The Budget Savvy Bride » Renae helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Asking your bridesmaids Mon, 13 May 2013 13:06:39 +0000 Wow, I can’t believe I have passed the 1 year mark before mine and Kyle’s 2014 wedding! I’m pumped and so excited to get back into planning mode!

I kicked started the one year countdown by re-asking my friends to be my bridesmaids. I didn’t do anything fancy, except send out a mass email.  However, I was a bit more thoughtful and creative the first time I asked my bridesmaids to be in the wedding.

A former colleague of mine (turned wedding planner) posted this idea to their blog (Will You Be My Bridesmaid). I fell in love with it, and wanted to do something just as thoughtful and meaningful for my friends.

So, a trip to Michaels® left me with this

Photo by Renae
Photo by Renae


Inside of the box, I pasted a “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” printable I’d found on Wedding Chicks.

Photo By Renae
Photo By Renae


I also included important details and pictures to reference for their attire.

Photo by Renae
Photo by Renae

Not all of my bridesmaids received a box (I still have 3 that I’ve yet to mail out…I know HORRIBLE!) For them, I put together a simple card with the printable and reference information; which still had the same effect.  My Bridesmaids loved their box and card, and thought the reference materials were (and still are) very helpful.  :-?

Since then, there’ve been many variations as to how to ‘Ask the Girls’. 

*Custom Handkerchiefs on Style Unveiled

*Wine Bottle Labels from My Own Labels

How are you going to ask your friends to join #TeamBridesmaids? 


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Diamonds are [NOT] forever Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 diamond_rings

{ Houston Diamond Outlet}

The ‘Diamond’ ring doesn’t mean a thing.

I recently read an article on Business Insider, about diamonds and the role they play in our modern day engagement story. In summation, the trend of diamond engagement rings (engagement rings in general) is less than 80 years old. Prior to that a man would get his fiancée something more practical, like, a fur coat (or even a house ;-) )But these days, thanks to DeBeers and a wonderful ad agency, we’ve hyped up something such as a diamond to be the status symbols of all status symbols especially when it comes to engagements and marriage.

The thing that stood out to me in this article was the confirmation that a diamond alone is not worth the sticker price attached to it. A fact proven when someone tries to re-sell the diamond and offered a significantly lesser price than they paid. Even worse, there is no such thing as a perfectly flawless diamond, despite what the GIA rating certificate says. It’s actually rare to find a diamond of such high grade, and the ones that do exist cost as much to the tune of say, $600k and up.

But I’m not here to school anyone; this fact about diamonds is nothing new and has been said time and time again.

However, a part of me does feel somewhat…guilty for falling for the hype; despite my knowing better (I work in advertising, and the DeBeers ad campaign is a cornerstone in ad history). Before I got engaged, I used to fantasize about a huge 2 carat diamond ring (what girl hasn’t?). At one point in time, I secretly required that my engagement ring be no smaller than 1.5 carats. I just wanted something big and huge, d*mn the costs.

I knew some women who were the same (some worse). Not only did the carat need to be on point, but it had to be as close to perfect as possible; again…d*mn the cost. I knew some ladies who thought 15k was good minimum to spend on a ring, after all, it was an ‘investment’.

Now that I’m married, and after having wised up about finances, I’m so ashamed about being so materialistic and shallow about the engagement ring.  Let me just say here, no, I don’t have a 1.5 carat ring, but it still cost a pretty penny. It’s such an investment, that it’s just a drop in the bucket for a down payment on a house.

My words of sage wisdom to future brides (and grooms ;-)) is to not fall for the pressure of having a glamorous ‘diamond’ engagement ring; and don’t break the bank buying it. Please don’t fall for the hype of perceiving the diamond as an ‘investment’. Gold is an investment, the diamond on my finger is…pretty.

Take care BSB Fam!

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DIY #FAIL Tue, 26 Mar 2013 12:00:49 +0000 I was on the hunt for the right veil to match my previous wedding dress. Even though I’d tried on one at the bridal store, I wasn’t about to shell out over a hundred dollars for just a birdcage veil!

