Broke-Ass Tag: the weddingwoman


You guys! We’ve got a SUPER huge treat today. Broke-Ass Bride’s very own Emily has decided to grace us with her very own wedding awesomeness and DAY-UM does she deliver.

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Name: Emily & John

Occupation: Freelance writer/blogger/Etsy shop proprietor & Fisheries Biologist, respectively.

Wedding location: Decatur, GA

Wedding Date: February 18th, 2012

Budget: < $10K

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Theary Meak

How would you describe your wedding? We wanted our wedding to feel more like a big party, with all the things we love. We’re foodies, music snobs, vintage enthusiasts — and we love a good cocktail, so obviously these were our priorities.

What was your favorite part of your wedding? I had almost no expectations about things like, you know, the ceremony — in fact, I fully expected to trip coming down the aisle, or have something go terribly amiss — but looking back, this was actually one of my favorite parts of the day. It was perfect. I got a little choked up — much to everyone’s surprise — I am NOT a crier! Also, having about 95% of the people I love in this world in the same room was a big deal for me.

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Theary Meak

What did you splurge on? We splurged on the things that people generally splurge on when throwing a wedding — the food, and the venue. Initially I didn’t expect to spend so much on the venue itself, but it took us a long time to find our ideal venue — and because it was a community center, we felt good about where our money was going.

What did you save on? Photography, flowers, music, and my officiant. The photography was definitely the biggest save — I snagged my dream photographer Whitney Huynh, via Wish Upon A Wedding  — an online charity auction site that provides dream weddings for couples who are facing serious illnesses or life-altering circumstances. I paid a RIDICULOUSLY low price for a $4K wedding package — so low in fact, that I’m too ashamed to quote it here. It included 2 photographers (but I actually got 3!), a photobooth, and even more goodies!

I also made a crazy-amazing trade with my fabulous florist, Juli Vaughn Events. I fully intended on doing the wedding flowers myself, to save money — but my mom wanted to go with a traditional florist. We brought this up in front of my caterer, who recommended me to Juli. I was about to make a cross-country move, and I had a lot of choice vintage and antique goodies to unload — so Juli and I made a swap. A bunch o’ typewriters, oscillating fans,  my epic collection of mason jars, and a smattering of vintage cameras, for wholesale pricing on flowers. #WIN.

My officiant, Brenda M. Owen, aka The WeddingWoman,  actually found me through my blogging gig here, and gave me a nice little “wedding blogger’s discount” (Being a wedding blogger has its perks, y’all!).

We also opted out of hiring a DJ or a band — my parents were really pushing for that, but John and I both have very exacting musical tastes, so we made our own playlists for the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and dance sesh, brought our own pair of kickin’ vintage speakers and sound equipment, and even made CD playlist favors!

We also saved a TON on decor by using what we had (VINTAGE), and hitting up Target the day-after X-mas to save BIG on string lights and other doo-dads. I understand that not everyone has a giant arsenal of vintage and antique treats in their personal collection, but still … you likely have something sitting around your home that could make your event design scheme infinitely more interesting!

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect? I would have invited more people. We invited 75, knowing only 50 would show. As the RSVPs trickled in, I realized barely a third of those in attendance would be under 30, and only a tiny number were single! (That made me feel seriously old.) As a result, there were fewer people on the dance floor than I had hoped — the libations didn’t turn enough non-dancers into dancers, unfortunately!

Credit: Theary Meak

Credit: Theary Meak

Credit: Theary Meak

Credit: Theary Meak

What was your biggest challenge in planning? Well, despite the fact that we’d been engaged for 2.5 years, we planned this entire shindig in 3 months. That was challenging — but what was really challenging was the cross-country move that got jammed in right at the halfway point. My hubs got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, so off we went to Reno, NV.

Also, I am pretty laid back — my mom and dad are both EXTREME worriers. It only took one parental freak-out for me to realize that I was going to have to be totally on my game with the wedding planning, so that we could all still be on good terms by the time they walked me down the aisle together.

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself? Expect surprises — and be open to them! My wedding turned out to be much more fabulous than I ever could’ve anticipated.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

The one thing that touched me the most was how much John LOVED everything. He had been very involved with planning, but we were both elated with how beautifully things turned out. He said “Best day ever” at least half a dozen times. And he was right!

MY FLOWERS were absolutely amazeballs. I was seriously going to make little arrangements myself, and I’m sure I would’ve been satisfied with them, but having professional arrangements, bouquets, and boutonnieres really bumped my wedding up a notch. (I have to pimp Juli Vaughn Events here again — Atlanta brides, take note!) We also rented an antique bar cart, chairs for our photobooth, and a black chandelier from Four Inch Fold. These larger pieces rounded out our vintage look quite nicely!

MY CEREMONY! Because of our big move, Brenda and I never actually got to meet until my wedding day — something she was a little anxious about (because she’s such a PRO). But everything worked out splendidly — Brenda crafted a beautiful, moving ceremony that we’ll always cherish. Also, the time immediately following the ceremony was really special. After we got hugs and kisses from all our guests, we ran out in the rain with our photographers for a few couple portraits. These photos are my absolute faves from the whole day. We were so pumped up with love.

MY BRIDESMAIDS! My b-maids were/are the 3 ladies I love most — and I was so happy they traveled from all over the country to be there! FABULOUS LADY TIMES.

THE FOOD! We queried a LOT of caterers, and we really didn’t think we were going to be able to get the food we HAD to have for the price we wanted. We lived in Athens, GA, for almost 3 years before our move to Nevada, and we LOVED locavore, contemporary Southern cuisine. The menus that looked the tastiest to us were often more than double what we wanted to spend on catering, and included ridiculous, excess charges that we simply couldn’t fathom paying ($500 for a coffee service?!). Zest Atlanta Catering TOTALLY got us. They understood what we wanted, they wowed us with a totally opulent tasting spread, and when they gave us a quote, the food was SO much more affordable than comparable menus we’d seen!

