Book Blurb: The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide by Dana LaRue

Book Blurb: The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide by Dana LaRue

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Budget brides (and grooms!), this is so the book for you! Regarding the third planning-based book I am reviewing, Dana LaRue’s The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide, I can happily say that the author delivers everything the cover the advertises. (And she’s got a blog of the same name, too, if anyone else thought the name sounded familiar.) I knew this book was going to be fun the moment I flipped through the pages with the purple ink, cute illustrations, and sassy introduction. Like the previous books covered, this guide goes through the whole process from engagement to after the wedding. It is chock-full of goodies such as cheap themes for engagement parties (which could work for receptions, as well), a list of things to remember if having an outdoor wedding, the pros and cons of using a friend or a professional officiant, song suggestions for the ceremony and reception, DIY decorating instructions and tips, how to make your wedding more eco-friendly, recipes, and much more. It is also nice to be able to peruse several couple’s real budgets to see where they saved and splurged.

In the middle of planning myself and having already read two books on the subject, I still found LaRue’s advice pretty handy for the newly engaged. I think she keeps a range of budgets in mind and encourages the couple to stay true to themselves. It was a quick read and the best guide out of the three in terms of how the author organized the information. I never felt overwhelmed while reading which I think anyone planning a wedding will appreciate. Keep this one in mind when searching those shelves at the book shop.

Happy Reading!


My Dress Arrived!

My Dress Arrived!

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My dress came yesterday! I am so ecstatic! (And how appropriate is the wording on that box?!)

This is the box before I hastily called Steph and ripped it open while hyperventilating. Unfortunately, I have no one to help me zip it up at present. I was able to see if the fabric pulled together (It did!), so I am 99% sure of having no issues with it fitting. I am unable to ask for Andrew’s assistance because one of the few traditions I am keeping for my wedding is that Andrew is not allowed to see me in the dress before the wedding day via irl or in photos. Do you remember the That 70s Show episode where Eric sees Donna’s dress before the wedding, not heeding the warning of it bringing bad luck? Well, I know how that fiasco ended. So I tweaked the superstition a bit to him not seeing me in the dress because honestly with us living together in a tiny apartment it is impossible to keep it out of sight.

But it came! And it is lovely! Kudos, ModCloth!

Feeding my anxieties while waiting on the dress, I had imagined the million things that could go wrong. I had actually made peace with the high probability that something would. The fact that it came in at all brought much relief! That obstacle cleared, I had several other fears to assuage.The reviews had said the fabric was much more gold than the photo hints at, and I was ready to pull out a dark and heavy color and convince myself it didn’t wash me out. However, the dress I received is undeniably champagne, as the product description said, and I felt hope on the horizon. Now that I knew it looked pretty out of the box, it was time to see if it looked half as good on me. I will not post any pictures as I cannot guarantee that Andrew will not see them, but Steph assured me on FaceTime that I did not look as if a lace and tulle monster was eating me alive. With the exception of  a few pulled threads on the dress, all that remains is some help with a pesky zipper.

My sister, very much doubting my sanity in ordering a dress I couldn’t try on, said I am very lucky. I agree.

When Andrew’s mom was in town a couple of days ago, we had even looked at back-up dresses. So much the better for this dress because I did not find one promising opponent in all the stores. There was one moment at Dillard’s when I thought I might breakdown when I couldn’t find a simple dress at the department chains. I was nervous about bridal shops for a variety of reasons.  I was too short on time to even rush order something that wasn’t already in my size. Plus, I am too frugal to spend more than $200 on a dress I may not wear again, and, though I was surprisingly in love with the lace on my dress, it would be hard to persuade me into the beaded bodices, long trains, blinged-out sashes, and puffy tulle flowers that seemed popular at the bridal shops. There is nothing wrong with these things; I just have a hard time picturing myself outside of jeans most days, much less in a gown.

After trying on the dress yesterday, I alternated between sniffling and dancing for a good hour. For the occasion, I think the reaction was appropriate.

So without further ado, I leave you with a picture of my dress. Not a very artful photo mind you, as it is on my couch, but a picture none the less.

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Keep the love first, and, please…

Keep your fingers crossed for us,


Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part Two: Checking Off Boxes

Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part Two: Checking Off Boxes

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I am finding flexibility is key when taking on such a crazy task as a December wedding. As in this December. (Yeah, there’s the crazy part. Or sadistic; take your pick of adjectives.) Organization is a close second, but I am finding that the more I am willing to bend with the situation, the saner I will stay.

