The Budget Savvy Bride » Shannon helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:00:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Our Semi-DIY Wedding Invitations Tue, 07 Jan 2014 16:30:14 +0000  

Source: personal photo

When Matt and I started looking at invitations, we had three guidelines: we wanted a hand in the design, the suite would need a simple, vintage feel, and we needed the flexibility to make or print invites as necessary, Of course, as a BSB, getting a lot for a little is high on the list of priorities, too!

Our budgetary goal was $2.50 or less per invite, and a quick search on Etsy revealed a ton of budget-savvy options that fit our aesthetic aims. While we were blown away by the diversity and creativity of the available designs, we ultimately decided that purchasing a digital suite would provide us with the flexibility we were looking for. As I analyzed the options, I quickly realized that I just wasn’t comfortable sending our wording back and forth to a designer, reviewing and (in most cases) paying for multiple proofs, and having to pay for add-ons like info cards, etc.

Enter Leslie Hamer of Swell & Grand and her amazing line of print-it-yourself DIY wedding invitations, calligraphic envelope templates, personal stationery suites, and more! All of the designs are 100% customizable, so changing fonts, colors, and text placement is a snap. Plus, all invitation suites print in standard sizes (2 A7 invites and 4 A2 info card) And the very best part? Every product is sold as an instant download! Just complete your payment, access your e-mail, and save the files to your computer. So easy, so affordable, and so, so pretty.

I was in love with a few of the designs, but  ultimately settled on the 5-piece Confetti wedding suite, which includes templates for an invitation, RSVP card, info card, photo Save-the-Date, and thank-you cards. I really appreciated the amount of control I had over the final product. As you’ll see, we opted to change the font and colors and added a directions card. Because the templates were so affordable, we were able to splurge on nicer paper, envelopes, and embellishments. I might even pop back over to the the Etsy store to pick out an envelope template, the finishing touch for our semi-DIY wedding invitations!

Helpful hints:

Opt for premium printing if at all possible. Heavier card stocks = jammed printers or bored bride-to-be feeding sheets to a hungry printer one at a time…not fun. Most local office supply stores offer high quality printing at reasonable prices.

That local office supply store? They have commercial paper cutters and they know how to use them. It was the best $12.88 I ever spent!

Budget breakdown:

Goal: $175.00 with postage

  • Invitations: 50
  • 50 sheets of 100 lb kraft card stock: $20.00 with shipping, Avery Elle
  • 50 A7 and 50 A2 kraft envelopes: $26.00 with shipping, Paper and More
  • Swell and Grand 5 piece Confetti invitation suite: $39.00, Etsy
  • Trimming service: $12.88 via FedEx office
  • Corner rounding tool: $1.17 on super-sale at Tuesday Morning
  • Baker’s twine: 3.00 for two spools with 40% off coupons, Michaels
  • Premium printing: free (one of the perks of marrying a tech-savvy dude)

Final price per invite: $2.05 ($3.17 with postage), or $112.50 ($148.05 with postage)

Source: personal photo invites6 (980x631) invites7 (980x649)

Do you have any tips or tricks for fabulous DIY wedding invitations? Leave them in the comments below!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation or incentive to review Swell & Grand or the Confetti invitation suite. I just loved the product and wanted to pass along a good find!

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Will You Be My Maid Of Honor? Gift Box Tutorial Tue, 31 Dec 2013 13:00:48 +0000 will-you-be-my-maid-of-honorAlthough I have never been a wedding dreamer,  I have always been certain that I would be married with my sisters  by my side. Erin (28) and Kelly (22) are amazing women…smart, funny, talented, and strong-willed. Like most siblings, we’ve had our fair share of rough patches, but I love them with all my heart, and am very fortunate to count them among my very best friends.  I couldn’t stand the thought of choosing just one to be my Maid of Honor so I asked them both, and luckily for me, they were more than happy to share the role.

When I popped the question, I wanted to present each girl with a small gift:  something unique that referenced our sisterhood, but was also durable and  practical for day-to-day use. Jewelry is a great and lasting way to do this! After a little hunting and bargain-shopping, I came across the sterling ring set below, and snapped up three at a great price: one for each of them, and one for me. The rings are especially significant to me because the bands are intertwined, and feature the words faith, hope, and love, a subtle reference to 2 Corinthians, a traditional reading at many weddings and a beautiful piece of scripture. Three bands, three sisters, and a little bit of symbolism, all wrapped up in a simple, durable package. When it works, it works, right? :-)

I wear my ring every day, and Erin and Kelly are never without theirs, either, so I’d say they were a good pick!

