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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in ReCaps (16)


The Best of 2010, Part III

This is one of my most favorite posts of all time. The women, the mission, the product - all so freakin' amazing. I am proud to say we donated a nice sum of money to Thistle Farms, thanks to all of your comments and tweets and spreading of the word. It makes me so incredibly proud and happy that this post is included in The Best of The Thirty-Something Bride 2010! It gives me hope that all of us are here to do more than post pretty pictures or bitch about our lives, that in truth we are far more blessed than we can ever imagine.

And don't forget...Monday I'm announcing a KICK-ASS contest!

How Love Can Heal

OK, so a couple of years ago The Candyman and I were invited to a backyard wedding in East Nashville. This East Side wedding was lovely, as all weddings are. The bride wore a lacey white top and a light colored, long suede skirt and cowboy boots. The invites were paperless, as was the RSVP. A friend officiated. The couple requested that no gifts be brought. However, since people are insistent (and they are), they allowed guests to bring a bottle of their favorite wine for the reception (brilliant idea) or they could donate to Thistle Farms.

Uh. Wait a second. Donate WHERE? I looked it up online and their website was crap and I didn’t understand it and so I opted to bring the wine.

Fast forward a year or so. The Candyman and I were engaged and one weekend I popped into The Frothy Monkey for a much needed latte and the line was just killer long. As I was waiting to order I was browsing some of the shop’s items for purchase and l noticed some Thistle Farms product. I made the connection and did a little reading about the place. I was floored. And I knew RIGHT THEN that The Candyman and I needed to include Thistle Farms as part of our registry.

So that’s what this introduction leads us to: ALTERNATIVE REGISTRIES and specifically, Thistle Farms.

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went on a field trip. I buddied up with Tabitha and Ashley from Ashley’s Bride Guide as well as Jonathon and Sharon from Jonathon Campbell Photography.

The ladies of Thistle Farms, Ashley's Bride Guide and The Thirty-Something Bride!

I had met Carolyn Snell, one of Thistle Farm’s volunteers at the ABG Sex and the City party. We talked excitedly about how I had come to know them and I just KNEW I had to blog about this and tell everyone I possible could about this amazing place. So what is it? Here we go:

The Story of Magdalene and Thistle Farms
Magdalene is a two-year residential community founded in Nashville Tennessee in 1997 for women with a history of prostitution and drug addiction. Magdalene was founded not just to help a sub-culture of women, but to help change the culture itself. We stand in solidarity with women who are recovering from sexual abuse, violence, and life on the streets, and who have paid dearly for a culture that buys and sells women like commodities. 
At no cost, we offer women a safe, disciplined, and compassionate community for two years, paid for by the gifts we receive from individuals and private grants. Magdalene stands as a witness to the truth that in the end, love is more powerful than all the forces that drive women to the streets.

What is Thistle Farms?
Thistle Farms is a non-profit business operated by the women of Magdalene. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as kind to the environment as they are to the body. All sales proceeds go back into the program.
Through Thistle Farms, the women of Magdalene gain much needed job skills, and learn responsibility and cooperation. Into every product goes the belief that freedom starts with healing, and love can change lives. Our dream is that people will come to see Thistle Farms as a humble but powerful business synonymous with women’s freedom.

Why Thistle?
Considered a weed, thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Magdalene walked. But, thistles have a deep tap root that can shoot through thick concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance, their royal and soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower.

Carolyn Snell, our wonderful Thistle Farms liaison!

Our group was invited to tour Thistle Farms. At 9am, a large group of people circled a lighted candle and started the Daily Meditation. A woman read a passage from a book about secrets, the topic for the days’ meditation.  From there, we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, much like an AA meeting. Sometimes that’s all that was said: a name.  Other women elaborated about who they were, the secrets they had kept in their lives and how it became toxic in both body and soul. It was one of those moments in life where I absolutely know for certain that I:

  1. Will never be the same.
  2. Recognize the courage it takes for a person to truly acknowledge themselves, faults and all.
  3. Am overwhelmed that places like this exist and were built to help.

