The Budget Savvy Bride » Julie helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Mon, 04 May 2015 19:23:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Just call me Mrs. D Tue, 20 Sep 2011 12:00:28 +0000 We’re home from the honeymoon. I’m now an old married gal…sorry for being out of touch while I was off honeymoonin’.

The wedding was without a doubt the absolute very best day ever. It seriously couldn’t have been anymore perfect. Well, it would have been a bit wee more perfect minus the pouring rain, thunder & lightning and subzero temperatures, but what I’m getting at is that despite the absolutely horrendous weather we were served up, the whole experience was just incredible. I have never felt so content and loved as I did on that day. Even though it was too wet to have a campfire, the heavy drizzle caused my hair to fall flat and I spent half the night donning a toque, long johns and my clunky Sorel boots, at the end of the whole cold and wet shebang, Adam & I became husband and wife in front of the most amazing people I know. Plus we have a pretty dramatic, hilarious story of our wedding which I look forward to embellishing as the years go on.

The less-than-ideal weather caused EVERYONE to step up and help out with the elaborate setup which had to be slightly adjusted due to the forecast. When I arrived at the campsite, all gussied up an hour before the ceremony, I couldn’t believe that there were well over 30 of our friends and family working to construct a massive tent to cover the dinner area out of tarps, helping set up the bar, arranging flowers, hanging lights & lanterns. It was a pretty heartwarming sight to experience. At the front of this team was Callandra…I can’t say it enough, thank you, friend.

I’m so excited to do a full recap once I get all the photos rounded up, as you can imagine there were a few hefty cameras on-site that day. Until then…here’s one of my favorite sneak peeks yet during our ‘first look’ . This one is from the camera of Ms. Christina Craft. In the bottom right corner you’ll see Eunice, our good friend and official photographer extraordinaire…I can’t wait to see the goodies that her lens saw that day!

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Bakefest. Tue, 16 Aug 2011 12:00:44 +0000 Things are certainly trucking along here in wedding planning land. I thought I’d share a few photos of a recent get together with some special ladies. Julie’s Wedding Sweatshop: Round Two…The Bake Fest. Much like the last “wedding sweatshop” [the images seem to have disappeared from the post on this site, so I’ve linked to my own blog] my mum hosted, the festivities were up in Camrose and we had plenty of very helpful hands on deck.

We are opting out of a traditional wedding cake…we’re not even going for cupcakes or macaroons. Instead we’re offering up an impressive array of tasty [& budget friendly!] home baked goods. On the menu: classic chocolate chip cookies, triple gingersnaps, cookies and cream truffles, DL’s famous brownies, the family’s favorite lemon squares from my grandma and three flavors of cake bites – chocolate & peanut butter, carrot cake and cream cheese as well as lemon and dark chocolate. HOLY MOLEY.

Of course, since it’s a camping party, there will also be s’mores…and a few flavors of hobo pies! [a brilliant idea from our wedding planner Callandra]

A big thanks to the most amazing lady around, my MUM, DL! Also, my fantastic aunts Marian and Val for all the help in the last couple months…these two gals have been an incredible help with all these projects. Also my lovely friend, Katie who helped conceive this bakefest idea and made the journey to Camrose to help out. I also need to mention both my Grandma and Adam’s mum – neither of which were able to be onsite for the projects, but would have been there in a second if circumstances allowed…either way, they’ve also both offered so much great help throughout all our ambitious wedding projects.

ps. I’m so sorry if this little photo-collage gives you the mid-afternoon munchies. I’ll be 100% upfront and mention that I did, indeed, sneak into our freezer and grab just one cake bite to enjoy while I prepped these photos. I promise, Mum, only one.

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My Dress Sneak Peek Tue, 09 Aug 2011 12:00:51 +0000 For many, this is a long and boring story. You’ve been warned. For others, I really do hope it can be a useful wedding planning idea.

The famous wedding dress has arrived at last. [It’s not really famous, just in my head.] As many people in my life know, this dress has been quite the saga. [Again, not really a saga, just in my head.] At the beginning of this wedding dress journey, my mum and I searched dress shops high and low for an appropriate outfit for our upcoming offbeat wedding. Sadly it turned out I had a pretty concrete idea of the perfect dress in my head; it was nothing fancy or extravagant in any way, but even still it just wasn’t to be found in a traditional bridal salon. I was after the ultimate party dress, more of a fun whimsical number than a sparkly, sleek and sexy white gown. Swiss dots were a must, as was a pretty good quantity of tulle.