All that fabulousness calls for some pretty wrapping, which brings me to today’s DIY: this nifty little gift box.

Kelly's Gift Box  (personal photo)
Kelly’s Gift Box
(personal photo)

Each of these beauties cost less than $1.00 because I had all but the boxes and thread on hand. With just a little bit of work, they were the perfect fit for the ring and a personal note to each sister.


To make each gift box, you’ll need:


  1. Remove hinges and latch from the box and set aside. Use the sandpaper to gently buff away any rough spots, etc., on the sides, edges, and underside of each box.
  2. Working carefully, use the craft brush to apply a thin coat of polyurethane to all outside surfaces of the box and lid. Let each coat cure at least 24 hours before adding the next one. I would recommend three coats for optimal finish. Helpful hint: apply polyurethane in one direction, rather than using a back-and-forth motion. This will keep the finished surface smooth. Gentle sanding (in one direction) between each coat is recommended between coats.
  3. Using the net insert of the box as a cross stitch grid, stitch the recipient’s first initial. I just eyeballed the center of the box and the height and width of the letter. I found that I had to go over each stitch three times in order to achieve the embroidered look I was going for.
  4. Measure and cut a piece of card stock to fit inside the lid, and use the glue gun to adhere it in place. Repeat with felt on the bottom interior of the box.
  5. Fill as you desire and get ready to ask your ‘maids!

Embroidery Detail
Embroidery Detail
(personal photo)


Interior With Note (personal photo)
Interior With Note
(personal photo)

The Finished Product (personal photo)
The Finished Product
(personal photo)


So, what do you think! I’d love to read/see your ideas for “popping” the question to your ‘maids!

Have a wonderful week!


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Dashing Groom’s Fashion on a Budget Tue, 17 Dec 2013 13:00:27 +0000 Mad Men-Era Suit Ad

Matt and I have been planning a suit-shopping excursion for a while, but every time we make a date, something seems to come up! Honestly, I think he was a little nervous to begin the process at all. You see, Matt’s a casual guy. Like, suit-hating, tie-refusing, button-down shirt-denying casual. Which is a shame, because he cuts a dashing figure in more formal attire, if I do say so myself. :-) Plus, I love me some men’s fashion. I have a subscription to GQ and read it religiously. Weird, but true.

Because he’s a Freemason, Matt owns a tux; however, he avoids wearing it at all costs. It is neither well-fitted nor of good quality…it’s an off-the-rack penguin suit that he throws on with a mixture of disgust and resignation as he flies in the door from work and scrambles to make the 7pm meeting (he never makes it). So, while opting to use his tuxedo would have been an easy way for us to save money, it wasn’t feasible. Furthermore, attire that formal didn’t really fit the vibe of our wedding. Renting a suit has its upsides, but the garment would not be tailored to fit him, and as I noted in my dress post (here), tailoring = amazing fit. Plus, a man needs at least one suit, darn it! Thus, investing in a suit was the best option for us. 

The details: Our budget for Matt’s attire was $400. We were looking for a mid-weight wool suit in navy, with a subtle pattern to help set him apart from the wedding party. On the advice of one of my fellow BSB bloggers, Dana, we decided to hold out for the Black Friday deals. Our first stop was Jos. A Bank, and lo and behold, he found his suit! It’s a navy herringbone number from their Tailored collection, fit him like a dream, and it was within our budget. Win, win, and win. You can see a very similar suit here.

Sane and Budget-Savvy Shopping Tips

Bring a friend: The style options for men’s’ suiting are as varied as bridal gowns, and can be just as overwhelming to the untrained eye. If you want to learn more, I would suggest visiting a men’s fashion website, such as or Both are great resources as you sift through various styles, fabrics, patterns, and the like.  Our experience has shown me that the sales representatives in this arena are very aggressive, and, in order to expedite the sale, tend to drop clients into one of three style options based upon their build. While this may be helpful for some, remember that your hubby will be wearing this suit on one of the more important occasions in his life. He deserves to look and feel amazing, and should take his time to find the fit, cut, style, etc. that flatters him and makes him happy, rather than settling. To that end…

Be prepared: Even if your guy is  suit-clueless, he should able to provide the sales representative with some basic information to help guide the search, such as  level of formality, color, and style trends that are desired/detested. And be firm! Suit shops tend to be busier than bridal boutiques, so unless you’re shopping high-end, expect less-than-personalized service. That’s why it’s important to make your needs/wants clear. To determine his, Matt and I spent an afternoon at Kohl’s, where he tried on various suit separates. We were able to rule out three-piece suits (too formal), classic and slim cut pants, and anything with a pleat. This definitely helped to streamline the consultation process, which is a major win when you are bargain shopping on a busy sales day like Black Friday.

