Budget

The Real Cost of a Wedding

As a newly engaged lady (OK, now I'm married--I started writing this before the wedding), I've been thinking a lot about what everything for weddings cost. The venue, which vendors you use, the catering costs, the decorations... Do you hire a wedding planner, or do you do it yourself? Do you hire a videographer and a band? Can you do all of it without causing major stress on you and your future spouse? The photos your friends will like on Facebook need to be envy-worthy, right? So you need to spend all of your time, energy, and money on this one day. The wedding is the most important thing, isn't it?? I mean, how are people supposed to value your decision to marry the one you love if they don't either attend or see THE MOST fabulous party pictures on social media?? It's way too easy to get sucked into wanting a picture perfect wedding and letting that desire overtake your happiness. It's your marriage that really matters. Yes, your wedding is the first day of your marriage, so it's very important, but don't let the cost (literal or figurative) take over what matters most. 

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

The truth is, things WILL go wrong, whether you spend $100,000 on your wedding, or $1,000, so spending more doesn't mean perfect. Right after we got engaged, I was in an airport in Ohio and wanted to treat myself to a bridal magazine while I waited for my flight. I opened the pages and practically drooled over the perfect floral arrangements and the gorgeous table settings for formal and funky receptions alike. I started getting knots in my stomach because I knew I wanted my wedding to be the most beautiful and special and memorable, and from what the magazines tell you, you'd better be willing to sell a kidney to pay for it. For instance, this particular issue had an article titled "Spending Wise - Budget Friendly Weddings". The wedding they highlighted was a $50,000 party!!! That, dear friends, is a nearly $3,000 more than the average household income in Georgia for our current year. Perhaps for some, $50,000 on a wedding IS budget conscious, and in that case, good for them! But for the overwhelming majority of people, that either is not possible or feels wasteful. The average cost of a wedding in Atlanta is a little more than half that $50,000 price tag at $28,659. And $28,659 is nothing to sneeze at! That's quite the investment!

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Keep it Low Key

There are a lot of options for keeping your wedding low-key and high style while not spending more than more families make in a year. And there's good reason for doing that. Here are a few things to remember to keep your budget and sanity in check while you plan a wedding.

  • A wedding is a celebration, not a competition. I know this is insanely obvious, but you can do low-key without feeling the need to outdo the couple that got married before you. The less stress, financial and otherwise that you put on yourselves, the better off you will be to start your marriage as a happy, well-adjusted couple.
  • It is worth an investment. So yes, it's crazy to spend your life savings and then some, but it is the most important day in your lives together, so it's worth making a fuss and setting aside some time and money if you are able, within reason of course.
  •  Keeping it small means more time with your guests. A bridal party of 30 people is going to be more expensive. A guest list of 600, even more so. The smaller the party, the more special details you can add without breaking the bank, and the more you'll be able to talk to everyone.
  • Keep it casual. A backyard barbeque can be every bit as special as a fancy affair. Keeping it casual may mean you can afford more guests, and who doesn't love a good backyard party?!
  • Stop feeling obligated. You cannot invite every single person you've ever met nor should you feel obligated to make everyone happy. I'm a big believer in general etiquette. If you don't know an etiquette rule, you can almost always figure it out by thinking "Am I being greedy?" "Am I striving to make people comfortable?" "Am I providing for the basic needs for this event?". BUT there some exceptions. You can't feel so tied down by what is expected that you get yourself into a bind. Whether that be that you feel like you HAVE to have personalized wedding favors for each guest or maybe that means your MIL expects filet when your budget is more like Chick-fil-A. Do what is true to you!
  • DIY is more fun. It's more work, but you can make your decorations, invitations, etc, and not only save money, but it gives you more control over the look of your party--you just may need more friends to pitch in to help :) For our reception, we're having various friends and family to help us set up and we could not be more thankful! Some of those same selfless loved ones, all of whom are EXCELLENT bakers (I've taste tested their baked goods, so I know!) are making desserts for our cake table. Homemade is best anyway. 
Image via MOD Weddings

