The Budget Savvy Bride » Dana helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:01:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bargain Hunting for the Perfect Veil Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:31 +0000 During and after my wedding, I received numerous compliments on the veil I wore.  From my experience, I feel choosing the right veil really completes your overall look.  When I first started searching for wedding dresses, I thought I might like a shorter style veil, or a bird cage veil.  After I choose my dress and tried on shorter veils with it, I didn’t think they complimented the dress at all. Surprisingly, I actually liked longer veil styles.

photo 1
The birdcage style veil
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Vs. the longer style veil. But for $1,000? I don’t think so!

The longer style veils I tried on in the dress store had prices which ranged from $500-$1,000+.  OUCH! Maybe these were designer veils, I had no clue, but whoever hears about wearing a designer veil at their wedding anyway? I was set I wanted a cathedral veil with lace edging, so using my rule of three’s (price out three different options from three different vendors) I began searching online at home for similar options.

I did find a veil I liked from David’s Bridal, but it was still priced over $300.  I had no desire spend that much on something I’ll wear for maybe half an hour!

Next I priced out what lace trim would cost at JoAnn Fabrics.  I found several options I liked ranging from $13 – $35/yard.  Granted I knew I could use a 40% coupon, but I was still looking at a $30-$50 veil project. Not out of the question, but I’d rather purchase something already made if I could find one.

So, I took to eBay.  I was a little leery purchasing something I hadn’t seen in person, but found a veil I liked from a company in China for $26 after shipping.  For $26, I figured I could take a risk and purchased it.  Later on, I found the same exact veil on Etsy listed for $565!!!


I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the veil looked when it arrived. Granted, it wasn’t the same quality of lace as the $1,000 veil, but for a sliver of the price (Almost as much as I would have paid in sales tax on the $300 veil) it suited my needs! The eBay veil didn’t come with a hair clip, but I was able to purchase a comb for under $10 at JoAnn’s and hand sewed the veil to the comb.

Photo credit: OMG Photography

As a word of advice, just as you’re trying on multiple dresses until you find “the one” go ahead and try on different veils, too. You never know what you’ll end up with!

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An Unforgettable Honeymoon Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:00:40 +0000 During the entire wedding blogging process, I’ve been hesitant to mention the honeymoon my husband and I were planning on the blog.  I didn’t want to see like we were bragging or boasting for what we were intending, and I feel it’s a privilege to be able to afford this once in a life time trip, let alone a honeymoon at all after a wedding. But, after returning home, I can’t help by shout from the roof tops and tell everyone what an incredible experience we had. Plus, believe it or not we were able to score some incredible deals along the way, too.

Qamea Resort & Spa

Traveling is extremely important to my husband, Nick, and myself. We could afford a bigger house, fancier cars, and things that go with them, but we choose not to. We love going new places, having new experiences, meeting new people, and trying new foods. We would rather have this out of life, than material things.  Together, we’ve traveled to 43 different states (I have 6 more to go while Nick has been to all 50!). While my travels have mainly been throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean, Nick has backpacked though Europe, toured Australia for a month, and has been on dive trips to remote Pacific islands most people have never heard of (He’s a certified tech diver and one of his favorite places is Truk Lagoon which is 700 miles off the coast of Guam). For our honeymoon we wanted to go someplace we’ve both never been before, someplace that would be quiet and relaxing, and someplace that when we woke up each morning we would be awed by its beauty. If Nick could fit in a dive trip, that would be an added bonus!

My husband, Nick, and myself at the Nadi airport in Fiji.

I left the honeymoon planning up to Nick. He had stumbled across the travel agency website, Unforgettable Honeymoons years ago and had always had a longing to go to one of the resorts in Fiji they recommend called Qamea Resort and Spa.  When we booked our honeymoon, the Qamea was offering a 7 night stay for the price of 5.  Some of the perks of  booking though Unforgettable Honeymoons was that the owner, Rene, is friends with the owners of the Fijian resort and could offer perks other travel sites couldn’t.  In addition to two free nights, our package also included all of our meals, 30 minute couples massages for the day of arrival, a bottle of champagne, a champagne breakfast, and a free excursion to the resort’s honeymoon beach (We were dropped off by boat on a private beach surounded by jungle with a picnic lunch, normally this ran $90 FJD per couple). Rene also advised us what would be the best time to book Fijian airefare for the best savings, and gave us detailed instructions on what to expect traveling to and from Qamea (including photos of our driver, Eddie, at the airport!). In addition, we were also advised what to pack with tips that included bring beach floatie mats (fantastic idea!) to gifts and small trinkets to had out to village children.  She also prepped us on Fijian cultures and what to expect while visiting. No detail was too small and even included which bathrooms to use at which airport stops (some didn’t have modern facilities, which luckily we were prepared for).

No lines for security here! Just an outdoor, open air airport in the middle of a clearing.