Quality is key: The majority of suits are made of either wool or synthetic fabric. For a suit that stands the test of time, natural fibers are your best bet, because they’re breathable, retain their shape, and move/fall better than their synthetic counterparts. Regardless, if you’re looking for a suit with staying power, test the fabric. Bunch it in your hand. If it relaxes with little to no wrinkling, it’s a good pick.

Fit is everything: If your sweetie is not fashion-conscious, this can be a bit daunting, but the fitting process is invaluable in helping your man find the perfect suit.  Department store suits tend to fall into two style categories: Classic, which has very little definition through the torso/waist and relaxed-fit, pleated pants, and Slim, which features narrower a yolk, a very straight, narrow torso, and slim-fit pants. Slim is a no-go for him, and he drowns in the Classic style. If you’re lucky, you *may* stumble across an Athletic fit suit (that elusive, in-between option for the guy with a normal to slightly bulked-up build).  We were not lucky.  ;-) When we visited Jos. A. Bank, the sales rep immediately pegged Matt as a Classic fit man, despite our protestations. One look at a man drowning in navy herringbone, and he quickly changed his tune! Enter the Tailored fit, that company’s version of the Athletic fit. It was perfect! Also, don’t be afraid to purchase suit separates. If you’re fortunate enough to find a suit that fits well in the waist of-the-rack, great! But, if your guy’s waist (like Matt’s) is much narrower than the standard 6″ drop allotted for in men’s sizing, finding a pair of pants in the right size and cut can make all the difference. Usually, suits and separates can be purchased at similar or identical pricing.

Don’t skip the tailor!: I can’t say it enough: tailoring=amazing fit. Just like a gown, men’s suiting will usually need some alterations. Either arrange for tailoring through the store or a trusted source.

A good point to keep in mind: while most areas of a suit (lower leg, arm, waist, torso) can be adjusted, it is very difficult for a tailor to alter shoulder width or shorten the length of a jacket. I would suggest asking the sales rep for assistance in order to ensure that leave with a jacket that hangs well through the shoulders and falls at the right point across the hips.

The Outcome

Matt’s suit cost $325, plus tailoring. It was originally $900, so I’d say we scored quite the deal! Because the sales representative took the time to find a cut that complemented Matt’s frame, alterations will be minimal-around $25.00. He owns the shoes and cufflinks he’ll wear that day, so that leaves $50.00 in the budget for a tie and dress shirt…plenty of room for a budget-savvy fashionista to work with.  8-) 

I hope you’ll find these tips helpful! Do you have any words of advice for grooms (and the partners that love them!) searching for the perfect suit?


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Sparkly, Retro-Casual Wedding Inspiration Board Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:00:33 +0000  

Once Matt and I were engaged, we spent a lot of time talking about what our reception would look like. Now, our ceremony decisions have been fairly straightforward. Our favorite reverend will officiate our quiet outdoor ceremony, and while we’re still working out the readings, deciding on the vows, etc.,overall, we’re keeping things very simple in an effort to afford the covenant itself the respect it deserves. But afterward? What better way to honor that covenant than by celebrating its beginning with our closest friends and family?


As I mentioned in my budget/venue post (here),  several words resonated with us  and have helped to guide our decisions throughout the planning process: vintage, homemade and local. In addition, I love that fabulously retro robin’s egg blue that’s been popping up all over home decor sites for the last few years—it’s my favorite color!—and new I wanted to set it against navy for a fun, casual contrast. Along with the pretty blue, pops of blush and gold will keep the palette youthful and warm. Finally, I adore confetti. It’s pretty without being fussy, and infuses all situations with a kind of irreverent joy. Plus, anything glittery or sparkly will always have my vote. So with those points in mind, here are some favorite sources of inspiration, arranged into our wedding inspiration board:

Sparkly Retro Inspiration


Clockwise, from left to right:

1. Convertible cake topper, via BHLDN  //  2. Jam favors via Wed Over Heels  //  3. Navy bridesmaid dress, Davic Bridal  //  4. Confetti Thank You Notes (this is our wedding invite suite!) by Swell and Grand via Etsy  //  5. Fun and colorful candy bar via Hostess With the Mostess  //  6. Pretty confetti, gold/mint/blush dessert table via Pinterest  //  7. Cafe lights over blush and ivory flowers Visio Photography via Vita Nostra  //  8. Blush, ivory, and silver bridal bouquet, Rebecca Arthurs Photography via  //  9. Modess Gown via My Vintage Vogue  //  10. Cassiopeia heels via BHLDN



I hope you love these ideas as much as we do!