There were a few comments made that rocked me hard and I wrote them down to share: 

Freedom ain’t free.

Turns out, the only person I was keeping secrets from was myself.

I’m not ashamed of my past, I'm proud of my future.

I learned early on that I don’t have to dance with everybody, but I have to dance with somebody.

I am breaking the cycle of secrets.

When you put these statements into context – a long history of abuse, drug addiction, crime, broken families and lives – they MEAN something. Something big.  It was truly an amazing experience.

Once the mediation time was over, they went into some general business and house-keeping issues: pick up your trash, make sure the back door is locked, thanks to the candle folks who worked overtime – just like any other staff meeting at any other business. There were ladies who were clearly ready to get to work, others who wanted to socialize – just like any office.

The "no nonsense" supervisor. As a graduate of the program, this lady knows what she's doing. I was impressed.


A Thistle Farm employee prepping bottle for labeling.

Happiness found in candle making!

We got a lovely tour of the work space, the packaging and shipping areas and I had the opportunity to stop and talk to two women.  Neither of the women is considered a graduate yet, but I was moved to share their stories.

“Mary” is 32 years old and had been at Magdalene house and Thistle Farms for 9 months.  She had been on probation for drug use, got caught using and the courts took her son away from her.  In order to keep her son out of child services and with her mother, Mary entered the 2-year program at Thistle Farms. She got her GED and was just accepted into cosmetology school. Her number one motivation is her son.

Listening to Mary's story.

“Alice” is 39 years old and has been at Thistle Farms for 2 months. She started using crack cocaine at 13 years old. After 8 years of addiction, she was able to kick the crack habit, but switched to alcohol. This is her 5th program and she was order by a judge to Thistle Farms. The judge pulled her order, but Alice has decided to stay. It’s her goal to “break the co-dependency cycle.” Her big news?  She’s just gotten her driver’s license back.

Inspired by Alice!

Thistle Farms creates  a myriad of amazing products. They have yummy smelling candles, lip balms, shower gels (my personal fave), lotions, body balms and essential healing oils. The products are all natural, made by hand and smell and feel great. Honestly, they do.  I was scared to try them because I have really sensitive skin – but they are glorious! They feel and smell so good! And you know what else? They have built partnerships with other women’s groups in Rwanda and Uganda to import the little bags they sell their “Summer Survival Kit” in! So cool.

So what is the point of this blog post? You can help. Today. Right Now.  For every comment, tweet, Facebook post or link to this article from your blog  (either here with The Thirty-Something Bride or on ABG or BOTH!), Ashley and I will team up and donate a $1 to the women of Thistle Farms.  That’s right!  Do what you gotta do – we’re picking up the tab.

What I want to stress the most about this post is the fact that you CAN register for something other than stuff.  You can link directly to Thistle Farms and donate on-line. I would love for you to choose Thistle Farms. But if you choose another, more personally meaningful charity, that’s great too!  While I was in love with the idea of Thistle Farms, we actually ended up choosing The American Cancer foundation. The Candyman’s mom died of cancer and my aunt was unable to come to my wedding as she was undergoing chemo at the time (she’s now in remission!).  We made a tough personal choice on this one. Hopefully, your choice will be easier. And I can’t tell you how happy we were to get cards from our friends and family who donated. It felt so wonderful and I encourage all brides to do the same.

Some other choices that Thistle Farms is offering:

In lieu of favors – framed signs and post cards for donations made in the names of your guests. Printed on handmade, thistle paper (natch).


Wedding Favors – Lip balms and postcards.


 Gift Baskets - Perfect for your maids!

Bridal Showers – Thistle Farms employees will com come to you to share their personal stories of hope as well as samples of goodies to buy!  You can also bring groups to Thistle Farms for tours, just like we did!

The easiest way to support Thistle Farms is to leave a comment and help spread the word!  When you share today's post on Twitter or Facebook or as a link on your blog, The Thirty-Something Bride and ABG will donate $1 to Thistle Farms. Fan-fucking-tastic, right? So share and mention @T30SB and @thistlefarms and link to this article (http://bit.ly/cgFQAP). EASY-PEASY!

