Less than $200:
Black Bridesmaid Dresses

It’s pretty much a fact that once a bridesmaid dress, ALWAYS a bridesmaid dress. It’s not that brides have bad taste, but let’s face it, when four different women all have to wear the same dress, it usually only looks good on one of them.

Unless it’s a black dress. You’re bridesmaids still have a fighting chance with a black dress. And doesn’t EVERY girl need a little black dress? 

Here’s a collection of our favorite budget-friendly black bridesmaid dresses. You won’t spend more than $200 on any of these beauties! (And thanks to Mallory for the great post suggestion! I hope you find something you like!)

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Aidan by Aidan Mattox Pleated Chiffon Overlay Dress, $120 | Dance Till Dawn Dress, $100

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Coal, Calm, and Collected Dress, $65 | BCBGeneration Dress, $118

Besides the fact that your bridesmaids might actually be able to wear these dresses again, the best part about choosing black is that even with different dress styles, your bridesmaids will still look uniform. However, there are different shades of black, so make sure your bridesmaids all choose a deep, rich uniform black.

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Maggy London Side Bow Stretch Satin Sheath Dress, $128 | Awards Show Stunner Dress, $105

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Calvin Klein CD1E1ARH, $148 | Donna Ricco Mock Two Piece Sheath Dress, $138

I chose black for my bridesmaid dresses, I wonder if any of my ladies have been able to wear their dress again? I hope so! One of my bridesmaids even chose a patterned black dress (similar to the lace one above) and the additional texture was just beautiful!

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Donna Ricco Satin Sheath Dress, $138 | Night-falling for You Dress, $50

Under $200: Black Bridesmaid Dresses

Miss Sixty One Shoulder Dress with Corsage, $82 | Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique Pleated Dress, $148

Happy Friday! We sure had a great week here at MarryThis! Here’s a summary of this week’s highlights:

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Doesn’t Need

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. Actually I think the correct term is “WHAAAAAT??” followed by screaming and your parents taking out a second mortgage. 

Budget weddings require a bit of extra time and smart planning, but it is SOOOO possible to throw a beautiful wedding and still have enough money left over to … um, eat … or whatever. Here’s a list of the top five things your budget wedding doesn’t need.

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Doesn't NeedSparkling Setting / Striped Candleholders

Flowers up the Wazoo

Yes, flowers are gorgeous and really brighten up a room. But paying up to $5 a stem for flowers is just plain ridonkulous. These days there are so many beautiful non-floral centerpieces that there is no reason to spend $6,000 of your wedding budget on decorations that will die within a week.

A Bazillion Bridesmaids

I’m all about having a huge wedding party — but unfortunately, more bridesmaids means more $$$, especially if you plan on buying their dresses or even just covering the cost of hair and makeup on your big day. And for your out-of-town bridesmaids, you’ll have less girls to put up and feed for a few days. Check out our Less Than $200: Bridesmaids series for budget bridesmaid looks!

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Doesn't NeedRainbow Bridesmaids

Too Many People

This is HUGE. If I could get married all over again I would invite half the people and spend an extra week on our honeymoon instead. Once you figure in catering, favors, cake, booze AND rentals, you can EASILY spend $50 per guest (we spent $162 per guest, phew!). That’s MAJOR savings. Sure, making a tight guest list can be a bit difficult, but you’ll be SO glad you did when the wedding is long past and you can actually afford a down payment on a house.

Gourmet Food

I’m torn on this particular item, but it’s still worth noting. If you’re a foodie like me, you will love planning menus with your caterer — until you see the bill. DIZAMN! Adding pears and pecans to the salad costs WHAT?! Be honest with your caterer about your budget. They’ll work with you to find a menu that is tasty AND affordable. If it’s still too expensive, catering your own wedding is sooooo possible with smart planning! Check out our new Cater Your Own Wedding series for cheap and easy to prepare menu ideas!

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Doesn't Need
Ritz Carlton Philadelphia

An Open Bar (GASP!)

I know this is a hard concept to swallow. ESPECIALLY if certain family members can’t get along without help from tequila shots. Never fear, you can still host a bar on a budget! Talk with your vendor about cheaper options. For our wedding we offered bottomless beer (one micro-brew and one domestic), wine (house red and white), and a champagne toast — but mixed drinks were cash only. OR nix the bar all together and serve one signature cocktail along with flavored ice water and assorted soft drinks.

Following just one or all of these guidelines could save you thousands! What budget-saving tips are you planning to implement in your wedding?

Happy planning!