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Engagement Photo Sneak Peak Tue, 03 Dec 2013 13:00:12 +0000 Hey there! I hope you’re all having a fabulous week. On Sunday, I had the pleasure of hosting a holiday photo session for my sister’s husband’s family at India Point Park, a beautiful harborside park on the outskirts of Providence, RI. Although the sky was overcast, the weather held out, and we were able to get some great shots! Afterward, my sister Erin was nice enough to spend some time taking some pictures of Matt and me. One thing you should know about me: I despise having my picture taken! As a photographer, I’m much more comfortable behind the camera, but I’m trying to getting better at standing in front of it.  :oops:

Erin’s got a good eye and a knack for Photoshop, and as a result, I will soon have have a bunch of great shots that we can use for wedding stuff, social media, and of course, to share with you all!  Here’s a sneak peak of my faves:





The photo session was awesome AND free, which brings me to an important point: friends and family are a great resource when planning a wedding.  Through their simple gifts of time and elbow grease (along with an insane amount of talent-just ask, you’ll find it!), a handful of important people can lighten the load, ease the stress, and help make your wedding visions a reality, all while helping to keep your budget in check.

Looking to add some supporting members to your DIT brigade, but unsure of the best way to utilize their time and talent? Just pop the question! Something along the lines of “Hey, I’m thinking of doing this. Are you comfortable helping me?” works perfectly. Most people in your life will want to help, but may not know where/how to contribute. Asking a neutral question like this one does wonders to facilitate a conversation about your wedding needs and will *hopefully* open up the door for the other party to discuss what they can/want to do to help.

Most importantly, make sure that your wedding team feels appreciated. A simple, genuine thank you works wonders, but if you can carve out a little time to spend with your favorite people, what a bonus! One of my favorite experiences came as a result of helping Erin prep for her wedding. A few weeks prior to the big day, she asked me to tag along to her final fitting and then do some last-minute shopping. Getting to spend some one-on-one time with her as she tried on her dress was such an honor, and the time spent catching up as we shopped was invaluable to me…we laughed the day away!

P.S. If extra help from your friends and family is not an option, there are tons of viable alternatives out there…you just have to keep searching, and never be afraid to ask questions! So far, I’ve found a potential ceremony musician on Craiglist for $100/hr, a makeup artist and a DJ on Yelp (both came highly recommended and at approximately 50% less than the better-known vendors in the area), and a co-worker who will bakes beautiful, full-sized cupcakes for $2.00/each.

Have you had success rallying your friends and family to join your wedding team? How are/were they helping y’all pull it off?

Have a great week!


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Finding Meaningful Ways to Say Thanks Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000


Okay, y’all, I’m going to be honest: I have had one heck of a week. Three term papers, two pending finals, and one stressed-out almost-husband later, I am more than ready to kick back with my laptop and a cup of tea to puzzle out something that’s been occupying a corner of my mind recently: how to honor your friends and family, especially while keeping expenses in line and drama in check. I would love to get your opinions or ideas on this matter, because I’ve been thinking that I might not be alone on this one.

When Matt and I first got engaged, I was overwhelmed by a rush of gratitude for the people in our lives that had facilitated our relationship and  supported us along the way. Although we try to do a good job of expressing our love and gratitude day-to-day, we want to formally thank all of these important people as we take this next step forward. Of course, we plan to give gifts to the bridal party and our parents, but there are several other friends and family members whom are integral to our lives and the wedding, and  we really want to do something distinctive to express our appreciation for everyone who is working so hard to make our day-of super special.

