Broke-Ass Tag: dana larue


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!!!

The Broke-Ass Bride
  • 4/3

    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!

    The Broke-Ass Bride
  • 3/3

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    UPDATE! As of 6pm PST today, we're holding steady at #5 on the Amazon Best Seller List in the Wedding Planning category! GREAT WORK, Team Broke-Ass! Let's keep it going! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? How about as a gift for someone you know? How high can we get that number? :) Attention Broke-Ass Brigade! Today is a very exciting day! It's here! First,…

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    Friends, I know I've been away a long time... but I'm climbing out from under my "I had to write a wedding book while going through a divorce" rock and am super back in action! The book is nearly complete... we're in the final illustration stage before it goes to print and releases this December. It's been a year since everything in my life turned…

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    One of the things I love most about acting is the freedom and sense of play involved with slipping first into costumes, then into characters, and dipping my sensory experience into different times and spaces than those which exist in my real life. Which probably explains why my favorite roles are always in period performances. Fishnets and petticoats and corsetting strings... these are a few…

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    Whenever we throw a party, guest-ertainment is always at the top of our list. Getting your guests involved can be the thing that takes your party from ho-hum hoedown to an all out throw-down… so when we started working on the Kick Ass Cake Bash, Hunter, Leslie, Earl, Beth and I immediately started hatching plans for fun. And if you're ever looking for wedding cakes…

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    I've been trying to find words to tell you about the Kick Ass Cake Bash event  (celebrating the launch of our Fantasy Frostings' Broke-Ass Cake Collection which are one the best wedding cakes in Los Angeles), and describe the way it felt - but distilling it into words feels impossible this soon afterward. I'm deep in recovery mode after a whirlwind month of prep, and…

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