Once I’d come to grips with the fact that I wouldn’t be buying a dress off the rack, I began to look into my options to get a unique dress constructed. I met with a local fashion designer; I researched custom dress makers in Asia; I continued to browse dresses online in hopes of finding a pre-made number that I could settle for. After investigating several avenues, I settled on a lovely Etsy seller based out of Greece, Tami. First off, her going rate was just perfect. I loved that she made every dress on her own, with her own hands, in her own home. Every one of her dresses are one of a kind and are made exactly for each specific girl. I also loved that she was very responsive to my inquiries…despite our substantial time difference, she always got back to me so quickly. Back in February, I finally committed to my design and commissioned her for the all-important project.

Having a dress custom made from scratch is certainly not a project for every bride…I think I was on the verge of being too nervous for this option. In the end though, everything was perfect and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. If you decide to go this route you must trust your dressmaker 100%, especially if you go with someone in a location where you do not have the option to do fittings along the way. I didn’t have an exact idea how it would look until it was completed and I certainly didn’t know how it would fit me in all my awkward spots. I sent Tami photos from several dresses that I liked, as well as characteristics I wasn’t fond of and explained how I was hoping it would come together. After that I stepped aside and waited about five months. I’ll admit, about four months in…I was getting pretty excited [I suppose I could say ANXIOUS] to see a few photos of the project underway.

My fantastic dress arrived earlier this week. It’s just awesome. It fits me to a tee, I mean perfectly. I can’t believe how great I feel in it…it certainly seems as though it was made just for me.

As for future brides considering a custom dress, I absolutely suggest looking into it. And I would whole-heartedly recommend Tami. I’d just love to see one of my 2012 brides in one of her awesome dresses! I hope Adam might want to do a vow-renewal in five or ten years [The Bushparty, Round Two] this way I could have Tami make that dress too…is it bad that I’ve already concocted a few more designs in my head before I’ve even worn the first?

Based on my experience, I feel there are a couple of very important tips for brides considering this route for their dress; order the dress with PLENTY of lead time, and be very upfront about your expected/desired/necessary arrival date. My dress has, of course, arrived with extra time before the wedding…but it was a bit later than I’d anticipated, partly due to the aftermath of the Canada Post strike. In hindsight even though it turned out exactly how I’d imagined and it fit 100% perfect upon arrival, I would have requested [& happily paid the additional fees] a courier service for the piece of mind of having it in my closet a few weeks earlier. In addition, my dress is handmade…sewn by human hands. There are some very small imperfections, and I like it like that.

Below are just a couple quick little sneak peeks. Don’t fret…Adam already has a pretty good idea of what it looks like [there’s no way I can keep a secret from that guy!] …but he has requested that I don’t prance/twirl/strut around the house in it…he does want a bit of a surprise on the wedding day.

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Wedding Food & Beverages Tue, 02 Aug 2011 12:00:30 +0000 One of our priorities is to have an open bar. We want this to be a heck of a party, and I’m a strong believer that an open bar is a good start. Adam’s mum and dad have generously offered to make the wine for the party. Unlike a lot of homemade wine, the stuff they make is really great. Recently, my parents were out on Vancouver Island visiting them and they had an evening of taste testing. First off, isn’t it cool that our parents hang out together without us? Secondly, the word is that the vino has got an A+. I’ve designed a selection of mismatchy labels for the bottles using some Boler-inspired art sourced from Google and Pinterest. Adam’s mum, Leslie, is going to take my designs down to the local print shop for production.

We’re also going to do all we can to get our hands on a couple kegs from our favorite brewery – Nelson Brewing Company. We met in the quaint little artsy mountain town of Nelson and drank a fair amount of this tasty beer when we were dating. We’re also going to set up a cute little self-serve cocktail station featuring a few of our favorites – mojitos, gin & tonic, dark rum & ginger beer, Caesars, Amaretto Sours.

Next priority is delicious food. Adam has been cooking professionally for most of our relationship and both of our families appreciate a good solid meal. Fitting with the camping theme, we’ve clearly always been set on a BBQ dinner. I first thought that because the entire event is going to have such a casual ambiance, in hopes of making the day feel like a bit more than just a bushparty it would be great to offer a slightly fancier meal. Nothing outrageous of course, just great steaks and salmon, gourmet salads, delicious hoity-toity sauces, rustic breads, an incredible spread of passed canapes, etc. It turned out that a feast of those proportions would run us $100+ per person. This quickly encouraged us to fully embrace the bushparty aesthetic [who were we kidding? It is what it is.] and hire a greasy, sloppy and authentic Southern smoked BBQ truck – BubbaQ. This option is going to run us just over $20 per plate and will probably be far more memorable and certainly much more appropriate for our chosen setting.