Because our wedding ceremony is going to be held in the afternoon, we’re considering hosting a rehearsal brunch/lunch the weekend before, and inviting all of these special people to share a good meal with us before witnessing the rehearsal. I realize that the rehearsal is traditionally reserved for, and hosted by, the parents and/or other parties directly involved with the wedding. But, we are fortunate to have an intimate circle of friends AND family who are contributing their time, talent, and love to help us pull off this shindig, so we feel pretty strongly that they deserve the chance to eat some rockin’ food, get thanked in a (semi) public forum, and not have to pay for any of it. :)

I’m not sure yet if we’ll actually cook at the house, eat at the little breakfast place in the town square, or pack everybody into cars for an on-site picnic. Whatever we decide, these options are all fairly budget-friendly, which is a good thing, because we’re hoping to spend under $300.  I really try to facilitate easy, laid-back gatherings, but the crafty gal in me just wants prettify everything. That urge = time + money + extra stress, which is never a good combination when a wedding is looming. Unfortunately, my mind is now dancing with sparkly picnic ideas (mismatched blankets! Individual lunch kits a la the beautiful elopement chapter of Handmade Weddings!), so you can see just how successful I will be at letting things develop organically.

So, what do you think of our brunch rehearsal idea? Are you struggling to find meaningful ways to thank the people in your lives as your plan your wedding, and do you have ideas about other ways to express your gratitude to the people who mean the most?

I hope you have a wonderful week!




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Blue Suede (Wedding) Shoes Tue, 19 Nov 2013 13:00:28 +0000 As you read my posts, you’ll notice that I reference my Pinterest board a lot. I love that Pinterest makes it so easy to share our wedding style/theme inspiration with all of you. While it’s very easy to use the site as a repository of beautiful and unattainable dreams (ha ha),  I really try to limit that particular board to almost-final decisions. However, I have a lot of ideas, and when I circle around to a task that needs doing, I tend to pin a lot of pictures around the theme at hand. later on I go back, look for patterns, and narrow my focus. Thus, if you’re following the board, your feed may have been inundated with many, many pictures of shoes. Sorry about that. ;-)


In my dress post from a week or so back, I gave y’all a sneak peak of my dress, which is tea-length and so fabulous I can’t even stand it. Seriously, I daydream about wearing that snazzy item all. day. long. Last month, with the dress in and the fitting looming, it hit me that I need to start thinking about accessories. Tea-length dresses lend themselves very well to fabulous shoes because, well, you can see them! So, to the internet I went, scouring, scouring, for the perfect pair of shoes.

So many choices, people, so many choices.  

Other than fitting a $50 budget, I had three criteria: the shoes had to 1) fit my super-wide feet, 2) have a heel under 3 inches (I am tall AND klutzy), and c) be a simple style with a vintage 40’s/50’s feel. After all that searching, a trip to Macy’s ensued, and there, right in front of my eyes, were the shoes. After a 15% off in-store offer and a 20% coupon from my cell phone, the shoes came to just under $50. Score!


If you have a WIFI-capable phone, I highly suggest connecting to the internet in your favorite stores. This is a great and effortless way to save on all of your purchases, and every little bit helps!


These shoes (INC International Concepts Womens Zita Pumps from Macys) were the very first pair that I pinned, which furthers my belief that the gut instinct is usually the best one. These shoes hit all the marks and, as an added bonus, they reference one of our wedding colors, which in case you didn’t know, are navy, champagne, and a turquoise/robin’s egg blue (similar to Jessica’s brunch inspiration post). If you’re wondering,  I am incorporating the old/new/borrowed/blue tradition into our wedding day (there’s a whole ‘nother post on that!), but the shoes are not part of that….their blue-ness is just a happy coincidence.


Funny story, I brought these shoes with me when I went for my first fitting, and as soon as I saw the contrast of the navy against the silvery ivory, I was S-O-L-D sold. My family and best friend tend toward “traditional” wedding attire, so they were understandably a little wary at the thought of the shoes not matching the dress. Once they saw them on, though, they loved the combo! The bridal consultants? Not so much. I was the four time recipient of the patented bride-is-crazy side-eye. My consultant actually pulled me into the dressing room and very sweetly pleaded with me to find a pair of ivory shoes for the ceremony. Apparently, color is to be relegated to the picture and dancing portion of the wedding day only, as it detracts from the angelic vision I’m supposed to perpetuate. Hah!


My sister and MOH, Erin, put a quick stop to that conversation ! She said: “Shannon, do YOU love the shoes?” I *love* the shoes. “Well, then, decision made!”




What do you all think of the shoes? What “non-traditional”/unexpected aspects have you considered when choosing your wedding attire?


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Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress: Tips to Survive the Hunt Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:19:38 +0000  


frustrated-brideAm I done yet? {Image Source}




Hey y’all! Guess what? After four long months, my dress finally came in!


