Posts in the 'Wedding planning' Category

Five for Friday: Gorgeous Invitations from Marchesa + Wedding Paper Divas

affiliate disclosure

Happy Friday, Broke-Asses! I recently got a hot tip that beautiful, illustrious fashion house Marchesa launched a collaboration with our ever-adored partners Wedding Paper Divas to make some seriously stunning invitations. Here are my five favorite offerings from this killer partnership:



Sumptuous Swirls, $184 for 100.



Night Blooms, $184 for 100.



Breathtaking Blossoms, $184 for 100.

lithe_lace-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-blackLithe Lace, $184 for 100.

beaded_flair-signature_white_wedding_invitations-marchesa-cashmere_pink-pinkBeaded Flair, $184 for 100.

Aren’t these invitations swoonworthy? Which is your favorite?



There’s No Sinking Feeling with Solemates

affiliate disclosure

You guys, I’m admittedly the worst high-heel wearer on the planet. I live for my flip-flops (no, seriously. If there isn’t snow in my direct walking path, flip-flops are on my feet. And I’m from Wyoming, so that ‘s some serious dedication). I’m 5’2″, so you’d think the opportunity to be just a little bit taller every once in a while would get me going, but really, the only time I’m faced with the prospect of rockin’ a killer pair of stilettos is for a wedding or some other schmancy event. And those are usually in the spring or summer and outside. Since I’m laughingly far from a dainty ballerina who can flit about on her toes, heels + grass = inevitable sinking, which takes me back to my starting height, but adds a splash of comedic relief as I try to unstuck myself.

SM logo_no HH_web

For years, I’d been seeing the Solemates High Heeler around the Internets — but I think my initial introduction was in a wedding magazine, when I was planning my first wedding. And my curiosity has been piqued ever since. Last November, in Florida for my fella’s cousin’s wedding, I was finally in a situation where I could try them out for myself … and nudge right into the good graces of his family by getting a pair for the bride’s mother — who was wearing a pair of killer heels that would have javelined themselves right into the soggy lawn. That’s what I like to call a double-win, if I do say so myself.

I got them, immediately put the Solemates on my go-to black strappy heels and dashed — er, rather, hobbled like a baby giraffe learning to walk, because I’m that graceful — outside to see if they really, truly, actually worked. And they did. Duh.

This is me. For realz. Can’t you tell by the unicorn outfit?

So, what are they and what do they do? Solemates High Heelers are little plastic things that stand about an inch tall, slip onto the bottom of your heel and expand the base size of your heel, keeping you from sinking like a stone or falling through the cracks in the boardwalk. They come in clear, black, silver or gold, and since grass is typically taller than an inch, you can’t see them in your wedding photos. Not that people are closely examining what’s going on with your stiletto anyway, though I guarantee that there will be chicks who note that you and your needle-thin spikes seem to be floating above the grass and will ask you what your secret is. They come in different sizes — narrow, classic and wide — to accommodate different heel fatnesses (making up terminology here, folks) and you can pop them on and off different heels to reuse for each wedding and each different pair of shoes. Bonus for you city slickers: Wear them with your heels on cobblestone to protect your precious kicks and save yourself some skrilla by making your trips to the shoe doctor less frequent.


If you’re planning on wearing your fanciest shoes for your wedding, or as a bridesmaid, you should probz get some of these. And if you’re the bride, go ahead and get the Wedding Rescue Kit, one for yourself and one for each of your girls. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the long run. With a huge swath of goodies inside (earplugs, tampons and antacid, just to name a few) any wedding disaster can quickly be averted and the partying can continue.


Real Bride Jess: Registries … aka Buy Us Presents

Wedding registries are hard. Everyone’s telling you “don’t forget anything!” “register for more than you need!” “don’t forget China!” “you can always return it!”