Budget Bridesmaid Gift:
DIY Agate Pendant Necklace

Budget Bridesmaid Gift: DIY Sliced Agate Pendant Necklaces

Oh to the my to the god. I planned to make these sliced agate pendants a few weeks ago but I had NO idea that they would turn out so amazing! I have been jumping with excitement this weekend waiting to share with you! Not only are these pendants freakin’ GORGEOUS in their simplicity (don’t you feel like you could look at an agate for hours?) they are also super easy to make AND budget friendly.

These pendants (chain included) only set me back $6.26 each. No joke! At that price you could easily hand out beautiful pendants to all your bridesmaids, or even as bridal shower or bachelorette party favors!

Read on for the how-to and budget breakdown!

Budget Bridesmaid Gift: DIY Sliced Agate Pendant Necklaces

The best part about these necklaces is that you need NO jewelry making experience at all! They’re so easy. I used round nosed pliers to do most of the work, but they aren’t absolutely necessary (though I do highly recommend them). Even if you never make another piece of jewelry again they are very useful to have around the house. Scroll down for instructions!

Budget Bridesmaid Gift: DIY Sliced Agate Pendant Necklaces

Agate Pendant Necklace

Here’s what you’ll need:

Budget Bridesmaid Gift: DIY Sliced Agate Pendant Necklaces

Instructions:

1. Cut your chain to approximately 72″ inches long. Fold the chain in half. It should now be about 36″ inches long. This length of chain makes a longer necklace style similar to this. If you prefer a shorter style, use your neck to measure the length you prefer and then double it and fold in half. Set folded chain aside.

2. Using your round nose pliers, open a small jump ring (figure 1). ALWAYS twist the ring open, never pull (figure 2). Feed the open jump ring through the clasp (figure 3). Close the jump ring.

3. Feed the chain through closed jump ring (figure 4). Set aside.

4. Just like step 2, open a large jump ring. Feed the jump ring through the pre-drilled hole in the sliced agate (figure 5). If you’re having trouble closing your jump rings completely, gently press the ends together using bent-nose pliers (optional).

5. Using your folded chain, feed BOTH ends of the chain through the agate pendant (figure 6).

6. Your chain should have two open ends (on the same side). Open another small jump ring. Feed the last link of each chain through the jump ring (figure 7). Close jump ring. Finally, link both ends together using the clasp (figure 8)!

You’re finished!

Budget Bridesmaid Gift: DIY Sliced Agate Pendant Necklaces

How fabulous are these? I used a double-length of chain to support the chunkiness of the agate, but you could always follow the same directions using a single length to make more economic use of your chain.

Budget Breakdown:

  • Sliced agate with pre-drilled hole: $15 for 6, $2.50 each
  • Small jump rings: .03 each (use 2)
  • Large jump rings: .20 each
  • Clasps: .50 each
  • 72″ chain: $3 each

Grand total per necklace: $6.26 

There are so many fun ways you could present these pendants to your besties! Add these to your tablescape and drape them over a beautiful tea cup, or place them in a “You Rock” card enclosed in a cellophane baggy. The possibilites are endless!

I hope you love these as much as I do! If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will be happy to help! As always, I would love to see photos of your final necklaces. Send photos to allison@marrythis.com. You just might see your photo appear on the blog! Happy gifting!

Less than $1K:
Geometric Summer Bride

Funky Geometric Bride

Is it just me and my affinity for nickel-based compounds, or are these dirt cheap $6 earrings the perfect combination of modern and dangly? I swooned the second I saw them. Too bad you can probably only wear them once before they turn your earlobes green, but I digress…

This bridal look is a little mod, a little funky and a LOT awesome. Although this dress comes with a steep price tag, it is well worth it considering this silhouette flatters almost all body shapes, looks very comfortable AND is one of the few gowns that you could actually wear again! Pair this dress with a few pops of bold color and you’ll be a summer stunner.

TOTAL COST OF THIS BRIDAL LOOK: $974
{Clockwise} Collapsed Kite Dress, $850 | Fossil Handbag, Jules Patchwork Clutch, $80 | Essie nail color in Bazooka, $8 |Geometric metal earrings, $6 | Mossimo Paisley Platform Pumps in Blush, $30

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Married When You’re Fat

Before you jump over your internet connection and pummel me — hear me out. I don’t mean “fat” as in, “You are fat.” I mean “fat” as in YOUR PERSONAL version of fat. For some that means the extra five pounds you gained over winter. For others “fat” is when you can’t fit into your favorite jeans anymore – or – when you finally reach the bottom of your Costco barrel of cheese puffs.