After searching high and low on (can you tell I love this site?) I finally found the perfect veil; a double layer birdcage veil. My heart skipped a beat when I saw it. It was as if it sang to my soul BSB fam. Unfortunately, $45 dollars was still a little too steep for me. Before I could justify the splurge I researched what it would cost to make this on my own. A yard of lace and tulle brought me under $20. So you know what I did?

I DIY’ed it, or at least tried to  :-)

I know what you’re wondering. Have I ever sewn anything before? Well, it had been a while. Granted, the last real thing I sewed was a small pillow in middle school. And since then I’ve been limited to sewing up holes in comforters and Kyle’s workout pants. We’re not even going to talk about the vintage sewing machine I’ve not turned on since getting it last summer.

So I set forth to complete the task at hand. I had all the right tools (lace, tulle, hair combs, needle and thread, rotary cutter, and measuring tape). I measured once, and cut twice, and this is where that got me:

The little veil
The little veil

Obviously, you’re supposed to measure twice and cut once. By my second (technically third) attempt, I talked myself into not using the lace. After all, I should master making the birdcage veil with just the tulle first ;-)

The short and puffy veil

The second/third one was also short and this time too puffy in the front

Finally, I decided to give it one more try. This time, I’d make the veil longer. By the way, sewing these things were the biggest pains of my life.

my final attempt

There’s this saying, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again’. Well, I’ve tried again, and again. I think I’m going to leave this project to a skilled seamstress; my mom.


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Not the Wedding of My Dreams… Fri, 08 Mar 2013 13:00:50 +0000 Well hello there BSB fam!

I have a confession to make; something that I’ve been holding out on you for a while (well, a month to be exact!). Would you like to guess what this secret is? I’ll give you a hint, ‘Kyle and Renae, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes…MARRIAGE!

Mr. and Mrs. S

Yes, it’s official! Kyle and I trotted down to City Hall last month and got hitched (with our family’s blessing of course)!

If you had told me years ago that I’d be getting married in City Hall, I probably would have had a conniption. There was no way I’d concede to letting go of my dreams of a wedding to exchange vows in City Hall. City Hall, to me, was this dark unimaginable void that was to be avoided at all costs. I also had this perception that anyone who married in City Hall never had the promised follow up formal wedding/reception/party; I didn’t want to be that ‘couple’.

What made me change my mind? Love.

Yes, another ‘I did it for love’ answers. I’m not ashamed to admit that I conceded to a courthouse marriage because of the love of my life. Kyle has been ready to be married, and suggested a few times that we go to City Hall (or elope). He didn’t need the nice wedding, with pretty suits/dresses and flowers. He simply wanted to make me his wife, and he, my husband.

So, one day we met up on our lunch break and applied for our marriage license ($35). From there, I proceeded to plan out our wedding day.

Wedding Budget Recap

First things first, the dress! I looked high and low online and in stores and couldn’t find anything until I walked into JCPenney. I wound up choosing this pretty little number for $60 (forgetting that I’d be getting married in below 30-degree weather.)

I had high aspirations of making a bouquet out of silk flowers from Michaels. I also wanted to try making a ribbon boutonniere for Kyle and my friend’s husband’s, and a ribbon corsage for my friend. However, I realized that I’d come out better just ordering these from a florist. Which was true! I spent $46 for my bouquet (hydrangeas and baby’s breaths), 2 boutonnieres and a corsage (baby’s breaths) :-). I think I saved so much because I didn’t choose expensive flowers for my bouquet and the attendant’s flowers.

I didn’t want to make such a big fuss about my hair and makeup, so these I did myself.  Also, I couldn’t talk Kyle into buying a new suit (nor would he wear one), so we saved in that area as well. Our final expense was the marriage ceremony for $25, which was pretty steep for 5 minutes…but the memories are worth it.

Our City Hall wedding costs us $166 (technically, $541 if you include Kyle’s wedding band).

The Day

Since my family couldn’t physically be there, they did a prayer conference call that morning. I was sad that my mom or sister couldn’t be by my side on one of the most important days of my life, but the prayer call really helped and lifted me up. Since my family couldn’t be there, Kyle and I asked a dear friend of mine and her husband to be our witnesses. (Though, Kyle was okay with asking strangers on the corner to witness as well, I couldn’t have that.)