Credit: Theary Meak

Credit: Theary Meak

Top 5 least favorite?

I really have no complaints — it was a PERFECT day. I’ve been reading about “real weddings” for so long, I was prepared for anything (and prepared not to lose my cool) — but everything was so much better than I ever expected.

Ok fine, I have one or two complaints. John and I love fancy cheese — so we had our caterer do a beautiful cheese spread using Sweet Grass Dairy cheese — Sweet Grass is a Georgia dairy farm, so we were stoked to share our little foodie obsession with our wedding guests. It was by all accounts, an awesome spread, which I did I not get to taste any of, or even see! Things move really fast at weddings, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get to stuff your face with apps between your ceremony and reception.

Also, I only had one bite of my wedding cake — on top of our dessert table, our cake was totally excessive (but still beautiful). So keep that in mind if you’re doing a dessert table — you probably only need cake for half your guests.

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?

Peeps — when you start throwing ideas like “wedding taco bars” around, people start to freak. My friends were freaking in a good way — others (like my parents) were slightly appalled. Be prepared to defend your stance, pick your battles, and make an occasional concession — but make sure the wedding day you get matches your wedding vision, no matter what.

The best?

“Have a cocktail.” — this cures most wedding woes!

Credit: Whitney Huynh

Wedding Vendors:

My Dress: Venus Bridals, purchased at The Bridal Outlet of Atlanta

Bridesmaid Dresses: Nordstrom

Hair & Make-up: BB Salon

Venue: The Solarium at Scottish Rite

Catering: Zest Atlanta Catering

Officiant: Brenda M. Owen, aka The WeddingWoman

Flowers: Juli Vaughn Designs

Photographers: Whitney Huynh,  Second Shooter: Theary Meak

Vintage Rentals: Four Inch Fold

Cake: Publix 

Story: Wedding Story Writer (This is a rather luxe new wedding service I got to test-run at my wedding at a STEEP discount, thanks to a writerly connection I made via Twitter! Again, the perks of being a wedding blogger…)

In addition to her bloggy duties at BAB, Emily also writes for BRIDEfinds, SHEfinds, and Zankyou’s Wedding Mag. She will totally be your BFF if you follow her on Twitter

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    See the WeddingWoman in action!

    When John and I began our wedding planning journey, we didn’t really have strong feelings about who we should have officiate our wedding. I was raised in a very conservative, regular church-going family, but after high school, I kind of decided that that wasn’t really my thing. So we had no family minister or favorite pastor, and we both knew we didn’t want our wedding ceremony to be too uh, “Jesus-ey”. But one thing people who have never planned a wedding or paid attention to the finer details of other people’s wedding planning probably don’t realize is that there are lots of people who are “professional wedding officiants”.

    My wedding officiant, Rev. Brenda Owen, aka “The WeddingWoman”, actually found ME, via this blogging gig! She saw I was a North GA bride, and gave me a shout-out on Facebook. I tossed her a few questions to answer for the benefit of The Broke-Ass Brigade. First, I asked her to differentiate between a wedding officiant and your average pastor/preacher/priest/yogi/etc: “A professional officiant ‘specializes’ in the ceremony only. They write and perform wedding ceremonies and some (like me) direct rehearsals.  A religious official is a person in a clergy or Holy Order who has authority over formal religious leadership and they take care of the ritual aspects of the religious life.  They teach and otherwise help in spreading the religion’s doctrine and practices as in the public worship of God.”

    As you might expect, wedding officiants are pros – they don’t unite you in holy matrimony for free – but a good wedding officiant won’t mispronounce your names, stutter, mumble through the ceremony, or commit other such humorous wedding blunders, a la THIS GUY. So how do professional officiants compare, price-wise? “It is generally thought that if you book a local pastor to perform the ceremony they are less expensive because the church is paying their salary.” says Brenda. “Some supplement their income by performing weddings, others ask for a donation for the church.” John and I aren’t affiliated with a church, and supplying a donation to a random religious organization, without any knowledge of where or how it would be used, just wasn’t our style. So of course, a wedding officiant was an obvious choice for us. (Also, Brenda’s rates were VERY reasonable, and she’s extremely well reviewed on the interwebs! FYI!)

    So what might two religiously ambiguous schmos like John and I do to kill time during our wedding ceremony? Brenda was amazingly helpful in this regard – she gave us a questionnaire to a assess what we wanted out of our ceremony, as well as a laundry list of unity rituals and customs we could choose from, if we so desired. Our cross-country moving craziness prevented us from being able to meet with Brenda in person as much as we would’ve liked – which Brenda insists is an essential part of the professional officiant experience. “I feel it is important for me to meet with ‘my couples’ that are having a formal wedding whenever possible…so that we can become acquainted and ‘bond’.  It allows them to get to know me before their wedding and an opportunity for me to ask more personal questions about their relationship so that I can personalize their ceremony and write one based on what they want, and their personalities.”

    We went with a semi-religious ceremony, peppered with the occasional mention of higher power, with a short prayer to start. (I apologize, I know I make it sound slightly like a restaurant special). Of course, wedding officiants can provide a wide range of ceremonies for people of different religious backgrounds and denominations. Is your marriage a cocktail of religious traditions? No problem –  pros like Brenda can totally accommodate!

    What do you think, BABs? Have you given a lot of thought to your wedding officiant selection? What’s hampering your search for your dream wedding officiant?