When shopping for wedding gowns I always say the more dresses you try on, the better. This advice may make your local bridal shop salespeople cringe, but you've never worn a wedding dress before, and many people end up buying a dress completely different than what they originally had in mind. I encourage all brides to get a feel for each type of dress and how it will look on your body type before you commit. Also, certain types of fabric will be much heavier than others. If you're a dancing queen, you are not going to want to wear a dress that you have to lug around all night. The dress that appeals to your eyes may not work at all for your event once you try it on. If your local bridal store doesn't work with you on this, take a day trip to an out of town shop. You will only wear this dress once, and being uncomfortable (or not feeling absolutely drop dead gorgeous) could put a damper on your whole day. As for where to shop, I strongly encourage mom and pop type bridal shops, as on the whole they will give better customer service than franchises. You may get lucky at that shop that has the annual $99.00 sale, but for the most part, if the dress is really important to you, smaller businesses will care more about your purchase and understand your budgetary needs.
And speaking of budgetary needs, don't discount the idea of wearing a bridesmaid dress on your big day. I know, I know, we've all been bridesmaids too many times to put on another one of those God awful dresses, but hear me out. The average wedding dress runs about $1500.00. There are some brides that want intricate details and are willing to fork out the money for them, but many brides like the idea of a simple, sleek satin gown that's lightweight and shows off our curves (I know I did!). Many bridal designers make bridesmaid collections in long and elegant styles. You will have to use your imagination when trying on these dresses, as most shops only carry 1 or 2 samples of each dress, and they typically only have the season's hot colors (think coral, chartreuse and eggplant), but they CAN be ordered in white, ivory and champagne.
Insipired by a friend of mine, I investigated this option and ended up finding a dress I loved. Above is a photo of my "bridesmaid" wedding gown. It's from www.impressionbridal.com. Total cost: $175.00.
Another way to cut corners on the dress is to start shopping early! If you can start shopping about a year early, you may be able to get a great deal on a gown once the seasons change. Also, although designers constantly come out with new collections, many bridal gowns are classic and do not need to be updated year to year. You may find a beautiful, classic dress from 3 seasons ago that has been drastically reduced if you take the time to look.
For the "Non traditional" brides...you have literally TONS of thrifty options!
If you are a casual bride thinking about a short but elegant dress, please do not waste your hard earned money on a $500.00 "bridal" dress that looks just like a regular, short cocktail dress...Save your money for the good stuff, like adding bacon wrapped scallops to the menu, or buy yourself some gorgeous lingerie for the wedding night. Some of the short gowns are extremely detailed and absolutely beautiful, but more often than not, I see brides in a short, satin gown that looks like it came from Macy's prom section...Which, by the way, is EXACTLY what I suggest. If you can start shopping early, check out all of your local department stores around homecoming, winter holidays, and prom season (and again, don't forget to check out the bridesmaid dresses). This option is also GREAT for traditional brides looking for a "reception dress." Splurge on the fantasy ballgown for the ceremony and pictures, and after your first dance, head to your bridal suite to change into the white or ivory cocktail dress that you scored a deal on at the department store.
If you're a beach or backyard BBQ bride, check stores like American Eagle or Hollister. They almost always have sweet, cotton, white dresses especially in summertime. Dress it up with a belt and some cowboy boots or a thick satin ribbon from your local craft store.
When it comes to the dress, many of us can only envision looking like Cinderella, but the truth is there are many different kinds of princesses and every bride has a different style. Don't feel boxed in by what you "think" you should wear, and certainly don't be pressured by the first bridal shop that you visit to drop hundreds or thousands on a dress that you aren't sure about. Take your time, and when it's right...the dress will tell you.
No matter how laid back or formal the wedding, everyone wants dessert, and most of us want cake. Traditional wedding cakes are not as simple as mixing up some Duncan Hines and pouring it into your old casserole dish. These creations can be extremely elaborate and could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Over $1000.00 for a cake? Yep! Crazy, right? Today we're going to pick apart the frosting options. Some bakers may try to persuade you to one style or the other depending on their preference, or there may be a large cost difference between the two, so I want you to go into your tasting fully informed so you know what you're getting yourself into!
Let's start with Fondant...
As you can see, fondant is super versatile. It can be smoothed to perfection for the bride with an eye for details who wants everything to be flawless (left). It can be molded to provide certain textures, like a quilted pattern or be cut and shaped to make flowers (center), or it can be used to make a unique, whimsical, sculpture-like creation (right). It is, however, typically the most expensive option because of the labor that goes into making these gorgeous confections. It's hand rolled, laid over the cake, and smoothed out by hand. Although it does look great, in my opinion the taste leaves something to be desired. If you've been to a wedding that served a fondant cake, you will likely remember peeling off the fondant and flopping it to the side of your plate. It's not a big deal, but it really isn't edible for most people. It's essentially gum paste (Think sugary play-doh). If you want perfection or a unique design, go ahead and get fondant. It will be beautiful. Yes, your guests will likely "peel" off the top layer, but most bakers have a signature frosting that they layer underneath and of course there are TONS of filling options (Mmmm filling...). You will still have a totes delicious cake despite the discarded fondant.
