Broke-Ass Tag: wedding etiquette


As a brand new Real Bride Contributor, I thought I’d share with you how I became a Broke-Ass Bride in the first place.

As a teenager, I worked at a hobby shop with an enormous magazine section covering every possible topic you can think of. I would cautiously walk past the bridal section but wouldn’t dare flip through any for some inane fear of jinxing myself into being a life long old maid. This is a true story. Aside from some casual Pinteresting, I’ve totally steered clear of anything related to wedding planning until I was actually engaged. Not to completely digress, but I never thought it was right to get my heart set on anything without having the groom in mind.

I always thought that the first thing I’d do after I got engaged would be to run out to the hobby shop and come home with an armful of bridal magazines to swoon over. A magazine in one hand, and a glass of chardonnay in the other. (The chardonnay was added to this daydream later, you know, after I turned 21.)

It didn’t exactly happen that way.


I ended up at Barnes & Noble since I live on the other side of town now, and I’m pretty sure that hobby shop is closed anyway. I did get my stack of bridal magazines, and also Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette (highly recommended, btw). I may, or may not have had my glass of chardonnay. Truthfully, I don’t recall and that detail is irrelevant.

What I remember is the sinking panic that resulted from the sticker shock I felt when I saw that dresses were upwards of $3000-$4000. Then I started looking at local photographers, and those were a few thousand dollars, venues were a few thousand dollars. I was going to have to figure out some way to pay for all of this. I was totally, and completely unprepared.

Do guests really expect a four-course dinner? In an upscale ballroom? With a DJ, photographer and videographer? Two hundred of my “closest” friends and family members? Pyrotechnics, glitter and smoke machines? {Eds. note: Always glitter}

A solid month or two of anxiety, hyperventilation and some brass tacks budgeting followed.

We’ve been engaged for five months now, and I can confidently answer these questions:

No, your guests expect nothing but to share in the joy of two people they love, making a commitment to one another. (And food. Yeah, probably some food.) Anything else is a bonus. No one will be disappointed if your wedding doesn’t resemble William and Kate’s, Kanye and Kim’s, or another celebrity’s outlandish wedding du jour. Wedding magazines are gorgeous, but they are often extravagant, and far from representational of what ordinary people actually do. There should really be a disclaimer, or footnote —  or maybe a declaration of the family’s income when magazines share real wedding stories.

Reading magazines and doing a little initial vendor research made me feel as though the one day that I’ve thought about my whole life would be a disappointment to me, and the people I love. A bride-to-be should never feel that way. That includes you, dear reader. This is how I became a Broke-Ass Bride.

I’ve accepted our frugal budget as a personal challenge. I refuse to go into any debt to pay for our wedding. I will also not spend the next 14 months being a hermit to save up for it either. This budget was created so that we can have a lovely wedding, and still enjoy ourselves in the meantime. Summer in Milwaukee is a pretty amazing place to be, and I don’t want to miss out on the festivals, rooftop patio-sitting, and other fun things that make this city great.

With a little due diligence, thinking outside of the box, and some trips to the crafts store, we’re going to throw the best damn wedding. I’m excited to share with you how we’re making this work, and hopefully provide a little inspiration to another Broke-Ass Bride at the same time.

  • 11/26

    Confession: I suck at writing thank you notes. It wasn’t something that was a thing, really, as I was growing up — I suspect my mother wrote them for me. Though, admittedly, this is NO excuse for not extending appreciation for someone else’s graciousness. I’ve recently been trying to change my stubborn ol’ ways (30 does that to you, y’all) and I found that if I have super awesome stationery, it helps because I really want to show that shizz off. However, when you’re writing thank you notes to dozens, if not hundreds of people — as you will in the days preceding and following your wedding — it can easily get overwhelming. So, BAB homegirls Emily and Rachel, who have literally written the book on thank you notes, are here to give us some pointers on how to get started, what to write and how to streamline the process.

    In Unison Thank-You Card from Minted

    In Unison Thank You Stationery from Minted

    Happy Thanksgiving Week everyone! It’s hard to believe the day we set aside for feasting with family and friends and giving thanks for all our blessings will be here in a few days. We know this time of year is extremely busy for everyone, especially brides. To help save you time saying “thanks” for the gifts you have received or will receive, we’re sharing some thank you note ideas today.

    Below are some sample thank you notes adapted from our book, “Something New: The Bride’s Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes.” These samples are geared toward popular gifts an engaged or newly married couple might receive during the fall season. The notes may easily be adopted for anyone’s use, though! Let us know if they help you.

    Sample #1:

    Dear Mrs. Oksan,

    Thank you for the pie server you gave Matt and me for our wedding. It is the perfect size for serving pie slices without tearing them. I also love that it is dishwasher safe.