In all honesty, it is going much more smoothly than I had anticipated. I mean, how in the world I was able to book a Victorian home with less than two-month’s notice is still a puzzle. It may not be what I originally envisioned, but it is a far cry from the cement walls I thought we’d be working with. And really, I couldn’t expect an outdoor wedding to be well received in the dead of December; no amount of layers was going to fix that. So when planning a wedding quickly, don’t settle for something you hate, but be open to the possibilities.

Next, Andrew and I were not sure who we were going to have officiate. I always had a couple of women in mind (one secular and one religious), but neither options were going to pan out. Andrew had a friend with a retired preacher for a dad, but we had never heard him give a sermon or officiate before. I wasn’t  comfortable with my granddad doing it because he is a bit unpredictable in what he might say. Then my grandmother (not attached to the formerly mentioned granddad) offered up the preacher of her tiny little congregation. I had met him several times. He was young and seemingly pleasant. What stood out to my mind is that, once when we were making small talk, he mentioned really liking that indie movie Rachel Getting Married. I had just seen the film and loved it, so he got personal cool points from me. He was also available for our date. I know, this is not a lot to go on for deciding on someone who will have such a role on our day, but hey, time was and is of the essence. So I called him up after discussing the option with Andrew, and man, am I glad I went with my gut.

I was dreading talking to a candidate because I was afraid of how he or she would react to me saying we wanted to write our own vows, have say in what would and would not be mentioned, and were completely against having “obey” anywhere in the ceremony. Turns out, I didn’t have a thing to worry about. He was the first to say that he would say or not say whatever we wanted and that the more personal we wanted to make the ceremony the better. He also reassured me that no one wants that pesky “obey” clause anymore. The he gave me important information about procuring the license. But the best part came toward the middle of our conversation when he mentioned that he had performed a Harry Potter-themed wedding. Now that is a sign if I ever was looking for one! I mean, we are considering Pop! figurines of Ron and Hermione for our cake topper!

I am currently exchanging emails with him to set up possible premarital counseling Skype sessions. And if I may just ramble for a second, I always intended that we would have time for counseling. We may just not have time now.

Fortunate circumstances allow me to go back to my hometown in West Tennessee after Thanksgiving to deal with all this wedding madness. That means Andrew and I will be separated for about a month before the wedding. (Insert sad emoji of your choice.) As if this is not stressful enough, that gives us very little time to sort out our license application. For the couples who are as unaware as I was, the couple getting married has to go to the clerk together to get the license. Also, if a couple wants marriage counseling (which will give you a discount on the application fee), they have to have their counselor sign off on a form that must be presented before they apply for the license. All of this is well and good for most, but Andrew and I will soon be six hours apart from one another, so the chances of having all of those ducks in a row beforehand is not likely. Back to the premarital counseling bit, regardless of the discount, I think it is something every couple should do. So even if we can’t have Skype sessions, I fully intend to break out these questions (courtesy of A Practical Wedding) one evening with Andrew coupled with maybe a box of pizza or take-out. We have had many talks about the future and our values over the past three years, but probably not as condensed and thorough as this in one setting.

Okay, rambling over.

The third box checked of the list is–drum roll, please–I ordered my dress! I have read that it takes forever to find the right dress, but I did not have forever and did not want to spend a fortune. So I got on ModCloth and looked at their special occasion dresses. This little beauty is what I found. Now let’s just pray it gets here on time and fits! I know ordering online without trying the dress on is a huge risk. I read 90% of the current 465 reviews of this dress, picked my size according to those reviewers and their emphatic proclamations of sizing up, and crossed my fingers. Now remember what I said about flexibility being super important in all of this? Well, I think it is fine that I ordered the dress because if a.) it doesn’t fit, b.) I don’t like it, or c.) it doesn’t arrive in a timely manner to figure out a or b, then I will send it back and go on a wild hunt for in department stores and local shops with my mom back home. I am even going to keep my eye out this weekend for a backup dress while we look for Andrew’s attire.