Image via MOD Weddings

Pick Your Venue Carefully

  • Select a venue that doesn't pin you in. The wedding industry is hot. Anything titled bridal or wedding is about 5 times as much as that same item without "wedding" in the title. Ex. Wedding cake: $3,000. Birthday cake: $600. Many venues require that you use one of their selected caterers, you can't bring any food of your own in and they require you hire a bartender. Some even have rules about the photographer you can use! Be sure to check out all of the requirements and the vendors they recommend before signing on the dotted line. If you have a healthy budget and want to be hands off, this type of place is less stressful to use, so it may be a good option for you.
  • Have a party size in mind before booking. This part is really tricky. How do you know who can come that far in advance? You can't. But what you can do is have a maximum number in mind and stick to it. It will be hard, but everybody has to do it--even weddings with a party of 350 feel like they've left someone out. You will be much happier with a venue the appropriate size than feeling cramped or one that feels vacant.
  • Select a venue that gives to charity. Maybe not applicable to everyone, but to me and Victor, this was important. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunities we do and want to give back as much as we can. An added benefit when you rent from a charitable organization is that part of your rental fee is tax deductible. Win win! 
Via Junebug Weddings

Via Junebug Weddings

Elope!

If the thought of making everyone happy with the type of dress, ceremony, music, etc. stresses you out, do what's best for you both. Elope! My husband and I chose to do this, not because anyone was pressuring us to do anything we didn't want to do, or because we don't love our family and friends, but because for us, the best thing was a private, intimate ceremony between the two of us. We could focus on our love for each other, and apart from all other distractions, commit our lives to one another forever. We chose to get married in Iceland, where we also wanted to honeymoon. A two for one! Now, when we celebrate with family and friends at our reception this month, we will be able to enjoy our party in casual style and we'll be able to even set up some decorations ourselves since we'll have a little more free time that day. Elopement isn't for everyone, but it's an option that you can consider for a meaningful, intimate wedding ceremony between you and the one you love most. 

The real cost a wedding varies greatly from couple to couple. For some, $50,000 is reasonable, for others, a simple courthouse wedding. My point is to please, do what makes you happy and what feels right for you as a couple. Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, it should be all about your love, your relationship, and who you are as a couple. Don't let trends or Pinterest or other people's expectations change the way you marry your spouse. Everyone will be supportive if you're true to yourselves.

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Next week, we'll post some of the "how tos" for how to elope, specifically to Iceland. It's easier than you think, but having a little guidance helps even more! 

Modern Day Nomads

Have you ever thought to yourself as you're sitting in your cubicle, looking at a spreadsheet, drinking bad office coffee, "If only I could just travel the country making money doing what I love"? That is precisely what Mackenzie and Blaine of The Local Branch do every day!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Mackenzie and Blaine live and work out of a 1979 Airstream trailer they bought when it was in serious need of some love and they transformed it into a rustic chic cabin on wheels. Please do yourself a favor and take the tour of the transformation on their blog! Christina and I both love transforming spaces that have been neglected or just aren't being utilized to their full potential--we particularly love that in small spaces where every area must work double or triple duty. The Local Branch live/work/play Airstream is all that and more!

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

Not only does this couple travel the United States selling their goods at festivals and events, they also make and sell all American made items for their shop IN their Airstream trailer. Anything you buy from The Local Branch will have an American made story and will include the city it came from on the tag. Since everything is made by hand here in the USA, you can be sure your purchases from these two nomads are supporting our national economy and small business. 

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Photos by Christina Wedge

Follow The Local Branch on social media to see where they will show up next. Mackenzie and Blaine have me feeling inspired to take risks, make old things new, and support American small businesses and I hope you feel inspired, too!


Top 10 Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life

Men are sometimes hard to buy for. If your pockets are very deep, you can buy the man in your life whatever his heart desires but if you're like me, you can't just stroll on in to the nearest Ferrari dealership and get this year's gift. It's been my experience that the men I buy for usually want very expensive things and buy it for themselves anyway. 