Why can’t I just register for the things I want? Neither Michael nor I drink coffee so we really don’t need a coffee maker. My parents have used their wedding China maybe one time, so I probably don’t need wedding China, can’t I just get regular cute dishware? I do see the use of those “things most brides forget to register for” lists, I like to look at those lists! But I don’t think I’m a bad bride for ignoring the item Espresso Machine or Fondue Pot.

What I love about this day and age is you can basically do all of your registering online. The one thing I did want to do in person was register for sheets. I wanted to feel them & make sure that I wasn’t going to receive some thin sheet sized cardboard, but rather cloud-like perfection.

Now I thought this was going to be easy: go in, say you have a registry & would like to add to it, they give you a scan gun, boom. False. You have to sit down, they have to give you paperwork, they discuss your registry & why you don’t have certain things. I felt like I was being interrogated by undercover cops. And THEN (this part was actually the most scarring) someone has to go with you and scan what you want! You’re not even trusted to handle a scanner. The reason for this, I’m sure, is to make suggestions as to what else you should register for and drive up the amount of money guests will hopefully spend. I did succeed in only shopping for bed-related things, but she did win and get me to register not just for sheets but also for fancy pillows,a comforter and a quilt.

Will I be glad to possibly have these items: yes. After I recover from my bitchy resentment will I be glad I went to the store to feel the sheets: yes.

Ok, whining over.

I do have a confession: I am a registery-o-holic. I have four registries. I just like options! I registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Target and Anthropologie. You want to know something else? If four registries is wrong, I don’t want to be right!


Real Bride Tiffany: The Photography Saga

The one and only thing that Justin asked to have the most input on (after the venue, naturally) was our wedding photographer. I came from the state of mind that I could edit my own damn photos, all 9,000 of them. And that my friend only paid $300 for hers so we could TOTALLY get something for $1500 or less that would just be absolutely mind-blowing.

What I imagine the bulk of our wedding photos to look like. (For the record, I know these people. I'm actually in there...)

What I imagine the bulk of our wedding photos to look like. (For the record, I know these people. I’m actually in there…)

But once I began browsing, $1500 or less was not even a close possibility. So what did I do? Have a minor mental breakdown and collapse face first into the couch crying, “WE CAN’T AFFORD ANYTHING.” For once I am not exaggerating. You guys, I had NO idea what we were dealing with when it came to photography prices. All I knew was that in 2007 my sister paid close to $3000 and that was expensive for the time. Now? That is average. Hence, the breakdown. Yes, there are photographers that are cheaper. But this was Justin’s one thing and it was going to be a “splurge.”

So, we did what any other normal, obsessive compulsive couple would do: WE MADE A SPREADSHEET. We decided on a price range that we were both comfortable with, and then went to town. I contacted no less than 50 photographers. Again, I wish I was actually exaggerating. San Diego seems to have approximately 2 million wedding photography options.

A SMALL sampling of said spreadsheet.

A SMALL sampling of said spreadsheet.

After falling in and out of love with the first most expensive choice, we found our one true photographer love — Next to Me Studios. You guys, I am not even kidding when I say that we completely stuck gold with this team.

via Next to Me Studios blog

Not only do we get unlimited time, but they also have a totally rad photo booth setup. And I know, just know that they are going to be the *next big thing* in wedding photography in San Diego and we are so incredibly lucky to have snagged them before we would’ve had to take out a loan to pay for their services. Look, just look!

Perfection, like for real. (via Next to Me Studios blog)

Last one, I swear. But can you even handle this? (via Next to Me Studios blog)

I am so overjoyed that we found such an amazing team and stayed within our budget. Research, spreadsheets, and patience are the key to survival. And also accepting the fact that wedding photography is absolutely a huge chunk of your budget (albeit totally worth it). Although I had some pains initially, once you discover your one true wedding photography love you will actually feel like a complete tool for crying hysterically on your couch about it.

Real Bride Kate: Remember Your “Yes”

Up to this point, my and Daniel’s wedding planning has revolved around proposed dates, hypothetical decorations, and just plain uncertainty. However, this is all about to end. Right now, we are elbow-deep in paperwork, but in just a few weeks, on April 8th, Daniel will have his interview with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. He will either leave that interview with an approval, at which point we can begin the official planning, or he’ll walk away with a denial, at which point I’ll drink way too much red wine and start back at square one.

