Broke-Ass Tag: real brides


Now that we’re introduced, let me tell you about some details of our wedding!

There were two reasons that I hesitated when it came to starting the wedding planning adventure:

1) When I Googled “how to plan a wedding” (yes, I seriously did that), the one big thing that every site said we “must” do was figure out a budget. Money is gross. Budgeting is even more gross. But I knew it was 100% necessary since I know that we needed some type of control and we knew we didn’t want to put ourselves in the poor house from a single day.
2) Timo is German which means that half-ish of invitees that would come to our wedding live overseas. We bounced ideas back and forth. Timo and I assumed the Germans wouldn’t make the trip across the pond and we’d do the ceremony/legal proceedings in the U.S. with an awesome reception then have another gathering/reception in Germany for those that didn’t come to the American celebration. I couldn’t come up with any alternatives, so I pushed down the knot in my stomach and hoped for the best, giving him my best smile and nod.

But then, we got the best news ever. Well, second-best news ever. The best news would have been a relative telling us, “Oh here’s a lot money for your wedding!  Congrats and welcome to the family!”  That didn’t happen (despite the dreams that it will), but after Timo’s Dad (aka Papa G) found out, he starting making calls to relatives (even to Timo’s Mom (Papa G’s ex-wife)) to see who was down for a journey to America. To our surprise, most of the relatives were down for an American adventure!  This was a relief to me for many reasons, the biggest one being the money saved on not having to put on two events. Close second was that I/we didn’t have to figure out/plan from afar a reception type event in Germany. Just the idea of  planning an event in Germany almost gave me shingles.

I asked Timo to find out what date(s) work best for them. They were coming the farthest and I wanted to make it easy for them to attend (thus saving me from the medical issues that planning any event in Germany would entail). We told Papa G we were aiming for a fall wedding and that October/November was probably best. They gave us a date range of October 27-November 3rd. They would already be on holiday, so they wouldn’t have to take extra vacation time to come to America. This was the third-best wedding planning news we received.

While those proceedings were going on, Timo and I started discussing some broad ideas and a budget (barf).

One of the most important things we had to decide, which would affect our budget was where we were going to get married. We bounced the idea of getting married in southern Maryland back and forth because we had a potential hook up for a venue there. We bounced the idea of getting married in western North Carolina (where I grew up and where my Dad still lives). Eventually, we decided on having everything go down in Charleston, S.C. (our home).

1) Charleston has an airport.
2) Being close to home means that Germans who come to the wedding will also get to see our house/life and meet the dogs they’ve only ever seen through the internet.
3) It’s easier to plan a local event (or so I’m telling myself).

The biggest issue with having a Charleston wedding is that Charleston, S.C. (depending on who you ask) is the #1 or #2 destination for weddings in the U.S. That doesn’t matter to me, but it matters for the wedding “industry.” It means that as soon as you mention the “w-word” (wedding) prices absolutely sky rocket. It’s not unusual to see venues that cost $4000 for an all day Saturday event with nothing included (i.e., tables, chairs, sometimes bathrooms) AND have a required catering bill (from one of the venue’s preferred caterers) of several thousands of dollars. My heart dropped when I realized this because I knew that this would strain the budget we had decided on.

Our budget (goal): $10,000.
It still kinda makes my blood drain when I think about the fact that we are paying that much for one day of partying. I know, I know, it’s a super special day, it will only happen once (it better only be once!), etc etc. But that is a lot of money.

Right off the bat, I asked Timo what was most important to him about the entire day, ya know, other than the obvious — becoming legally bound to each other — and he told me booze and food. I let him know up front that photography was my most important thing. I even explained that I was willing to spend a LOT of our budget on photography (like 40%). He seemed to have a similar reaction as me when I heard he wanted to potentially have two receptions: smile and nod.

I had read it plenty of times and was well-aware that having friends “help” at the wedding is a great way to save money if you’re planning a wedding on a budget. I have experienced that firsthand. I consider myself an experienced amateur photographer, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say “professional” photographer. I’ve photographed parties and weddings for plenty of friends. But here’s the thing about having your friends “help” at your wedding: they become the help, not the guest. Timo and I discussed this before we even got deep into the planning process and I told him that I didn’t want our guests to “work” at our wedding. I wanted our friends and family to be able to fully enjoy our day with us, not be distracted by getting their “job” perfect (lest the wrath of the bride come upon them) or having to experience it through a lens (specifically for a photographer). I obviously had feelings about this, so Timo said OK. This mostly means that we’re having to be extremely thrifty.


With a budget and a range of dates, I set about finding a venue, photographer, coordinator, and caterer, the big items that needed to get reserved ASAP.

