Planning your wedding? You’re probably walking around in a dreamlike state. You’re probably glowing and blushing and perpetually twirling around in a never-ending shower of rose petals and on-time, returned RSVP cards. You’re probably floating around on a cloud of veil tulle during the day and slumbering peacefully in the loving, helpful, patient arms of your not-at-all annoying fiance at night.


You’re overwhelmed, underfunded and overextended. You may not be an (ugh) bridezilla, but you’re probably at the frayed end of a short rope. The time for niceties, compromise and understanding is over. You’ve argued with your mom, your fiance isn’t nearly as funny as he used to be, and for a split second, you think you might hate your grandma. If you’re not at this point, you haven’t really started planning yet.

When this point comes, and believe me, it WILL come, you’ll find yourself dreaming of one of two things: setting fire to your pile of wedding magazines, picking up your bag and walking out of the house, never to be seen again, or, eloping.

This is not the worst idea.

There were several times, during the planning of our wedding, when we considered the option. It came down to weighing money already spent vs. nerves left. We had already put deposits down on so many vendors, we practically had no choice but to push forward. Had we seriously thought about it before we started writing checks and signing contracts, things may have ended differently. I suggest you seriously sit down and discuss it. Reasonably. For real. Eloping would have saved us a lot of money and we’d be just as married and not nearly as poor.

There are always feelings to consider when you kick around the idea of eloping, namely, parents and siblings. But, this is ultimately about you and your fiance as a couple. If your families are really dead set on being there, give them a heads up, but don’t let it turn back into a “wedding.”

It’s so easy to forget what this is supposed to be about. It’s not about the cake or the dress or the flowers or any of the endlessly stressful minutiae that goes into throwing a wedding.

It’s about a promise. A truly intimate decision between TWO people. Do you really need more than that?

April and Jeremy’s elopement is the very definition of doing this right.

From Design*Sponge:

“Shortly after April and Jeremy’s engagement, they started to plan a small wedding in Tennessee. Within three months of planning, the wedding had quadrupled in size and budget because of outside pressures. Distressed about the progression of things, April and Jeremy looked at each other and said, “What are we doing?” After discussing how they envisioned marrying each other, they sent out an email with the subject title, “Reclaiming Our Wedding 2010.”

After that, April says there was only one right way — just the two of them. So they flew to Los Angeles, rented a car, spent three days driving up Highway 1 and got married on a Monday in San Francisco. In planning, there were a few elements that were important to them: the flowers, the video (shot by Britt Simmons, to be shared with friends and family) and making sure to keep it simple. If anything stressed them out for over 20 minutes, they decided to just let it go.”

Read the rest of the story on Design*Sponge, watch their wedding video. You will probably find yourself with little bride tears in your eyes. At the end, our wedding was fun and beautiful. But, I’d be lying if I said that this video didn’t make me wish we’d run away to get married, just the two of us and a little cake.

Eloping is an option that really doesn’t get considered enough. April and Jeremy’s video shows that it can be done beautifully with just as much gravitas and importance as a cathedral train down a church aisle. Eloping can be sophisticated. It doesn’t have to be this:

The white trucker hat is how you know she’s a bride.

I’m all for weddings and receptions and bridesmaids and first dances. But, you can’t deny the sheer romanticism of an elopement. All I’m saying is, consider all the different ways you can say, “I do.”  Think about how you want to spend the next several months of your life.

If multiple dress fittings and rehearsals aren’t your scene, moonlight,a ladder and a fast car might be in your future.


“I hear eloping is in.” card by 9SPOTMONK

I love Halloween! I get scared easily, but no self respecting Misfits fan would be anything other than enthusiastic for October 31st. There were several times, during the planning of our wedding, that I wistfully talked about a Halloween wedding. But, since my friends already joke that I’m goth, that would have been opening myself up to more ridicule than I would like.

When I was a kid, I hated the color orange so much, I used to tell my mom I was allergic to it. No, you’ll find no orange in my Halloween wedding. I prefer a lacier Halloween. A sexier Halloween. I’m not talking slutty werewolves, or whatever. I mean, seductive, Victorian tinged Halloween.

An ivory dress with black trim, black lace and ribbon hung as decor, black and mercury candle holders, a ruffled bolero jacket, a bouquet of purple anemones, fiddlehead ferns and peacock feathers, and an invitation that gives your guests an indication of the spooky fun they’re about to encounter. The cloche jar centerpieces could be easily replicated with different lids, bowls and vases, it’s one of my favorite non-floral centerpieces.

And of course, a sequined and glittered mask. Give those out as favors, and your guests will really get into the Halloween spirit. Plus, who doesn’t feel a little bit sexier when they’re wearing a mask? Nobody will be anonymous, but it will be a little edgier. Probably not masked-sex-party edgy, but that’s ok. For now. We can plan that party another time. We’re going to need sexual oils and whatnot for that.

So, that’s my first inspiration board! What do you guys think?