As you can imagine, with our entire future on the line, this is a very stressful time for us. The visa process is going smoothly, but we never know what may pop up and make us reevaluate our situation. The only way I have gotten through it is remembering one thing: why we’re putting ourselves through this.

In that spirit, I was thinking about the night we got engaged, and I realized, I had neglected to share our story with The Broke-Ass Bride community! So sit back, relax, and let me send some happy, gushy, love vibes your way.

Captain America Shirt

Fortunately/unfortunately, I knew Daniel was proposing during his visit in November. After all, the whole immigration process doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity. Therefore, since surprise would not be part of the equation, I made two requests: don’t tell anyone else your plan and make it private.

Given the fact that he was not in his native territory, could not drive and was sworn to secrecy, Daniel nailed it.

On November 21st, Daniel and I went on a double date with two of our best friends, Teresa and Bryce. While Teresa and I were in class, Bryce and Daniel were hanging out in another town. We drove separately to the restaurant, Teresa and me in one car, the boys in another, and the guys were about an hour late to arrive. I was so angry. We had told them a specific time, and they weren’t there. After a long day of class, I was stressed and starving and just wanted to go home to bed. Of course, little did I know, Daniel was late because he was putting together a night I would never forget.

Teresa talked me down from my irritation, and the four of us ended up having a lovely dinner together. On the way home, Daniel and I drove by the hotel where we stayed during his first visit to me. As we neared, Daniel sighed, “Ah, there it is.” I laughed and replied, “You say that every time we pass here.”

Daniel smiled and pulled out a set of keys, “That’s because we’re staying here tonight.”

I knew what was happening. But my hands still started shaking, I almost missed the turn into the hotel parking lot, and I could not come up with an intelligible response.

Daniel led me up to our suite and made me close my eyes. He walked me into the room and finally allowed me to look. In front of me was a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and this piece of artwork that he commissioned to commemorate our engagement.

Art by Pearce Hoskinson. Art by Pearce Hoskinson.

I turned around to see Daniel on one knee. At the time, I expected a speech or some other romantic oration. But he simply said, “There’s nothing else to say. Kate, will you make me the happiest man alive and be my wife?”

I had a million snarky, cute retorts rattling around in my brain. But he was right: there was nothing else to say that we hadn’t said to each other already. So I just said, “Yes.”

Was it the proposal I had always dreamed of? In all honesty, no. But the one element I had never been able to fully imagine, my fiancé, is better than any dream ever could be. After all, when you love someone more than anything, when that person knows you better than anyone, when you have shared nearly everything two people can share … you don’t need a fancy proposal. All you need is commitment, love, “yes.”

As we sludge through visa paperwork, as we have nightmares about rejections, as we hand over hundreds of dollars to the government, people ask us, is it really worth it? And there’s nothing else to say but “yes.”

If there is one piece of advice I can give to my fellow brides- and grooms-to-be at this point in my wedding planning, it is this – even when the planning is overwhelming, when the bills are stacking up, when you are ripping your hair out with uncertainty and frustration – remember why you are doing all this.

Always remember your “yes.”

Real Bride Jess: Wedding Countdown – 4 months to go!

Our engagement has FLOWN by. Am I the only one who feels this way?  I thought our 11-month engagement was perfect … until seven of those months just disappeared. The problem with wedding planning is that most of us have never done this before. Some people have friends or sisters that they help out, but it isn’t the same. I feel like I need a whole ‘nother year to plan, but I want to be married right now! What I’ve started telling people is, “I understand why people elope.”


Our adorable Save the Dates.

I know you’re all wondering: Well, what have you actually accomplished? Here’s the answer:


And the scarier list- things I still need to do:

  • Actually pick a florist

  • Pick a DJ

  • Get a bartender

  • Tablecloths, cutlery, plates, glasses, etc.