The bottom line is: I don’t think you’re fat — but you probably do. 

If this resonates with you, then read on. If not, please disregard everything I am about to say. Which is … trying to lose weight before your wedding is the worst idea ever, and here’s why:

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Married When You're Fat

1. THE STRESS
In case you hadn’t heard, wedding planning can be a bit stressful. Like, pee-on-a-stick-because-your-period-is-late-and-it’s-either-due-to-pregnancy-or-stress, stress. (Trust me, this can happen.) Adding more stress to your life is not a good idea at this time, and losing weight the healthy way takes a lot of extra patience, time and effort. If working out relaxes you, then by all means, do it! But don’t kill yourself in the gym just because if you don’t lose 10 pounds your maid of honor will be thinner than you. Stay healthy — not crazy.

2. THE DRESS
Some brides have an instant “love connection” with their dress. They’ve had it picked out for years, they dream about it, they take long moon-lit walks on the beach hand-in-sleeve with their dress. But then there’s brides like me. I didn’t experience any of those things. I picked a dress that I liked, that looked good on me, and then I thought “if this looks good now, it will look even BETTER when I lose ten pounds.” Then when the seamstress asked me if the dress was too snug (which it was), I said no. Oh. Dear. Lord. How. Foolish. I. Was.

Granted, the dress still looked good — from the front. But after 3 fittings, 4 pounds of last minute stress weight GAIN and a bottle of champagne (to dull the pain, obviously), my zipper popped about 30 minutes before the ceremony. If it wasn’t for one of my amazing bridesmaids (who sewed me into my dress) I would have had to get married in a Gwar t-shirt. Your dress needs you to be consistent. If you weigh 160 on the day of your last fitting, you need to make sure you weigh the same on your wedding day (plus or minus a couple).

3. THE MAN
Congratulations! You found an amazing man who wants to keep you around for the rest of his life! And he loves you at the size you are RIGHT NOW. Weight can be a very touchy subject in both healthy and not-so-healthy relationships, and this is not the time to pepper him with questions about what he “really” thinks about your body (is there EVER a time for that?). He’s going to marry you whether you spend an extra hour on the treadmill or not.

4. THE DEADLINE
If you don’t listen to anything I say, please hear me on this … trying to lose weight when there’s a deadline (your wedding day) can be VERY dangerous both mentally and physically. Some argue that using deadlines can be motivating, and it can. But these “weight checkpoint” deadlines don’t have hundreds of man hours and thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars riding on them. The door for rash actions and dangerous habits can be opened when a bride has invested so much physical and mental energy into dieting and exercise, but hasn’t reached her goal — and only has 2 weeks left. You’re mental health is far more important than any wedding dress. Even a Vera Wang.

5. THE REBOUND
Whether in the form of a honeymoon or extra days off of work, in most cases a period of relaxation follows a wedding. And relaxing doesn’t usually involve avoiding your favorite foods like the plague or throwing in an extra Zumba class everyday. What does this mean? It means you should pack extra clothes in the size you were when you got engaged, because weight lost quickly is also weight gained quickly. This isn’t inevitable, but it does happen.

Oh, and one other thing — have you ever noticed how a bride ALWAYS looks beautiful? Seriously. Every. Single. Time. It’s because she found a partner that she loves so much she is willing to stand up and declare it in front of all the most important people in her life (and even a few cranky great-aunts). It is not because she weighs 120 pounds.

With all this said, I am not a doctor and am in no way condoning ignoring a healthy diet and exercise while you are in the midst of wedding planning. But, please take it from me, focus on your health NOT your weight and you will have an amazing wedding day.

xo, Allison

We sure had a great week here at MarryThis! Here’s a summary of this week’s highlights:

Cater Your Own Wedding:
Fancy Croissant Sandwiches

Cater your own wedding: Fancy Croissant Sandwiches

Let’s keep it real for a second: Unless you plan on serving hot dogs, chips and twinkies, feeding 100 people ain’t cheap. And hiring a catering company ain’t cheap either (at least, not OUR version of cheap). So what’s a broke bride to do?

Cater your own wedding! Stop laughing. It’s really not THAT bad. With a small support group (that’s what bridesmaids are for!) and some smart planning, you can save MAJOR dough on your food and drink bill.