Celebrate your wedding day with products that truly say, “Love heals.”


Bullshit Budget Weddings

I couldn't think of a better alliteration, so there you go.

I am really kinda sick of reading about these $5K, $10K, $whatever-K weddings and their budget breakdowns. You know why? Because they are bullshit. OK, OK - not all of them, but some of them for sure. I think I need to explain something to brides and wedding bloggers and wedding web sites out there for clarity. If your photographer cost $3500 and your parents, your grammy, your grampy, your sister, the groom's uncle or whomever PAID for it, then it goes into your budget. Period. Many of these budget breakdowns don't work that way. I'd link to several examples, but I'm not that big of a bitch (regardless of those of you who may think so).

I kid you not. I read a recap recently where the venue location and booze were "free" because mommy picked up the tab. Um, hello? Your "budget" $12K wedding? It just jumped up to about $18K or $20K because we all know (being the fantastically brilliant women we are) that the reception counts for approximately 40% of your budget and your mommy just paid for the majority of it.And that's okay, it really is. But count it, because....well....it counts. Otherwise, you're cheating.


Now, if you truly get something for free, then you don't have to count it. For instance, I got my fabulously fantastic chargers from a fabulously fantastic Indian vendor friend of mine. I actually paid for them (a paltry sum at that) and he never cashed the check. It was our wedding gift - one that in a real-life retail situation would have cost me close to $1500. Hard to imagine, right? It's true though. Because my friend owns the factory that makes these, the first cost of these was probably close to $100 - maybe less because he already had the white bodies (meaning the chargers already existed but were raw metal without the antique copper finish).

Jonathon Campbell Photography

Or as a better example, let's say your BFF is a photographer and gave you your wedding photography as a gift. No one was paid, therefore it was "free." Now, while it cost you zero dollars and you're friend was gracious enough to give you that gift, it does NOT mean that it doesn't have value. That's not what I'm saying, so don't get your panties all in a wad.

And what about the insanely artistic bride who just so happens to be a designer, graphic artist, pastry chef or florist? Those chicks can stuff their "budgets" where the sun doesn't shine because YOU'RE CHEATING. That's right, YOU'RE CHEATING. I read about a wedding on the Bane of My Existence where the bride was a graphic designer for a letterpress company who had a relative in the event planning business and the groom was a chef. PUH-lease! Are you kidding me (seriously, I am NOT making this up)? Of course their wedding was swoon-worthy. Of course it made it to the pages of the Bane of My Existence. Why wouldn't it? I'll bet you those weddings were for sure "budget friendly" when you've got half of the stuff you need to buy already on hand as part of your daily life. Do you think they had to purchase double sided sticky tape, corner punches, A7 envelope liner templates or a new printer because your old one decided to bonk out in the middle of printing your DIY menus (true, it happened)? I'm going to think not.


I'm just trying to keep it real, folks. If the money came out of a pocket to pay for a service but the pocket wasn't yours, it still needs to be counted.  The end.

I don't think my wedding was a budget wedding. Yes, I DIY'd a ton to save some money. Yes, I used coupons galore and took advantage of resources I had available to me, but I don't think that an $18K wedding for 77 people counts as "budget." I've got an Unfake Wedding feature coming up next week that was $28K for 450 people. To me, THAT is a budget wedding. Come back next week to see it!

Am I right here or am I off my rocker? What do you think? What counts? What doesn't? What makes a wedding a "budget" wedding?


What My Money Bought, Part II

OK, picking up where we left off yesterday....we're recapping the budget with visuals because it's all about perspective, right? Right. If I'm anything, I'm a freakin' realist and I think that's why I get so frustrated with the likes of SMP. Those goddamn pictures they show with farm tables out in a field somewhere with knee-high grass. WTF? Or weddings in castles and crap? All the fake bullshit in their photo shoots just irritates me to no end. Again, I'm all for inspirational shoots but I think there is a fine, FINE line between reality and fantasy. Let's face it, even if your wedding is fantasy-like, the next day your marriage starts and that isn't always a Disney movie, folks.