Even though it's sometimes very difficult to find just the right thing for the fellas that wont break the bank, we've got 10 gift ideas at different price points to hopefully give you some attainable gift ideas for the men in your life!  And, since today is Cyber Monday, you are sure to find some great deals on all of these gifts and more by shopping from the comfort of your home or office.

1. Valet by K and J WoodCrafts

Wood Valet Box by K and J WoodCrafts

Wood Valet Box by K and J WoodCrafts

This beautiful piece can be custom ordered from K and J WoodCrafts via their etsy site. Just message them for details of how to make this valet exactly what you are looking for. This box is beautifully crafted and has a sleek design that is sure to please. Help keep your fella organized and stylish by giving him something expertly crafted that will be a wonderful heirloom piece for posterity.  On holiday sale now for $228 (originally $285)!

2. The Original Bottle Wrench

The Original Bottle Wrench

The Original Bottle Wrench

Does a man in your life drink beer? Does he like tools? This is the perfect gift! Only $6 for a small size and $10 for a full size, this handy and charming beer tool even comes with a key chain option! He will never need to try crazy methods to open a cool beverage again. Purchase via Bottle Wrench Bottle Opener website

3. TomTom Runner GPS Watch

Via BestBuy

Via BestBuy

Know a man who is an avid runner or loves to exercise? This watch is a great tool to add to his workout regimen. It's waterproof, tracks distance, route, and progress over time. On sale now at Best Buy for $99 (originally $149.99)!

4. Latitude and Longitude Coordinate Cufflinks by TheSilverDiva

Latitude and Longitude Coordinate Cufflinks by TheSilverDiva

Latitude and Longitude Coordinate Cufflinks by TheSilverDiva

These cufflinks are fully customizable, so you can put coordinates to your favorite place on them. Maybe it's the place you first met? Or your home address? A very special gift at a great $25 price! Buy them via TheSilverDiva etsy site.

5. Shave and Beard Oil by Nash + Jones

I LOVE a good beard! Since I started dating Victor, he has been bearded and I am very pleased with that! To keep your bearded loved ones soft and their face sweaters moisturized, you can get them this shave and beard oil from Nash + Jones for a mere $28 by shopping their products on Scoutmob

6. Superhero Cooking Apron

Superhero Cooking Apron by Superherostuff.com

Superhero Cooking Apron by Superherostuff.com

Know a comic book enthusiast who also likes to cook or grill? This makes a fun (and funny!) gift for $26 via Superherostuff.com. Evidence below:

Victor, looking like a superhero, checking his Bat Grilling Device.

Victor, looking like a superhero, checking his Bat Grilling Device.

7. J. K. Adams Personalized BBQ Board

J. K. Adams Personalized BBQ Board

J. K. Adams Personalized BBQ Board

Personalize with any monogram for the grilling champ in your household. Have him open it Christmas morning just in time to carve the Christmas ham! $54.50-$97, depending on size. Available via J. K. Adams website

8. LEGOS Patent Artwork

LEGOS Patent Artwork

LEGOS Patent Artwork

For $24.95 and free shipping, you can get your hands on a 16" x 20" print of this LEGOS Patent artwork and have it matted and framed however you like. It comes in standard sizes to make frame shopping easier and more affordable. Perfect for the kid in every man.

9. Hand-Turned Pepper Mill

Hand-Turned Antique Style Pepper Mill by Jons Woodworks

Hand-Turned Antique Style Pepper Mill by Jons Woodworks

I bought one of these for my Daddy's birthday this past year and it was a big hit! Hand-turned wood has a beautiful, soft finish and the detail of the mill makes a lovely addition to a tabletop or next to the grill for seasoning steaks. $55 by Jons Woodworks on Etsy.

10. Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

You don't have to spend a fortune to get good sound from a portable speaker. This little speaker packs a punch! At $59.99 on Amazon, it is a deal! Comes in 4 colors (red, blue, black and white) and connects to your devices via bluetooth technology. It even qualifies for Prime shipping! Great for the audiophile in your life and gift buying within a tighter budget means you won't have to eat Ramen noodles every night for the next 3 months! 