Traveling to Qamea itself was an adventure! Our wedding took place on Sunday, May 25th. We opted to have a day at home unwinding with friends and family who were still in town on Monday (Memorial Day). We woke up at 12:30am EST Tuesday morning to begin driving to Chicago from Michigan for a 6am CST flight (It’s roughly a 3 hour drive to O’hare airport from Kalamazoo Michigan). From Chicago we flew into Los Angeles, arriving at 8:30am PST.  Our flight to Fiji wouldn’t be 10:30pm that evening, so we used Nick’s rental car discount from work to get a car for sightseeing that day. In LA, we visited the Hollywood walk of fame, the planetarium, window shopped on Rodeo Drive, and saw the Chinese Theater (All free attractions). We crossed a few food stops off our list, too. Since I had been wearing a “Just Married” tank that day, the diner we had breakfast at gave us one free meal, and a cupcake!

Landing in Fiji we arrived in the city of Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu.  From there we took smaller flights to the islands of Savusavu, then Tavuni. Once in Tavuni, we rode in a van down dirt roads passing small villages until we came to a black sand beach.  At the beach, we waded into the waters to a small boat that took us across the channel to the remote island of Qamea, our final stop. Since leaving LA, we had been traveling for just over 15 hours.

The boat taking us to Qamea island
Eddie, our driver to meet the boat from the airport.

Qamea was absolutely breathtaking! The resort was situated on the beach, with jungle mountains in the background. The resort only holds a maximum of 17 couples at one time, with each in their own private bure. The setting was breathtaking, the food was delicious, and best of all, the people (both other tourists and locals) were the highlight of our vacation.

Nick being photobombed by two of our new friends!
While visiting a village, I gave this sweet girl a teddy bear I had brought with me. Our travel agent advised us to bring gifts to local children. I had a large tote bag full of school supplies, toys, and clothes I had gathered to share.

Our bure was situated at the end of the resort, so we gained a little extra privacy this way. We had our own hot tub, outdoor bed, and hammock. If we wanted complete privacy, we placed the ‘red coconut’ out on our steps which was Qamea’s version of a ‘do not disturb’ sign.

indoor bed deck Bure bed back of bure

Everyday Qamea organized an activity to do. You simply wrote the name of your bure on their chalkboard to sign up. There was anything from a waterfall hike (with the option to swim in the falls!) to visiting local villages, heading to a pearl farm (one of only two in all of Fiji. I highly recommend this, the owner, Claude was a character, and his story of selling everything in Canada and setting sail around the world was pretty amazing). We also participated in daily snorkeling trips, and Nick fit in a dive trip one morning. In the evenings, everyone gathered about an hour before dinner for drinks and social time. This wasn’t limited to just the resort guests either, the Qamea staff, and even the owner, Bryce, came out to join everyone! One evening local village children performed ceremonial dances for us, and another evening local tribal warriors came and shared Kava with us (A traditional Fijian drink from the root of a pepper plant).  I have never felt more relaxed than I have during our week in Fiji, and it was a perfect way to unwind after all the craziness of planning a wedding.

The activities boards. Our room was ‘Civa’ which is Fijian for Pearl.
One of two waterfall pools we swam in
Village children signing for us one evening.
Me, getting the hang of snorkeling.
Nemos! The area where we stayed is known for being the soft coral capital of the world. There were reefs with fish surrounding the resort that you could swim to, or take a boat to visit.


When it came time to leave Qamea, Nick and I both discussed how much we just weren’t quite ready to go home. Usually when being on vacation someplace, after 5 or 6 days we’ve been ready to get back home and into the swing of thing.  Not this time.  Even during our send off, the entire Qamea staff came out and sang a ‘Good Bye’ song to us and gave us each a red hibiscus flower to toss into the water. If the flower floated to shore, it means we’ll return again someday.

Here’s to hoping our flowers reach shore!
Farewell, Qamea!

When we arrived back in LA, we spent a few more days visiting friends and sight seeing. Using Nick’s Hilton Points he accrued though work travel, we didn’t have to spend a penny out of pocket for hotels. On the first evening, we drove down to San Diego for ribs (Again, we love food!) and saw the sea lions in La Jolla (another free attraction).  The next day a high school friend of Nick’s took us on a back lot tour of NBC’s Universal Studios. Then, finally on our last day we spur of the moment visited Disneyland. Since Disney World was where it all started with our engagement, we figured we’d end our trip and wedding planning adventure at another Disney spot.

Since returning home, we’ve been able to stay in contact with not only many of the other honeymooners we met at the resort, but the Qamea staff themselves! Thankfully though Facebook we were able to find everyone since returning home, and even set up a dropbox account to share our photos!

Bubba (Staff from Qamea) on the left, with my husband Nick on the right. If you were lucky enough, Bubba would sing to you in the evenings and his voice was unbelievable!

In closing, I highly recommend anyone to check out Unforgettable Honeymoon’s vacation planning services.  They offer trips throughout the world and the level of service they provided us can’t be beat. We also recommend if not a honeymoon trip to Qamea, an anniversary vacation. We’re hoping to make it back within the next 5-10 years. Although, if I can convince Nick to move, I’d be there in a heartbeat!

