Broke-Ass Tag: wedding wisdom

6/29

Affiliate Disclaimer NewParental gross out! || Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Weddings are a celebration of love but also of those who will be saying vows. In June 2012, Mike and Alison decided to not only exchange rings but also celebrate all the geeky things they love in an $8,000, 55-person wedding in Seattle. This couple relied on the help of friends and family to stick to a tight budget, add extra special touches and celebrate the uniqueness of, well, them. Their work resulted in a super personal wedding that included personalized 20-sided dice and a pub crawl. Yep, you want to party with them.

Names: Mike and Alison
Occupations: Mike – mild-mannered computer technician; Alison – full-time biology student

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Wedding location: Rainier Chapter House, Daughters of the American Revolution in Seattle, Washington
Wedding date: June 10, 2012
Wedding budget: $8,000
Approximate guest count: 55 and ⅜ (Not everyone could make it.)

First look || Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

First Look || Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

How would you describe your wedding? All of our favorite things: costumes and board games and time travel and cake and friends and family and also, we got married!

What was your favorite part of your wedding? There was so much! I think the best was that we’d put together such a great team that once we arrived on-site, our worries evaporated and we just had a great time. We assembled a group of friends and vendors who were genuinely excited about helping us and thoroughly geeked out about their part in it.

What did you splurge on? Photography was really important to us. Mike and I both volunteer as event staffers, so we know how a big event can turn into a haze of barely remembered moments. Photos mean we’ll remember.

We couldn’t talk ourselves out of Madres catering, either. They’d been very impressive from the very beginning. Anyone who’s been to a bunch of catered events knows that there are two kinds – catering that’s good and catering that’s good enough. If Madres ran a restaurant, I’d be excited to go there as often as I could. I dream about those shrimp cakes.

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

What did you save on?

  • Dress. I found my dress on Etsy for under $300! If you take your time and don’t let yourself be discouraged, you really can find the dress you want.
  • Handmade paper bouquets and centerpieces. I think the paper and supplies ran us a little over $100. You could do it for even less, I just really like fancy paper. And at the end of the day, most of the centerpieces and little boutonniere-sized flowers I made were taken home by guests, too!
  • No booze. We had a dry wedding, just tea and lemonade and water and coffee, no alcohol. We added a note to our wedding site and program about a pub crawl after the reception, and several of our guests joined us at a bar down the street from the venue.
  • Venue. The venue itself was inexpensive and easy to work with, and they provided all of the furniture and tableware, and even an iPod dock for our music!
  • Shoes. My shoes came from my existing wardrobe. It’s surprisingly difficult to find lime green shoes and I already had a few pairs.
  • A new approach to dressy dudes. For the men, getting over the tuxedo idea saved us a bunch of cash. Our best man came in costume pulled from his own wardrobe, and Mike bought a nice plain suit for the same amount of money we’d have spent renting a tux.
  • Volunteers rather than gifts. The biggest money-saver was probably asking for volunteers instead of gifts. In an apartment as small as ours, more stuff is almost a calamity. Once we convinced our friends what we really wanted was help, things came together very quickly. In fact, a few friends we’d intended to pay donated their services entirely!

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Was there anything you would have done differently, in retrospect?
I think I might have arranged in advance to have someone pick me up from my hair appointment. I thought it’d be easy to catch a cab to the venue, and it usually is … when there aren’t a bunch of commencement ceremonies going on all over town.
There were no cabs. Thankfully, Mike was able to come pick me up in his smoke-belching rattletrap of a truck. (I should note that he insisted I describe the truck this way.) We arrived a little bit late and I’d had time to freak out about everything, but in the process I’d also texted everyone I could get a hold of to let them know what was going on, and we didn’t drop a beat.

What was your biggest challenge in planning?
When we first started out, we had no idea what the wedding would cost, so we waited until we had a better idea. And if we’d answered any of those questions in the beginning instead of trying to wing it, we could have saved ourselves a lot of headaches.
If there is a lesson to be learned from our mistakes, it should be to establish the budget at the beginning of planning.

