Category Archives: Wedding

6 Ways to Conquer Wedding Planning

Getting married is one of the most exciting times in most brides’ lives! It can also be the most stressful. Brittany and I are committed to making sure that YOUR experience as a “fiancé” is fun, calm, and enjoyable. Below are six tips that will help you conquer wedding planning and ensure that you stick to your budget and enjoy the process!Bride CakeTopper


First and foremost, let’s all get in the right mindset! Say goodbye to “wedding planning is miserable” and “all weddings are $30,000” and say hello to “it’s actually not that stressful” and “it was easier to stay in my budget than I thought”!

1. Ask Around: Everyone knows “somebody” so start asking! Don’t be afraid to ask you friends, acquaintances, someone you knew in high school and have only seen on Facebook over the last 10 years. Some of these people are trying to start a business, so doing something for someone they know with help their business and they’ll want to do a really good job for someone they know. It’s a win-win for both sides!

Bride Ask Around

2. Weigh the options: At first glance, some venues may look more expensive when comparing prices against one another, but what does each venue INCLUDE? This is really important because the more a venue includes, the less work and money you’ll have to put into it. Some venues are just downright expensive, but some may only seem expensive but actually include a whole lot more than a space.

Bride Weigh Options

3. Barter: This is a tip that Brittany gave me that has actually worked really well once I started using it! These people are in a business where they name their price. They obviously want customers, so if you have a price in mind, try and stick to it and barter a little before you sign the contract. Go into a barter with knowledge. For example, make sure you know the going rates at other local florists before you ask for a ridiculously low price and offend them. Blocking hotel rooms is also another area you can barter, especially if you fill up the block. Ask for the honeymoon suite to be free if you fill in the entire block or other deals like that.

Bride Barter

4. Do your research: This is very time consuming, but is so worth it in the end! Start researching every photographer, DJ, band, venue, etc. in your area. Look on multiple sources such as Google reviews and yelp to help you get a good idea of what other customers think of them. Also, look for new businesses. I truly believe that using new businesses is the key to saving money when you’re planning a wedding. Yes, I thought of “they’re not as experienced”, but I’ve reviewed their work, looked at their existing reviews, and “interviewed” them to make sure they were a good fit. REMEMBER: Just because someone is starting a new business doesn’t mean they’re new to the trade & just because one place is more expensive than another doesn’t necessarily mean they’re significantly better than the less expensive option.

Bride Research

5. Be Flexible: Everyone has an idea of what their dream wedding would look like, but sometimes you need to rearrange your ideas to fit your budget without compromising the most important parts of your wedding. Start by making a list of priorities and refer back to them when you seem to be getting distracted. My list of priorities saved me $4,000 on ONE item! I really thought that I wanted a band at my wedding and that was one area that I didn’t want to budge in. After researching and researching and weighing the options out in my head, I decided that I wanted a FUN wedding and that FUN wedding didn’t say anything about having a band more than a DJ. I had to be flexible in my ideas and use my list of priorities to figure out what was really important. The people at my wedding will make it fun, not the band.

Bride Priorities

6. Don’t settle!: If you’re having a hard time finding a wedding service that is within your budget, KEEP LOOKING! I promise you, they’re out there! I had several moments when I thought, “Maybe weddings just do cost $30,000”, but luckily I had Brittany to bring me back down to reality. I kept researching and talking to people and voila!, I found my photographer for HALF the price of the cheapest photographer I could find initially.

Bride Dont SettleWhat’s your advice on keeping wedding planning FUN and within your BUDGET?! Happy wedding planning!

Wedding Wednesday

Newly Engaged? Head on over to Chits and Giggles to find some great wedding posts from this week! Good Luck :)

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Intertwined Lives, Separate Bank Accounts: How to Cohabitate with a Happy Financial and Emotional Mindset

Time and time again studies have shown that money is the number one instigator of problems between couples. Sidenote: I want to know where exactly “farting” ranks on those lists because it definitely should be close to the top… Okay, okay, back to money: While it seems to be common sense that relationships with our significant others should be prioritized above money, an uncountable number of failed relationships have proven that it’s easier said than done.