A traditional Kava Ceremony hosted by local villagers.

Do any of you have a once in a lifetime incredible honeymoon planned? If so, how did you save for it? What deals and steals did you snag along the way?

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My Dress Didn’t Fit! Tue, 17 Jun 2014 17:30:03 +0000 It’s hard to believe but my wedding day has finally come and gone. The final few weeks leading up to the “I Do’s” was a whirlwind of finishing projects and last minute surprises. Fortunately, the honeymoon that followed was absolute bliss! Now, we’re starting to settle back into ‘normal’ life again. I still have a few more posts I’d like to share with everyone in the coming weeks with things I’ve learned, some of the best deals I had found (I didn’t necessarily want to spoil all the surprises ahead of time for guests who have been following along on the blog), how we were able to save on an incredible honeymoon, and give props to our favorite vendors.

I’m going to start with (what felt like at the time) the biggest wedding panic I experienced.  With exactly 7 days to go before the big day, on a Sunday evening, I tried on my dress and IT DIDN’T FIT! The last time I had tried on my gown was at the end of March/beginning of April when I had my fitting. Since less than two months had passed, it hadn’t occurred to me that I should probably try it on more frequently – just to make sure my weight wasn’t shifting and I’d need additional alterations.

Photo credit:

Well, it happened. The dress didn’t fit. I probably wouldn’t have even tried it on if it hadn’t been for a coworker jokingly asking if I’ve tried on the dress lately. After I said not in over a month, they scolded me and told me I should. I sat on that thought for a few days (I was so busy with other stuff, I really didn’t want to acknowledge there could be any possibility of the dress not fitting and having to add more alterations to my to-do’s!). Plus, I wasn’t overly fond of the original place I had taken the dress to, and didn’t want to think about having to find a new seamstress.  So, when I snuck off into the spare bedroom of our home and slipped on the dress it was loose! The dress was too big in places where it intended to be form fitting. I could pull the dress out several inches in some areas! (Thank you marathon training!).

In a panic, I called my Maid of Honor and texted her some pictures. She calmed me down and got me on the path to start calling seamstresses asap. I came across a local business with an emergency number (believe it or not), but unfortunately the number listed was for a residence who was not affiliated with the businesses. She said she wished it was her businesses because she received calls all the time requesting alterations, and would help me if she could! Kind of odd, but at least whomever I spoke with was nice and understanding. Since it was nearly 9pm Sunday evening, I had to make a list of places to call Monday morning.

The pictures I texted to my Maid of Honor showing her my dress drama.

I started out making calls by times the tailor shops opened. The first few places I called did not have time to look at the gown. Backing up, I originally purchased my dress in Dallas, so it wasn’t possible to return to the store for a fitting. I was holding off going to the alteration store I had previous work done at because I wasn’t fully satisfied with their customer service. When I picked up the gown, the lady working couldn’t show me how to bustle it (another lady completed the work) and wasn’t able to give advice on a few questions I had asked her (What can I do to make the lace shoulders lay flat?). I was able to meet with a seamstress who was willing to evaluate the work needing to be done later that afternoon so I took off from work and flew there. While she was wonderful, and gave lots of advice, she told me she wouldn’t have time to work on the dress until that Friday, and couldn’t guarantee finishing the dress in time! So, the search continued.  Nick, my husband, made a few more calls without any luck (nobody had time to squeeze in an emergency fitting!).

Thankfully, I was able to make an appointment for Teresa’s Tailoring in Kalamazoo Michigan for Tuesday afternoon. At least I had another seamstress willing to evaluate the gown! I have to admit, walking in I was still worried she’s say it was too much work and turn me away. Plan B was to try and tackle alterations myself with my maid of honor (I would have been a nervous wreck removing stitches!), and Plan C was to revisit the Friday seamstress and pray for the best.   Thankfully, I didn’t have to try out any backup plans. Teresa and her assistant Marianne were wonderful from the moment I walked into the store! They were understanding and patient with me, and told me they could have everything taken care of no later than Saturday! A day to spare before my Sunday wedding!!!

I actually got a call on Friday afternoon that the dress was ready and I rushed over to pick it up after I finished with my hair appointment. The dress was perfect! I couldn’t have asked for a better job done, they had the dress altered to perfection, had it pressed, and ready to wear!

Teresa’s Tailoring to the rescue!

Their prices were extremely reasonable, $35 for alterations, $30 for steaming, and $25 for rushing so $90 total.  As a comparison, at my original tailor shop a lady had come into the store asking for a 2-3 day rush dress hem and was told the rush fee alone would be $75! This didn’t include the actual alterations!

Thankfully, everything worked out in the end.  I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, and I ended up being happier with the fit of the dress after the last minute alterations than I was before with the original fitting. I’m so happy Teresa’s tailoring was able to alter the dress and save the day!

Whew! That was a close one! But, it fits! Photo credit: OMG Photography

Let this be a lesson to the rest of the bride-to-be readers –you can never try  on your dress pre-wedding too often! Try it on frequently in the weeks approaching your wedding to avoid any last minute hassles or surprises!