    You were so kind to remember Matt and me with this wonderful gift we will be using frequently over the holidays. We both appreciate your thoughtfulness.



    November 11

    Sample #2:

    Dear Mrs. King,

    Thank you for the casserole dish you and Mr. King gave Jace and me for our wedding. It will be great to have a dish in our everyday china pattern for serving casseroles. I know we will use this often for the monthly potluck dinners we have with our friends.

    Thank you also for coming to our wedding. It was wonderful to have you join in the celebration of our marriage.



    November twenty-third

    Sample #3:

    Dear Mrs. Carmichael,

    The handmade quilt you gave Ben and me is lovely! Pink is my favorite color, and the design on the quilt is so intricate. It will be a wonderful heirloom to pass on to our children.

    Thank you and Mr. Carmichael again for such a beautiful and special gift. It truly is one-of-a-kind.

    Most sincerely,


    November 31, 2014

    Here are a few other tips to help you write your thank-you notes:

    1) If in doubt as to whether or not you should write a thank-you note, go ahead and write one. People always love receiving personal mail!

    2) If you feel overwhelmed and are not sure how to start writing, just set aside 30 minutes to an hour one day to start writing. If you need to, start with a draft or two. Once you have written a few thank you notes, you will probably find them easier to write. You can then start fitting your writing into smaller time slots, like on your lunch break during the week!

    3) Write thank you notes for the same gifts or similar items at the same time, when possible. Did you receive 8 dinner plates from 8 different people? Write one thank you note and consider copying it for all the other people who gave you dinner plates; just change the names in the notes and slightly change the wording. It is unlikely that people will compare thank you notes, even if they live in the same area. Save yourself some time!

    4) It’s never too late to write a thank you note. We don’t mean that you should purposely wait a long time to write your thank you notes. However, if you have accidentally forgotten to write one or two, or if you have gotten behind on your thank you notes due to life events that often pop up at the most inconvenient times, you should still go ahead and write those thank you notes. People would much rather receive a late thank you note than no thank you note at all.

    5) Organization helps when it comes to writing thank you notes. It’s ideal to gather the supplies you will need before you start writing to minimize any frustration. This includes choosing your stationery, making sure you have a pen that works well and gathering the names and addresses of your contacts.

    6) Be yourself. Genuine is always best. If you are usually a more direct and to-the-point type of person, don’t write a thank you note that is exaggerated and elaborate or vice versa.

    In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are offering a discount exclusively to The Broke-Ass Bride readers for purchases made through our website! Our print books and aluminum giftware will be available on our website at 20% off from now through Monday, December 1st. Please enter code THANKS14 during checkout in order to receive the discount. Quantities are limited, so be sure to place your order early if you are interested in something specific.

    Something New: The Bride's Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes

    Our eBook price is also reduced this week on Amazon from $7.99 to $2.99.

    If you have any questions about wedding thank you notes, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • 10/10

    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…

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    Image courtesy of Creature Comforts Dear Heather, I just got a notification that a wedding guest pledged a large amount of money towards my honeymoon fund registry. This person is a new friend of my fiance; I've only met them once. Do I thank them right away or just send a thank you after the wedding, which is in two months? Is it weird to…

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    Flutes from Beau-Coup, Made with PicMonkey Dear Heather, The next thing on my list of things to do for the big day is make a list of people giving toasts. But it feels awkward to ask people to toast to you, right? I'm uncomfortable asking. But then again -- the last wedding I went to as a bridesmaid, I wasn't asked ahead of time to give…

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  • 12/6

    Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what's up! Dear Liz,  My fiancé and I have finally (!) picked our wedding venue and now we are to the point where we are selecting our photographer, caterer, and florist. Our venue has a list of their preferred companies, but I don't know if I want to use them. For instance…

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    Got a question for Liz (Coopersmith)? Go to the Contact page and let us know what's up! So, last week, the crew here at BAB  was offered an interview with Lizzie Post, the Great-Great Granddaughter of Emily Post. Yes, that Emily Post. Lizzie has put her famous last name to good use, tackling taboo etiquette topics on TV, radio, in magazines and online. She's also authored…

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    Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what's up! Dear Liz,  We're getting married in a month, and we've already gotten a few gifts. Should we send out Thank You Cards now, or wait until after the wedding? What if additional thanks is needed? Signed,  Early Bird  Dear Bird, Oh, my God, YES. What an absolutely fantastic idea, do…

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  • 5/14

    Excuse me while I rant for a moment, BABs, but maybe some of you can relate. Why the heck will hardly anyone RSVP for our wedding? Sure, we did go the non-traditional route by sending out video e-vites instead of paper invitations.  But still!  We included the link to our wedding website at the end of the video AND in the original email!  Our wedding…

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