San Fran

So I am coming to you equipped with a few years of experience in the area of lovebird cohabitation and zero years of joined bank accounts under my belt to share what has and has not worked for my better half and I when it comes to splitting the tab of life from two separate bank accounts.

STEP ONE: Get on the Same Page—or Get Out Now!

golf pic

We have similar values and interest across many aspects of life, but likeness in monetary values creates a strong foundation for our relationship…just a tad more than mutual okay-ness at golf.

If you are living with your significant other in hopes that you will one day be walking down an aisle together, you better make sure you are on the same page when it comes to money values. It’s okay to have different styles and desires, but if your spending habits are completely opposite of each other (i.e., he saves every penny he earns, and she maxes out credit cards on shoes every month) you either need to find a compromise that keeps both of you satisfied or get the heck out of the relationship before one of you milks the other dry. The hardest part of step one is taking an honest look at the facts, but doing so immediately will save you a lot of heartache and money woes in the future.

STEP TWO: Divide and Conquer the “Easy-To-Split-Stuff”

Taken just as our cohabitation officially began

Keeping the simple stuff simple, has helped us smoothly transition into sharing our lives together.

We treat the payment of our rent and household utilities as if we are roommates (which we are in the sense that we are 2 individuals with 2 separate incomes and 2 separate bank accounts). That means we split rent, gas, electric, and cable straight down the middle each month. There are a few ways to do this with little hassle and near guarantee that everyone is living up to his or her end of the bargain:

OPTION ONE: Put all utilities in one person’s name (this is the time to let the organizer of the relationship showcase those responsibility skillz) and have the second person write the “organizer” a check each month to cover his/her half of the costs.

OPTION TWO: Put roughly one half of the utilities in each person’s name so that each person directly pays about half of the monthly expenses without ever needing to deposit or wait on a check from the other. This option is better for those who are a little more flexible and will not spitefully bring up owed pennies during an argument about what’s for dinner on Tuesday night.

STEP THREE: Create a Strategy to Tie up All Loose Monetary Ends that Leaves Both Parties Financially Satisfied and Comfortable


Money strategy and agreement are key factors to enjoying a nice vacation.

After the big expenses that occur regularly each month are equally distributed, you need to make a plan of action for all other expenses that occur in your shared life. These expenses can be regular—like groceries—or more varied—like vacations. The key is to be sure each person (in the loving relationship that you cherish very very much) knows the plan and is comfortable with the plan. I’ve listed some general strategies and helpful tips that help us avoid money spats on a daily basis, which is excellent because less fighting means more loving :)

Each Little Love Bird Must: 

♥ Know and respect how much money each person wants/needs to spend each month.

♥ Know and respect what each person likes to spend money on each month.

♥ Agree on a plan to tackle groceries.

Grocery style

♥ Be happy with a plan outlying how to pay for dates.

Date Style♥ Be happy with a strategy to pay for vacations and weekend trips.

Vacay Style

♥ Communicate with each other EVERY GOL’ DARN DAY about your money and your feelings about how your money is being spent (or not spent).

anni pic

Remember to keep a level head because at the end of the day, you love that beautiful face you wake up to each morning much more than Benjamin or Andrew…unless of course it is Benjamin or Andrew you are waking up to 😉

What strategies have helped you transition into and successfully conquer being in a serious relationship with molded lives but separate bank accounts?

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Wedding Planning on a Budget: Shifting Your Perspective

wedding perspective

Photo Credit:

Prior to getting engaged, my then-boyfriend and I were completely on the same page when it came to what we valued about our future wedding. There of course, were a few minor exceptions–like my firm belief that a “pretty dress” was a high priority while he was lacking interest on that subject, but in short, we were both 100% dedicated to keeping our list of wedding wants/needs simple.  We knew we wanted something small. We were in definite agreement that we wanted our nuptials to be fun for us and all of our guests, and we were firm in our desire not to spend a small fortune.

Something strange happens when you get engaged…people start asking you questions TONS and TONS of questions. And in my case, people started asking me before I started asking myself…which sent me into a two week period of coo-coo-ka-choo during which I kept wondering…what have I gotten myself into? And if my fiancé would have started to think the same thing when the overwhelming questions took me to a place I had so recently promised I’d never go to, I wouldn’t have been able to blame him.