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Wedding Day Accessories Tue, 26 Jul 2011 15:00:47 +0000 When I met Adam nearly six years ago, I kind of fooled him. We were college students meaning that I had very little disposable income, which in turn meant I had to work with my already-existing wardrobe. The truth is, I love to shop. I just adore a good outfit. When the paycheques started rolling in again after graduation, this little secret was revealed. Adam doesn’t give two hoots about anything fashion related. If I would let him, I assume that he would like to buy his wedding outfit from MEC and I think he’s kind of baffled as to why I wouldn’t want the same.

I’ve had a great time putting together all the pieces of my wedding day ensemble. I’ve sourced nearly all of the pieces on Etsy! Many of the items are vintage, or used repurposed vintage items which I adore. I even found a lovely independent dressmaker from Greece on the site who is making a custom poofty tea-length cocktail gown from DOTTED tulle [!!!] for me at a ridiculously reasonable price. I’ll talk about that more once the dress has arrived! Every time a parcel notice arrived in the mailbox over the last few months, I couldn’t wait to head straight to the post office the next day to retrieve my newest treasure. I think everything has come together so well – it’s certainly not a conventional bridal outfit, but I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

[Now Adam, I know you don’t really understand this whole outfit thing, but if you want to be surprised on August 30th, don’t look any further please.]

collage photos by me.

pretty, pretty hair comb: Whichgoose via Etsy | classic birdcage veil: Beautiluartist via Etsy | 1960′s vintage beaded choker: Mary Angleas Jewels via Etsy | ultra-cute and chunky repurposed vintage ring: Marie Arnoux via Etsy | manageable but still reasonably stylish shoes [there’s no way I was attempting heels at a bush party]: Town Shoes | pink shoe clips [actually vintage clip on earings!]: Bay Creek via Etsy | amazing one-of-a-kind vintage collage bracelet: Lonkoosh via Etsy | mini barrettes: Sweet Simple via Etsy | printed cropped cardigan: H&M […yep, H&M. I’m one classy bride-to-be]


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Wedding Tunes. Tue, 19 Jul 2011 12:11:30 +0000 Back when we were growing up in small town Alberta, my sister, Amy & I were exposed to a great deal of non-typical music for the average small town Alberta girl through my dad’s vinyl/cassette tape collection and the independent radio my parents listened to. To this day, I thank them greatly for this exposure. My sister’s music palette has since become even further eclectic. Adam and I have asked her to prepare a playlist for the wedding. Her Fiance, PJ, a musician will provide his PA system for amplification.

We’ve given her free reign on the bulk of the song selections, but there are a few songs I definitely want to be featured at particular parts of the day. Adam & I are planning on walking down the aisle together. No disrespect at all to my father, but I’m just not into that epic buildup…and I’m really not the kind of gal that wants all eyes on me. [My dad is fine with this decision – he said he “gave me away” when he dropped me off in the town of Banff at the age of 18] Originally I had hoped that we could just all be hanging around sipping cocktails, the commissioner would announce it was time to get married and everyone would just gather around us. Several people have told me this won’t work. So we’ve decided to walk in together. I think it’s only fair that 1/2 the eyes be on Adam too. The song we’ve picked for our unconventional processional is Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

Next, we’ve opted out of the bridal party tradition. GASP! This means we don’t have official witnesses. We’ve decided instead to have each of our guests fill out a little form upon arrival to “win” the chance to be our witnesses. I think this will add a bit of a fun, lighthearted element to the ceremony and also give everyone the impression that each person in attendance is important enough to fill this role. I think that the perfect song for this part of the ceremony while we’re drawing names is All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem – it’s got a really epic buildup [since they’re missing this with the bride walking down the aisle!] and the simple fact that the title is perfect.

Lastly, we need a fun and rocking song to wrap things up. Do the Whirlwind – Architecture in Helsinki was kind of “our song” during the first stages of our courtship. There’s a line that says: “your folks told me you should be left alone on a mountain top.”  Much of our relationship has been spent on top of or en route to the top of a mountain. This song will play as we walk back down the aisle…over the to keg!