Happy Cyber Monday shopping!


Frugal Friday Fashion: Winter Looks

What's your favorite thing to search on Pinterest? For me, it's a toss up between new ways to braid my hair, interior design and outfits. It's great for days when you're feeling uninspired to hop on Pinterest and see what other people are doing with their winter wardrobe. A couple of weeks ago, I felt inspired, went shopping and then we played dress up! Christina took some pretty pictures to hopefully give you some ideas for those days when you just can't decide what to wear. 

Today, we're sharing with you 4 fun winter outfits, where to get the pieces, and how to do it on a budget!

Outfit #1: Faux Fur Vest + Purple Bag

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

This look is really fun and very simple to pull together. All you need this:

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

If i had to guess, I'd say you probably have the basics already and may only need to find a good faux fur vest and perhaps a colorful handbag. When wearing a faux fur vest, I suggest keeping the rest of your look understated and neutral (except for a pop of color in a piece of jewelry or handbag).

Outfit #2: Complimentary Colors + Leopard

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Susie Roupe

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Susie Roupe

I absolutely love mixing and matching patterns, textures, and colors. It's a fun way to make an outfit go from pretty to super pretty and interesting. When mixing and matching like this, ground your look in a color scheme to maintain continuity. In this outfit, I used blues and greys which were repeated throughout the look. The leopard print top picks up on the blue and grey colors which are echoed throughout the outfit in the shoes, bag, and coat. The skirt, a nice bright yellow, is complimentary to the blue and is a fun and unexpected color in cold winter months.

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Susie Roupe

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Susie Roupe

Here are the ingredients for this look:

Outfit #3 Black + Black + Gold + Green

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Black is chic. It just is! In the cold winter months, darker, more moody colors have their time to shine, and we think this is a great way to do it. It's comfy with the oversized sweater and tights, and sweet with the pleated skirt. 

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez

Here is what you need to look as chic as Alex:

  • Black Oversized Sweater (H&M $17.95)
  • Black Pleated Skirt (H&M $15 Similar)
  • Black Patterned Tights (Already owned $10 Similar)
  • Gold Statement Necklace (H&M $12.95 Similar)
  • Gold and White Watch (ASOS $43 Similar)
  • Green Clutch (Already owned $25 Similar)
  • Cuff bracelet (Macy's $65 Similar)
  • Black booties (Macy's $94.99 Similar)*

Outfit #4 Boots My Family Will Hate + Faux Fur Infiniti Scarf

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Susie Roupe

Styled by Susie Roupe, Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Susie Roupe

I like this outfit because of the variety of textures with only subtle differences in colors. Grandmama and Mama, I know you both hate these boots, don't worry, I wont be wearing them to Christmas dinner :) But for those of you who don't hate them, I'll tell you where to get them!

Styled by Susie Roupe Photo by Christina Wedge  Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez and Susie Roupe

Styled by Susie Roupe Photo by Christina Wedge Modeled by Alexandra Hernandez and Susie Roupe

And there you have it! A simple recipe for 4 fun winter looks.

Style by Susie Roupe Photo by Christina Wedge Bunny Ears by Alexandra Hernandez ;)

Style by Susie Roupe Photo by Christina Wedge Bunny Ears by Alexandra Hernandez ;)

We hope you'll have as much fun as we did styling your own winter looks. Connect with us by using #endsinstyle and show us your favorite winter outfits! 

*For years, I thought anything approaching the $100 mark was not to be considered "budget". However, I suggest putting your clothing budget towards high quality shoes and coats in the winter. You don't need to spend $1,000 on a coat or $500 on shoes to get high quality. A good coat will last you years as will the shoes--and they will keep you from needing to spend extra money seeing a podiatrist. Invest in the staples, save on the trendy items.

Hats: Where to Get Them & How to Wear Them

 

My mama once said to an elderly woman at a Mother's Day brunch we were attending with my grandmother, 

"What a beautiful hat! I wish hats were stylish...uh...you know...for...younger people...." 