When you get engaged, well-intentioned people will start drilling you with questions almost as fast as you slip that ring on your finger.

In less than two weeks the expectations that society has for a “wedding” today took my recently engaged mantra from “Yipeee look at my ring! We are going to get murrrrrried!” to “Oh my beezus, I have to plan this wedding that includes a, b, c, d, x, y, and z and cost me what?!?!”  But it was a simple comment from my fiancé that helped me flip the switch back to sanity:

“You didn’t care about this stuff at all before. Why would you care about it now? I didn’t think that was what we wanted.

Zing! That statement made me remember that all of these things people were asking me about that were stressing me out, didn’t matter to me at all. I had completely lost myself in the concerns of others, and I think that is very disconcerting.  But this is what I see happen over and over in the wedding industry. I see it when I’m reading blogs or articles online, when I encounter other couples at pre-wedding events, and when I’m talking to my friends/family about wedding planning experiences of each other and others we know—past, present and future.

In addition to a loss of perspective on what’s truly important, one of the biggest downfalls of planning your wedding based on the values of others rather than what is valuable to you as a couple, is that you will spend more money…on a bunch of crap you don’t even care about.

Shifting your perspective from “We must do X because that is what is always done” to “We are going to skip X and focus on A,B, and C because that is what is important for us” will decrease your budget because you simply won’t spend money on things that are unimportant(ahem—no floral centerpieces at my wedding), and it will also increase the amount of fun you have while planning. My fiancé and I have been shocked by how much we’ve enjoyed the planning process so far, but part of that enjoyment comes from the fact that we simply don’t mess with things that don’t matter.

Shift the perspective


Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize – If you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, ask yourself if what you are worried about even matters to you. If it doesn’t carry much weight in the value of your wedding, just nix it from your to-do list and your budget.

Common Sense – Use it or lose it. If you tend to get sucked in to the crazy wedding hoopla, make sure you have a close friend or family member that can reality check you fast so you can start using your common sense again.

Listen to your Fiancé – Yes, I realize that if my wedding was 100% planned by my fiancé it would probably take place in a courthouse with a reception at a water park to follow; however, men tend to be more realistic than us ladies, and their rational is rarely affected by wedding magazines, pinterest, instagram, and countless chick flicks. I’m guessing if you are marrying him, he can be trusted to help you when you are losing perspective :)

Stay True to You – Create a wedding that is true to you and your relationship. If certain “fancies” aren’t your style, you don’t need to force it. As a matter of fact, you can simply cut it out of your wedding day and your budget.

Attitude is Everything – Just like any other event in your life, your attitude plays a huge role in your wedding experience. View that food tasting as an opportunity not a chore, and it will definitely be a more enjoyable experience.

Invest in What’s Important – Every wedding situation is unique. For example, if you are getting married and holding your reception at an outdoor venue you might not have to spend much on décor but may need to invest in space heaters to keep guests warm in the evening hours. If you don’t care much about wowing your guests with beautiful invitations—DON’T INVEST IN THEM! If it’s not important to you, you should not be spending your money on it.

Spend Time, but Don’t Waste It – Whenever you are planning an event, you will have to dedicate time to your cause. If you eliminate aspects/costs that you don’t place much value on from the get-go, you won’t have to waste time thinking about them or adding them to your list of wedding decisions and expenses.

Because we maintain a healthy perspective on wedding planning and what we value in our wedding day for both ourselves and our guests, we are just as happy and excited as the day we got engaged!

Because we maintain a healthy perspective on wedding planning and what we value in our wedding day for both ourselves and our guests, we are just as happy and excited as the day we got engaged!

You can also read our posts about Wedding Budgeting 101: A Guide for Beginners and Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue within your Budget. For information about gaining control over your finances check out our Getting Started section at the top of our page.