Enter our new “Cater Your Own Wedding” feature! In this series we’ll be sharing with you some awesome recipes that: 

  • Are easy to prepare ahead of time
  • Will still be fresh after a day or two in the fridge 
  • AND will save you oodles of cash

First up we have two beautiful artisan sandwich recipes that would be perfect for an informal picnic or brunch wedding. Our Steak with Brie & Sun Dried Tomatoes and Chicken Pesto Provolone sandwiches would even be great as hors d’oeuvres before a formal dinner (just quarter them and skewer with a fancy sandwich pick!). Plus, these sandwiches taste even BETTER after resting in the fridge overnight (or for a few days). No joke.

Best of all: For a guest list of 100 people, this menu item will only set you back $215. That’s only $1.43 each! Read on for the recipe and our budget breakdown!

Cater your own wedding: Fancy Croissant Sandwiches

Steak with Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Sandwich

Ingredients:
(Amounts are per sandwich)

  • Croissant, sliced horizontally
  • Tri-tip steak, grilled and thinly sliced – 1/4 pound
  • Canned, sliced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil – 3 to 4 slices
  • Brie – 1 oz. (I used President brand)
  • Pre-washed, packaged spinach – 4 to 5 leaves
  • Mayo – 1 teaspoon

Instructions:
On the bottom half of the croissant, spread mayo and add sliced steak. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Top with spinach. Spread brie on top half. If the brie isn’t spreading easily, heat it up in the microwave. DO NOT walk away. Brie is already a very soft cheese and only needs about 5-10 seconds in the microwave to melt. Cut sandwiches in half and arrange on serving platter.

Chicken Pesto Provolone Sandwich

Ingredients:
(Amounts are per sandwich)

  • Croissant, sliced horizontally
  • Roasted chicken breast lunchmeat – 5 slices
  • Pesto (I used Buitoni)
  • Slice provolone
  • Mayo – 1 teaspoon
  • Pre-washed, packaged spinach – 4 to 5 leaves

Instructions:
On the bottom half of the croissant, spread mayo and add chicken breast. Top with spinach. Spread pesto on top half and add slice of provolone. Cut sandwiches in half and arrange on a serving platter.

I told you! Beautiful, tasty AND easy! Read on for the budget breakdown.

Cater your own wedding: Fancy Croissant Sandwiches

Cost Breakdown:

The figures below are based on making 150 sandwiches (75 sandwiches, halved) for  a guest list of 100 people. For 75 steak sandwiches and 75 chicken sandwiches:

  • Croissants: $50
  • Tri-tip steak: $63.75
  • Jar sun-dried tomatoes: $15
  • Brie: $18.75
  • Sliced chicken lunchmeat: $18.75
  • Pesto: $32.80
  • Sliced Provolone: $8.50
  • Spinach: $5
  • Mayo: $3
TOTAL: $215.55 for 150 sandwiches, $1.43 each! 

I know that $215 can still seem a little steep for one dish, but remember that you are feeding a crowd! Catering bills can range between $15 – $20 PER PERSON and that doesn’t even include wait staff or tips. Add in a few tasty and cheap side dishes and you can EASILY save $1,000.

Still too pricey? Girl, we’ve all been there. Use these tips to save even MORE money!

  • Instead of buying pre-made pesto, make your own from fresh ingredients or use a pesto seasoning packet (just add oil and water).
  • Buy in bulk! Search for these items at Costo or Sam’s Club. If there isn’t a big box retailer in your area, many of these items are also available for bulk purchase online.
  • Use high-quality deli sliced roast beef instead of tri-tip steak. You’ll save big bucks AND you won’t have to grill and slice enough steak for 100 people.
  • Brie can be a little strong for non-cheese lovers, not to mention expensive. Swap for a milder, less expensive cheese like swiss or cream cheese.

Have you catered your own large event before? What advice do you have for a budget bride? What would you serve as a side? Or to drink? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comment section below!

Happy sandwiching!

Frugal favor: Homemade granola

granola favor

I often think of a post-wedding morning as one of sleeping in, pressing the snooze button several times, and rushing around to get checked out of the hotel on time after a late night of fun.

That’s where this granola wedding favor comes in. Your guests will love you for this healthy breakfast on the go, plus homemade granola is so easy to make. And when I mean easy to make, I mean Rice Krispies treats easy. Granola takes just a few ingredients, time in the oven and voilà — you’ve got a boatload of tasty and inexpensive toasted oats, nuts and dried fruits.

granola

Use this delish granola recipe from The Kitchen Sink. Granola is sort of like a cookie where you can add whatever you want and it never turns out badly, so choose your favorite dried fruits and nuts.

To make this favor: Fill each wax food bag with one cup of granola. Tie with a fun ribbon and our printable tag and you’re good to go.

 
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