I don’t really have a have a solid photo to include with this post…so I’ll share a few snapshots of us up on a bunch of really great mountaintops!


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Some Useful Wedding Websites. Tue, 12 Jul 2011 15:30:56 +0000 I’ve been brainstorming about this wedding for over a year now. There are endless online resources for gathering ideas and inspiration. In the early stages, I started saving the odd image to my computer desktop. That start to get a bit disorganized so I started a folder dedicated to wedding-related images. That too, began to get a bit chaotic so I separated the images within the folder into subcategory folders. Now that it’s getting time to pull all the ideas together and make some solid commitments I wish I had been more diligent in making notes on where I found that perfect pair of two inch patent turquoise peeptoe wedges.

Sometime ago a friend said to me, “are you on Pinterest?” I’d heard of it, but was certain it was just another place online for me to say goodbye to even more of my precious hours. More and more people kept mentioning this magical haven on the world wide web. I finally caved and signed up for an account. If I have one regret about our wedding plans to date, it is that I wish I had caved about 12 months ago and had been using this helpful [& 100% free!] service to catalog my ideas since day one. Pinterest not only saves a thumbnail of the sought-after item or idea, but also includes a link back to the original source meaning if you want to make a purchase you can, or if you need DIY instructions, there they are!

I’m a full on Pinning junkie now. I will without a doubt continue to frequent the site long after our wedding to keep track of recipes, fashion ideas, home decor inspiration, etc. You can see my Pinboards here.

Another helpful wedding-related site I’ve recently come across is Weddinggawker. It’s a place where wedding professionals can submit a blog post sharing a great idea, tip or even just some pretty images. Weddinggawker is a great way to quickly browse through what’s happening in the current online wedding world. Users create a personal account in order mark useful posts as favorites for easy revisiting.


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My Wedding Planner Extraordinaire. Tue, 28 Jun 2011 15:30:22 +0000 Callandra & I connected for the first time about a year ago. She & I were in the same boat; both Postcard Weddings and Julie Williams Photography were gearing up for the first summer in business here in Canmore. She spoke about her “who says you have to” approach to wedding planning and I was hooked. Long before Adam & I were planning a wedding, I knew that was the theme I would like to keep for our own event. She caters to the fun, quirky, whimsical couple looking to wed in the Rockies.

The two of us have had the opportunity to collaborate several times since that initial meeting, it’s been really encouraging to be able to work alongside another young and fun business woman. Our businesses have both come so far in the past year and it’s so exciting to watch each one grow and evolve.

Callandra is going to be onsite for the day of the wedding to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. If it wasn’t for this gal, there would be no way I’d attempt setting up the array of colored vases, 150 feet of bunting and mismatched chalkboards on my own in the wee hours before nuptials. I am going to be so thankful to spend a fun, stress free morning with my mum and sister at the salon instead of asking them to hang out at the site with a mess of instructions on how to set thing up as per my “vision”. Ms. Cherry Tree has offered so many helpful suggestions and concepts. She’s also a pro at keeping things in check logistically and realistically. I’m involved with the wedding biz, and am 100% confident behind the camera, but truthfully I have no idea how a wedding runs from the bride side of things.

She’ll be at the wedding to keep an eye on everything, but ultimately, she’ll be there as our friend and I really hope that we can enjoy a few bevies together once everything is up and running smoothly. Callandra & I have exchanged a great deal of services for one another and have helped push each others businesses to the next level. With that understanding, she has offered to trade her time and talent in exchange for my photography services in the past and in the future. In the nicest possible way, she owns me and my camera, basically :) It’s WAY worth it.

Okay, I’ve recently realized that without all the “talent trades” [sounds much more polite than bartering] I’ve been arranging, this wedding wouldn’t exactly be a true budget wedding. However, I feel that this is a 100% realistic way to do things. Everyone has got a skill or service that has a value, get out there and barter! I don’t mean barter like you would at a garage sale, barter politely. And please, please, please be sure not to devalue the product, service or talent you’re bartering on.

I just can’t say enough for everything Callandra has already helped with. She has brought so much to the table of ideas, it means so much that she is onboard and enthusiastic about our nontraditional concepts. Brides, be sure to follow Callandra on Facebook and Twitter…she is constantly sharing tons of interesting tidbits and great findings which most people would never think [even in a million years] to incorporate in their wedding. Below are some slightly unconventional wedding planner headshots we did one evening.