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Five Days Until “I DO!” Tue, 20 May 2014 12:00:20 +0000 We’ve made it to the single digit countdown!  Our wedding is taking place this Sunday, on the 25th! We’ve been tying up all the planning loose ends over the past week, making purchases to stock the bar, craft projects, final meetings and conversations with our vendors, and keeping our wedding party up to date on all the plans.


Three weeks ago, I stopped browsing Pinterest for more ideas. There was no need to stress about what else could be added to the wedding.  In fact, I actually started going through my wedding boards deleting pins I knew I would never implement, or have already finished. I wanted to be able to log in and easily search for photos I knew were still a possibility for easy reference.  I then made a list of all the craft projects I had in mind for the wedding and began prioritizing them into “Need to create”, “Would like to create”, and “If there’s still time” categories.  I’ve then been knocking out projects one by one on the list.

In Nick’s words, “We do not need guests wiping their butts with us.” Even though we had a good laugh from it, wedding toilet paper did not make our to-do list.

I’ve also created and sent out schedules to the bridesmaids and for Nick to pass along to his groomsmen as far as timing and events for the weekend and when and where everyone needs to be to help things run smoothly and important phone numbers. For instance, the groomsmen know we need their help setting up the bar and uplighting at the reception hall in the morning and must vacate the building so myself and the bridesmaids can arrive to decorate at noon. If things go as planned, that will be wonderful.  If not, I’m sure it will become a great story to tell later! For me, it gives me a piece of mind to know everyone knows their role ahead of time instead of waiting for directions the day of the wedding.
Don't Call the Bride

As far as our budget, we came close to hitting our $20,000 out of pocket goal. There were some unexpected and over budget costs along way, but, we also came in under budget in other areas.  Earlier this year I started a small Etsy/eBay business with some of the crafts I learned to make which to allowed for some extra splurges we thought would be nice, but not a necessity such as the up lighting, a photo booth, adding a party bus for transportation, and being able to pay for hair & makeup for the bridesmaids plus a few others. During our planning, Nick also received an inheritance from his grandmother’s passing which we used to purchase our wedding bands and his attire from.  We felt it would be a great way to honor her memory, and include her in the wedding even though she is no longer here with us. We constantly reviewed where we were at as far as spending during planning, and discussed together as a couple what was really important to each of us to include or not to include. In the end, we spent roughly $18,000 out of pocket, added $2,000 from my side business, and another $4,400 from Nicks’ inheritance for a grand total of $24,400.  I’m proud to say not a penny of what we spent went into debt,  and we only added on ‘extras’ as the funding become available. While this total seems high, it stills comes in under the 2014 National Average Wedding Costs of $30,000, and believe it or not we still saved thousands of dollars of what expenses could have been.




Reflecting, the biggest single thing we did to save money on our wedding was simple: We just asked.  We networked and asked our friends and family for vendor recommendations and who might know who in different areas. We have friends who know jewelers, friends who know chauffeurs, friends who are involved in bar and restaurant management, and so on. We asked friends where to shop, and what prices were reasonable to pay for certain items, and how to find a deal. Discussing money can be such a taboo subject, but how can someone ever learn if they never ask? I had no problem putting my pride aside while searching and discussing deals. We also asked vendors that we did not have connections with what kinds of deals or extras they could offer. We never pushed if the answer was no, but we were surprised at how much we could save by saying, “Is there anything else you could add?” or “Can you offer a discount on this?”  We also asked friends and family for help in DIY projects such as our cake and wedding invitations. For curiosity’s sake, we added up how much we would have spent without networking and estimate just by referrals we saved roughly $10,000!!! (Not including my couponing and other bargain hunting projects!)


Over the last 15 months of planning during our engagement, we also had quite a few life changes. I sold my house and moved in with Nick, we both lost a grandmother, and both received promotions at work that came with added responsibilities. Nick also decided to get healthy after some back issues and managed to lose 50 lbs in less than 5 months by cutting calories and exercising!   I decided training for a marathon leading up to the wedding sounded like a great idea. The training commitment took up a large amount of time I could have otherwise dedicated to wedding projects.

At mile 13.1 someone handed me bacon. Words cannot express my happiness at this moment.


We are both excited and looking forward to starting a new adventure together in married life.  We’ve still managed to keep our sanity during the planning processes and whatever else life threw our way. If we can get though all that working together as a team, I’m confident we can handle whatever life throws our way!



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Affordable Up-Lighting Tue, 13 May 2014 12:00:17 +0000 During a recent bridal event at our reception hall my fiancé and I loved the uplighting set up inside of the venue.  We hadn’t planned on including up-lighting as part of our décor, and I was under the impression that it was incredibly difficult to set up and hundreds of dollars, if not thousands to rent.

