Broke-Ass Tag: Atlanta Bride


My Pinterest board is filled to the brim with ideas. I’ve considered everything from building an altar from used pallet boards to growing my own rose garden and assembling the bridal bouquet. It’s time for an intervention!

I’ve known for years, well before I was officially engaged that I would be a “do it yourself” bride. Not just because of the cost savings but also because I am a crafty person — or at least I would like to think that I am. I just love the personal satisfaction of seeing an idea become a reality. My only challenge is that creating over 20 centerpieces for the best day of my life might be a bit more time consuming than the seasonal centerpieces that adorn my dining room table. With that being said and considering that I claim to be a time management guru, constantly on the hunt to find my balance, it’s basically required that I find the time to master all of my wedding DIY projects.

What’s the fun in doing it alone? There isn’t any, so I decided to reach out to my bridesmaids and host a party! Below are 4 tips to assembling your gal pals for a low cost and productive crafting session.

Tip 1: Plan in advance. I can appreciate that the favorite ladies in my life are movers and shakers. I decided in November 2016 after several conversations trying to explain my wedding vision that it would be best to corral everyone in the same space and share all of the updates while tying bows and spray painting.  I created a GroupMe event with the date, time and location information for the January 2017 party. You should have seen the look on my face when my Matron of Honor who lives in Austin, flew to Atlanta and surprised me for the weekend. I guess that the pre-planning worked in my favor!

Real Bride Ciji's Matron of Honor

My Matron of Honor is the best!

Tip 2: Be prepared, yet flexible. I have a general idea of how I want the wedding day to look and feel however I haven’t vetted every single idea and that’s OK. When I created the original plan for the day, I thought that we would spray paint over 200 vases. Well in order to do that I needed to confirm if we will have candles or flowers in the vases, what color should we spray paint them and where would we paint them considering that it was 30 degrees outside. So at the last minute I aborted that plan and decided we should de-label some wine bottles and focus on jazzing up the invitations. We didn’t finish every project but it was fun to brainstorm with my bridesmaids and they helped me firm up a lot of the ideas that were floating in my head.

Real Bride Ciji's DIY Project

Soak, apply Goo Gone, rinse, polish and repeat.

Tip 3: Snacks and drinks are a must. What type of host would I be if I didn’t have something for us to munch on and drink while we viewed “making a bow” Youtube videos? I invited everyone to come over after lunch but before traditional dinner hours, so I prepared a Crockpot queso dip and ensured that we had plenty of wine and ingredients for cocktails.

Tip 4: Maximize the time! We didn’t finish every project and that’s OK. The best part about the day was hanging out with my friends! My Matron of Honor was able to meet one of the other bridesmaids for the first time, we spent quality time together catching up and swapping stories, we squeezed in some planning time for the rehearsal lunch and bridal shower and most importantly we were able to just hang out and enjoy ourselves in a relaxed environment.

Real Bride Ciji's DIY Team

The Dream Team!

Do you have some big DIY plans? How are you going to wrangle your team to help? Share in the comments!



  • 11/29

    It’s time for me to narrow the list and select a wedding photographer! These are exciting times. There’s just one small issue: There are so many photographers in this world! Photographers that are my friends, photographers that I have worked with in the past, photographer referrals from past brides and I only need one. 

    I made a list of four photographers to review for our big day. I reached out to each of them, gathered quotes and called all four armed with my checklist to discuss their services.

    After countless hours of conversations, we made a decision. A decision that would change the course of all of my planning and the theme for our wedding. The photographer asked me one simple question that sealed the deal: “What is your love story?”

    Our love story, yes that’s it! The lightbulb came on. Now all of the Pinterest ideas can come to life in a very special budget-friendly way. 

    Let’s start with the engagement photoshoot: 

    The Preparation: Travis and I sat down and discussed what matters most to us as a couple. I made a list and sent it to my photographer. In a nutshell: service, authenticity, travel and relationships.  

    Preparation Part 2, Getting Ready: scheduled my wedding day makeup trial, a win win (plus, I planned to attend a gala on the same day, so my makeup was a triple-whammy). I didn’t do anything fancy with my hair, just went to my normal hair appointment the night before and ensured that we picked a style that would look good all day.   

    Real Bride Ciji's Wedding Day Makeup Trial

    Makeup Artist: rayaroxmakeup

    The Big (Engagement Photoshoot) Day: 

    9:00am: meet Rayna Wooden of Rayna Wooden Photography at our first location.

    • First location: place of our first kiss

    Real Bride Ciji''s Engagement Photoshoot

    Reenactment of the First Kiss! Photo Credit: Rayna Wooden Photography

    9:45 a.m.: outfit change and off to the second location

    • Second location: Michigan + Texas = Atlanta

    Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Photoshoot2

    Home is where the heart is. Photo Credit: Rayna Wooden Photography

    10:45 a.m.: outfit change and head over to the third location

    • Third location: We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us

    Real Bride Ciji's Fiance poses for the camera

    Travis poses for the camera!

    11:30am: Last change and last spot

    • Fourth location: The fondest memories are made around the table.

    Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Shoot 3

    We love a great meal with friends & family in Atlanta’s “Little Italy”

    Ended the day with a group selfie, a glass of wine and a great meal at our favorite restaurant. 

    Real Bride Ciji's Engagement Photoshoot crew

    The crew!

    The Aftermath: what in the world are we going to do with all of these pictures? 

    Lessons learned:

    • Select a wedding photographer who includes the engagement photoshoot in the package. We had a wonderful time getting to know Rayna and are excited to continue the love story at our wedding! 
    • Schedule your wedding makeup trial for the engagement photoshoot. I don’t wear a lot of makeup so it was good to get a visual and I got to see if my makeup would last all day and in outdoor conditions. 
    • I love a great theme and I was struggling to make all of my Pinterest ideas come to life. Kicking off “our love story” theme has made so many aspects of the wedding planning process a no brainer and I am so excited to watch the vision become a reality.

    I can’t wait to see our pictures!

    How did you decide on a wedding photographer? What were your main factors?

  • 1/26

    I don't want this post to be about regrets. Our wedding day was beautiful and I wouldn't change a thing about it. However, I feel I should be completely blunt with you fabulous BABs about budgets and how they can easily veer way off course. Because I know I'm not the only bride whose budget took a path into "oh shit" territory, nor should there be any shame attached to…

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