The dress may be a bigger priority for some than me, but I never had my heart set on a particular gown or designer. I am also very fond of paying less than $200 for a dress that I will most likely only wear once. If you, dear reader, are also looking to plan in a wedding in a condensed amount of time, have a less formal style, or just want to save some dough, I recommend hitting up your favorite shopping haunts, online retailers, and big department stores. (Every blog and book I have read so far encourages this for smart shopping!) You never know when a prom dress for 100 bucks may be just what you are looking for.

I know this post is getting long, but I just want to talk about organization for a hot minute. I know what has to be done and am okay at organization but not a master. To pull this off, you need to bring in the masters. Either you are one yourself or you are lucky enough to be friends with one. I have such luck and wish to give a hearty thanks to my friend Steph. She lives about seven hours from me presently but wanted to help me from afar by lending me her powers of organization which are mighty. I mean, she has a planner solely to keep up with the books she’s reading! And after seeing the binder that she sent me priority shipping, I am pretty sure she was a wedding planner in a past life.

This thing has folders, note paper, calendars with to-do lists for November and December, a pocket for important papers, a portable hole punch, and a pouch full of highlighters, post-its, pens, and clips. There is also a copy of the list of she made of everything we said needed to be done while we FaceTimed. And as a bonus, she even sent three bags of dark chocolate to ward away the stress. She is amazing!

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So if you have a friend who is good with lists and scheduling, ask her for help to keep you on track.

Well, I have a whole weekend full of boxes to check off, so keep the love first and…

Keep your fingers crossed for us,


Book Blurb: How to Have the Wedding You Want by Christine Egan

Book Blurb: How to Have the Wedding You Want by Christine Egan

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There is nothing like a six week wedding deadline to make me want to finish reading and reviewing my wedding books. I can use all the help I can get! The second book I am reviewing is Christine Egan’s How to Have the Wedding You Want. It had good online reviews, and the title couldn’t help but draw me to it. I started reading this book before wedding apathy set in and completed over half of it before I set it down again. Honestly, my one criticism of it can also be one of its strength. Much like in Stalling’s Offbeat Bride, Egan gives lots of advice heavily sprinkled with personal and shared wedding planning stories from couples she interviewed. The difference in this approach is that I felt like there were a lot tales of horror and mishaps mixed in with the success stories. Readers can learn from previous couples’ mistakes, but I ended up feeling anxious at times thinking about what could go wrong with our wedding planning (which was already going wrong enough to begin with). I think the intention, however, is to make planners not feel alone if they too are struggling.

In praise of the guide, I found it easy to read, often comical in tone, direct when needed, and thorough about the many steps of wedding planning.  I love The book is broken into three “phases” of planning: “The Politics of Planning,” “Nuts and Bolts,” and “How to Have Fun.” My favorite phases were the last two, especially the chapters  on tackling the guest list, attire shopping, registering, timing the honeymoon, and, of course, relishing in the entirety of phase three. All couples want to enjoy the finished product after all! That part in particular has some helpful advice for how to be prepared on the actual ceremony day and how to take care of yourself the week beforehand. Also, anyone having a band or DJ at their wedding will want to read her advice on avoiding hiccups in that area.

I think this guide is particular helpful to brides who want to give themselves permission to follow their own hearts and ideas about their wedding day. Especially if you are early into planning, there are many little helpful tidbits you will be glad to have stashed away for the later stages. I will definitely be referring to a few sections myself.

Happy Reading!


Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part One: The Decision!

Planning a Wedding in Less than Six Weeks Part One: The Decision!

So Andrew and I have made a crazy, wonderful, stressful choice. At the beginning of November, we re-evaluated how the wedding planning was going. We had decided a couple of months before that we wanted to have the wedding in Knoxville. We were set on next October for a fall wedding. We had a place in mind that was affordable, large enough for our guest list, and full of gorgeous windows. We had a caterer in mind. Andrew had a musician friend he wanted to hire to play. We were ready to start booking. So what was the problem?

First, a lot of my family wasn’t going to be able to make it, and I’m not talking about second cousins or great aunts. I mean my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and basically anyone who wasn’t my mom and sisters. This became increasingly frustrating and disheartening for me because I wanted these people there and could no longer see why we wanted to throw this big shindig if a chunk of people I loved were missing. Andrew does not have as big of a family that he is in contact with as I do, so it was difficult for him to relate. However, I can be determined (read stubborn) to work with a plan, so I tried to continue on with our original ideas.