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

What lessons did you learn from planning or from the wedding itself?
A wedding is a socially appropriate opportunity to shout your love from the rooftops, to say “this is who I intend to build a life with.” It doesn’t have to be anything else. I learned that we could make it the party we wanted and throw out or ignore or mutate all the parts we weren’t comfortable with, the parts that weren’t us or our families or our friends.

What were your top 5 favorite things about your wedding?

  • NO ONE QUESTIONS THE BRIDE HAVING A FLASK OF WHISKEY. NO ONE.
  • Our vows.
  • Our good friend and officiant’s excellent ceremony, and our readings.
  • Costume party!
  • Board game reception!

Top 5 least favorite?

  • No cabs. I mean, really? I thought I was going to pop a vein in my head.
  • Close friends who couldn’t make it to the wedding.
  • Crinolines are difficult!

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

What was the worst piece of wedding advice you received?
The notion that there is a “right way” to design your wedding, and that someone other than you gets to decide what that is. Don’t let others define your needs for you. The only way to do a wedding wrong is to let it turn into something you didn’t want.

The best?
Think about your deal breakers: What are a few things you must have or must avoid for your wedding? Once you know what you’ve got to have, it’s really easy to compromise on the things you’re less interested in.

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Board games! || Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Any other bits of wisdom?
Be true to yourself and what you need.
A wedding is a big project with a lot of moving parts, and it’s a big event. We’re socialized to think of a wedding as something people just up and do, without need for specialized training or research, but it’s not like there’s a high school class on how to throw a tightly scheduled party for 40-300 people. I’m not kidding when I say people go to college to learn that sort of thing. Don’t try to plan or run this party alone. Ask loved ones to pitch in. Hire experts to help. Do research. Give yourself lots of time. If you do the research and ask for help, you don’t have to lose your mind planning a wedding.
Hire vendors who are genuinely excited about your plans and can’t stop talking about how they can help. They’ll be there for you, and the results will be better than you imagined.
The wedding industry will sell you on tradition any chance they get. Be wary of “tradition,” and realize that if a lot of these traditions are only a few years old, you can definitely create your own new traditions too!

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash Real Wedding: Mike and Alison’s Super Fun, Costumey, Budget-Friendly Seattle Wedding Bash

Budget breakdown with vendors
Photography: A little under $3,000 for an engagement session and wedding package with a few extra goodies. Firstlight Photography

Catering: Just over $1,700 through Madres Events.

Venue: About $1,500, including tables, chairs, linens and tableware.  DAR Rainier Chapter House

Email invitations and wedding website: $30 per month through Glo.

Cake: $300, the designer is a friend of ours. Clever Cake Studio

Dress: Roughly $270 for a custom designed dress. Pixie Pocket 

Shoes: Came from my wardrobe, but were between $120 and $200 new. These shoes last forever if you take good care of them, can be repaired by the manufacturer, and look awesome. Fluevog 

Suit: $250. Men’s Wearhouse

Paper and other supplies for the centerpieces: About $100. Paper Source 

Centerpieces: My centerpieces were half of a flower ball. Here is a good set of instructions.

Favors: $135 for 100 gorgeous 20-sided dice. We called them directly about the Precision Gaming dice (they’re really pretty) and they were amused by the idea when we explained they were for a wedding. We got a discount out of it! Gamestation 

Stockings and garter belt: Something like $30. It’s easy to spend a lot more here! Sock Dreams

A super shout out to our bride and groom for showcasing the memorable fun that can be created when you embrace who you are. With their help, other couples can save cash as well as learn how to make a number of the projects at home. What else could a girl want? 