Our venue without up-lighting
Lawton Lights
Our venue with up-lighting

Curious, I decided to ask the hall’s wedding coordinator about the lighting. Secretly, I was crossing my fingers it would be already included with the rental. Sadly, it was not and we learned it would be an additional $250 to rent. I can’t remember the exact number of lights that would be provided, but I want to say it was between 10-12 lights total.  My fiancé and I discussed it, but ultimately decided that $250 to rent lights just wasn’t one of our priorities (We just couldn’t justify spending $250 on lights, when we only paid $300 to rent the bar area/additional room!). Plus, we felt we could get away with using somewhere between 6-10 lights overall.

Not wanting to give up on our lights just yet, Nick and I took to the internet in search of affordable up-lighting. I came across a site that rents lights for $19/light with free shipping. Still not as cheap as we were hoping for without getting to keep the lights afterwards, then Nick discovered a site,, that had a pretty nice deal. They sell a set of 8 lights with power cords and stand (gel color sheets sold separately). $163.76 with shipping. This ends up being roughly $20.47/light. And the best part even after being $100 cheaper than the hall rental option, they lights are ours to keep! I can try to resell them after the wedding and try to recoup some of our costs.

Photo Credit: also offers a wedding section on their site with lots of helpful advice and tips that can be found here. 

We were both really happy with the lights we’ve received. Since our wedding colors are black & white we didn’t need the additional color gels. We tested them around the house and found set up to be extremely easy.

All that needs to be done to set up up-lighting is:

  1. Plug Uplight into an outlet
  2. Turn on
  3. Put uplight on the floor and point towards the wall

That’s it!

Do you know of any affordable lighting options or any tips and tricks? Please share below!

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Running for the Wedding Tue, 06 May 2014 12:00:54 +0000 Last August I decided to sign up for the Kalamazoo Marathon which takes place on May 4th, 2014. Three weeks before my wedding date.  I’m not a running guru by any means, nor am I one of those annoying know-it-all running people who think running is their life and a cure for everything and the only sure fire way to exercise.  In fact, I actually hate running most days (There, I said it).



However, I love food. In particular, anything sweet or with sugar. Cakes, chocolate, doughnuts, and brownies are my weakness. In fact, I was banned from a local Zumba class I had regularly attended for over a year because I posted on Facebook that I had eaten a brownie after running 4 miles, then taking an hour long Zumba class. The teacher saw my post and told me I was a bad influence to the class by eating the brownie, and that I wasn’t a dog and shouldn’t reward myself with food after working out! She then refused to speak to me about it afterwards and completely shunned me for it!

Not allowing yourself a treat doesn’t’ fly in my book.  I understand that if you eat a lot of food unchecked… weight gain is typically inevitable. Like every other bride, I want to look fit and in shape on my wedding day, but the thought of giving up sweets for a year in preparation seemed horrific to me and it wasn’t going to happen.  Hence, my marathon commitment- I decided on running for the wedding. I’ve run three marathons in the past, and know how my body will tone and shift/lose some weight during training.

When the Kalamazoo Marathon opened for registration I made sure to be the first person to register. The marathon offers a 50 state challenge where the first person from each state who registers is given a free pair of running shoes and a free race entry. I’m all about anything I can score for free so of course if I was going to commit to the race, I was going to try and enter for free!  Setting my alarm to wake up right before midnight when the entry period opened paid off and I was the first person from Michigan to sign up.


I knew that as the wedding date approached I’m become so incredibly busy, that it could be tempting to skip training runs or back out of the race (Or any workout plan for that matter). Thankfully, I knew winning the 50 state challenges would keep me committed. They list all the state winners on their website and I told all my local friends & family who are familiar with the race about getting to represent Michigan so how could I back out of it now? My wedding workout plan was set in stone.

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy that I’ve committed to the race. It forces me to step away from planning and take some time to myself.  I also usually feel more relaxed after a work out.

Though the winter, I ran an average of 3-4 miles three or four times during the week, then a longer run on the weekends (Averaging 20 miles/week until about mid January when I started to build more mileage).  I hadn’t changed my eating habits, and had been running fairly consistently over the past year. I hadn’t lost any weight up until this point, but I did manage to maintain over the holidays.

In February I ran an impromptu half marathon (I signed up the afternoon before) in 12F degree weather! After that, I started to build more mileage, with 16-18 mile long runs so far. Still, I hadn’t changed eating habits, and only shed 2 lbs. But, my clothes were fitting looser (I never measured my waist or anything but more or less have gone by how I ‘feel’ instead of numbers and scales).

winter blast

My fiancé Nick and I have replaced some of our evening TV watching or weekend hang out time with gym dates.  He’s lost close to 40lbs since January by spending more time at the gym while I’m running on the track! I on the other hand, wasn’t losing the additional 5-10lbs I was hoping to shed by running.  Nick recommended that I try using the MyFitnessPal app to log calories and workouts.  Much of his success is from the app. I was hesitant at first (I hate someone telling me what I can and can’t eat…especially after the Zumba brownie incident) but I began logging my food and workouts the first week of April, and even had success after that first week.  I’ve been losing roughly 1-1/2lbs, week with 4 weeks left to go.  I’m pretty confident I’ll be hitting my 10lb goal now!