Last Tuesday, as I prepped (and primped!) for my first fitting, I got to thinking about my overall shopping experience. See, all of the ladies in my life had these fabulous stories about their dress hunt, but honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. I’ve always been a worrier, and the big dress decision? It left me exhausted, rather than exhilarated. So how does a nervous girl go about finding the gown of her dreams? With that question in mind, I made a list of advice that helped me go from stressed out to super-excited about the process (and of course, the dress!).  I have a hunch that there just might be a few kindred spirits out there who’ve also struggled with the nerve-wracking aspect of the hunt. I hope these pointers will ease your mind and help make your search for the perfect dress as awesome as you are. :-)

Wedding Dress Shopping Tips 

1. Expand your horizons: I found my dress at a boutique, which really surprised me. My amazing parents purchased my dress, with the caveat that I keep the price below $1200. Done! Although their gift was amazingly generous, the wedding gown industry is not exactly famous for its budget-friendly options. As a result, I began my search under the impression that a boutique would not have styles to fit my budget or sizes to fit, well, me. I was SO wrong on both counts. There is honesty in the phrase “You get what you pay for”, and in my case, I received attentive, personalized service, a designer gown that was within my price range, and a relaxed shopping experience. I think it’s important to note that I walked into the boutique on a whim and was paired with a consultant without a second thought—something that would rarely happen at big-box store, where walk-ins are frowned upon or outright turned away. It reinforced my belief that it pays to shop locally!


2. Explore your options: Even though I found my dress at a bridal salon, I started off by checking out every option,  from big-box to online, to discount stores. Like my fellow BSB blogger Abby, I was ultimately unwilling to purchase a gown online (see her post here.) Big-box stores yielded few results— a really bad experience at David’s Bridal in my hometown, followed up with a very good experience at Alfred Angelo—but at the very least, both stores have an extensive range of styles and sizes, which is integral if (like me) you need help nailing down a style. Plus, their hours are convenient, and their product is consistent.  That goes double for discount stores. I spent a very fun afternoon with my bestie, scouring racks and trying on armloads of dresses!


3. Know thyself (and be upfront with the pertinent details!): Having even a rough idea of your ideal style will help guide your interactions with a sales consultant, which should result in an efficient and relaxed shopping experience. For example: our wedding ceremony will be held outdoors, and the reception is a relaxed, family-style affair.  So, aesthetically and practically, any dress up for consideration needed to be adaptable to those elements. My everyday style tends toward modesty with a 1950’s-era flair, so I knew immediately that my ideal gown would have a retro, party dress silhouette—no veil or train for me, thanks! Finally, don’t be afraid to shout your budget from the rooftops, because a savvy consultant will be able to pick options that won’t leave your wallet crying.


4. Be honest about what you don’t know: Over the past couple of years, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. As a result, my body has changed dramatically, and I was terrified that I would be walking into these shops clueless, and then walking out frustrated because I simply didn’t know which styles complimented my frame. I scoured Pinterest like a lunatic, but the sheer number of styles and industry terms left my head spinning. For example, part of my dress is Dupioni silk. Who knew? Who cares? Not me, but the bridal consultant I worked with knew, cared, and was able to explain what made that fabric different from others. With that in mind…


5. Keep an open mind: The perfect-for-you dress is out there, but maintaining a laser focus on what you want (or don’t), or nitpicking your perceived physical imperfection  will frustrate and complicate matters! A knowledgeable salesperson should be able to pick options for/with you that will flatter your silhouette and make you feel amazing, even when you can’t properly vocalize what you’re searching for. And if they can’t? Be honest! If a style isn’t working for you, let the salesperson know. They don’t want to waste your time (or theirs!)  getting you in and out of dresses that don’t interest you.


6. Ignore the darn label: Let’s all pause here and take a moment to acknowledge the la-la land that is couture sizing. Crazy, right?  For example, I’m a street size 6/8. My wedding dress? Size 16. What?!  My point is this: It’s not news that gown sizes and street sizing differ greatly. Take a deep breath and let it go, because it means nothing. Regardless of the size on the label, gown sizing correlates with specific body measurements, and a dress that is cut to your measurements = AMAZING fit. I am happy to report that my gown won’t need alterations, which is a), a huge savings and b), great segway back to the budget.


As I mentioned above, budgets are relative. While $1200 is a king’s ransom to me, it may be a drop in the bucket for a fellow bride. I am very, very lucky to have such amazing parents, because, when it came down to it, The Dress was $1125.  



And you know what? I bought it without a second thought. When you know, you just know, right? :-)


You can see the gown here, but you’ll have to wait a little while to see it on me…I don’t want to spoil the surprise for Matt!


