Posts in the 'Wedding planning' Category

Ask Heather: How Do I Even Start Planning a Wedding?

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Image courtesy of Larry Donoso

Dear Heather,

Is, “where the heck do we even start?” a sufficient question?


Dear Jessica,

Absolutely! I suggest starting with the trifecta of guest list, venue, and budget, as all of them directly impact the other in non-negotiable ways. The absolute first thing I recommend doing is making an all-inclusive, “if we get to invite absolutely everyone we want,” all-out guest list. Have your parents contribute, if they desire. This is basically your dream guest list, and your actual list will likely end up being smaller.

Once you have your dream guest list, pare it down as much as you can, to those you truly would love to have in attendance. You might end up having to cut it down further, but at least this gives you a ballpark. After all, there’s no sense even looking at venues that have a maximum of 75 guests if your realistic guest list is 150. The opposite is also true — if you and your partner want a very small wedding, don’t bother with venues that have ballrooms for 300 people.

Now that you have your list, talk to everyone who might be contributing financially to figure out a budget. There are all sorts of pieces of advice out there when it comes to choosing a budget, but I suggest simply calculating what you can afford to spend and doing your absolute best to work within those constraints.

At last, you’re at the point where you get to consider venues. Depending on how many people you want to invite and how much you have to spend, you might need to be flexible in regards to dates. In general, Fridays and Sundays are less expensive than Saturdays, and off-season rates are obviously cheaper than more popular times. When it comes to off-season, though, that’s definitely a local preference. For instance, July in a northern state might be lovely, but in a southern state, it could be a sweltering hell.

And now, my lovely readers — where did you start with your planning process? Did you take the “trifecta approach”? Let us know in the comments below!

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:


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!

Real Bride Tiffany: First Comes Love, Then Marriage, Then …

There comes a time in a woman’s relationship when others begin to question her desire to reproduce. For some, this comes with the ring. For others, much before that. I don’t remember when my questioning began. All I know is that is pisses me right off.

Real Bride Tiffany First Comes Love, Then Marriage, Then ...

In my 20s I was in the “supposed to” relationship. The one that I was supposed to be in after graduating college. The one where I moved in with him (and his mom — don’t even get me started on that poor decision) because I was supposed to. And I pressured him to propose to me because he was supposed to. The entire time not realizing how incompatible we were and how unhappy I was. Because I was doing all of these things as society dictated. Back then, I answered “yes” to the children question because … why wouldn’t I? I never considered the alternative. I didn’t realize I had such a choice.

For some women, having children is their dream and priority and that is fine. For them. When I get asked if we are going to have children, I usually respond quickly and firmly or just giggle it off like I don’t know any better. LOLZ yes we are just having cats! Which would also be an acceptable choice. My real answers would offend people, which to me is offensive in return.

No, we are not going to have children. Not right away at least. We may change our minds, we may not. Either way, why does that have to be the natural progression? We would rather take these years to enjoy each other, and the relationship we have worked so hard to build. We want to work on ourselves and our careers and building a comfortable life. Because if you don’t take the time to build a strong foundation, why would you keep building up? And then maaaaybe possibly we will one day consider bringing another human into our world. MAYBE POSSIBLY. In the words of one of my dearest friends, “CAN I LIVE?!?”

So rather than asking your newly engaged friend or newlywed couple about their reproductive goals, a better question might be, “What’s next?” I bet they might have a better answer for you anyways.

FYIz: Make a Speech Worthy of the Best Man Title

This is for all the best homies out there (and could easily apply to you maids of awesome or anyone else in a posish of honor / being handed the mic at a wedding). Because giving speeches isn’t always easy, especially if you’re not really sure how to do the whole “Knock ‘em dead because that’s what the Best Man does” deal. But remember: Be yourself, because yourself is who the bride / groom chose for this awesome job on their wedding day, so your speech should echo that. Hope this helps!

5 steps to making the perfect best man speech



What about you, BABs? Do you have a foolproof way to prepare and get through a speech? Tell us in the comments below!

Designer Dresses on the Cheap, Bass-Thumpin’ Beats and Giving the Boobies Support

You might know — or maybz you don’t — that The Broke-Ass Bride is a national partner of Brides Against Breast Cancer. Because we love the boobies, we love a good cause and their Nationwide Tour of Gowns is a great source for BABs to support a good cause and find their coveted wedding frock for a great price.