How did you decide on where your wedding will take/took place?  Did you have family come from another country to attend your wedding?






  • 11/2

    Affiliate Disclaimer NewHowdy my fellow Broke-Asses!

    BlissPaperBoutique Printable Envelope Template

    Envelope template available from Etsy seller BlissPaperBoutique

    It’s official, we are officially getting married. I just dropped off the Save the Dates at the post office. With a huge wink and promise of future cookies to the post master, he lovingly hand-cancelled each of my postcards. I feel like a mother bird watching all my fledglings leaving the nest. Who knew dumping a stack of paper at the post office would illicit such an emotional response?!? *Wipes eyes with lacy handkerchief*

    In this digital age, I saw no reason to sit and painstakingly hand-address each and every single Save the Date postcard. Avery makes a line of mailing labels that are clear. I snagged some clear 1”x 2 5/8” Avery 18660 labels to use on the Save the Dates and the invitation envelopes.

    The thing I had the hardest time with was making a mail merge template that would allow me to address the invitations in the traditional sense. The standard, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy John, works well and fine if you have a married couple that shares the same last name on your invitations. In this day and age though, there are a lot of blended families. Not everyone shares the same last name, or they are unmarried, or any number of things. After arranging and rearranging everything a million times, I finally came up with a template that allowed me to accommodate all the flavors families come in. Both original documents are made in Word and Excel, but Google Drive has an Avery add on extension that will let you create labels in Google Docs if you don’t own Word.

    I thought I would share the wealth so that if you wanted to make your own labels, you would have a bit of an easier time. You can find the Excel spreadsheet here and the Word mail merge label template here.

    When you download each file, save them in a place you can easily access. You can go into the Excel file and update the information with your guest list. I left a few examples in there to give you an idea of what it should look like. Once you have your guests in the Excel document, go ahead and open up the Word template.


    You will be prompted to select a data source for the SQL. Select Yes and select the Excel file where you have saved your guest list.



    Go to the mailings tab in Word and there you have all your mail merge tools. There is a preview results section on the screen. Make sure this is set to label 1. If you click on this, it will pull in the information from the Excel sheet and you can see your labels live. It lets you scroll through pages of labels so you can check them for any errors.



    Load up the printer with the labels, and BAM, some nice clear labels that saved you hours of time holding a pen and dealing with hand cramps. WOOT!  Hope some of y’all find this helpful.  Enjoy your cramp-free hands!

    Have you figured out an easy way around hand-lettering your stationery? Share in the comments!

  • 6/28

    A few months ago, we had received some invitation samples from Minted and fell in love with their Delicate Dots design. I loved the extra elegance foil adds, and since we have a relatively short guest list, we decided to splurge on the invitations a little. We were finally able to get our order in this past weekend, and I can’t wait to receive them!…

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    Four months to go, BABs! I’ve always assumed I’d be one of those brides who was impossibly low-key and go-with-the-flow. And that has remained true for most things, but I’m finally starting to feel like things are creeping up on me; family and vendors are needing more and more details and decisions that haven’t been finalized. Within the last two weeks or so questions from…

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    Cake Topper available from Etsy seller Glittered Bride I am not one of those women who get excited about baby showers or bridal showers. A bunch of women mingling about the hors d’oeuvres and mimosas and how they know the bride or mother-to-be has never been my forte. I can’t say as I’ve been to a single shower that I wasn’t dying to leave by…

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    Photograph available from Etsy seller StovallPhotography Whelp, BABs. Turns out the hotel contract that I raved about in my previous post got pulled. Last week Monday, I gleefully took my lunch hour to walk up to the hotel to drop our contract off. The hotel was more beautiful than the pictures. The historic look of the hotel would be perfect for our photos. I ended…

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    Photo available from Etsy seller KevinKlimaPhoto Hotels have been my largest vendor disappointment to date. Last year, I was really excited to learn that a brand new, boutique-style hotel was being built directly across the street from our ceremony location and venue. Couldn’t get much easier than that, right? I knew it would be a bit pricey, but was prepared to shell out some cash…

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    It’s taking everything I have to not call my bridal shop and check up on the ETA of my dress. I ordered it in November, and they said it would be in, in “April.” So vague. I’ve been waiting patiently, Googling the phone number of every ignored political robo-call, just in case they called ... and didn't leave a message for some reason. You never…

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    If you caught my last post, life has been a little unpredictable lately, right in the midst of preparing for an industry talk at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and trying to DIY these Save the Dates. When I decided to make these myself, I knew that the industry talk was coming, but assumed I’d be able to manage both of those simultaneously. Our unexpected circumstances…

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