We met up with my friend and her husband at City Hall (the infamous New York City Hall on Worth Street!). I expected the process to take 2 hours, since that’s how long it took us to apply for our wedding license. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case because we were marrying on a Friday morning! Which also proved a great time to do some people watching :-).

A rush of emotions came over me when our number was called. I was happy, anxious, nervous, scared all at once! Kyle seemed to be holding it together, until I noticed his lips quivering. :-). Once we were settled in the chapel, the Officiant rattled off some vows to which we responded ‘I do, I will’. And just like that, we were married!

You May Kiss Your Bride


It wasn’t the wedding of my dreams. It didn’t happen the way I’d planned and imagined. But you know what? Marrying the love of my life and starting our lives together as husband and wife made it all worthwhile.


In case you’re wondering, YES, we are definitely having a formal wedding next year.

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Saying ‘Goodbye’ to the Dress – Consigning your Wedding Dress Mon, 11 Feb 2013 17:30:55 +0000 I remember the moment I knew it was ‘The One’. The moment I gazed upon my reflection in the mirror, I felt like a bride. It’s a happy feeling that overcomes you. It sends butterflies to your tummy, yet a sense of calm to your mind. That’s how I felt the day I said ‘Yes’ to the dress!

I didn’t give it away at first, because it was the first dress I tried on at that store. So we went through a few more, some dramatic, some elegant. But none had that same feeling as the first. “Keep an open mind,” they say. And I did, as long as it flared out and had some dramatic details. One dress was that to the tee! But I felt more like a model, and less like a bride. So that one didn’t make the cut. I asked to try the first dress on again, and that feeling overcame me again. Yes, this was the one!


Renae's original wedding dress
Renae’s original wedding dress

It was the dress I was supposed to wear on April 13, 2013. The dress Kyle would take me as his wife in. The dress I would wear for one of the biggest events of my life (as of now). The dress I would clean and lock away in a cedar chest. The dress that my daughter, granddaughter, or even great grand would choose to wear on her wedding day.

Consigning your Wedding Dress

Now that we’re getting married in 2014, I know for sure that I’m going to want a different dress. Which is why I’ve decided to say “Goodbye to the dress.” ::cries::  I’m going to sell my original wedding dress, through a consignment shop I’ve used before for a ‘back-up’ dress. I love the idea of consigning, because I’m going through an established business with more presence and customer traffic. Also, consigning makes selling a wedding dress painless and effortless! Granted, I don’t get back every penny I originally paid for the dress; but something is better than nothing!

Also, I’ve decided to put the money I make from the consignment towards the purchase of a new dress. Eventually, I’ll have to go through the process of finding, falling in love with, and saying “Yes” to the dress again. However, next time, I’m going to do it differently, like go to consignment stores instead of bridal boutiques.

Buying a consigned bridal gown can save you anywhere from 30-70% off the original retail price. As a result of situations like mine, you can sometimes even find brand spanking new gowns for a deep discount. Definitely keep it in mind when you are searching for the dress, or if you’re stumped on what to do with your wedding dress post-wedding-day.

Former brides, and soon to-be-brides, have you (or will you) consider consigning your wedding dress?


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DIY Favor: Hot Cocoa in a Jar! Fri, 01 Feb 2013 14:00:05 +0000 Hello gals! 

The holidays have come and gone and lots of money probably flew out the door! Luckily, here’s an idea that’ll keep a few bucks in your pocket that could be great for a wedding favor or even a little Valentine’s day treat?

I was feeling stumped about holiday gifts and favors. Especially since as you know, I’m on a tight wedding budget, Thanksgiving budget, Christmas budget (you brides know the gist); a less than $5 per person kind of budget.

Of course, I’ve thought of all the usual suspects, cookies, candy bars, baked goods etc. Finally, I had my ‘EUREKA!’ moment while getting my twice-daily fix of Pinterest (okay, hourly! Don’t judge me!)

