1/9 A Broke-Ass Primer on Popular Wedding Themes

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Did you ever see the movie Bride Wars? [If you haven’t, stop now… and pat yourself on the back for your discerning taste.]

In it, the eponymous warring brides meet with a wedding planner, and the first item of business is to share their wedding themes. The brides spout off well-rehearsed nonsense phrases: one seeks “elegant minimalism with romantic textures;” the other “classic traditionalism with trendy infusion.”

That might sound like a load, but chances are you have a buzzword or two that you toss around with friends or vendors to give an idea of what you want your wedding to look like. Today, I’m going to walk you through a few of the most common wedding theme buzzwords, and what they really mean for the Broke-Ass Bride.

Your buzzword: Rustic.


What you want to express: My wedding ain’t no thing but a chicken wing. I just slapped these charming pieces together into a warm (if rough-around-the-edges) bundle of homey warming unifying warmth.

What you worry it will express: The peeling paint on my recovered-cabin-log ceremony benches is a metaphor for where my marriage will be in ten years. Also: I don’t care if you get splinters on your tush.

Budget-friendliness: Moderate. The key is to find things that are actually rustic, as opposed to new things that have been distressed. Because paying someone to make something brand new look old and used is rarely budget-friendly.

Sanity-friendliness: High. Every DIY mishap can be chalked up to enriching the lived-in, hand-made ambiance. Matching is a very low priority, so you can throw pretty much whatever you have on hand or whatever you can find at the wedding.

Your buzzwords: Simple and elegant.


What you want to express: Had representative government failed to find a global foothold, I’d probably be a princess right now.

What you worry you will express: I have no personality other than holding up a mirror to my imaginary royal self.

Budget-friendliness: When the emphasis is on simple, high. When the emphasis is on elegant, moderate to low.

Sanity-friendliness: Moderate. It will be easy to find the building blocks for a simply elegant wedding, and not too difficult to stay on budget, but there is always the risk that arranging 20 centerpieces out of 700 identical ivory votive candles will push you over the edge.

Your buzzword: Vintage.


What you want to express: My kids are NOT going to laugh at my wedding for being dated. My wedding will transcend passing fads, floating across the years in a bubble of timeless class.

What you worry you will express: My grandkids are going to be seriously confused about how old Nanny and Pop-Pop are. Also, does it smell musty in here?

Budget-friendliness: Varies. Here, the era you’re shooting for can make or break your budget. As can your dedication to true-vintage pieces vs. “vintage inspired” items. Which isn’t to say that one is always more budget-friendly than the other… leading me to…

Sanity-friendliness: Low. Do you ever want to ask yourself “Is this border swirl more Edwardian than Art Nouveau?” Do you want to worry if your grandmother will recognize that your 40’s-style victory roll hairdo doesn’t really go with your 50’s style tea-length party dress? Do you want to add hours of library research to your wedding to-do list? If you answered YES to any of those questions, you might be a history dork like me. But if you answered NO, than you are a SANE PERSON, and you should NOT try to have a vintage wedding. Hint: swap in the buzzword “timeless,” which is like “vintage” minus any effort toward historical integrity.

So, fellow broke-asses: do you have wedding buzzwords? Have you found them budget- and/or sanity-friendly?


  • I don't laugh at things I read very often, but "My grandkids are going to be seriously confused about how old Nanny and Pop-Pop are. " is HILARIOUS.

    Great post!

    • I've actually always wondered about this exactly. I mean, if you do a really nail the attire and decor and have someone use an old-fashioned camera, how the hell are future historians going to have any idea when you got married!

  • mysanfranciscobudgetwedding

    We have buzzwords that confuse the hell out of my mom, who keeps asking, "Why don't you just have a wedding?" Don't tell her, but she's totally right.

    Our buzzwords: Kindergarten Craft (when your flower arrangements involve cutting up egg cartons); vintage travel; San Francisco. The least budget-friendly part of our plan is definitely "vintage," the most sanity-checking is "craft."

  • Amber W.

    I don't have buzzwords for our wedding, but my fiance' does. Apparently he didn't know the color "periwinkle" exsisted before this whole wedding process. Therefore, he throws the word "periwinkle" into any conversation he can manage it into.
    For Example: Ask him what his favorite color is right now, he'll answer "periwinkle". lol
    Ask him what color of dress shirts his mother should buy him for Christmas… perwinkle. lol

    Ahh, I've unleashed a monster.

  • Our wedding was supposed to be nature-y but wound up being much more rustic than we had originally planned. Our concern was that people would think we were faking being rustic, since we're totally city slickers who never want to leave downtown Baltimore if we can help it, but we spend a fair amount of time hiking out in nature and so a nature-y wedding felt right. Things became more and more rustic because the wedding was cheaper, and by the end, I was texting my fiance from a JoAnns to say, "should we go with burlap for chair covers because it's cheaper even though it looks kind of haphazard?" and he was responding with, "haphazard? or fashionably rustic?" Like it or not, dried wheat is a fantastic decor element and it's cheap and easy. We also threw around the word "comfortable" quite a bit, like we wanted our guests to think this was Sunday dinner with a spectacular amount of food.

    • hitchdied

      "Comfortable" is a fantastic wedding buzzword. Definitely better than "stuffy."

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  • jessimonster

    The biggest buzz word I've been using for my wedding is "Fun". Meaning I want my guests to have a lot of fun at my wedding. I'm not worrying too much about what's going to make it beautiful or timeless, but I am going to have a lot of booze and Qdoba, which is cheap food I know everyone loves. Also thinking about a dessert table in addition to the cake. It's easy to have fun when there's booze and yummy food.
    Other buzzwords I'm using would include
    "Green" – I'd say moderate to high budget friendly, as long as you're okay with used, which is usually a greener choice than new organic anyway, and moderate to low on sanity friendly, I feel so guilty about my David's Bridal dress, which was probably made by a child with rickets in a sweatshop!
    "Community focused" – High on budget friendly, I'm holding the wedding in my back yard! Inviting all the neighbors increases the food costs a little, but when your catering is $9 a head, who cares?
    "Local" – I am trying to stick with locally sourced goods as much as possible. Even Qdoba, though national, started here in Denver. Moderate on budget friendly, moderate on sanity friendly. It depends on how familiar you are with your local economy (I really am, so it's been high on sanity friendliness for me).

    I am doing a Central America theme, I don't think that's any kind of buzzy, though.

  • leteej

    Somehow, our buzzword has landed somewhere in the magical land between "Dr. Seussian" and "circus-y" (Probably appropriate, since my dad is a grinch and the reception's gonna be a three-ring circus). This is definitely both budget- and sanity-friendly, because it's just about having big, bold colors, and simple, handmade arrangements: a single gigantic paper flower as a table setting, cartoon trees with apples and oranges in them on our stationery, rainbow-colored strings of bunting, and big clusters of brightly-colored paper lanterns.

  • What about beachy?

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