As my runs have gotten longer, and we’re getting closer to the wedding date I thankfully haven’t lost any toenails, had any blisters, or ended up with chafing in weird places. Thankfully, my wedding shoes are closed toe, just in case my feet end up unsightly.

Photo Credit:

I encourage all brides to find an activity outside of wedding planning to set some time aside to as a stress reliever, whether it be walking a 5K, going golfing, swimming, Zumba, yoga, etc. It may seem overwhelming to take on one more task, but the personal time to yourself has been a great distraction for me! I also recommend using the MyFitnessPal app for counting calories if you’re trying to loose weight or maintain.

Kazoo Half Marathon
Running the 2012 Kalamazoo Half Marathon
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Don’t Forget to Budget For… Tue, 29 Apr 2014 12:00:41 +0000 As we’re getting closer to the wedding, my fiancé and I have had a few expenses pop up recently that we happened to overlook during budgeting.  In my planning and preparation to cover all budget situations I could think of, I’ve read and spent time searching for ‘hidden wedding costs.’  There are lists out there to remember to include everything from tipping, to dress alterations, to wedding licenses. Unfortunately, we’ve had a few hundred dollar expenses come up that we hadn’t planned for and weren’t included on any of the lists I had come across.  To help you avoid these ‘surprises’ here’s a few extra things to remember when setting your budget:

unexpected wedding expenses

Sales tax on Food

Yep. Kind of a no brainer, but up until seeing a quote from our caterer paying for sales tax had completely slipped my mind! When I’ve asked for meal pricing, even during researching vendors I was always given a per head count price (roughly $20/person). I based my food budget from this number, thinking $20 * 100 guests = $2000 spent on food.  It was quite surprising to see just over $200 tacked on to the food bill when you hadn’t been thinking about it!

Food sales tax
Photo Credit:


Service Fees

Here’s another one from our caterer, and another mistake on my behalf by making the assumption the per person plate fee included the price to service the food.  Looking back now, I wish I would have asked more questions about other costs involved. The caterer had provided us with a plated dinner price, and buffet pricing. I had assumed the price difference between plated vs. buffet was because more service was involved.  This ends up being just over $400 for us. When getting estimates from your vendor, ask for a sample quote up front.



Custodian Fees

Somebody needs to clean the church and run the vacuum after the ceremony. This is $45 at our church.

Photo Credit:


Breakfast/Lunch for the Wedding Party

I knew in my mind I would need to eat on the day of the wedding (besides dinner that evening) but I hadn’t given much thought to budgeting when and how the rest of my and the bridal parties meals would be. I now plan on making a Starbucks run for breakfast (quick and easy), then having pizza’s delivered to the house while we’re having our hair and makeup done. Three of my bridesmaids are gluten free so it limited my pizza ordering options to a place that offers gluten free crusts (Initially I hadn’t thought of any dietary needs besides my own).  Since we’ll also have the photographer, and hairstylists with us, that’s a few extra meals to plan for (And I can’t eat in front of someone without offering!). I’m anticipating about $100 total for the girls and maybe $50 for the guys (they’ll nix the breakfast and just need lunch).


Photo Credit:

Vendor Meals

At the reception, vendors such as your DJ’s, bartenders, photographer, ect are working long hours without set breaks.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to be expected to function 8+ hours without eating.  While planning for vendor meals is an additional expense, I began reading it is etiquette to provide meals to those working 6 hours or more. Having the caterer set aside a few plates for when they can sneak away is nice, but it wasn’t something we had factored in to our head count.  From adding up our vendors, we’ll be providing an additional 8 meals (totaling roughly $180).  I do plan to ask the caterer if any discounts are given for vendor meals.

vendor Meals
Photo Credit:


Have you found yourself with any additional, overlooked expenses? If so, share below!

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Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations (Part 2) Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:00:35 +0000 In my previous post about my Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations I broke down the materials list and pricing for creating a set of 70 invites.  This week, I’ll include the dimensions of all the different cards used.


Just a note, I used my Silhouette cutter to cut out all of the card stock and black pieces and it worked like a dream! (Here’s my original review of the Silhouette ).  I just created a layout for the different sizes I needed and would hit cut. The shapes were constant every time, without measuring!


Main invite:


Black paper – 5-7/8” square.  I also used my Silhouette cutter to create the lace floral edging. We played around with just a solid square, but felt the design added to the look of the invite.

White – 5-1/2” square




Accommodation Card:


Blue – 6-3/16” tall x 5” wide

Black – 5-15/16” tall x 4-¾” wide

White – 5-11/16” tall x 4-½” wide




Reception Card:


Blue – 5-3/16” tall x 5” wide

Black – 4-15/16” tall x 4-3/4” wide

White – 4-11/16” tall x 4-1/2” wide




RSVP Card:


Blue – 3-1/2” tall x 5” wide

Black – 3-1/4” tall x 4-3/4” wide

White – 3” tall x 4-1/2” wide


I played around with a few different adhesives and found Scotch double sided tape to be the easiest and most effective to use. One thing I liked about the tape was that I could pull up sections and re position them if needed, without ruining the paper. I found the best deal from eBay for a 6 pack for about $13.50 Just as a note, I was warned against using some glues as they can lose their adhesiveness in colder temperatures!