Hot Cocoa in a Jar

Here’s what I used to make the ‘Hot Cocoa in a Jar:

  • Mini Glass Jars (I got mine from Ikea. 4 jars come in 1 pack for $3.99×3= $11.97)
  • 12 gift tags and 2 spools of ribbon from Michaels = $2.30 (used a 20% off coupon)
  • Mini Hershey’s Kisses® = $2
  • Marshmallows = $0.99-cents
  • Unsweetened Cocoa = $6
  • Sugar

Unable to contain my excitement on how great this gift was going to be, I jumped right into the preparations as soon I got home. Here’s what I did, in a nutshell:

Layered the ingredients starting with:

  • 3-tbsp. of sugar
  • 3-tbsp. of cocoa
  • Marshmallows
  • Hershey’s Kisses®
Renae’s Hot Cocoa Jar!
Image by: ME!


Then, I scribbled the following instructions on the gift tags (totally up to you to change if you like):

  • Add hot milk (or water) to
  • 1-½ tbsp. of cocoa
  • 1-½ tbsp. of sugar
  • Top with Marshmallows and Hershey’s Kisses®

Finally, I tied the gift tags around the jar (as cute as they look, they were a pain to tie!), and topped it off with some cute ribbons. FYI, these have been fiancé -approved! Here’s the final product:

The Final Product

In the end, I spent 20-minutes making 4 jars (most of the time was used shooing Kyle away from the Marshmallows).

What DIY wedding favors will you be doing? Is this something you’d try for any occasion? I think they would make for sweet Valentine’s treats for any special people in your life!



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How Not to Pay an Arm and a Leg for Your Wedding Invitations Tue, 15 Jan 2013 14:00:53 +0000 One of the many fun hurdles we cross when it comes to wedding planning are the invitations.  After all, these are the first things people encounter regarding your wedding. They set the tone of the overall event. So, they’re pretty much a big deal.

There are tens of thousands of invitations to choose from, and that doesn’t make these decisions any easier. Even when you have a specific style/design in mind, you still have to sift through so many, that it can be kind of overwhelming. Then, there are costs, which can be hard to swallow. Wedding invitations can range from .99-cents to over $7. Not to mention if you’d like them custom made and printed a specific way. Qu’elle nightmare!

Eternity Wedding Invitations

from: Minted

I almost paid $600 for wedding invitations and rsvp postcards. But I took a step back and re-evaluated my options. I realized that there were other ways to have wedding invitations for a fraction of the cost, and I was right!

All it took was a designer and a local printer, and #BAM, perfection.  Though, despite working in advertising, I couldn’t muscle up the courage to ask my artistic colleagues to design my wedding invitation. So, I found one by way of Did you know you can find an Etsy artist to design your wedding suite for as low as $20?!? Though, mine costs $35  :-)

Then I had a to find a local printer to print them out. Of course, I could have gone to a Staples or Kinkos, but I didn’t L. Having previously worked in printing, I reached out to one of my printers, and they gave me a quote to die for! To have 200 wedding invites and RSVP’s printed, would cost about $140. Overall, I paid $175 to have my wedding invitations and RSVP cards designed and printed. Which was less than $600! And, they turned out great!

Unfortunately, now that we’ve postponed our wedding, I’m going to have to do this all over again. But, I know what to do next time!

Have you found ways to save $$$ on your invitations?

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The P-Word: Choosing to Postpone Your Wedding Thu, 27 Dec 2012 14:00:50 +0000 When it comes to planning a wedding, we invest so much time and attention to all the details about that day. We obsess over a dress, and the perfect shoes to match. Then we drive ourselves crazy over party attire, centerpieces, bouquets and boutonnières.  It’s a riot (a fabulous one, but a riot nonetheless). Sometimes we lose sight of what’s really important about that day; the fact that two people have decided to commit their lives to each other. It seems there’s more focus on our weddings and not on our marriages :cry: .

The initial phases of wedding planning can allow for some valuable first lessons; especially when it comes to finances. We’ve all heard the rules. Rule 1, set a budget. Rule 2, stick to the budget.  Rule 3, no seriously, stick to the budget. Rule 4, disregard rules 1-3, this is YOUR day, YOLO, bro! (You Only Live Once).

Some of us are wise enough to heed those early financial lessons, and know when to downsize or gracefully cut lists. I think those people understand the importance of not beginning a marriage in debt. Then there’s the rest of us who forge on with the weddings of our dreams; debt be darned, that’s what wedding gift$ are for.

Kyle and I had a serious discussion regarding our wedding budget, and have realized that it would be best to postpone our wedding.