And this past weekend, the Nationwide Tour of Gowns set up shop in Fort Worth, Texas. So, with Funkytown only being a hop-skip-and-a-jump away (er, 45-ish minute drive thanks to my lovely friend Liz), I figured it would be a good time for me to go check it out live and in person, and holler at some of y’all by helping with any questions you may have and offering up a signed copy of “The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide” as a raffle prize.

BAB's Christen sets up shop at Brides Against Breast Cancer's Fort Worth event

I got this ModCloth dress for the conference I spoke at in NYC a couple of weeks ago, but it’s pretty much my favorite right now … y’all, it has pockets. And it fits like a glove, even on my 5’2″ frame.

The Fort Worth event, held at the Worthington Renaissance (OMG, guys. It’s so pretty. And they have salt scrubs in the bathroom) was a two-day event, with Friday being a VIP deal (pricier tickets but with food, booze, bigger prizes and you get the first pick of the gowns) and Saturday playing host to the regular shebang.

cake babc

The food was good, the bubbles and cake were ridiculously good. I don’t normally dig fruit-flavored grub, but that champagne-and-strawberry cake on the right was so delightful.

A number of brides were able to find their dresses on the first night, and the very first gal who did find her dress was gifted a bottle of bubbly by the hotel, had a mini-makeover by the gals at Mary Kay and of course was fawned all over by everyone. Which, natch, when she came by the BAB table, I had to get a pic, too.

Bride with dress picked at BABC's Fort Worth stop

She has a face. I promise. But for privacy sake, I blurred it out.

Over the weekend, the Fort Worth show sold 27 dresses, which is pretty decent! I snuck into the dress showroom at one point to have a look around and see what kind of gorgeous goods were being offered up (there was a gorgeous one-shoulder Grecian-style Nicole Miller that was marked for around $730 — and retailed over $2,000). It’s a little chaotic, because brides are vying to get to the dresses before one-another, but BABC volunteers maintain a decent modicum of order.

The Dress room at BABC Fort Worth


The quality of this photo sucks. I apologize. But look at the gowns!

And gals don’t just come for the dresses — there was a DJ, who is available for weddings, set up (with a disco ball!) to hold a dance-off and keep the energy high the whole weekend. The aforementioned ladies from Mary Kay were on hand for makeup tips and tricks and a host of local vendors were set up to offer up their services and provide giveaways. I, personally, talked to probably around 200 brides the whole weekend (theres a girl who is planning a wedding in the DFW area for around $5000 and I made her PROMISE she’d email me all the goods when it’s over).

Proceeds of the dress purchases and tickets for entry go toward support and education services for those who have been impacted by cancer.

If you’re still gown shopping, the BABC’s Nationwide Tour of Gowns is a great source for finding that gorgeous dress for a BAB-friendly price, and if you’ve already gotten married, please consider donating your gown (or time!) to this awesome cause — and give the boobies some extra support!


Real Bride Emma: With Wedding Booze, There’s Trouble Brewing …

Let’s talk about booze. Because over here in the continuously tipsy British Isles, weddings and booze go together like birds of an inebriated feather. Weddings are often judged on just how much free-flowing alcohol there was, and whether anyone got so drunk as to not be able to remember the entire day. Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 19.47.35

Just your average booze-filled English wedding.

When we booked our wedding venue, we first thought we’d just let them provide drinks and be done with it. But the more we investigated, the more we felt that by doing it this way we’d have less control over what was served, and also that we might not be able to afford the volume of drinks that we would like to offer people. Most venues offer “packages” and ours was no different. Reducing the provision to a number of drinks per head just felt a bit, well, scroogey. So we decided to provide the booze ourselves. Michael, being the hands-on and generally practical man that he is, has decreed that he will brew us Elderflower Champagne for the reception drinks. (Here is a link to a recipe if you don’t know what it is … That’s right, I linked to the BBC, because I am THAT English.) He has already done one batch as a trial, which worked reasonably well (although you have to add a bit of extra flavour to it). He promises that next year will be even better, and at a cost of around 50p (~$1) a bottle, it’ll be absolutely broke-ass to the core. Next stop is a local wine fair to bulk buy an awful lot of wine, and perhaps a few other little treats. Marvell- *hic* -ous Amdram Bride – out.

Dana’s Wedding 2.0: What I’ve Done Differently This Time Around

Less than 7 weeks out from my wedding to Paul, and I’m struck with how very different this time around has been, in every possible way.