If you are into something beautiful AND completely edible, or maybe something just a bit more textured or rustic looking...my personal pick is always buttercream...
Cake makers all have their own variation on the buttercream recipe, but it's basically the sweet frosting-y goodness that your mouth is watering for right now. Some are more sweet, some more creamy, depending on the ingredients and method used. You will want to interview cake shops and set up a tasting (Yay!) to see if their buttercream is to your liking. As for looks, buttercream can be smoothed quite well by most professional cake artists (a near perfect example is the cake on the right). If you want 100% edible and delicious, and are ok with or prefer not having the absolutely flawless look of fondant, buttercream is the way to go. It will almost always be the less expensive option compared to fondant.
What ever type of cake you decide to go with, get what YOU like and what falls within your budget (I'll have some tips for cost saving in a future blog). It's your day, and all that matters is that YOU like the cake that you're cutting into.
Flowers can be the most beautiful as well as the most pointless part of your wedding day. The cake will be smashed into your husband's face and enjoyed by your guests. The invites and favors will be nice keepsakes. The dress will live on in pictures and one rainy day 20 years from now you'll do your best to fit into it. The flowers...will most likely end up in the garbage. Why are they so darn expensive? Because they are essential and florists know it. There are all types of brides out there. There are low maintenance brides who want a small barefoot ceremony on the beach, and there's brides who want the 5 star experience complete with every Hollywood wedding detail. They will all carry something down the aisle, and 99% of them will carry flowers. A bridal bouquet alone will cost at least $150. Factor in bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, corsages and boutonnieres for family members, and any other miscellaneous floral needs and you're looking at yet another $1000.00 added to your growing budget. What ever happened to the days when you spent $7.00 on your prom date's boutonniere? You didn't order that from a florist...Your mom called the local supermarket and picked it up on her way home from work, right? Exactly.
When planning your bouquet and floral arrangements for your wedding, my best advice is to contact your local supermarket (provided they have a floral department, of course). Many times a grocery floral department will do just as good of a job as a traditional florist, and sometimes they will do better! A bridal bouquet from a grocery florist will run between $25.00 and $50.00. A standard bridal bouquet from a traditional florist will be typically between $100.00 and $200.00. A boutonniere will run around $10.00 from a grocery store, whereas a florist may charge $30.00-$50.00. Most grocery store florists will also sell bunches of flowers to you at cost. If you are thinking about using gerbera daisies floating in shallow bowls or carnations in mason jars as centerpieces, you will save considerably if you order this from your local grocer and ask a friend or family member to set them up for you before the reception. If you decide to go with a supermarket florist, you will literally save HUNDREDS of dollars. So why doesn't every bride do this? Well, even though it is usually your least expensive option, there are some drawbacks.
1. No delivery.
This one is not a major problem for many brides who have family and friends offering to help out with anything they can in preparation for the special day, but for some brides with limited resources or large orders, this can be a draw back.
2. Your options are limited.
Most supermarket florists order the standards only: Roses, tulips, gerbera daisies, carnations. You may get lucky and have a fabulous florist in your local market that orders (or has the ability to order) different types of flowers like peonies, freesia, hydrangeas and callalillies, but most likely you're looking at the typical rose bouquet. You will also only be able to use what is "in season." Grocers do not typically go to the ends of the earth to get an out of season flower the way that a traditional florist might.
3. You will probably not get the full on "bridal experience"
One would hope that employees of supermarket floral departments are there because they love arranging flowers, but some employees may have ended up there because they weren't fast at scanning cans of beans and laundry detergent. Worse than that, some may not care at all and just be there for the paycheck. At a quality florist, you will get a full-on consultation, where the florist will ask you to describe your vision for the event, show you pictures from bridal magazines or samples of different types of flowers that they have on hand, and truly help you come up with the perfect arrangement. For some brides, this is worth the cost. At a supermarket floral counter you need to already know what you want, more or less. Chances are the employee will not give you much one-on-one time to create something unique. If you are a "red rose only" kind of bride, or can already envision multicolor gerbera daisies and baby's breath, this may be a good fit for you. Something I would encourage every bride to do is set up a consultation with a traditional florist, decide on what you like, ask for a quote, and then head on over to the local market to see if they might be able to meet your needs at a fraction of the price. You are not locked in to anything with the florist unless you put down a deposit, and when planning a wedding, price shopping is a must! You may find out that you want to spend the extra money for the quality experience of working with an experienced florist.
4. Customer service may be lacking.
The best advice that I have for brides on a budget looking to use a supermarket florist is to make sure that they are able to accommodate your needs when you first start planning the wedding, place the order about a month to two weeks in advance, confirm a week ahead of time (so that you know your flowers are ordered), and finally confirm a few days before the wedding. Again, these people may be completely professional and organized, but grocery stores have large numbers of employees and there may be some miscommunication. I have had a few brides use this option only to get there on Saturday morning to pick up their bouquet and have the worker behind the counter stare at them with a blank expression and then scurry to make something with whatever's been picked over by husbands picking up ready-made bouquets for their wives the night before. This option IS the least expensive way to go, but it is not the easiest. So please check, double check, and confirm EVERYTHING leading up to your special day. My advice is to find out when the floral manager is working and place all orders with he or she directly.