Coming to this decision was not easy for me. After almost 6 months of planning, and with less than 5 months left, I couldn’t let go so easily. My reason being because it’d feel like all the hard work that I’d done was being thrown away. Though, I tried to go over our budget and see what we could cut in order to keep costs below 10k. After all, I don’t need a wedding band next year, that’s what most brides are doing any way. I also thought about severely cutting our guest list, but that was out of the question too.

Then I listened to Kyle’s point of view. We’re saving all of our money for one day, and not our life. This would leave us with not enough in savings to sustain us should an emergency happen, or a job lost occurs. That made him feel uncomfortable, and as Suze Orman would say, powerlessness repels money.  As much as I fought it, and as sad as it made me, I ultimately agreed to postpone the wedding. In the end, Kyle’s right, we need to build our savings up to a comfortable level, then continue saving up for the wedding.

So what’s next?

Well, I’ve informed my wedding planners of the situation, and they’re helping me in informing the rest of the wedding team. Even as I sit here writing this, my heart sinks a little. I’m sure vendors deal with situations like mine all the time, but I honestly didn’t want to be here, you know?

I have to say, Kyle really wants to me marry me, like yesterday! He’s ready to go to city hall and make an honest lady out of me. His priority is the marriage (and I’m so ashamed to say that 50% of my priority are about the wedding day). But I can’t think about that now, I’ll worry about it tomorrow. The bright side is that now I have more time to for planning and DIY projects!

BSB family, have any of you had to postpone your wedding? If so, why, and how did it make you feel?

Until next time,


Image via


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Going unconventional Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:00:28 +0000 Planning a wedding, in Miami, for $10,000 is a tall order; especially for a fancy girl like myself. According to, the average cost of a wedding in Miami is $24,478; that’s not too far off from the national average! So, you’re probably wondering how am I going to pull it off for $10,000! (EEK!).

Well, I plan to use a pinch of thrift, a dash of DIY and a whole lot of savvy to do so.

In my quest to maximize my budget, I accomplished 2 great things; finding an affordable wedding planner and booking an unconventional but cost-efficient venue.

I got a wedding planner to help me plan the wedding. Kyle and I live in New Jersey, and I realized early on that it’d be more efficient for me to have a planner. In addition, I needed a resource that could leverage their network in order to help me meet our budget. However, like everything else in Miami, wedding planners can be pretty pricey. One woman wanted to charge me 20% of my budget (YIKES!). So, I had to do A LOT of research to find someone who wouldn’t break the bank.

Ladies and future brides, if you haven’t already, begin creeping local message boards on sites such as The Knot and Wedding Wire. These places are hidden gold mines offering a plethora of knowledge. Not only are you receiving personal recommendations, but first hand testimonials regarding a vendor’s service.

After surveying a few wedding planners mentioned on these boards, I did further research and learned that one was offering a very nice discount on their coordination services. After some screening and interviewing, Kyle and I booked them for full wedding coordination; which costs us less than 10% of our overall budget. SCORE!

Next up, the venue.

Six months ago, I just KNEW that Kyle and I would be married at a Lighthouse with our reception at a nearby café. But that idea was quickly deaded after a site visit by the wedding planners. There were things I didn’t take into consideration when dreaming up my wedding, such as per person entrance fees. And other details that I would not have thought to consider (like the lack of a rain/storm plan). So, we had to move on.

Where Kyle and I initially wanted to get married.
Image by Chelsea Erwin Photography


The wedding planners recommended that Kyle and I find a venue for under $1,000, and where we could host the ceremony and reception. That way we could allot more money to things such as floral, catering and rentals. Great, no problem, right?

Uh, hmm…no. Not as easy as it sounded. In order to do so, this meant that we’d have to look into unconventional venues and expand our search to include areas outside of Miami. So this led us to look into restaurants and nature parks. Restaurants provide so much that all you have to do is show up. Where as nature parks, provide a beautiful backdrop, which require minimal decoration.

I looked into their recommendations, (which were many) and narrowed our list down to 3 possible places. 1 was a nature park, and 2 were restaurants.