And now for a good taste of Callandra’s eclectic Rocky Mountain design skills:

*This is not a sponsored post. Just sharing an awesome vendor!

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Our Engagement Photos Tue, 21 Jun 2011 15:45:04 +0000 Shortly after our engagement, I met Jesse and his girlfriend at a little party hosted by another local photographer. I left the party thinking, ‘I want to be friends with these two!’ I got home from the party, checked out Jesse’s website and said to Adam, ‘we need to trade a portrait session with these two!’

Not long after we’d set up an evening portrait swap/beer date. Again – talent trade to the budget queen’s rescue. All below photos by Jesse Hisco.


My sister & I both got engaged in 2010. Our family hasn’t had a set of family portraits done in 17 years…yep, it’s the cobbler’s son syndrome. My mum has been requesting [kindly pestering] that I bring my camera and a tripod next time I come home for a visit, but in my eyes, it’s just not the same. We decided to all pitch in and get her a gift certificate for an adult family portrait…you know, before there are scads of grandkids running around [not anytime soon…but this one took 17 years, so I figured we should get cracking!] There’s one of my local colleagues in particular that mum follows, Niki Davidson.

Not long ago, we finally rounded up all six of us here in Canmore for the session…because we’re all scattered across Western Canada it was, believe it or not, the first time all six of us had ever been together at once! It was pretty great. Niki snapped a few photos of each couple on their own, I just love a few of the ones she got of Adam & I. If it was up to me, we would have had an engagement session every month of our engagement!

Photos below by Snickerdoodle Photography

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The Wedding Sweatshop aka Craft-o-thon Tue, 14 Jun 2011 16:30:53 +0000 Back in April my mum hosted a wedding craft-o-thon. When we began discussing this wedding nearly a year ago, I mentioned something about not expecting anything of epic proportions for our plans. Everything about this craft-o-thon was kind of the epitome of epic proportions. My mum rounded up a solid troupe of talented crafters to pitch in. The group was composed of the lady members of the family, minus my sister who was unable to make the journey to Camrose from Saskatoon.

Before the gals showed up, mum mentioned that she would leave me in charge. I felt kind of like the DIY slave driver bridezilla [which was clearly never my intention] so upon their arrival I jokingly welcomed them to “Julie’s wedding sweatshop.”

I feel so lucky that my Grandma Esther was able to be there and pitch in with the projects. This table once belonged to my great grandparents. It’s been passed down for years and has recently ended up in my parents’ dining room. Grandma commented on how much work has been done on this table over the years; she used to do her homework here as young girl.

Hey! No smiling in the craft factory!

Val made these napkins, and Marian sewed several coordinating tablecloths.

I’m just tickled pink with each of the patterns we tracked down for the linens. My grandma chipped in and purchased the necessary fabric for these projects.

This bunting just makes me happy. How can you not smile when you look at this? We have about 150ft of it. WOW.

Dozens of 2nd-hand mismatched frames which will become chalkboards.

The red coat turned out just great. Chalkboard spray paint, on the other hand, is not great – blotchy and drippy. Lesson learned. Marian has kindly offered to grab a can of real chalkboard paint and roll on a coat or two in order to finish off the project. These will be used for the drink station, BBQ dinner menus, welcome signage and just little notes around the campsite.

Along with help from her mother-in-law, Val collected over 200 mis-matched mason jars and plenty of cutlery from her hometown Goodwill store. The jars will be our drinking sleeveless…as well as decor, of course. I just love mason jars. No plastic cups and forks at the end of the night! [Thanks dad for letting keep this stack in your garage.]

So, as you’ve probably noticed, our simple little affair is no longer quite as low-key as originally anticipated. But it’s awesome. I come from a long line of very savvy crafters, so really, a craft event like this is only natural. I’m the first cousin in attendance to get married; I can only imagine how efficient the craft factory will be by the time 16 year old Crysta ties the knot.

I’m so excited for this wedding. And I’m even more excited to just be married to Adam! I’ve had SUCH.A.GOOD.TIME with every single part of the planning process so far. In the start, I wanted to keep it simple in hopes of keeping it stress free. However, we’ve had countless generous offers of help and talent that instead of becoming tedious and stressful, it’s just been so fun to spend this kind of time with my friends and family. I’m going to have such great memories of these months leading up to our wedding.

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