For the Tiffany bow, a great step by step resource can be found here Then I used a 12 pack of sparkle stickers that I found from the dollar section of Michael’s craft store. I liked how the stickers matched the cut out pattern on the main invite!



Instead of using traditional sealing wax that requires lighting a flame and allowing the wax to drip onto the sealing surface I found wax sticks that are used in a glue gun by (I had purchased from their Etsy store). I found these incredibly easy to use and would recommend them. One tip I did learn was to set your glue gun at a lower setting (if available). If you set your gun down for any extended length of time then tip it upwards a bit of the wax would run out freely – so have a test/scrap surface available for this!


As I mentioned before, Nick’s mom hand wrote all of the wording for the Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations. For the information on the reception, RSVP, accommodation, and ceremony portions she wrote a master copy on plain white printer paper which we than scanned on our church’s copier and shrunk to size.  This also allowed her to cut and paste in letters or portions of words, as needed without rewriting the entire sheet. The printer didn’t pick up any of the seams, either!

IMG_7110 IMG_7109

Once we had the sizes we wanted, we maximized how many items we could print from a single sheet of paper, and placed them into the corners of the sheet – to reduce the amount of cuts I would need to make. We also marked areas where I would need to make cuts on the master copy, so it would be printed onto each final sheet in order to save time having to re-measure every single sheet of where cuts would need to be made.

IMG_7112 IMG_7111

Our church graciously let us use their copier for printing in return for a paper donation. We were initially going to buy a new ink cartridge in return to replace what we used then learned the church has a contract for the machine for which unlimited ink is already included.  They suggest a paper donation instead. I was lucky enough to snag some awesome deals at Staples for 12 packs of paper which ended up being free to me after rebate! (Over a $100 retail value!).

Once we had a finalized invitation suite packaged and ready to go we took it to the post office for weighing. Square envelopes require more postage and so do thicker letters, non-machine able and handstamped mail.  We were anticipating higher postage costs than an average letter, but were a little surprised at $1.40/invitation! Nonetheless, we were committed and I wasn’t about to redo all the invites! I liked the look of multiple stamps on envelopes and the postal worker helped me plan how many stamps we could use in different denominations.


I have to admit, in the end my DIY Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations were a huge undertaking! From the time I first handed the paper off to Nick’s mom until the time the invites went into the mail took just over 3 months to complete! Plus, postage costs were (in my opinion) rather high. But, I’m pretty satisfied with how they turned out and I’ve been getting great reviews of them as our friends and family have been receiving theirs. I have to share a photo collage that one of my friends put together after she received her invite! 


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Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations (Part 1) Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:00:30 +0000 IMG_7092

There are so many gorgeous invitations designs out there and choosing just one can feel overwhelming.  I wanted something that somewhat matched my wedding colors which are black & white, but also reflected my fiancé and I as a couple. After scouring Pinterest for months without anything that screamed ‘us’  we and I finally decided to try for Tiffany & Co. inspired invites. I had a random idea one afternoon for the signature blue box design and sure enough, after a quick Google search I found similar inspiration in what I had envisioned!  I also have to note, while the wax seal was an added expense, it was something Nick, who is a Game of Thrones Fan, was set we included on the invites after seeing them use wax seals on the show!



Before I share the cost breakdown for our Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations, I want to state that for me, being Budget Savvy isn’t about finding the cheapest option available, but finding what you like, and making your dollar stretch the farthest. While there are so many great options out there for less, we wanted the Tiffany Box theme and unfortunately that meant spending extra. In my shopping adventures, I’ve stumbled across some very nice print-at-home box sets on clearance at Staples where we could have spent $3 on a set of 50 invites!  (Just for the record, I did snag a few of these sets to be able to print my programs and rehearsal dinner invites on! ;) )

Tweet: Being #budgetsavvy isn’t about finding the cheapest option, it’s about stretching your dollars to accommodate your tastes. -@savvybride

I’m going to break my invitations into two posts, with this being the first post with a cost breakdown and material list. Next week I’ll include dimensions and assembly for the sets.  

So, back to our Tiffany & Co. invites.  I did some thorough investigation before committing to paper and found the site,, offered very competitive prices. Shipping is a flat $3.99 on any orders over $15 which I feel is a fair deal.

One tip I highly suggest before committing to your stationary head on is to order samples. PaperandMore will sell individual samples of paper products which run roughly .50-$1.00 per item and shipping is a flat $1 for as many samples as you like. This way, you can test out different colors and layouts. Starting out, I committed $10 to ordering samples which really isn’t that much in comparison to what I could have ordered on a whim, then changed my mind about (Which, I admit I did!).