Dress by Jenny Packham

Cloche Jar by Laura Fulmine

Silver Glitter Mask by Mardi Gras Day

Garlands via City Sage

Ballroom invitation by The White Aisle

Bouquet via The Knot

Candles by Furnish

Bolero by maryandangelika

If you can get this guy to perform your ceremony, that would be awesome. He’s probably really expensive though, those crazy fancy hats don’t grow on trees, you know. In my professional opinion, he would be worth taking out a loan and feeding your guests Ramen.

Ceremony – 2%: site fee, officiant fee or donation, misc.

This is going to be an expense that depends on where you want to have your ceremony, and who you’d like to officiate it. Having your ceremony and reception in the same place is an easy way to cut costs on decor and the extra space. If having your ceremony in a church is something important to you, you’ll have to pay for it, and figure out a reception space as well.

Churches and traditional officiants will charge you a fee. An easy way around this is to have a friend or family member ordained to perform your ceremony at your reception space. Having a friend or relative officiate can be a really touching gesture, as long as the officiant in question doesn’t think they’re soooo funny.

Wedding Rings – 2%: bride’s ring, groom’s ring.

I understand why this is included in the budget breakdown, but it almost feels like something separate. You’ll pay for each other’s rings, and you should start setting money aside for them as soon as you get engaged. Luckily, good men’s rings can be found for really great prices. Again, try Etsy. There are lots of gorgeous titanium and silver men’s rings from vendors on Etsy for less than $100. As for your ring, chances are a band came with the engagement ring. If not, to keep it in budget, you may have to settle for something simple until there’s more money for something else.

Transportation – 1%: limo for bride and groom, limo for bridal party, transportation for out-of-town guests, valet and misc.






Take your own car, carpool, caravan, whatever.

UGH! Budget breakdown is OVER!! Finally! I like money, but I hate talking about financial limitations.

Now, we can finally get into real, fun things!

Don’t worry, everyone! I’m back! We’ve been out-of-town for a wedding since Friday, and yesterday I was just feelin’ sort of uninspired. Not to fear though, I’ve rearranged the order of my last few posts in this budget series, and I’m back on track. It is just really hard to feel excited over officiant fees. I’ve decided to tackle that tomorrow, and move forward to something I always love: pretty, pretty paper goods!

Stationery – 2%: save the date cards, invitations and RSVPs, programs, seating and place cards, menu cards, thank you cards, postage and misc.

There are two important things to remember when searching for wedding stationery:

1. Your invitations will be the first impression of your wedding to your guests.

2. Your invitations are eventually going into the garbage. Just like everything else from your stupid wedding.

Ultimately, these two things can be at odds with each other. The first inclination is to buy something amazing, but it’s hard to spend all that money on something that people are just going to throw away.

Invitations can be EXPENSIVE! But, fortunately, it’s also easy to get really cute stationery suites for a budget friendly price. Target and Michael’s both sell complete invitation kits that include everything you’d need to get your invitations sent out. They range in price from about $25.00-$35.00 for packs of 30-50. You have to print them yourself, but your guests would never know the difference.

If you want something a little quirkier and more whimsical, Printable Press has GORGEOUS designs. They don’t actually sell you the physical invitations. They sell you the PDF of your design, and you print as many as you want yourself. The pricing depends on what you want to include, but you can get away with just invitations and response cards for $100.

Unless a significant amount of your guest list will be coming in from out-of-town, Save the Date cards aren’t really necessary. They’re fun, they’re cute, but they’re also just an extra expense if you don’t really need them.

You’re going to absolutely need invitations, response cards, thank you cards and postage. Everything else, you can do without.

Programs are totally unnecessary, and if you really feel the need to tell people what they’re having for dinner, a large board in your reception or dinner area would work just fine.

Seating and place cards can also be disregarded. Making a seating chart is fucking annoying anyways, and people are more than adept at finding a seat on their own. The only reason we did it, is because we really wanted our friends to get to know each other. I made place cards that turned out beautiful, but they took days to do, and made my lower back go out. Fabulous, but I’m not sure if they were worth it. However, if you want to have them, they can be easily made for about $20. If you feel like putting yourself through the same hand-cramping torture I did, I’ll be doing a how-to on my place cards in the next week or so. If you’re not going to make seating charts, to avoid any confusion, just be sure to clearly reserve your bridal party and family tables.

This could be an opportunity for you to get really creative. Realize this though; if you decide to hand make your invitations, and then give up halfway through, it isn’t saving you any money. You really have to know your limitations, and have a good idea as to how much time you truly have. I’m a major advocate of paying people to do things for me. There were many times I wished I could pay someone to finish my place cards, but we were on a seriously limited budget. If you think you can make your own invitation suite, more power to you. I think you’ll probably eventually be kicking yourself in the ass. But, hey. Prove me wrong! It’s not easy to do.

Next, we’ll tie up the loose ends on this budget series. Thank. GOD!

Photo: Hello Lucky!

The cheapest gift of all is probably not appropriate for your grandma.