*Stepping of my soap box now.*

So next on the list in Reality Budget Land is the cake!

Cake Buffet $218.51

The cost was for four 9" round cakes of different flavors and one 6" round cake we used to cut. I also added in our Dio de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) cake toppers. And if you can't tell, that is me with one plate in one hand with two pieces of cake on it, reaching for yet another plate. Um duuuuuuuuuuuh, I HAD to try all the flavors, right? And we had left-overs. But not of the Velvet Elvis. That shit was GONE!


Flowers $1,546.20

I did a LOT to save here. I know a few things about flowers, florists and floral containers. I know how much shit costs. I understand the labor behind prepping, arranging and delivering flowers. So, knowing all that, I did what I could to reduce my costs. I bought my own wreaths for the doors and chapel to supply to the florist. I spent $19.66 and I saved $35. I bought all my own bud vases on-line and on sale from Crate and Barrel. I spent $183.85, but sold some back to my florist for $50. I instructed my florist to use full headed blooms that I knew were relatively inexpensive: football mums, gerbera daisies and hydrangea and to stay away from pricier flowers like ranunculus and peonies (totally wanted both, by the way). We kept the boutonnieres simple with tiny mums and fern curls (see below). I think the most expensive flower we used were a few garden roses in my bouquet. For the table decor flowers, we added in snow berries, stock, greenery and spider mums. The corsages, flower girl halo and cake flowers had spray roses and freesia. I kept everything easy and simple in white and ivory. Here's what I really liked best about my flowers - the table decor. We had planned on 4-6 bud vases per table. Based on our calculations, my florist ordered what she thought we needed. Well, she was able to fill more bud vases than she thought and we placed extra bud vases all over the reception venue - on the cake table, mantel, bar, gift table. The venue mixed them all in with their gorgeous t-lights and it just looked stunning. I could not have been happier. The reason I mention this is that using smaller arrangements can give you more flexibility, however you could get charged more for labor if you aren't just plopping flowers in vases. But if you plan for one arrangement per table and that's all you'll get, nothing more. I'm just sayin'... Lastly, I had a friend grab the small wreaths and alter arrangements after the ceremony and take them over to our reception venue for double floral duty. That'll save you a bundle - it saved me $245!


Groom's Attire $400

Men's Warehouse. Really, what else is there to say?


Transportation $1,225

We spent more on this than we thought we would have to. First, we planned to use The Candyman's truck as the get-away car, but it was stolen 2 weeks before the wedding! We got it back, but it was in the shop the day of the wedding! Flipping the big, fat finger to the thieves. Do you see me thieves? SEE MY FINGER?? Ahem, sorry. So we ended up working out a deal with our Packard driver Reggie at the last minute. WHEW! Also, we picked up the tab for The Candyman's brothers to get here for our wedding. I mean, they HAD to be here for it. How could they not? Sadly, a 12-hour drive isn't something that a wheelchair bound brother can handle without some special attention, so we hooked everyone up with a giant wheelchair accessible van for the whole damn family to get here in. It was great. Best money we spent.


Beauty $624

Gawd. Embarrassingly over-budget. Vanity really is a bitch. One failed trial. Another trial. The total includes that as well as the cost of the hair and make-up on the day of, plus my MOH's hair (I did her make-up for her wedding, so took care of her on my day too!). It was worth it. My stylist listened to me and I felt like a million bucks on my wedding day!


Gifts $470.54

I don't have any pictures of what we bought, but I'll still share:

Parents on both sides: Framed pictures of me and The Candyman from our engagement shoot.

MOH: A bottle 20 year old port (she's a sucker for it).

BM and BM's brother: Matching "guy" bracelets that I found on sale at a jewelry store.

Usher: A giant bottle of much-loved German beer.

Flower Girl: A bag of Princess-themed goodies I bought in Hong Kong.