For my Tiffany inspired wedding invitations suites, here is the following break down:

Tiffany Inspired Wedding Invitations:

Pocket Envelope with ceremony information

Response card & envelope

Reception Card

Accommodations card (Only sent to out of state guests)





To create 70 invites I ordered the following:

(2) Tiffany Blue Solid Pocket Invitation Card, 6-1/4 Himalaya (50 envelopes/pack) – $35.99 

(2) 6-1/2 Size Other Envelope – Pearl White Metallic (50 envelopes/pack) – $16.99

(1) 8-1/2×11 Pearl White Metallic Paper (100 sheets/pack) – $19.99

(2) 4 Bar Envelope (for Response Cards) Pearl White Metallic (50 envelopes/pack) -$11.99

(1) Tiffany Blue Cardstock 8-1/2×11 (100 sheets/pack) -$19.99

(1) Black Pearl Metallic Paper  8-1/2×11 (100 sheets/pack) – $19.99

Total PaperandMore material costs after taxes & Shipping: $204.10


Other costs:

Response Card Postage – .46 (before the January USPS increase) * 70 = $32.20

Outer Envelope Postage – $1.40 each =$98.00

Sealing Wax Stamp – $3.00 (Half price at Michael’s Craft Store)

Sealing Wax – $13.77 (After using two $5 off Etsy Wrapp Free Gift Cards! –

Ribbon – $15 (Half Price at Hobby Lobby)

Double Sided Tape- $26.96 for 12 rolls on Ebay

Stickers – $6 ($1 per set of 12 stickers at Michael’s from the Dollar Section)

Total Cost: $399.03. Or, $5.70 per invite.




According to The Invitation Blog, back in 2011 the average couple spends $659 on invites BEFORE postage, with the average cost of pocket invites ranging from $5-$9. So, even though our invites were pricey, we still spent considerably less than the average. 

I also want to note, Nick’s mom is a calligrapher and one of her gifts to us was handwriting our invites. Each outer envelope, response card envelope, and names on the outside pocket invites were individually hand written.  She wrote master copies of the inside material that we scanned and scaled to size, then printed.  Next week, I’ll include the measurements we used for each section of the invites, and how we assembled them. 



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The Four Weddings Approach to Happy Guests Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:00:40 +0000 TLC’s Four Weddings has become an addiction in our home. With the ability to view 4 weddings in under an hour and see what has worked well and what hasn’t for brides, my fiance and I have been taking diligent notes on how to keep our guests happy.


While I may or may not agree with all the dos and don’ts (some options aren’t quite a budget savvy as others) Here are the top 10 do’s and don’ts we’ve gathered from this program:

#10 – Do keep the distance from the ceremony to the reception at a minimum. Guests don’t seem to care to drive long distances between event locations.


#9 – Keep guests entertained after the ceremony and before the reception starts.  A cocktail hour is a great option for when you’re getting photos taken. Who can really complain if they have a free drink after all? But, keep timing in mind here, the longer you’re away getting photos taken the more alcohol and appetizers your guests will consume.  This can add up quickly!


#8 –  Don’t be late to walk down the aisle. Some of the brides I’ve seen on the show kept guests waiting for over two hours!  Nobody wants to sit in an uncomfortable seat that long staring at other guests wondering how long this show is going to take!


#7 – Do keep temperature and weather in mind when planning your date and prepare for unpleasant events. Have umbrellas, fans, shawls, tents ect on hand to accommodate guests.  Who can blame someone for complaining when they have to sit outside during a rainstorm without any cover? 

rain boots

#6 – Don’t go overboard with vows.  Personal vows seem to go over the best on the show, but don’t drag on for a 40 minute monologue on top of readings, singing, sand/unity candle ceremonies, ect. Keep everything within check.

boring vows

#5 – Do use silk flowers but know someone will always complain.  It’s also important to note you’ll also have someone else who can’t tell the difference. We’ve also seen guests on the show complain if the bride/groom spent too much on real wedding flowers or too little. Whichever way you decide to go, pick what works for your budget & style.


#4 – Don’t serve too much or too little food. Guests on the show seem to like variety and want to feel full after dinner. However, if you offer too much they complain about being wasteful or so stuffed that they don’t want to dance. Don’t waste your money on going overboard.  

Too much food

#3 – Do have a photo booth for entertainment. I have yet to watch an episode where a guest did not like the photo booth. In fact, most say it’s their favorite thing at the wedding! Don’t have Elvis impersonators, belly dancers, mimes, or cupids (yes, I saw cupids on one episode!).  Guests don’t seem to know how to react to additional entertainment, or someone else stealing the spot light away from the bride.  

photo booth

#2 – Don’t stress too much about the food. No matter what type of food you serve, there’s always going to be a critic and you can’t satisfy every pallet.  In the end, choose what you like as a couple. As a hint, having at least one red and white meat choice seems satisfy at least 80% of most guests.


#1 – Do in two words, Bacon Bar”. In my opinion, this was the absolute best wedding idea I’ve ever heard! I’m still trying to get my caterer on board with this fantastic idea!

Bacon Bar

Do you agree or disagree with this list? What are you planning for your wedding that fits these ‘do’s’ without breaking the bank?


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