  • Hair and makeup people

  • Rent a dance floor (this seems silly, but is a real thing)

  • Lighting

  • Get Michael a wedding band

  • Outfit my flower girls

  • Outfit the Michael & his groomsmen

  • Venue decorations

  • Buy and send out my invitations


I’m sure this is not even the full list, but you get the picture. At the end of the day I’m definitely overwhelmed but more than that I’m excited to be so close to finally marrying the man of my dreams.



What’s In a Venue? Dana and Paul Find a Wedding Space that Matters to Them

My first wedding was so FUN. It was the best party I’ve ever been to. And a lot of my guests said the same. I danced so hard that I spent the next month on crutches. I mean, that’s a good party.

But… the thing is… I don’t really remember connecting with my guests in a meaningful way. It was lots of passing each other in hallways, all “Heeeeeeeyyyy! Thanks so much for coming! Gotta go over here and do this thing now!” Or bumping up against each other on the dance floor for a few seconds. But, with the exception of the receiving line, I barely got to speak with anyone outside of my bridal party the whole evening. And we had 100+ guests. Don’t get me wrong… it was fun to be able to look to my right, and to my left, and see friends and family all around me. But the night lacked a certain level of intimacy and connection with the crowd, because the frenzy of the party was so high. But, at 31 years old, it was the kind of party that made sense to me.

This time around, I’m 36 years old. I’ve been through a divorce, which cost me a large chunk of my local circle of friends, and taught me a lot about who my real friends are. This time, I crave a more intimate, close-knit event, with our most core group of people. I want to be able to spend time talking with them. To remember, years later, their faces on that day. To feel connected to the group who will bear witness to our commitment and celebrate it with us.

Lucky for me, Paul is totally on board with the same feelings (even though it’s his first wedding). He was much more concerned about us choosing a venue that had special meaning for us, but that made the decision simple. On our second date, he took me to The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel for dinner, and that night, we became a couple. Two months later, he took me and my sister there, and gave the most impromptu, romantic speech about how much he loved me and how he planned to “marry the shit out of me” one day. Ten months later, we took our parents there, to celebrate the day my book released. We went back for Valentine’s Day this year, and again last weekend for our 1-year anniversary. The hotel and restaurant were designed by Philipe Starck, and have a very whimsical but elegant sort of “Alice in Wonderland on acid” kind of aesthetic. It’s quirky, modern, stylish, unexpected and sophisticated. And it’s perfect for us.

The Bazaar at SLS hotel

The Chef du Cuisine for The Bazaar and all SLS properties is José Andrés, a protégé of legendary chef Ferran Adrià, and a darling of the molecular gastronomy movement. If you watch “Iron Chef America,” you’ll recognize him as a semi-regular judge on the show. Paul and I are HUGE foodie nerds, and Chef Andrés’ food is nothing short of spectacular.

In The Bazaar, there’s a private dining room called SAAM. Touted as a “secret oasis of calm with The Bazaar” it seats about 40, and they usually serve an exclusive chef’s tasting menu of delicious, unique, very fancy courses. And it’s the perfect spot for our wedding.

saam at the bazaar


And rather than a pants-off-dance-off style reception, we’ll have the kind of party that really reflects who we are as a couple: a fabulous dinner party, featuring 18-20 courses of food by one of America’s most-beloved, progressive chefs, to be enjoyed with an intimate group of our nearest and dearest. Great food, great company, great celebration — our style.

But first, we’ll have a ceremony. In one of their lovely, mirrored, white draped meeting rooms. (Imagine it without the tables, and more set up for a wedding, but you get the drift.)


And then we’ll whet our collective palates with cocktails in The Bar at Bazaar, which is absolutely fabulous, and features a bad-ass liquid nitrogen Capirinha cocktail that I adore.



And the best part? This whole shebang, done our way, will cost about 1/3rd of what it would have done to do it more traditionally, with a ballroom reception and 100 guests in the same hotel.