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Do’s and Don’ts to Finding your Perfect & Affordable Wedding Venue

Finding the perfect venue for your wedding is crucial to planning your big day. After initially becoming stressed out and feeling completely inadequate in my ability to get my fiance and I to the alter, I decided to compile a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts I wish I would have had before starting my search. If you keep these tips in mind and focus on what you care about (not what everyone else keeps asking you about) the venue hunt can be pretty fun! Congratulations and good luck on finding your perfect wedding venue :)

photo taken at whispering tree ranch -

photo taken at whispering tree ranch –

The Do Not’s

DON’T: Accept that predetermined wedding packages are the only route down the aisle. This is a good way to spend a lot of extra money on a lot of crap you don’t even care about.

DON’T: Start too big. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming—especially if you try to make specific decisions, like choosing your wedding venue, before you finalize bigger details—like what city or state in which your nuptials will occur. Many of us don’t live in the town (or state) we grew up in, so finalizing the decision on where your wedding is taking place before looking at venues will save you a lot of time and stress. The venue search should start AFTER you nail down your general wedding location.

photo taken at whispering tree ranch -

photo taken at whispering tree ranch –

Using the word "wedding" in your google search is a sure way to overload yourself with overpriced options.

Using the word “wedding” in your google search is a sure way to overload yourself with overpriced options.

DON’T: Use the word “wedding” in your Google search. I quickly learned that no matter how I altered my “wedding” search—cheap wedding, budget wedding, inexpensive wedding venue—I was still slammed venues that were definitely not on lesser side of expensive. Maybe there were a few options for the savvy bride out there, but I was wasting too much energy sifting through the options that were out of my price range.  I’m now convinced that “engaged-girl-planning-her-wedding” is far too often interpreted as “gullable-girl-who-is-in-an-emotional-space-that-makes-her-likely-to-overspend”. Don’t be that girl! :)

DON’T: Assume that in order to nail down a good venue, you will have to spend a large amount of money. Does money get you nice things sometimes? Yes, it does. Are there excellent and affordable options out there? Yes, there are. A bigger price tag does not make a venue more valuable.

photo taken at whispering tree ranch -

photo taken at whispering tree ranch –

photo taken at whispering tree ranch –

The Do’s

DO: Set limits before you start your search. How much are you willing to spend? Is there a certain location you need to have? What can you sacrifice, and what are your non-negotiables?

DO: Get inspired and then use creative thinking to do it your way on your budget. There are so many beautiful wedding photos floating around the internet highlighting gorgeous venues, flowers, centerpieces, and other decor. Use these photos to get inspired, but use your own brain to create a wedding environment resembling your ideal (and probably uber expensive) wedding ceremony and reception for much less money. If you find that you can’t get a certain aspect out of your mind–chandeliers, flowers, mountains, or trees–search that term on the internet.

DO: Think outside the box. After countless failed attempts at finding a venue I liked and felt comfortable paying for through internet searches, a friend told me about a huge wedding reception she attended in an airport hangar. That was when the light bulb in my brain finally turned on—I could search for any kind of “venue” I wanted and then transform it to fit the needs of my own “wedding”–marking the day I quit using the word “wedding” in my searches.

photo taken at whispering tree ranch -

photo taken at whispering tree ranch –

DO: Talk to the people in your area who have firsthand experience with wedding planning. Remember how firsthand accounts were called “primary resources” when you first started learning about research in middle school? Think of the wedding pioneers in your area as your primary resources. They’ve been there, and they aren’t trying to sell you something. Use your primary resources to help you discover great options and eliminate those that aren’t so hot more quickly.  Wham-Bam!

DO: Search specific terms. I literally found our wedding venue by searching “barn rental” (the funniest part is our venue has a barn on it that isn’t a key component of the entire venue—but hey, whatever works!). The chart below has some search terms that pulled up more affordable results for me.

venue search terms

What tips do you have for finding an affordable wedding venue that you are proud to invite friends and family to on your wedding day?

