Feature photo by epsos

After getting over my initial fears of getting married, I went full steam into wedding planning. Not because I was anxious to see my girlhood dreams of a Cinderella wedding fulfilled, (my tomboy-ish tendencies never allowed me to think of such things) but because when you’re blindly entering the world of wedding planning, full steam is the only way to start plowing through the vast amount of information out there for a bride (and groom). Early on, I found that the internet was my friend, with blogs, online magazines and stores devoted to the details of the big day. And of course, there was the holy grail of wedding websites, The Knot.

The Knot has grown to be the modern bride’s bible, with galleries of real wedding pictures sortable by color scheme, reception theme and even region. Pictures detailing the extravagant wedding details of brides all over the country were at my finger tips and I fell in love with everything I saw. Photobooths, wish jars, grooms cakes, and out of town bags: how could I not have known these things existed? I wanted everything I saw. All of it. Every crystal tree centerpiece and peony bouquet had to be mine. I lusted after monogrammed wedding favors and personalized cake toppers. My transformation into bridezilla had begun, and with each bridal magazine I bought or wedding blog I lurked, my bridezilla scales multiplied. By the time I stumbled upon an alternative wedding blog, my lizardly tail was in full swing, taking out groomsman and anyone else that didn’t see my nuptial vision.

Luckily, my loving fiance was there to slay the wedding beast with budgets and spreadsheets, and brought back his level-headed bride. Captain Buzzkill, I mean, my groom in shining armor, reminded me that yes, while this was a big day for both of us, the biggest in our lives so far, it was still just one day. One day to share with our friends and families the joy that we bring into each other’s lives. Not about designing the most elaborate wedding cake, or wearing a designer gown, but about joining our lives together, nothing more. We had to regroup before the monster bride went any further in her planning furor. We had to discuss what we both pictured the day to be like, because as so many brides forget, there was a groom involved in this whole thing too. Would our ceremony be on a faraway beach or in a local church? Casual or black-tie? How many guests would we invite? These were all important questions we hadn’t realized needed to be answered in order to figure out how much we would be spending, especially since we planned on footing the bill ourselves. We figured out how much each of us could save comfortably, and how much we could save by cutting back on spending in other places. Sure, I’ll admit I wasn’t an easy convert to the whole reasonable decision making thing, and yes, it took a little coaxing to get me to give up the late night snack of mini Chicago-style hot dogs at the reception, but I did, in order to stay within our budget. (Who knew 200+ miniature hot dogs could cost a few thousand bucks?)

Once we had a general idea of what we could afford, it was easier to do more focused wedding research and figure out what would work for us. If we saw something that we fell in love with, but was out of our price range, we tried to find a way to do it cheaper or find a modified version that we could afford. That meant a few DIY projects. It was actually fun putting together elements of our wedding with our own two hands. Our invitations, wedding programs, place cards and favors were labors of love that I designed and assembled. My dad even helped out and made furniture for a lounge area we had near one of the bars at the reception. It didn’t feel like we skimped out on anything, and our wedding was more beautiful and way more fun than we imagined it could be.

At the end of the day, we were able to include some of the special little extras we wanted like a mariachi band at the ceremony, a personalized gobo that shone our monogram on the dance floor, and a photo booth for the guests. (Side note: If you are planning a wedding and on the fence about getting a photo booth, do it. Especially if you’re having an open bar. As long as it’s within the budget, of course.) After all the vendors were paid and tipped, we ended up coming in a little under budget, and were able to use some of the extra money on our honeymoon. Our first collaborative effort as a married couple was a success and we were an ecstatic Mr. and Mrs!

Are you a bride or groom to be, or a guest at an upcoming wedding? Leave a comment on this post and watch for upcoming articles with tips on how to survive wedding season and getting married!

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