The first was a beautiful nature-esque park called Fern Forest, whose rental fee was $800. The venue was very rustic, but I liked the natural setting it provided. However, it came with a lot of stipulations. Such as needing a set up crew that wouldn’t have a lot of time to set up, and having to leave the reception hall exactly as we found it; no exceptions!

I looked into another venue, a nice restaurant. It was very beautiful and their over all fee would have been $6k. Remember, this included everything I needed (food seating, venue). However, no one (me, my mother, FMIL, Wedding Planners) had great chemistry with the events director. This means a lot, because having a great rapport with the events director can make or break your event.  Though the venue was beautiful, I left the meeting in tears… Which is not a good sign. So, you know where this option went.


The final venue I looked at was the 94th Aero Squadron. As a little girl, I would drive pass this restaurant every day on the way to school. Could this have been providence? I loved it the moment I stepped inside. The venue has a very old school charm to it, but I liked it. Additionally, the events manager and her associate were not only nice, but flexible and accommodating and just an overall pleasure to work with.  Also, it costs me $1,000 less than the previous restaurant. This, I credit to my savvy-ness. For instance, we’re hosting a daytime wedding as opposed to one in the evening. Additionally, I cut out some things from the menu that also saved $$$.


I’m very happy that I was able to book a wonderful venue, and still have money in my budget to allocate to details such as flowers, photography, and décor.

What kind of unconventional venues are you looking into?

Until next time,




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Nice to Meet You! Thu, 29 Nov 2012 13:55:09 +0000 Hi there Budget Savvy Brides!

My name is Renae, and I’m so happy to be joining the BSB family. I look forward to sharing with you all my insight and advice on planning a fabulous yet budget-friendly wedding!

My fiancé, Kyle, and I are high school sweethearts and have known each other for 11 years! I work in advertising, and Kyle works in finance. Though we’re pretty awesome in our jobs, we LIVE for the weekends. That’s when you can find us hopping in our car, and driving away to a new adventure. To be honest, Kyle brings out the mini-adventurer in me. If it weren’t for him, I never would have experienced a lot of the magical moments in my life.


So, how did I get to this point as a budget savvy bride-to-be?

Well, I moved to New York three years ago, not to find a better job, but to win back the heart of my then ex-boyfriend. In a perfect world, I would have showed up at his door proclaiming my undying love, and he’d realize how much he couldn’t live without me and take me back. But it didn’t quite turn out that way. Instead, it took 2 years to get us here.

1 month after we’d gotten back together, we took a weekend trip to Niagara Falls. During a late night stroll on the promenade in front of the falls, my beloved sat me down and asked, ‘Renae, I was wondering if you would…’ (Insert nerve wrecking pause) ‘Would you like to get some dinner?’ As you can imagine, there were tears at dinner.

I endured 2 more months of prank marriage proposals. While, unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend had purchased the ring, sent the customary picture to my mom and his parents, and managed to keep it hidden from my snooping eyes.

The day we were engaged, we’d taken a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway (which is truly beautiful during the fall). We’d stopped at a scenic overlook, and decided to take a walk to the river. Kyle was acting strange, and started asking me weird questions. Such as how long had we known each other (10 years), and if we should get married (duh!)? But I was used to being pranked by now, so I didn’t take his questions seriously. Until he pulled me close to him, and asked, “Renae, will you marry me?” I laughed, and said ‘yes’ because hey, you never know! He then hinted that there was something in his hand, which turned out to be a ring box! At this point, I still didn’t believe this was a REAL proposal. But when I opened it and saw the ring inside…I screamed his ears off! Finally, it was official; we were engaged!


And so the planning begins

I will marry my best friend and love of my life on April 13, 2013. Kyle and I are paying for the wedding, and have set a strict budget of $10,000 (eek!). Kyle controls the purse strings, and I have total freedom of every thing else. Which explains our blush pink and champagne gold colors :-) . Our wedding didn’t start off with a theme, we just wanted something nice and simple. But since choosing our venue (I’m a 94th Aero Squadron bride), it’s sort of evolved to adopt a vintage-chic theme. I’ve lined up all the major players (wedding planners, photographers, dj and florist), but now it’s time to focus on the nitty-gritty details. DIY will be my best friend over the next 5 months! But I look forward to sharing the experience with you all along the way!


Until next time,





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