Favors & Gifts – 3%: welcome gifts for out-of-town guests, bridal-party gifts and misc.

Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests. Welcome gifts for out-of-town guests?! You’re planning a wedding, not the gift suite backstage at some lame awards show.

Look, people will come to your wedding if they can. Everybody will want to make it, not everybody will make it, but you don’t have to award prizes to the people who can. And nobody wants your monogrammed tote bags, or whatever. Anyone that had to travel a long distance to your wedding, doesn’t need a bunch of extra crap to take back home with them. The entire concept of this is so ridiculous to me, I don’t even have anything else to say about it. I don’t have a budget friendly idea. If you’re on a very limited budget for your wedding, don’t do this. Nobody expects it, nobody really wants it, and you don’t need the extra stress.

Gifts for your bridal party are an entirely different matter. These are friend and family members who have spent time and money just for the honor of participating in your wedding. Dresses, suits, hair appointments, nails, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, errands, evenings spent helping you stuff envelopes. It’s important to show your appreciation to them and send them home with something to remember your wedding day by besides an ugly dress and uncomfortable shoes. Again though, nobody wants your monogrammed key chains or picture frames with your wedding date on it. It’ll just go into a box, and your friends will eventually have to feel guilty about throwing it away.

A really good gift for your bridesmaids is jewelry to match their dresses. Interesting, beautiful, classic pieces that can (truly) be worn again are always welcome. For my bridesmaids, I scoured the Renegade Craft Fair here in Los Angeles looking for their gifts. I bought sexy, dangly earrings for two of my girls, and then found a booth that sold necklaces made out of vintage dress clips, shoe clips, and clip-on earrings. I stood there forever pawing through everything they had, trying to decide which piece best suited each remaining bridesmaid. The couple that ran the booth were more than willing to do everything the could to help me find gifts, and even gave me a discounted price since I was buying about 8 pieces from them. Dealing directly with the person who made the jewelry is a great way to get unique gifts at a good price. My friends loved their gifts, and hopefully, they’ll wear them over and over again. These friends have done more for you than anybody else has. Buy them something nice.

I’m not sure if this category counts favors for your wedding guests, but I’m going to talk about it here anyways. The same basic rules apply: nothing dated, nothing monogrammed. The only dated and monogrammed wedding favor I’ve ever received, that gets used regularly, was a pint glass. And that’s because cold beers, in cold pint glasses are awesome and deliciously refreshing. My friends that gave those away at their wedding, definitely knew their audience. Otherwise, these favors go home for a while, they float around various junk drawers for a while, and then they go into the garbage when I move. The best favors, if they’re not delivery methods for booze, will always be edible.

We stressed and stressed over our wedding favors. Nothing sounded good, and the things that did sound good, were way out of our price range. We finally decided on something edible, and started narrowing things down. No hard-ass Jordan almonds or pillow mints. Maybe M&M’s? We went around and around trying to figure something out. The sticking point for me was this: every wedding I’ve ever been to, I’ve seen tables full of left behind favors. People don’t want them, or they forget them, and they just end up in the trash faster. I kept imaging putting dollar bills directly into the garbage. Basically, that’s what it amount to. Your guests will eat edible favors. They’ll snack on them before dinner, they’ll eat them before cake, they’ll find them when they’re taking a break from dancing. Candy buffets are played, cupcakes are way over, but cookies are forever. Don’t get me wrong, candies and cupcakes will always be yummy. But, it’s like, I get it, you like cupcakes…you must be so different!! Not really. It just means you couldn’t think of anything better. ZING! The only ways I can condone candy buffets or cupcakes, is if you’re throwing an Alice in Wonderland or Marie Antoinette styled wedding. That’s it. If you’re going to have candy, make it something seriously yummy. Fancy caramels or truffles, something that you won’t mind eating if it gets left behind. That should really apply to anything you decided to go with. If they get left behind, you’re going to end up eating them.

We had our caterer make shortbread cookies with homemade jam thumbprints in the middle. They were sooooo good! And since she just tacked them onto our dinner quote, she made them for about 79 cents a person. They even bagged them and tied them up with ribbon. We had very few left over, and they were all gone the next day. I considered them to be a very successful favor, and our guests did too. Ask your caterer for ideas, you’ll probably end up with a better price than if you had bought from a bakery or boutique store.

Of course, the other option is to not have favors at all. I’ve been to several weddings where this was the case, and I didn’t notice until long after the fact. People probably won’t even realize there aren’t favors, and if they do, it’s not likely they’ll care.

The ultimate things to remember about wedding favors are that you don’t want to saddle your guests with junk, and you’re trying to save money, so it’s best not to buy things that are tantamount to throwing your cash directly into the garbage.

The favors for your wedding and the gifts for your bridal party should be gifts of appreciation. Buy appropriately, spend reasonably and try to think of your guests and friends when you do. You’ll end up with gifts they’ll love and favors that aren’t a huge waste.

Next up: I have no clever way to say “ceremony fees.”

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