Our poem reader: A hand painted scroll I picked up in Hong Kong.

Planner: A framed painting I bought in Hong Kong.

Hubby: A 1976 Bulova Acutron watch.

Moi: The candyman got me a painting by a favorite local artist. I have no idea how much he spent and it isn't anywhere in the budget. I didn't count it.


Miscellaneous $365

Out of town bags and goodies, printer ink, flower girl basket, picture frames, matches, card stock, kid's favors and candy centerpiece - all the little crap that adds up. I am certain that this number could be higher as I'm pretty sure I lost a receipt of two. Or nine. Or twelve. Who's counting at this point? I certainly wasn't. 


Rings $2,525.93

Everything but the center stone, which was a gift from my mother.


Honeymoon $2,236

Flights were free using frequent flier miles. Total cost was for a week in a 2-bedroom condo within walking distance to the beach in the small town of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. We basically spent money on food and Mexican handicrafts to bring home for ourselves and as Christmas presents. Honestly, the days went like this: Wake up. Coffee and lazy. Stroll down to the beach for huevos rancheros and more coffee. Back to the villa and down to the pool for more lazy. Clean up, "nap time",  more lazy. Lazy or a trip to town to spend money. Dinner. Lazy. Bedtime.







So what do you think? Was it worth $18,229.42? I think it was. There were definitely several hundred dollars that we did not anticipate or appreciate spending. The extras on the hair and make-up trials, the additional transportation costs, costs associated with The Candyman's truck that hit us right when money was the tightest...so annoying.  And we had several unanticipated income changes. The Candyman's not-for-profit shut down the month we set the date. My salary was decreased right when he found a new job. He had tons of bar exam fees and bar dues to pay in two states. It just seemed like one thing after another was slamming us. It feels a little bit that way right now. And I know there are lots of you out there dealing with the same bullshit we dealt with. You will get through this. And something that everyone kept telling us was this, "If you can make it through all this now, you're marriage will be golden."  I believe they were right!

My best budgeting advice is not to give up. Do your homework. Read your contracts. Ask for what you want. Ask for a little more, but not too much. Be realistic. Make it your own. Remember the love.


For links to all of the vendors involved in my wedding, please go to the top right of the blog and click on VENDORS I LOVE.


What My Money Bought, Part I

So after I posted my budget recap yesterday I started thinking about what the recap might mean to someone who is just getting started in their budgeting and planning process. Not much, right? I got several emails requesting the Mother of All Spreadsheets and a few brides who mentioned pricing differences in certain locations as well as not understanding how much to pay for what. It can be super-confusing, I know. 

So I thought, why not show you what my money got me? It will help those new brides put a dollar value on some things and allow me to show off my wedding some more. That's right, ten months later. Because y'all know how fucking narcissistic I am about my wedding by now, right? I mean, how long has it been since I've shown pictures from my wedding? Like a month? Maybe two. Maybe even longer? *GASP* *SWOON* Say it isn't so. 

There are a ton of budget wedding features out there that note certain things brides got for free. Um, OK. So if your FMIL paid for your alcohol, your wedding DID NOT cost $5000. You wedding cost $5000 PLUS THE COST OF LIQUOR. Five thousand dollars is what it cost YOU. I hate that. I mean, it simply doesn't give a very accurate cost/value of a wedding. Now, I'm all for freebies, don't get me wrong. But just to let you know, we didn't get anything for free, EXCEPT for my chargers, my purse and $500 cash. Other than that, we paid for every single thing on our own. So no hidden costs, this is the real deal.

OK, so here we go. Here's the monetary/goodies recap. I'll go in the same order as yesterday. 

Ceremony (church & officiant)  $480


Small Southern, all-denomination-accepting church and super-cool officiant. You get the keys to the church a week before the wedding.


Attire (dress, shoes, jewelry, hair toy, veil, boob insert thingies, lace thong, shrug, alterations)  $2,222.01

Yesterday the total was $2132.01. I realized I forgot to add in the cost of my shrug.  