This brings me to the second issue. The venue we wanted was terrible with communication. They would not get back to my emails half the time, would only answer some of my questions, and could not be definitive about availability. They seemed very unorganized and uncaring about possibly receiving our business. I tried to set up a time to see the place and explained when we were able to come, and the venue replied with dates and times completely opposite to our available times. We then tried to work with them on scheduling by emailing them some more flexible times for both parties, and they never even responded. I quickly told Andrew I would not trust that kind of venue with our wedding, and we didn’t care for or were unable to swing the other options.

The months since our engagement were piling up, and I became almost completely apathetic about wedding planning. Bride magazines and books sat untouched; Pinterest was only used for recipes. The blog was neglected because there was nothing to say. I cringed when we would hang out with people and hear their questions on what we were deciding. “Nothing,” I wanted to cackle. “We are deciding nothing!” Cue the straitjacket, please. Thankfully, I didn’t do that. I would just give some kind of lame answer and move to another subject.

Then in October I made a joke to my grandmother on the phone about just getting married during the holidays while we were back home. She took it much more seriously than I did as I take anything I said then as the ramblings of a desperate mad woman. A couple of days later, she called me with a list of possible places that we could get married at during Thanksgiving. A lot of these places were newly opened or had not had an internet presence, so I didn’t know enough about them to consider them while researching possible venues in West Tennessee. She had done things the old-fashioned way and called the Commerce office and asked around. She then, bless her, called all of the recommendations and asked about prices, occupancy limits, and availability.

Thanksgiving I knew was not possible, but as she told me all the information, an idea of a December wedding formed in my head. I had spent three to four months struggling to make anything work and did not want to go through this for another year. The thought of only a month and half of wedding planning was instantly seductive.

The clincher came when I was talking to my best friend back home, and she told me about a wedding she had attended the week before in Kentucky. The couple had planned on an April wedding, but on a whim, they decided they were going to get married the next weekend. They called my friend on a Tuesday and were married on a Saturday. They ordained a friend and got married in a pretty park. They wore outfits they already had in their closet. Most of their family couldn’t make it either because of distance, so they just had the people who could.

I thought it was beautiful.

And I didn’t see any reason we couldn’t do something similar.

To bring you up to speed, thanks to my g-ma’s asking around, we have put a deposit down on our venue. It is a restored Victorian house in my hometown that I had never considered because a.) I thought it was going to be extremely expensive, b.) have a small occupancy level, and c.) not provide chairs. Now that we are going to have a rushed planning period and smaller ceremony, reason b. is now acceptable and reasons a. and c. were not a problem to begin with. It will actually be cheaper than the venue we wanted in Knoxville. So Andrew and I are having a fifty-person wedding on December 20, two days after our dating anniversary.

And for everyone who says, “They are crazy! That’s not enough time,” know that I agree, but where there is a will there is a way. We feel  a tremendous amount of relief at having a decision to stick to. We have a lot to do, but there are pros to this path we are taking. It has saved a ton of money already. We had to nix invitations because of the time frame, so  all that money we would have spent on stationery and stamps can be put into other necessities.  It’s also been really nice getting to hear and read responses to our news in real-time. Also, because we are short on time, we are sticking with the basics: Venue, minister, license, rings, attire, photographer, and a dessert reception. Without the big reception, we no longer have to worry about catering a full meal. We don’t need to rent a bunch of linens. Since it will be more of a mingling reception, we won’t have tables. This means no centerpieces. So many savings! I can’t

This choice may not be for everyone, but I did not want to forget the love, not just the love that I have for Andrew but the love I have for my family. This is a good compromise on how to honor both of those loves.

From this point on, the blog will cover how we will pull off getting ready for a wedding in less than six weeks. It is possible! You just have to have priorities. And honestly, even if everything doesn’t go smoothly, which I doubt it will 100%, the important thing is that I am marrying my favorite person at the end of the day.

