Confessions From a 30-Year Old Bride

pic courtesy of WeddBook
I titled this Confessions of a Thirty Year Old Bride, not because there is anything wrong with being 30 and walking down the aisle, nor because it is even out of the ordinary. I just feel that perspective is different as a 30+ year old than a 20ish year old bride. Not better, not worse, just different. *Please note, I will be celebrating my second-29th birthday next month. Yikes.

For one thing, by the time people hit their 30th year, they have likely been to 225 weddings, or at least it feels that way between showers, bachelorettes, rehearsals and the actual event. Every wedding is beautiful and special in it's own way, but after attending multiple weddings you have a much better idea of what works and what matters.

pic courtesy of GreyLikesWeddings

Justin and I are largely paying for our wedding ourselves. Although, I am doing everything I can to keep costs down, it still manages to add up quick. I am definitely not the only one that has shared so-called tips and tricks on saving money. There are countless books, articles and magazines that are targeted to budget-minded brides. However, I feel as though they all say the same thing and often their definition of 'inexpensive' is quite different than my own. Plus, it's a much different feeling when you are paying for a wedding yourself, along with a mortgage. Oh the joys of adulthood!

Here's How We Have Attacked The Wedding Planning Craziness Without Breaking The Bank-

1. First and foremost, identify what is important to you...and what isn't

pic courtesy of ProjectWedding
For Justin, a music lover, he was immediately focused on finding a good band. As I look back upon the dozens of weddings I have attended the past few years, the things that stand out to me are whether or not I had a great time. I don't define 'a great time' by the color scheme, the number of bridesmaids or even the food within reason. It typically comes down to whether the DJ was super lame, the band super cheesy or if I danced all night long. Our band was our splurge item.
pic courtesy of Burnett'sBoards
Our invites and paper goods were not. We decided to forgo sending save-the-dates, as we are having a fairly intimate event between 80-100 guests and everyone already knows the date. . We are forgoing traditional programs and will be placing a single sheet at each seat for the ceremony, which will thank our guests for coming and introduce our small bridal party. I also designing and printing our actual invitations myself, which saves an unbelievable amount of money. I will share all of the details of our DIY invites, once they are completed.

2. Be flexible

We knew we wanted an early-Fall wedding. For one, it's my favorite time of year and for another, the weather is typically nice in KC then. We focused on the month of September but weren't set on a particular day. This helped tremendously. Our dream venue had one opening from August through November, which happened to be a Friday. We thought about this and weighed the options of losing our favorite design space and decided to go with it. Not only was a Friday evening rental several thousand dollars cheaper, we found our band and photographer charged a little less for Fridays too.

pic courtesy of OnceWed

3. Multi-task

Have the ceremony and reception at the same place. Not only is this considerate for your guests so they don't have to travel to different venues, but it also saves money. One venue means your altar flower arrangements can quickly double as center pieces etc. etc. There is typically just a nominal charge for adding ceremony time to your reception.

4. Bring in the booze
pic courtesy of OnceWed
Find a venue that allows you to bring in your own food and alcohol. Our venue takes care of the food, but we can bring in our own alcohol. We are buying bottles in bulk at a local liquor store. Costco also allows you to purchase in bulk, plus you can return unopened bottles after the event. You will be amazed at how much this can save you. Speaking of libations, offering a signature cocktail or two can  drastically shrink your bar tab.

5. Google is your friend

So is Etsy, Pinterest and The Knot. BUT...too much of a good thing is not good at all. Visiting a message board on any wedding website can cause you to second guess your decision on your cake, dress, invites, whatever. It can also cause a case of bridezilla-ness. Normally sane women will start over-analyzing the shape of their cake, the shade of the ribbon tying their bouquet together, etc. It's easy to get lost in all the details, but remember to keep your eye on the prize...your sweet hubby-to-be. Use wedding websites to scout out deals and unique ideas but don't forget to step away from the computer every now and again.

6. Do your research before signing any contract

pic courtesy of EtsySellerArtSeed
I read vendor reviews like it was my job. I chatted with my girlfriends who are currently engaged or have gotten married in the past few years. I used every resource I could to ensure that A) we were getting the best deal possible and B) we selected reliable vendors. This has given me enormous peace of mind, and I feel very confident that our vendors will deliver on the big day. This also gave me confidence to negotiate with vendors. We got a few hundred dollars off of our venue simply for asking. Our florist came highly recommended as offering gorgeous bouquets but also keeping costs down.