The gown is Mikaella and the shrug was from Etsy. Jewelry I had specially made overseas for cheap (except the ring, it used to by my mother's), shoes I got in Hong Kong and changed the bling on. The purse was a gift and I made my veil and hair toys. 


Reception $7,222.42

Cost got us an all-house access on a Sunday (HALF the cost of the same on a Friday or Saturday), a cocktail hour with passed hors d'oeuvre, sit-down dinner and open bar for 77 people. Because I had under-estimated the total cost and actually would not have met the house minimum, the manager opened the bar for us. He did NOT have to do that as I had provided the wine for the beer/wine only bar and had signed a contract stating so. Not everyone realized the bar was open, but lots did and I think everyone enjoyed themselves regardless of the beverages they chose! The cost also included my DIY favors.


Photography $2,100

The most awesome Nashville Photographers ever, Jonathon Campbell Photography.

This shot of this great couple is by another awesome Nashville team, Phiny Studios. 

Cost was inclusive of an all-day presence at the wedding, copies of all pictures on CDs and an engagement shoot. It also includes their wonderful, attentive style and long-standing friendship. Please note that I did have a 25% off coupon from them and their prices have definitely gone up. 'Cuz they're good, yo.


Music & Entertainment $910

Please don't hire her. You get what you pay for. And a little bit more would have been FINE. This cost also included our wedding guitarist. He was a solo dude, showed up on time, played exactly what we wanted and how we wanted and that was it. 'Nuff said.He rocked - Rob Higginbotham. Hire him. But dont' hire HER.


Invites and Paper Goods $295.74

This cost included the invites (which I couldn't find a picture of, but they are a Bride's brand pocket fold style from Michael's). I bought the matching ceremony programs, menu cards and place cards. I did all my own printing. I bought almost everything at once and used a 25% off coupon. FYI - you can find the 25% off your TOTAL purchase coupons in every issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. I think they last like 3 months. Check your back issues!


Rehearsal Dinner $150

The Park Cafe is a really nice, small and quiet restaurant that was romantic and PERFECT for us. The Candyman and I had been running around separately for days before the weddings and this chance to be quiet and alone together was outstanding.It was super-yummy too.

There you have it so far! I'll finish up the rest of the details tomorrow. So, does this help? Does it give you a perspective on anything? Give me your feedback!

All wedding and engagment photos taken by Jonathon Campbell Photography!




You Are A Baby Gazelle. 

So I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning (I’m sure one of yours too), A Los Angeles Love. The poor girl is in the middle of a Budget Breakdown. I got a good laugh out of the post, not because I think her stress is funny, but because it’s just part of living in Bride Land. I went through it. I think every  budget-conscious bride does.  The cost of getting married generally far exceeds anything you ever could image or budget for.  And the rub is that it sneaks up on you. It’s kinda like a cheetah stalking its prey.

Image a baby gazelle out on the open plains of Africa, munching away on some grass.  She’s completely oblivious to the cheetah crouching in the solitary shrub of this vast African vista. Slowly a breeze crosses over the plains and the baby gazelle is all WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL?  She looks around, sees nothing and continues to enjoy her lunch of dead grass. Then another breeze comes and this time all the gazelles get a whiff and start prancing around, little white tails twitching. But eventually everyone calms down and continues to graze on their peaceful African plain. Then out of fucking nowhere this cheetah leaps out of the shrub, everyone freaks and the little baby gazelle is all WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? I CAN’T SEE SHIT IN ALL THIS DUST AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? Then it’s just too late. She finally sees the cheetah and succumbs to the reality. The cheetah then munches on her own lunch.  (I have this image in my mind’s eye of a baby gazelle in a veil and it’s weird.) Right now it appears that Becca is in the WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? I CAN’T SEE SHIT IN ALL THIS DUST AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? stage of budget planning.

So I was reading and sympathizing when I realized something. I never finished my budget recaps! Holy cow. But I now think this is a good thing. I was really stressing whether or not to post the final numbers, or just percentages, etc. Now, I don’t give a shit. So, here are the cold hard numbers, and the cold hard facts.


