Longtime Broke-Ass Bride friend Georgia Hardstark emailed us recently about sharing her fun, funky, tradition-eschewing, $16,000 wedding. In the true spirit of The Broke-Ass Bride, Georgia and her husband had the wedding they wanted — at the venue they loved, in the clothes they adored, with the decorations they actually gave a shit about — and all within their budget and paid for the wholeshebang for their 105 guests themselves. Here’s how Georgia recommends having the wedding that’s right for you. And a huge shoutout to Timony Siobhan for the wonderful photos!
I have never been a traditional person. For one thing, I never thought I’d get married, so planning a wedding was a clean slate for me. I knew I didn’t want it to be “fussy,” and the only reason I was OK with it being “tacky” was because we got married at The Madonna Inn, which is charming because of its tackiness. I didn’t want to spend a ton on a dress, which I ended up buying from ModCloth, or on invitations, which we did online for about $100, or on flowers, which were picked out and bought the night before from the local florist. Basically I didn’t want a wedding to put Vince and I in debt, as we were paying for the whole thing ourselves.
What I did want was for our wedding to reflect mine and Vince’s quirky, laid-back personalities, and for all the guests to have an incredible time. Considering I’ve been told that guests are still finding glitter from the DIY photo booth in their clothes three months later, I’d say we achieved it.
Here are six ways I shirked tradition to make sure our wedding fit our style and personalities:
1. I Didn’t Have A Wedding Party
Having a bridal party seemed like a cruel thing to do to my friends, what with making them buy ugly dresses, throw me multiple parties and forcing them to do menial DIY labor leading up to the wedding. Aside from that, having a bunch of people flanking Vince and I at the altar seemed devoid of intimacy and more about honoring our friends instead of the bond Vince and I were celebrating that day.
I spent the whole morning with my closest girl friends: one doing my hair, another snapping pics and a couple others putting together my bouquet. They helped me set up the banquet hall to fit my vision, and the whole time we laughed and listened to Katy Perry and pounded coffee. It was freaking awesome. When it was time to walk down the aisle I already felt so blessed to have the best friends in the world. Total wedding day bonus.
2. I Walked Myself Down The Aisle
Having my father, whom I love dearly, walk me down the aisle seem archaic and didn’t celebrate the strong, independent woman my parents raised. I’m in my 30s and haven’t lived with my parents or relied on them financially for over 15 years, so having them “give me away” irked the feminist inside me.
So I walked my damn self. I did hug my mom and dad when I passed them on my way to the altar, and I also had a father/daughter dance, which I hadn’t been planning to do before deciding to walk myself. We danced to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” as a nod to the music we listened to on road trips when I was a kid. Later my dad said the dance was “awkward and fun … just like our relationship.” Spot on.
3. I Did My Own Makeup
What I wanted on my wedding day was to look like the best version of myself. As someone who’s on camera for a living, I’ve had my makeup done more times than I can count. Professional makeup looks amazing on camera and in photos, but in person, it can look garish and overdone. Plus makeup artists will back me up when I say that the “natural” look takes almost as much makeup as glam does.
So I called over my favorite makeup artist for a lesson, hit up Sephora for a consultation, spent half the GDP of a small country on products, and the day of the wedding I did my makeup myself. The biggest things I concentrated on were a good concealer for under my eyes and to even out my skin, great eyeshadow technique and my expert fake lash applying skillz (ask a makeup-savvy friend to do this if you suck at it).
OK and in interest of full disclosure, a bit of Botox and a lil Juvaderm helped give me a well-rested look. This is SO not necessary, but I felt I needed just a bit of help. Just be sure to do a test run months before the wedding to confirm that you like it, and get the actual procedure at least a month before your big day.
4. I Cherry Picked Traditions
I’m Jewish in tradition, not religion, and Vince is equally devoid of all things non-secular. He was surprised to hear that I still wanted to steal a few traditions from Judaism, but what is a party without a Hora? And you don’t get many chances in life to be lifted in a chair by your strongest family and friends. Plus, smashing a napkin-wrapped glass right after the ceremony is super fun, and has the added bonus of meaning the past is the past, and life starts now.
Even if you want some religious aspects to your wedding, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Pick the ones that actually have meaning to you and make you feel a closer spiritual connection to your future spouse and to your family. And feel free to tweak the ones you pick and even make up new ones!
5. We Had Our 2nd Favorite Person Marry Us
Vince being a comedian and both of us having a ton of funny, creative friends gave us a huge pool of potential people to officiate our wedding, which honestly made it harder rather than easier. Do you pick your best friend? His best friend? If you pick the latter will it piss off the former? If you pick your cousin and then find out he recently had an affair does that doom your own marriage?*
Instead of choosing from our pool of friends and family, we choose a guy whom we both really liked, is super funny and comfortable on stage, we aren’t that close to, has a great marriage and had officiated before. He got to know us over a few dinners, and we got to know his lovely wife and their love story. He was the perfect person to marry us, and I can’t imagine having a better ceremony thanks to his wit and sincerity.
6. I Chilled The F*ck Out
Listen, things are gonna go wrong the day of your wedding. I promise. It was literally pouring rain the entire day of our wedding. Our photographer was late and a few of our more wild friends dropped LSD before the ceremony. As I walked down the aisle I was trying to hold back the tears so it all came dripping out of my nose and when I got to the alter I realized I didn’t have a tissue so I had to stop the wedding and ask for Vince’s pocket square which I proceeded to soak with snot. Someone stole a bottle of vodka from the bar and poured it into the non-alcoholic punch and even though I purposely didn’t invite little kids to the wedding, suddenly the party was awash with tiny fingers poking the cake and trashing the photo booth set up.
But guess what?! It was awesome! All of it. If you accept that things aren’t going to go perfectly, as it tends not to in life, you’ll be much more likely to roll with the punches. Grasp the perfect moments and pause them in your head because those are the things you’ll want to recall when the day is over and you have the rest of your life to think about it. Unexpectedly high-fiving my 6-year-old nephew on my way to the alter, the unplanned but perfectly timed tossing of my bouquet to my best friend when it was time to read my vows, seeing Vince the first moment I walked into the ceremony and how awestruck I was that this was real; I was really getting married, and to the best person I’ve ever met!
Hold those little things close and let the other stuff be funny stories you tell after the fact and when you’re giving advice to friends planning their own wedding. Ideally this will be the only wedding you ever have, so make sure you hold it close to your heart and enjoy it. But maybe ask your friends save the LSD for the after-party.
Thank you, Georgia, for sharing your fun wedding story with us! And a huge congratulations!