I hope you continue to keep the love first and…

Keep your fingers crossed for us,


The Right Time

The Right Time


Here is Andrew’s new engagement watch! After a couple of weeks of searching, we were finally able to find the right piece for him. Andrew decided on a watch over a banjo. We like this more because he can wear it everyday whereas a banjo would mostly be at home . There were a few contenders, but Andrew did not want a watch with a leather band. Since I am sensitive about animals, he did not want something that was supposed to represent us involving animals. (That kind of stuff right there is why I am marrying the man!) For my part, I wanted something to match my bling. For any other couple looking for a non-leather option who are not interested in metal links, I would recommend looking at Daniel Wellington watches with the fabric bands or go for wooden watches. We saw several of those by brands like WeWood and MEKU.  Those alternative materials were the ones that caught our eyes. However, in the end he chose Skagen. This style of watch is made of stainless steel but doesn’t have the bulky feel of those with big links.He had given up on finding a Skagen men’s watch with rose gold when we were just browsing in Dillard’s and saw this beauty on display. I think it was meant to be.

As for wedding planning, I have been trying to make some appointments to view some places, but not everywhere has been responsive. To be honest, that makes me a bit nervous. I need to get back to reading my wedding planning books as well. Having just seen a wedding this past weekend, Andrew and I feel the need to get our butts in gear.

The wedding was gorgeous by the way! It was held at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum. I will only show a couple of photos to show the venue since it was not my wedding, but they had quite an elegant atmosphere with fun twists like the laid-back food and geeky references in the music and vows. Oh and their dogs were ring bearers! So cute!

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They were married in front of a tree, and then the reception was in a ivy-covered greenhouse. All in all, a good time, as you can see from Andrew’s and my smiling faces!

Keep the love first,


Under Pressure

Under Pressure

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When I became engaged, there were the excited phone calls and texts, congratulations, oohs and aahs at the ring, and a couple of hearty make-out sessions courtesy of my fiancé. I expected that, as I think most engaged couples do. What I didn’t expect, and what I am coming to find out is a common occurrence, was the increase in fighting. After a couple of weeks, Andrew and I became snappier, more defensive, and shorter tempered. This trend continued.  Just recently I found myself sullen and quiet during a trip to World Market when Andrew called my idea to use a globe as a guest book “impractical” and “weird.” But we weren’t arguing just about wedding stuff. We were on edge about everything. There were a lot of heavy silences from him and ugly cries from me. This wasn’t the picture of a happy engaged  couple we had in mind, especially since we were not prone to regularly argue before. If this has happened to you, I am sure you felt as bewildered as I did. After many reassuring talks with friends and a mention or two of this phenomenon in a wedding book, I felt some relief. Wedding planning is stressful. There may be a few who are just super organized or easygoing and would disagree, but for most, this is, of course, a happy time but a hair-pulling one, as well. Suddenly our relationship feels bigger and heavier and full of a bunch of decisions we need to make and haven’t. Throw in the expenses we have been researching, and BAM! We have ourselves a recipe for at the very least some frayed nerves.

So what has helped us soothe those nerves? There have been a couple of things. The first is we worked on communication. I know; duh! But good communication (as in not by raised voices and sarcasm) is harder than it sounds. I have found that timing is everything when it comes to communicating. I can talk about my feelings better if I’ve had a chance to cool off and gather my thoughts. Andrew communicates better depending on what time of day we talk. Right when he gets home from work or when he is ready to sleep are not helpful. I also find that it is best to not avoid the conversation for too long. A couple of hours after the World Market incident, I had time to reflect and explain calmly how his comments had hurt me. He understood and apologized for any offense he had caused, and we were able to enjoy the rest of our day without that anger hanging over our heads for days.

The next thing I would suggest is to take a break from planning if possible. Andrew and I are still over a year out from the season we want to get married during next year, so we have plenty of time. I decided to stop researching and reading wedding planning books for a week or so, and when we’ve had brief conversations about ideas now, it has been lighthearted.

The last thing that I have found to be helping tremendously is to just go have fun! Last weekend, Andrew and I went ice skating with some friends. There was no tension as Andrew held my hand while I clumsily skated beside him, both of us laughing and talking for a few hours. Sigh! Date nights or fun evenings in have been an awesome way for us to remember why we are getting married in the first place:  we’re best friends.

Fear not, fellow or future brides or grooms! If your fuses have become a little shorter with your intended, just breathe and remember that relationships are a day-to-day process. Ditch the wedding talk for a night and go out and get some ice cream, rent a movie, or just take a walk together. You two are in this together.

Try to keep the love first,


P. S. I hope you all have Queen stuck in your heads right now. Dun Dun Dun Dun-Nananana…