Dana's Wedding 2.0 What I've Done Differently This Time Around

Illustration by Astrid Mueller

Let’s recap the last wedding:

  • 31 years old
  • Together nearly 7 years by the time we wed
  • Engaged after 5 years
  • 20 months of planning
  • 100 guests
  • Well-defined theme
  • Location we had no connection to
  • Family-style dinner
  • Epic dance party
  • Week-long honeymoon

And now let’s have a gander at this one:

  • 36 years old
  • Together 1.5 years by the time we’ll wed
  • Engaged after 7 months
  • 11 months of planning
  • 38 guests
  • No defined theme
  • Location with a lot of meaning to us
  • 20-course tasting menu
  • Epic dinner party
  • 3-week honeymoon

So much can happen in the span of 5 years! My priorities have definitely shifted, and many were as a direct consequence of the experience of planning my first wedding. For instance, our larger guest list the first time around made for a very lively, crowded dance floor. But there were people in attendance that day whom I don’t even remember seeing, much less having any sort of meaningful moment with. So, when it came time to decide on a size this time around, I lobbied for a smaller, more intimate party, in which I could connect with and enjoy the company of every person in attendance.

And being in my mid-thirties means I’ve had more than my fair share of booze-fueled epic dance parties and wild exhibitionism. Now I tend to crave a bit more of a civilised type of fun. Since Paul and I are criminally serious foodies, treating our nearest and dearest to a multicourse molecular gastronomy meal by one of the top chefs in the country made perfect sense. In keeping with my tenet that your wedding should be an extension and expression of yourselves, this kind of dinner party suited Paul and me perfectly … and tells our guests a lot about who were are.

Our reception space — SAAM at The Bazaar

Our venue, the SLS Hotel, was designed by Philippe Starck — so it’s dripping with style at every turn, which makes things easier for us, as it requires little to no decor efforts on our part. Only some flowers to dress up the ceremony space, maybe a backdrop at the altar, and that’s about it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The months and days leading up to Wedding No. 1 were a marathon of last-second design, shopping, organizing, and panic. This time will definitely be a much smoother ride.

Having had nearly two years to plan the first wedding, I was free to go down just about every twisty rabbit hole of possibilities, details, possibilities, hacks and DIY project around. And believe me, I considered them all. It was great, because we had more time to save money and find the thriftiest deals … but it was definitely dangerous in terms of becoming overwhelmed by options. This time, we’re less concerned with every little detail —  partly due to time constraints and partly because of a fundamental shift in my priorities. It’s allowed a much more wabi-sabi or zen-like approach to the process — allowing for a few choice design elements, but letting the venue and food make more lasting an impression than highly-customized, tiny details ever could.

bazaar-122609-9737 (1)


And the SLS has been a very meaningful location in our relationship — home to some of our most sentimental, romantic memories. From our second date, on which he told me I was the one for him; to the time we took my sister there a month later and he made a big romantic speech, declaring that he planned to “marry the shit outta me” and leaving us both in sappy, happy tears; to celebrating the release of my book with our parents; Valentine’s Day; and our 1-year anniversary … and on and on. All of these memories happened at The Bazaar, and thus it is the perfect place to make our lifelong vows.


Another reason a smaller wedding was the right choice for us is because it freed up our budget to make the honeymoon large and in charge! We’re hoping to have kids as soon as possible after we’re married, so we’re viewing the honeymoon as our “last blast” before kids. We’re spending seven nights in Paris and 16 nights in Seoul — traveling around the world in pursuit of romance and some of the best food in the world!


From here …


 To here!

Having been through planning a wedding once before has afforded me the luxuries of knowing what really matters and what doesn’t. What details are worth the expense and trouble, and which one’s we’d never miss. I certainly don’t advocate divorce … but having the hindsight in this case has really worked in my favor. And I’m not gonna lie, it feels right that this wedding is so very different than the first. It frees me of any complicated feelings I have about how I got where I am, and allows me to experience my re-bridalization as something completely new, fresh and unlike anything I’ve done before. Most importantly, it gives Paul and me a platform on which to build our future that is distinctly us, and for that, I am entirely grateful.

Let the final countdown begin!!!


Happily Invites You to Its Crazy Cat Party + Mega Giveaway!