  • 5/17

    How To Plan Your Wedding like a Wedding Planner

    This is from a talk I gave at a couple of bridal shows last year:

    I review bridal shows on my blog. And, I love going to them, it’s a great opportunity to find out what’s out there, what’s new, exciting, anything I can offer my brides to get them the wedding that they want. Plus, there’s just so much pretty. The last one I went to was in Pasadena a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I was on my second pass around the floor, past the entrance again, when I started to notice something about all the brides that were walking into the room:
    None of them were smiling.

    None of them.

    In fact they were downright scowling – brows furrowed, frowning, just stressed. And I get it. I’ve been a wedding planner for almost ten years now, so sure, I get it.

    Each one of them was thinking, what if I can’t find what I want? What if I find what I want and it costs too much, or it’s not available when I need it? There are so many choices here, how do I even decide which one is right for me? What if no one else likes what I choose??

    In the face of all this pretty and all these options, there is all this stress and all this fear. And a lot of times it doesn’t go away once you’ve hired me, and have someone to hand the checklist over to. You bring it with you and you carry it along through the whole planning process. Which isn’t fun for you, at all!
    The alternative? Thinking about your wedding like I do. I know that you are going to have a fabulous wedding day. I know this. It’s actually my favorite part of my job, showing you how it’s all going to work out. Because at the end of that night, it’s going to be you and the love your life, dancing with everyone else you love and who loves you. And that’s what you’re all there for.

    I see some skeptical faces out there. Of course it’s easy for me to say that, I do this every day.

    Yeah, that’s how I know that it’s going to be all right. Because I do this every day.

    So, these are the three things I have to tell you, based on what I know from working with hundreds of wonderful couples over the years:

    1. First of all, you need to look at your choices differently. You walked into this room thinking, oh my god there are so many different options, how am I going to find the ones that I need, that I want? Instead, say, wow, there are so many options out there, that there is no way that I won’t find what I’m looking for. There’s no way. I just have to keep looking, keep asking until I find IT. What’s in front of you right now is never the only thing that’s available. Now, you may get tired of looking. But that’s not the same thing.  It’s like when you’re shopping for anything else. Just because the first thing you see when you walk into the store is a fuzzy aquamarine sweater, doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to buy it before you walk out. You can choose, and you can also choose to walk away. And never, ever be afraid to ask questions. Ever.
    2. You are not supposed to know how to do any of this, so you need to give yourself a break, right now. Odds are, this is the first time you’ve planned an event for 100+ people, and will probably be one of the last. There is no inbred girl gene that is going to help you. There’s just time and resources and learning and making the best choices for yourself.  The only pressure you have is the one that you’re creating. Ease up – you have everything that you need in order to get what you want. Remind yourself of that as many times as you need to.
    3. The question my brides ask me the most is, “Can I do this?” Whatever it is. Is it okay? There’s only rule that I stand by in Wedding World: Have the wedding that you want. Have the wedding that you want. Whatever that looks like to you. It doesn’t matter if no one has done it before, it doesn’t matter if everyone has done it before. It’s your wedding, it’s the one time you are going to have your wedding, it’s the only time you’re going to have this expression of who the two of you are as a couple. Hold onto that.

    So, when one of my brides ask me if they can do this or that, my answer is always yes. Of course. You just have to figure out how. And you have everything that you need in order to do that. And having to figure it out may be annoying, but it’s not the same thing as being helpless, and it’s not the same thing as being lost. You’re not either of those.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of outside pressure: “Your wedding is the best day of your life.” “Your wedding day is the first day of the rest of your life.” You need to turn down the volume on that. Because today is the first day of the rest of your life, too. And so is tomorrow, and your wedding is not going to be the last best day that you ever have.

    What I am saying is that planning your wedding will be an amazing experience. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself, what you’re capable of, what you really like, and what you really, really don’t. And there is fun to be had along the way, so look for it. Fun, and memories and laughter, all adding up to that moment at the end of the day that I told you about, when you’re rocking the dance floor with the love of your life and your favorite people on the face of the planet. It’s right there waiting for you.

    See you at the end of the aisle,

    Liz
    Liz