I am so thrilled we were able to follow our hearts and dream up a wedding that felt authentic to us, and mirrors our values, tastes, and personalities. Here’s to the second time around, and hindsight being 20/20!


Broke-Assedness For A Cause: Brides Against Breast Cancer


Brides Against Breast Cancer is an amazing charity that we’ve partnered with–they accept new and used gown donations, which they then send on roadshows across the country to sell to brides like you for an average price of $600! They also do “Run and Renew” 5K events as fundraisers, and every year, they raise around a million dollars for those impacted by cancer. Incredible, no? If they’ve got an upcoming event in your area, you should definitely check it out! PLUS, our very own Christen will be volunteering at the Jacksonville show, so definitely come and say hi!

The Nationwide Tour of Gowns upcoming schedule:

Northbrook, IL – Chicago Area March 15 – 16, 2014 Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel
Lee’s Summit, MO – KC Area March 15 – 16, 2014 The Pavilion at John Knox Village
Oklahoma City, OK March 15, 2014 Hilton Garden Inn – Quail Springs
Altamonte Springs – Orlando Area March 16, 2014 Embassy Suites Orlando – North
Tallahassee, FL March 16, 2014 Four Points by Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown
Houston, TX March 21 – 22, 2014 Hilton Garden Inn Houston Energy Corridor
Albuquerque, NM March 21 – 22, 2014 The Hotel Cascada
Denver, CO March 22 – 23, 2014 Denver Marriott Tech Center
Sarasota, FL March 29, 2014 Westfield Southgate Mall
Temecula, CA March 30, 2014 Mount Palomar Winery
Essex, VT – Burlington Area March 30, 2014 The Essex Resort & Spa
Hurst, TX – Dallas/Ft. Worth Area April 4 – 5, 2014 Feragne Villa Wedding & Event Venue
Boston, MA April 4 – 5, 2014 Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
Boca Raton, FL April 4 – 5, 2014 Embassy Suites Boca Raton
St. Louis, MO April 4 – 5, 2014 Holiday Inn St. Louis South County Center
Mobile, AL April 6, 2014 The Battle House Hotel & Spa
Columbus, OH April 6, 2014 The Fawcett Event Center
Reston, VA – Washington DC Area April 11 – 12, 2014 Sheraton Reston Hotel
Wichita, KS April 12, 2014 Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35
San Ramon, CA – SF Area April 12 – 13, 2014 Crow Canyon Commons
Austin, TX April 19, 2014 Hyatt Regency Austin
San Diego, CA April 19, 2014 Hilton Garden Inn San Diego/Del Mar
Cincinnati, OH April 19, 2014 Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
Columbia, SC April 26, 2014 Hilton Columbia Center
St. Petersburg, FL May 4, 2014 NOVA 535 Event Space
New Brunswick, NJ May 4, 2014 Hyatt Regency New Brunswick
Philadelphia, PA May 9 – 10, 2014 Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District
Richmond, VA May 10, 2014 The Westin Richmond
Providence, RI May 16 – 17, 2014 Hilton Providence
Charlotte, NC May 23 – 24, 2014 Embassy Suites Charlotte
Roanoke, VA May 24, 2014 Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center
Lombard, IL – Pretty in Pink June 21 – 22, 2014 Jasmine Galleria
Weehawken, NJ June 28, 2014 Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel
Louisville, KY July 12 – 13, 2014 Ramada Plaza Louisville Hotel & Conference Center
Emeryville, CA – San Francisco Area July 26 – 27, 2014 Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge
Whittier, CA – LA Area August 15 – 16, 2014 Radisson Hotel Whittier
Beachwood, OH – Cleveland Area September 12 – 13, 2014 DoubleTree by Hilton Cleveland East – Beachwood
Welches, OR – Mount Hood Area September 13 – 14, 2014 The Resort at the Mountain
Jacksonville, FL September 20 – 21, 2014 Sheraton Jacksonville
Bridgeville, DE October 5, 2014 Heritage Shores Club
York, PA – Lancaster Area October 17 – 18, 2014 The Holiday Inn Conference Center of York
Birmingham, AL October 24 – 25, 2014 The Harbert Center
Minneapolis, MN November 1 – 2, 2014 Millenium Hotel Minneapolis
Riverhead, NY – Long Island January 30 – 31, 2015 Atlantis Banquets & Events
Bloomington, MN February 27 – 28, 2015 The Park Plaza Hotel Bloomington