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Wedding Budget 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wedding Budgets for the Financially Unprepared Bride-to-Be


Shortly after the New Year, I found a sparkly piece of jewelry in the bottom of a box of Junior Mints, so I decided to ditch my boyfriend and have been chillin’ with my fiancé ever since. Now, if I were one of those girls that has been tossing coins into a savings fund for my dream wedding ever since the first time I watched a chick flick at a slumber party—well, quite frankly, this post wouldn’t even exist. Alas, I am not that girl, and on the day I put on my pretty ring, I had zero dollars and cents dedicated to the cause of everlasting love. So after about a week of staring at the ring and reminding myself it was mine, I had to come back to reality and make a plan.

Here is how a completely financially unprepared Bride-to-Be can create a personalized budget and payment plan suitable for a paid in full, aisle-walking day of I Do’s

Phase 1: Have some fun—with your eyes wide open

Our Venue is one of our top priorities, so when making our budget--it got first dibs

During Phase 1 we realized that an outdoor wedding was a huge part of our personal wedding style and that played a large role in the creation of our wedding budget.

  • Get a Sense of your own Personal Style – Without considering costs, I started looking at videos and pictures from weddings to get ideas of what I like and would actually go for in real life. I didn’t think about money in detail at this point but was getting an idea of wedding costs with a broad perspective. And most importantly, if I started to look at prices that stressed me out or overwhelmed me, I shut it down.
  • Talk to your Friends and Family – I would be LOST, without the help of my friends and family. A really great part of getting engaged is being able to experience the unending heaps of help from anyone who has previously gone through that experience. I have been welcoming the  unsolicited and requested help of friends and family for nearly two months now, and it is still one of the most helpful and my most favorite parts of planning—and it played a HUGE role in developing my wedding budget.
  • Research Budgets—After my time spent in newly engaged La-La land helped me figure out what I was looking for visually and experientially, I knew I needed to do some research about how to manage this feat financially.  Sample wedding budgets are EVERYWHERE and they come in all shapes in sizes—literally, Dr. Seuss could write a book about them. One of my main focuses when perusing wedding budgets (I collected them online and from super awesome friends) was to make sure I didn’t accidentally forget about anything or anyone :)

Below are 3 online Wedding Budgets that I found helpful enough to Pin and keep around:

Phase 2: Start Stacking Bills on Bills on Bills

  • Pick a Price you are Comfortable Paying—This is a very personal step, and it was a big decision for my fiancé and I because we want to make sure our wedding encompasses all that we want to share with our family and friends, but we would both probably get bald spots if we were spending more money than we felt was necessary.  Everyone is different, but having a specific target number is very important when planning a financially responsible wedding.
  • Find your Cash Flow—Traditions often play a role in who pays for what at weddings, so it is important that you have an honest conversation with your family members about your own family’s stance on wedding funding. And if you know you are personally paying for all or some of it, make sure you know how much money you will need. Your total need and timeline will dictate the rate at which you should save money so you are well-prepared for all wedding-related expenses.

Phase 3: Digging into Details

  • Prioritize—Determine the most crucial and (likely) expensive aspects your wedding day, and start your budget there. Once you have the big points—ceremony location, reception location, food, etc.—nailed down, then you can branch out to the aspects that might be lower on your wedding totem pole and start delegating your funds accordingly.
  • Finalize (with flexibility) the Remaining Details of your Wedding Budget—At this point, you have done the research. You know what you like, what you truly need to make a wedding happen, and how much money is going to be available for you do to it. This is the time to create your own personalized budget. I took all the information I learned/gathered from super-super detailed wedding budgets and lists I found online and combined it with the wedding budget info I got from AH-MAZING friends and put together a simple personalized 23 item wedding budget on Excel that includes what I know I will need, estimated costs, and actual costs. You can click on the picture below to download the simple spreadsheet for yourself :)
This is a screen shot of my  end product: A simplified budget that includes every piece I need and need to pay for. There is a link to get the Excel Spreadsheet below.

This is a screen shot of my end product: A simplified budget that includes every piece I need and need to pay for…and please look away from typo on “estimated”–I totally meant to save space by leaving that “a” out of the word.  Click on the picture to download the Excel Spreadsheet version for yourself.

Hopefully this post is helpful to any lucky ladies who have recently acquired fiances–Congratulations and Good Luck!! What are your wedding budget secrets?

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♥ Brittany