We lucked out on this one. Our church was way cheap.  We saved $60 on our marriage license by spending way more than that on pre-marital counseling. However, the payoff balance is way worth it.

This was 3% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A


Way over on the gown. No surprise there. Also WAY off on the gown preservation. I had no idea it was so expensive.

This was 12% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: D-


I totally effed up my Excel spreadsheet when I was budgeting for the reception.  Like, totally. I incorrectly linked a formula and when one spreadsheet was correct, another was not and it got all jacked up and I didn’t know it. We could have had sea bass instead of tilapia. We could have planned for that open bar.

This was 40% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C- (A for money, F for intelligence)


The $1500 was not knowing one thing about photographers or how much they cost. We got a 25% discount on ours because we booked them with a bridal expo coupon. Their prices are more now because they rock.

This was 12% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B+ (A+ for photographer, C- for initial intelligence)


DJ sucked. Guitarist was awesome.

This was 5% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B- (Value of goods vs. money spent)


DIY, baby. And it was fun. And time consuming.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A 


We did not have a rehearsal dinner for all. The Candyman and I had a private dinner together and then met friends and family at a cash bar reception. In retrospect, I should have paid some more attention and money on this. The venue was a FAIL in terms of service and I really should have fed the people something.

This was 1% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B+



Loved our cakes. Loved our cheap-ass toppers. Got a knife for free, passed on the groom’s cake. A traditional wedding cake was not something that was crazy important to me.

This was 1% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A+


Again, not something I wanted to spend a ton of money on. In fact, spent more than I even really wanted to but everything turned out pretty well. Loved the table setting flowers.

This was 9% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A-



We paid for groomsmen tuxedos.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: A



The handicap van was definitely needed and well worth it. The overage on the limo (which was actually a 1939 bad-ass Packard) was because The Candyman’s truck got stolen 2 weeks before the wedding and the shit hit the fan. Plan on shit hitting your fan too.

This was 7% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: B


Total fail. Total vanity.  Totally worth every damn penny.

This was 7% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: F


Eh. What ya gonna do? You gotta thank the folks who helped you.

This was 3% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C+


Unplanned shit I should have planned for.  Love to hate Michael’s. This includes my OOT bags.  Note the red $0.00? That was originally $150. I paid it to a friend/vendor of mine for cake plates he made for me. I wrote him a check for the amount and he never cashed it.  I called him on it and he was all DUDE. NO.

This was 2% of our total budget.

Wedding Budget Grade: C+


So, the total TOTAL of all this stuff was $18,139.42.

The total budgeted amount was $20,340.91.

I originally thought (when I was a blissfully munching baby gazelle) that we could get away with $16,000.

Now, we did NOT include rings and the honeymoon.  But here’s the breakdown on those: 

We got lucky and my mother gave The Candyman her family heirloom engagement ring to give to me. We had the diamond reset so the cost here is for my setting/band and his band.


I am super lucky that I had a bazillion frequent flier miles and was able to use them for the honeymoon. Without those miles, we would have been honeymooning locally. For sure.  We also got more back on our deposit for the rental place because she was supposed to stock the place with food for us. They did buy some, but it definitely wasn’t as much as we had thought. The owner was super cool and VERY honest. She checked with the lady who did the shopping and found there was a miscommunication and error.  We did spend more than we thought, but we also came home with lots of Christmas presents! Score! We went to Zihuatanejo, Mexico and is freakin’ rocked.  Worth every penny.

So there you have it. We were under the national average, but we had less than the average number of guests.  We were under budget, but over from the very first number.  I think we did pretty good. I loved my wedding. Still do.  You will too.  So buck up, baby gazelle.  The cheetah is there. Sniff him out and confront him with a wad of cash.  

P.S. If you want The Thirty-Something Bride’s Master Budget Spreadsheet (now void of lined errors)  to play around with, just send me an email at thethirtysomethingbride@gmail.com.