So…what do you think of the dress? Were/are you nervous about dress-shopping? Tell me, tell me!



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Rustic DIY Favor Bags Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Thank You DIY Final

Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. Matt and I celebrated the one-year anniversary of our engagement on Friday, 10/18. Is that even an event? I vote yes. :-)

We’ve also been busy knocking projects off of our wedding to-do list. I am happy to report that all six dozen of the homemade jam wedding favors have been made and stored. They’ll just need a little embellishment to get them 100% ready for next May…but the hard work is done. I also settled on the finishing touches for our semi-DIY invitations and picked up the necessary supplies, which are staring me down as I write this DIY.

So without further ado, I give you this week’s post, the Thank-You Treat Bag DIY, AKA the easiest and cheapest thing I’ve made for our wedding.

Candy and dessert bars have been the rage for a while, and I have been completely sucked in by the trend. If you check out my wedding Pinterest board, you’ll definitelyfind a retro-inspired table or two (or seven) over which I am swooning. They’re just so pretty, fun, and customizable for any variety of themes and budgets.  Originally, Matt and I had planned to take the candy-table-as-wedding-favor avenue, but somewhere along the way, we decided to give urban homesteading a fair shake, which has resulted in the aforementioned jam favors.

But, we still want candy, because CANDY.

Our guest list is settled at somewhere in the 60-person range, which gives us some room to play, budget-wise. So, in addition to wedding cupcakes, and in keeping with our

retro theme, we’ll offer our guests a selection of our (and our wedding party’s) favorite penny candy, with pretty little kraft paper sacks to carry home the loot. These

cuties are the perfect size for wedding treats and your wallet. For planning purposes, once cut and punched, these bags will comfortably hold about a cup of candy, or one

cupcake, or 2 bite-size desserts.


Supplies needed for the Rustic DIY Favor Bags:


 #1 Kraft bags. These are the smallest common size of kraft bag, although teeny, tiny ones can be found at your local craft mecca. I would advise you to shop around to

get a good price. Kraft is still a strong wedding trend, and while you can find these bags  on Etsy and in retail stores for around $2.99/dozen, the best value I found was

500 pieces for $5.64 at my local wholesale restaurant supply company (wahoo!). If it’s easier/more practical to buy the bags at retail, 40% off coupons a couple of

willing friends will make quick work of the gathering process. :-)


Scissors, an edge punch, stamp, and stamp pad ($2.80, purchased for 40% off at a local craft store) of your choice. I’m using a Chalk White ink pad, in

keeping with our theme.


Thank You DIY Supplies (954x1000)




1. Trim about 1.5″ off the top of the bag. The bags I purchased had a ‘1’ stamped across one side, so I used that as a guide.


2. Feed each bag through the edge punch to create a perforated topper.


3. Thoroughly ink your stamp and center it, ink-down, on one side of the bag, pressing firmly and evenly to transfer the image.


DIY Favor Bag Step-by-Step Collage

And…ta-da! The finished product.

Thank You DIY Stand-up (704x900)


Total disclosure time: This is a straight-up lazy girl’s (or guy’s) DIY, y’all. It took me more time to take the pictures than to stamp the bags! It’s also very budget-friendly. I purchased ink and bags, and used supplies that I already had on-hand to create the final product. Total project cost: $8.64. That’s 12 cents/bag; however, considering that I bought the bags in bulk, the cost was just over 1 cent/bag! If I’d bought the bags in packs of 12 at retail, I would have paid twice as much. Cha-ching.

So, what do you think? I ‘d love to know your thoughts and ideas!



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How the Budget and Guest Count Can Dictate Your Wedding Plans Mon, 28 Oct 2013 13:08:05 +0000

Wedding planner, image source:

Way before Matt and I were engaged, we both agreed that we’d have an intimate wedding: one that was warm and full of love, where our nearest and dearest would together in a relaxed setting to celebrate our happy day with us.  But would we, as bride- and groom-to-be, translate this sentiment into one cohesive celebration, all while staying within a budget? How could we balance the day that we envisioned with the reality that we can afford? We were lost, y’all. Little did I realize how the budget and guest count can dictate your wedding plans.


So, first things first. We settled on a budget of $8K, with a target of $6-7K. $8K represents about 10% of our gross income, and is the maximum that we felt comfortable spending.  Next, we wrote down all of sentiments we wanted our wedding day to convey. We felt that having these keywords would help us determine the style of our wedding and guide the projects that we would undertake.  After some debating, we narrowed the list down to seven  words: outdoor, relaxed, vintage, local, home-made, family, and celebration.