A few general guidelines to keep you sane during wedding planning-

7. Make it your own

It's easy to fall into the cookie-cutter wedding: white dress, black tux, I  do, me too, time to eat cake.
The weddings that have stood out to me are the ones that I felt best represented the couple. The ones with personal touches. I went to a wedding several years ago where the bride wore a short white dress and fun red heels. It was just so her. I loved that she looked like herself and let her strong sense of style show-through.
pic courtesy of DetailsDetails Love that the bride wore a daring black gown
I remember when Justin and I were first dating, he brought over a bottle of champagne on a mundane night. We weren't celebrating any milestone, just eating dinner at home. I asked him what the bottle of bubbly was for and he just said, 'we're celebrating being together, in love and enjoying a night in with each other.' This is one of the reasons why I fell in love with this man. He never ceases to surprise me and he has taught me to stop and smell the roses so-to-speak. This memory has become the theme of our wedding. Lots of champagne and celebrating...each other...love...life.
With this in mind, we want guests to know they are in for a true party as soon as they walk in. Guests will be offered champagne or sparkling cider as soon as they enter (pre-ceremony). Music (upbeat, contemporary music) will be playing as well. In lieu of a traditional guest book, we will have a Wish Tree, where guests will write sweet notes that we can cherish forever. We are also planning a few unique surprises during our ceremony, but I will wait to share those until after the big day.

8. Don't forget the reason for the wedding
pic courtesy of Pinterest
I have had a few moments of getting caught up in wedding planning stress. The 'You meant to tell me you STILL haven't put together your side of the guest list,' moments. This will happen to even the most mellow of brides. Just don't let your stress affect your relationship. Because once the wedding is done (and it will go by quick!), you will be married...to the person you are currently screaming at. You don't want wedding stress to cause the beginning of your marriage to be strained.

9. Know that everyone has an opinion but yours and your fiance's is the one that matters most

Weddings seem to bring out the best and the worst in people. Some people prefer sit-down dinners, when you love buffets or suggest a DJ after you've booked a band. Just smile, acknowledge their suggestion and remain confident in your choice. Weddings can also bring up old family feuds. Aunt Susie isn't speaking to Aunt Carol or your second-cousin Mary is upset that you didn't invite her 7 kids. Whatever it is, you can't let that impact your day.
pic courtesy of JuneBugWeddings
However, do accept help when offered. You may think you can handle assembling 150 invitations, envelopes, programs, menu cards and place cards yourself, but I can assure you that's it's a lot of work. Invite your bridesmaids, friends, mom over for some wine and wedding crafts. (Which reminds me- Meghan, Sarah, Meryl and Linda: I'll be calling you soon:).

10. If at the end of the day you married your best friend, than your wedding was a success

pic courtesy of TheKnot

Even the most well-planned events can go wrong. It may be a windy, rainy grey day. Your veil may tear (a 'la Pam from The Office). Your cake may melt (which actually happened to my future in-laws who have been happily married for well over 40 years now). It's these types of things that can make for some funny memories later on. Don't let a minor incident put a damper on your day.

With less than 4 months to go until our big day, we are getting excited! I wrote this post as much for myself as for other future brides and grooms:)
pic courtesy of WantThatWedding
What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?
xoxo, Suzanne


  1. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I can't wait to hear all of the details, I would get married every year (to the same person of course) if I could afford it :-P

    1. Thank you Emily! I love wedding planning, but it is a LOT of work...and expensive. It would be very fun to throw a fabulous anniversary party every year:)

    2. Great wedding!


  2. My favorite part of planning our wedding was putting my touch on all of the little details. Some people dont like to make it themselves and I totally respect that, but I loooved making the little details like the river rocks (from the bank where he proposed) that I used at "placecards" at the receptions.

    Have a blast doing it! Im looking forward to seeing it all come together!

    1. Hi Bekah! Wow, you had a great idea with using river rocks as placecards from where you got engaged. I adore sweet details like that. Working on invites and décor has been much more fun than shopping for our reception venue, to me anyway:)

  3. Having been married for four years (today!), I can say that your list is AH-MAZING. I wish I'd seen something like this when I was getting married. We had everything planned and then I discovered the Project Wedding boards and while I made a lot of really great friends there, it did make me second-guess everything and feel, for a few years, that my wedding wasn't very nice. Looking back at it, it was really nice - beautiful, even - and perfectly us. Like you said, the difference between an experienced woman getting married and a young twenty-something. =)

    1. Happy Anniversary (a few days belated)! Thank you so much for the positive feedback. It seems that people put so much pressure on themselves to have these elaborate weddings and they feel as though theirs won't measure up. I'm sure that yours was fabulous. The most important thing is that you got married and have now celebrated four years together:) That's what matters! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I just have to say about my above comment - Wow, holy run-on sentence. Sorry about that. =/

    1. Haha! No problem. I constantly have to edit my posts for run-ons:)

  5. Congrats on your upcoming wedding! I am very excited to see it all come together. I am sure it will be beautiful! I'm getting married next year and would love to see some ideas to snag! ;) Maybe you should post some more wedding tips/ diy things too!

  6. I'm sure this place doesn't come cheap, but it's well worth it for memorable and impressive occasions. Their food is absolutely delicious and the service is top notch.
    San Francisco wedding venues


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Comments from my sweet readers make my day! You can always email me at scsa25@gmail.com if you prefer as well. love, S