Guys, I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled Five for Friday because our friends over at Happily are stirring up some major awesomeness re: wedding planning. And they’ve been doing some pretty baller giveaways, but today’s is by far the mostest bestest. I’mma let them explain, but first, there’s this:

You good? Good. OK, now we’re going to let them tell you allllllll about the fluffy goodness that’s in store!

Happily’s in the midst of developing a top secret wedding planning app — and one that’s being powered by the largest collective of top wedding planner professionals. Ever. (As far as we know.) So instead of getting a pretty-but-not-quite-pragmatic app designed by an established wedding empire looking to expand into tech, it’s being designed by wedding planners for anyone is in need of planning his or her wedding.

The result: a powerful app that’s pragmatic, super easy to use and even a little on the addictive side. And guess what? They’ve just hit a major milestone and are celebrating with a crazy cat party, giving out a slew of glamorous and cute objects featured in their recently released Ultimate Cat Wedding Video. {You watched it above. Because I would never make you wait for that.}


But they’ve saved the best for last.

Today, Friday, they are are offering a $3,000 wedding planner package for brides and grooms alike.

Friday happily - 01

What it includes:

• 12 monthly planner meetings with an experienced, top Happily wedding planner

• 12-Hour Day of Coordination Team on your wedding day

• Customized Wedding Planning Templates

• Rehearsal Coordination (one of the few things brides think they don’t need until it ACTUALLY HAPPENS)

• Vendor Concierge

• Venue Concierge

• Personal Assistant (4 hours/month)


Give them some love! Socially. No, really, freak them out. Every like, regram + @happilywedding tag, follow, re-pin, #HappilyFreakOut comment and subscribe counts as an entry into the contest. Contest runs until midnight 8/15/14.

Happily Wedding Feeds

Twitter: follows and comments #HappilyFreakOut EACH count as an entry into the contest

Instagram: follows, regrams + tag @happilywedding and comments #HappilyFreakOut EACH count as separate entries for the contest

Pinterest: follows, re-pins and comments with #HappilyFreakOut

YouTube: subscribe and comments with #HappilyFreakOut

Facebook:  likes and comments with #HappilyFreakOut — each count as an entry!

Want to sign up to become an alpha tester for their new app? Go HERE.

Go forth, ye Broke-Asses, and comment/follow/like/pin/repin until your heart’s content!

Our Readers Spill What They Wish They Knew On Their Big Day

While I never, ever want someone to regret their wedding day, like many other events in your life, there will be takeaways that you wish you had been able to implement. And, doing what we do here at The Broke-Ass Bride, we try to help — help with shopping, inspiration, tutorials, ideas and, of course, advice. Because we’ve been doing this for a minute (or, you know, since 2008), we know one of our most valuable resources is you, darlings. So, of course, we hollered out on our social media platforms to see what y’all had to offer up to our BABs-to-be.

What's the No. 1 thing you wish you had known before your wedding day

Timing is Everything:

 I wish I’d known just how fast the time would go by! I would have made the ceremony earlier so I could breathe!

- Ashleigh

[I] wish I knew I wouldn’t have time to speak to everyone “naturally”. I wish we had gotten up and walked around to each table during dinner and thanked everyone for coming.

- Tricia

That I really needed a timeline! Because of delays caused by other people, I was an hour late to my own wedding!

- Kimberly

Communication is Key:

I wish I would have known how to better communicate to my husband all of the things he needed to get done, without feeling like I was being a nag. I’d been telling him the whole time, but about three days before the wedding, he totally freaked out about how much he had to accomplish.

- Heather

Family First: 

I wish I’d better planned a moment with my dad before he walked me down the aisle.

- Stacie

Your family will expect certain things of you, but they won’t tell you directly. Make sure you communicate as well and concisely with them as possible to be clear about your intentions, and — especially to family — send thank-you notes. Your friends may be cool with less formality, but your family may not be.

- Christen

Make Good Choices:

Do not serve asparagus at your wedding…your bridesmaids will thank you later…. Lol

- Shane

[I wish I knew] How much actual work goes into the details. I’m not very detail oriented, and without a lot of help, things would have gone bad very quickly. … Realize that weddings make people planning/helping with them crazy, and try not to hold this craziness against them when all is said and done.

- Elizabeth

Remember What It’s All Really About: 

Every day since would be better and more important than the wedding day.

- Tyke

Despite what goes wrong, if you end up married to the person you love at the end of the day, the wedding was a success.

- Elizabeth

What about you, married BABs? Anything to add?