pretty much anything, from change jars to pasta containers to a pretty way to stash cotton balls.

This Turquoise Blue Frosted Glass Vase decorates my kitchen table, often with a single daisy in it.

And this Vintage Green Glass Vase operates as my office supply wrangler. So much better than one of those weird office store caddies.

So, really, what it comes down to is cost per use. And since we here at The Broke-Ass Bride are all about making the most out of every dolla dolla bill, we want to make sure our skrilla is spent wisely. That means finding multifunctional items that can easily translate from the fantastic fête that is your wedding over to your cozy abode. It also means shopping at places, like Luna Bazaar, that won’t rob you blind and offers a whole helluva lot of choices. And when all is said and done, and you spy those fun disco ball lights out of the corner of your eye, you’ll remember dancing the night away with your love and all your posse around you. Who wouldn’t want to remember that?

Do you have any burning decor questions? Need help on how to stretch those dollars and find multiple uses for one item? Let us know in the comments!