Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Few Guides for a Less Frazzled Bride

Image Source: www.bridalbuds.com

Ah, wedding magazines. So glossy, so pretty, so full of expensive wedding stuffs and gorgeous models to show it all off.

I fell into the glossy entrapment of wedding magazines pretty early in the game. I think the first wedding-related magazine I picked up was actually at the airport on the way back from our Europe trip (where we got engaged). As a huge fan of magazines in general, I was excited to see what sort of inspiration was out there, note a few dress ideas, scout some vendors (I'm a huge fan of "Best-of" lists) and just gain a general sense of what the soon-to-be-wed crowd was up to in the 2000's.

Problem was, instead of being incredibly inspired and hopeful, flipping through the pages of wedding magazines like Modern Bride, The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings made me feel more overwhelmed than inspired and I found myself being flushed with anxiety anytime I picked one up. They were pretty, very nice to look at, but these were supposed to be an examples of what normal people were doing? Throwin' down $40K for ONE DAY was actually considered normal?

I felt sick. Even if we magically came into money, I knew that J-Cakes and I would lean towards planning something more unconventional, but the fact that every single wedding-related magazine I picked up seemed to confirm the idea that this one day would cost a full year's (or more) income was absolutely terrifying. What the hell were we thinking? There's no way we could pull this off. I started feeling like maybe we should just elope and play up the kitschy appeal of the Vegas or something so we wouldn't end up looking like total fools.

After a more than a few panic-stricken moments (which I only shared with my mom), I started looking for alternatives. Melanie, my best friend and maid of honor, picked up a planner for my Christmas gift. I scouted the shelves of Borders and searched through Amazon for tips on how to be fancy when you're more fiscally-strapped and eventually felt better about everything. A job opportunity later led me to a couple hundred inspiring blogs online, all couples who had either made it work on much less than $40K or were attempting to. Things were going to be okay.

That sense of relief and feeling like it was possible to have a nice, big wedding without going into major debt was a big moment for me. It dawned on me the other day that I never mentioned what kinds of sites and research I have been a big help to me with all of this planning business, so I wanted to take a few minutes to mention them. (I feel I should note that this is in no way paid advertising, all of these resources have either been recommended to me by friends and family or I have found them on my own and I am recommending them solely based on how helpful they have been to me so far with the hope they might be helpful for someone else).

First up is "Bridal Bargains: Wedding Planner" the book Melanie gave me to help gain a sense of what to expect. Filled with checklists, lists of important questions to ask vendors and advice for just about everything wedding-related, this book has become my trusty companion to all meetings with anyone who might help with part of our big day. I have to admit that I don't actually use this checklist (I use the one on TheKnot because I can link up my guest list and manage things easier), but as far as having a physical guide to help you along with meetings and keep you on track and within your budget, this book does a great job.

The "Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides": I found this book on our way back from Europe when we pit-stopped in Chicago to see our friends. I was cruising around Quimby's, (my favorite neighborhood bookstore) decided to pick this up and ended up reading it from cover to cover twice before realizing that there was a blog to go with it. (If you get your inspiration from seeing examples of couples who have wed before you, I highly suggest browsing the "wedding porn" section on this blog). The book made me feel excited about planning again and instead of feeling a sense of dread that we wouldn't be able to ante-up I started to feel excited about all of the ways we could express our creativity. The appeal of blog is that the weddings on this site look like people are actually enjoying themselves which is kind of what you want at a wedding anyways. These couples seem more real, are reall creative and it goes to show you that there is a place for every kind of couple, even the kind that dream of having a Star Wars-themed wedding complete with a light-saber ceremony.

"Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot" is a quick read and a good guide if you're trying to figure out what your options are for various budgets. Organized by "Bargain, Budget or Bling" each section is broken down into what kind of alternatives you can consider and a quick line about what to expect.

Additionally, for solely the cost of Internet connection, there are a TON of talented bloggers out there dishing out design advice, sharing wedding photos and passing along information about some awesome giveaways amongst other things. Since blogs have been helping me out big time, I feel compelled to mention the few that stick out in my mind. In no particular order, here are some of the sites that I often visit for inspiration:

These are in no way the only sites I visit, but it's not a bad place to start if you're looking.


In completely unrelated news, this morning I did a search on Google to see if there were any photos or blogs mentioning Lula Cafe. I love Lula, and have been there many times, but since we're hoping to set-up our rehearsal dinner there, I wanted to get a feel for what that experience might have been like for someone else.

That's how I stumbled across Peopling Places, a community-driven blog about Logan Square, written by Lynn Stevens. It was great to see a blog intended to foster community in the neighborhood we live in, because we're both huge fans of Logan Square and some of the amazing people businesses around here. I noticed that AwesomeMidwestWedding was listed on the blog roll, so thank you to Lynn for being a fan! I hope we can work with some amazing people in the Square!


Happy Planning!


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! And great resources. Check out the AntiBride books, too - love her!

  2. Of course, lady. Broke-Ass Bride is da bomb, yo (I'm bringin' it back, haha).

    I will check it out! :)

  3. Hi Candace!

    Found your blog when I Googled "Humboldt Park" as a wedding venue. Newly engaged, also living in Logan Square and looking at Oct. 8 as our date. Would love to chat about brideshare ideas, if you're up for it. rja209@gmail.com

    Looking forward to going through more of your posts, too!


  4. well my dear i finally made it to your blog.. as always you out did yourself just setting this all up.. your day will be great no matter what you do,,,everyone will always have their opinions and you do what you do to make it what candace and johnny would like. although i still would like a priest to do the ceremony
    ( i am your mother i am alllowed to give my opinion all the days of your life) sorry just something u and mad have to live with....chat with you soon love mom