So, now that we're done with the disclaimers, you will have a lot to think about. If you know exactly what you want right now, and it seems to fit with what you've seen at your local grocer, it is absolutely my best wedding tip to save money. If you want callallilies in November, you may need to contact a traditional florist.
For those of you who've been following me for a while, this may come as a shock....Just kidding, I hope it doesn't...I like things OTHER than fitness. I have a whole life outside of my passion for helping people get fit that quite honestly, I've been ignoring. I had a come to Jesus moment a few weeks ago when my husband, who is often my sounding board, said to me "Are you sure you're happy doing this?" I stopped dead in my tracks. "Holy crap, I don't even know anymore" was my response. See, while I LOVE helping people get their lives back through health and fitness, it is a bit difficult at times. It's hard to help someone who you know is unhappy with their body but doesn't have the internal strength just yet to make the changes necessary. It's hard when you KNOW someone would benefit from a program or product that has COMPLETELY changed your life, but they just won't make the financial investment or time commitment in themselves to do it (yet they post on social media about how they just bought the last 4 seasons of a popular television show on DVD...which costs money AND time). When it comes down to it, even though I love what I do, it still gets a little stressful at times because much of my work is KNOWING how unhappy people are and how badly they want to change, but then I end up wanting it more for them than they want it for themselves. So after I realized that something was missing, I took a day off. No social media, no friends, no nothing. I took myself out to lunch and got a mani/pedi in a completely empty nailshop. It was glorious, but more importantly gave me a lot of time to think. What I realized was that while I do LOVE helping people get fit, it has recently become ALL that I do. I am "on call" with some of my challengers virtually around the clock. I am available to my coaches at all times. And that's ok! But it has been weighing on me because I haven't done anything ELSE that I really LOVE in while. And what do I love? This is weird, but...Weddings. And college football of course, but yeah, weddings. If I had my druthers I'd be a wedding planner. I've even helped a few friends plan theirs! Unfortunately my life being what it is (I'm married to a football coach), I can't exactly commit to helping a bride plan her wedding when there is no guarantee that I'll be around to help see her through her big day. After coming to this realization, I came home from my day of luxury and looked back at my wedding photos for some inspiration. I didn't get to have my "dream wedding" due to circumstances that will be another blog for another day, but I did have a beautiful day and got to marry my Prince Charming...except for one thing...I was significantly overweight. The day of my wedding, I felt so happy and beautiful. It was amazing even though I didn't get to have the big gala that I wanted. And then a few weeks later I got my wedding photos back. I. was. devastated. I knew that I was overweight, because I desperately turned to "cutting carbs" a few weeks before the wedding (like that was gonna help) but I had NO IDEA that it was that bad. I cried for days. I had ruined my wedding photos. Even though I had this handsome husband and gorgeous scenery from Charleston, South Carolina, I had tainted the photos that were supposed to document our special day forever. There was nothing beautiful about the huge flab of armpit fat sticking out above the sweetheart neckline or the fat rolls that outlined my G-string under my dress. It was my breaking point. I've talked about this publicly, and on this blog before, so I'm not going to go into it again, but let's just say it didn't take much for me to get my shit together. So now, fast forward a few years. I've gotten into great shape and am super healthy (yes, that is the technical term that my doctor used for my last lab results). I now work full time helping others do the same, and for the ones that found a passion like I did, I'm helping them build financial freedom for themselves too. But something WAS missing. They always say "find your pain and you'll find your passion"....Well, a lot of pain came from my wedding day. Obviously it wasn't all bad because I've got an AMAZING husband, but it wasn't the DREAM wedding that someone who LOVES weddings would have had planned in their mind, and I didn't have that DREAM body filling out my dress. So I've decided to take my pain and shmeld it with my other passion, which is helping women get their confidence back through fitness. I'm not saying I'm not going to help people that aren't brides looking to get in great shape for their wedding. Obviously I want to help EVERYONE. But what I AM going to do is let a little of my inner wedding planner passion go free and share with you on this blog some other things that spark my interest, like gorgeous centerpieces, beautiful bouquets, and breathtaking gowns. I hope that's ok and that you will all continue to enjoy the content that I am putting out. And please feel free to leave me a comment or contact me if you are looking to get fit or get out of your 9-5 duldrums and figure out how to create the financial freedom to pursue YOUR passions.
Hi! I'm Andrea Cummings. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that I can MAINTAIN and that still lets me feel like I'm not being deprived. I like to exercise, but I also love to eat (nachos!). My main focus is to be healthy, not skinny, and to help others do the same! I love Jesus, but I also say fuck a lot, so if you're offended, I may not be the gal for you.