Second step, the guest list. Our estimated guest count is 65 people—the perfect number for us, and an accurate reflection of our tight tight-knit community of friends and family. A side note: If your goal is budget-savviness, I would suggest making the guest list one of your very first decisions. Having an established head count ready for vendors when we made the initial contact saved us so much time and aggravation, as most (in this area, anyway), are not willing to provide pricing estimates without that information. Having almost immediate access to pricing helped us to avoid setting our sights on options that were far outside of our price range.


With the budget settled, the guests on the list, and our keywords to guide us, it was time to pick a venue. Now, small weddings are special, right? Right. Unfortunately, large weddings = larger revenues for vendors, and so we ran into one of two issues: 1) many vendors in our area have a minimum headcount policy, which basically means that we’d be responsible to provide or pay for at least 100 guests; 2) the venues that could accommodate a smaller celebrations had an average capacity of 40-50 guests.


Since we weren’t willing to pay for more guests than would actually attend, we were able to cross many of the “traditional” venues off of our list. That left us with local restaurants and function halls, and researching the remaining options was exhausting and discouraging. Although the restaurants we looked into were lovely, we would have had to work around their existing décor, capacity/parking limitations, and scheduling restrictions.  Function halls were a very affordable option, but set-up/clean-up was not included, and the fines for putting up decorations were pretty hefty. I don’t know about y’all, but this girl’s got to craft, and not having decorations was not an option for me! :)


In the moment, it seemed that we couldn’t afford what we wanted, and we didn’t want what we could afford—not a good head space to occupy, trust me! In February, Matt and I met with a local restaurant. While the owners were sweet (and the food was fabulous), they seemed a little nervous to be serving so many people at once. They also had a ton of restrictions: wedding ceremonies were only held on a Sunday evening. The headcount could not exceed sixty people. Dinner could not start any later than 5pm. Notice that I typed dinner, and not reception. The place was so tiny that there was no room for dancing, so that plan was nixed.  Displaying a wedding cake would have meant taking up another guest table, so that came off the list as well. Nevertheless, we barreled ahead, and set a date and time: April 6th, 2014.


 And then, I waited for the cloud to lift. To feel a little happier, more settled, less nervous…after all, we had a wedding date AND three major decisions checked off the list! But the relief never came. Instead, I felt guilty. What had happened to the aspirations we’d written on that little piece of paper? Why did the wedding we were planning seem so far from the wedding we’d envisioned?  I was frustrated. Matt was frustrated. We were committed to the plan, but it just wasn’t any fun.I started to fantasize about eloping, because, if we couldn’t be 100% happy, the least we could do was not inconvenience our guests. So dramatic, right?  A little voice kept whispering to me: “Clear the decks. Just clear the decks.” Well, what the heck did that mean? And if I was hearing voices this early in the planning stages, we definitely had a problem!


One afternoon, I was driving by a local park, and I turned in to take a walk and clear my head. I left my car at the beach and made my way up a rocky staircase. At the top was a large, circular building, and to my right, a wide wooden bridge. The little voice whispered again: “Clear the decks.”


 I flew home and burst through the back gate.


“We’ve got to clear the decks!”

“What are you talking about?” (Matt, covered in paint and not very amused)

“What if we just started over? Called the restaurant, canceled the reservation, and started from scratch?”

“How are we going to do that?” (Matt, same as above)


 Long story short, I convinced him to go back to the park with me. And just like that, everything shifted. Matt saw the building, and his face lit up. We walked the perimeter, marveling at the stained-glass transom windows, the vintage details, the floor space. We laughed. We (I) shouted “This is perfect!”.  We envisioned our ceremony at the foot of the bridge. We decided then and there that this was the place for us. The date we’d picked? Out the window. The restaurant we’d rented? Consider the reservation canceled.


The Carousel House at Goddard Park-our reception site!
Image source:  

We called the park’s rental office, which kindly informed us of the particulars: the rental fee was $250/day, with set-up and breakdown of the chairs, tables, and ceremony location included. We could decorate to our hearts’ content. Our guests could throw confetti. We’d have free run of the park for pictures and such. The building included on-site restrooms.Umm…where do we sign?  :-) We submitted our rental application, and in a few days, received the best wedding gift yet: confirmation of our new wedding date, set for May 31st, 2014. For the first time since our engagement, we were excited about our wedding.


And that, folks, is a wonderful feeling.


Have you ever faced a similar planning challenge? How did you overcome it?


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