Run and Renew upcoming schedule:

Wildwood, NJ 5K Run & 1 Mile Fun Run October 4, 2014 Memoreys by Morey’s Piers


Real Bride Andrea: Bride Brain

The second I got engaged, I got down to business. I started watching “Say Yes to the Dress,” (All 1,000 seasons. Atlanta too. Also, there’s spin-off called “Randy to the Rescue.” Research is hard.) My pin pinning on Pinterest increased by 600% and I created a secret board to share with only my bridesmaids and an even more super-secret board for my eyes only. I created an account on The Knot, I researched venues, flowers, cakes, shoes, bridesmaids’ dresses, photographers, DJ’s, etc! The list goes on. All things wedding related bring me joy and I spend hours fantasizing how amazing mine will be. It seems extreme, but it’s only natural, right? Wedding planning is so fun!

Photo by Smileham

Until you realize that, since it is all you think about, it is ALL you have to talk about. I went out with one of my bridesmaids and her new boyfriend the other night. She was just back in to town from an interview in Austin, Texas and her new dude was just back from 3 months on a ranch in (only coincidentally) Texas, so I was really excited to hang with them both and catch up with my girl. This was the first time I would really get to hang out with her boyfriend. She really likes him, and if he’s gonna be around for a while, I want to like him and for him to like me, too! I invited them to a new, cool, swanky joint that opened up right behind my apartment. It’s one of those foodie-type burger joints with signature cocktails. I was sure to impress both my bridesmaid and the boyfriend with my taste and awesome personality! As they arrived, we greeted each other with hugs and grabbed a spot at the bar. Pleasantries were exchanged but as soon as my bridesmaid asked, “So, what’s new?” I immediately replied with, “Well, I think I’m going to do a long-sleeved wedding gown because I think it’s so different and…” and continued with, “and I think we’re going to do signature cocktails named after our cats and…” and continued with, “and each centerpiece will have a succulent because it goes with the desert theme and…” I went on and on. I looked and noticed the boyfriend’s eyes completely glazed over after several minutes of this and I began to have an out-of-body experience. It was like I could watch myself as I droned on about vows and shoes, and I could hear how awful and boring I sounded. There was a time and a place for this and it was NOT while you’re trying to get to know someone. So, I tried to stop. I tried. ‘Change the subject, Andrea’ I thought. ‘Think of something else! Let’s see, current events?? You haven’t read the news in weeks! New music? What was the name of that band? Politics?!?! DAMMIT!’ I could not think of a single thing to talk about that was not wedding related.

At home with Travis, I realized that I was probably doing the same exact thing. Weddings can really suck you in and take you out of real life! NOW I understand why couples have to cut the wedding talk down to once-a-week. But, with my wedding over a year out, I need to cut my own wedding thoughts down to once-a-week. Otherwise, I might be unbearable to be around! Now, I do think that those who are your good friends will be understanding of this and most will want to talk wedding with you. But I would also like to remain a good friend. Also, I used to be a really interesting person….

So I pledge:

* For every book or article I read about weddings, I will read a real life book or article.

* For every show I watch about weddings, I will watch a real life show.

* And finally, for every blog I write about weddings, I will write a real life blog. (To make this applicable to you, the reader, change “blog” to whatever it is that you create or think about that makes you feel good.)

I can’t believe I still have over a year until this wedding and I’m already wrangling in the crazy?? I feel a Bridezilla brewing inside of me and I’m scared.

Here’s to hoping the pledge works,