This was years ago, but it is still hilarious to remember Mama trying to back peddle out of that. My mama is a very nice, polite woman, so she was horrified by her slip-up. My sister and I saw only humor in it and to this day say "Oh, I wish hats were stylish for younger people" any time someone says something accidentally insulting.

Well, good news, younger people! HATS ARE STYLISH NOW!

Here's the breakdown of my favorites plus where to get them and how to pull them off.

The Wide Brim Floppy Hat

TopShop, $52

TopShop, $52

The floppy hat is so very chic right now. Wear it in a fun color and keep your outfit neutral. For example, wear black skinny jeans, taupe booties, and a flowy black top. Be sure to curl your hair loosely with a curling wand so it looks effortless. Carry a big handbag, wear some funky jewelry and a big pair of sunglasses. Watch out for paparazzi because you will most likely be mistaken for a celebrity.

The Trench Coat Hat

Macy's on sale now, $29.99

Macy's on sale now, $29.99

Is that you, Carmen Sandiego? Fly under the radar in style with a trench coat hat. Keep your hair silky smooth and curled like a 1940's movie star or curl the ends lightly for a soft, elegant look. Pair it with a trench coat, leather skirt, heels, and a simple top. Keep jewelry understated. Remember--you are under cover!

 

The Bowler Hat

Urban Outfitters, $34

Urban Outfitters, $34

This hat reminds me of a musical number I did as a member of the Augusta Children's Chorale in middle school. The song was cleverly called "Hats" and we sang these words as we danced around with little plastic bowler hats in a choreographed production:

"Hats! are made for your head. And when it's cold outside, they keep you warm instead!"

I wore the hat with my chorale uniform which was, (brace yourself for horror and pain) an evergreen drop waist potato sack dress with a placemat collared puffy-sleeved white shirt, opaque white tights, and black pilgrim shoes. That outfit was the sole reason for any teenage angst I may have suffered in the following years.

But you can wear this hat in a much more stylish way!  Wear your hair down and a little messy. This is a great way to work with your hair if you're in a hurry and have not washed it or you're struggling with a particularly stubborn cowlick. Pair the hat with a simple relaxed fit dress and booties for a laid back look.

The Western-Inspired Hat

ShopBop, $150

ShopBop, $150

This hat is super versatile! It's a bit western-inspired but does not cross over into cowboy hat territory. Style your hair in a cool braid like this one, swept to one side, and wear with a faux fur vest and heeled boots. Check out how one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Wendy put her monochromatic look together with a feather vest. 

 

We hope you will try out some of these looks with hats and make them your own! Tag us with #endsinstyle on instagram and Facebook and show us how you top off your style with a hat! Follow us with Bloglovin!

Mama would love it ;)

Frugal Friday: Our Top 10 Beauty Products

 

There are a lot of beauty products out there, so many that it's incredibly difficult to know which are good and which are not worth your money. Do you really need that super lifting spider serum and anti-magnetic cream? I'm pretty sure neither of those things exist--but if they do, I wouldn't mind trying a sample to see if they really do work!

We are here to help you sift through some of the good stuff with our Top 10 Beauty Product list!

 

10. PSSSST!

This stuff is a hair saving miracle! Woke up late? Have a great hairdo but your hair is a liiiiittle dirty? Psssst! is your new dry shampoo secret weapon. It's super affordable (about $5-$6 a can) and doesn't leave a weird powdery look to your hair. Spray on and comb through with your fingers and you're looking AND smelling good all day long.

 

9. Dr. Jart BB Cream

SPF 45, light coverage, non comedogenic, all around miracle. Best part? You don't have to wonder what color you wear or end up with the dreaded orange mask situation. There are a couple colors to choose from that somehow magically blend to match your skin. Light-medium, medium-dark. This BB cream will keep your skin protected from the sun while making your complexion look smooth and natural (Your freckles aren't totally hidden! Hooray!). It's $39 for a tube that lasts months and months.

 

8. Versace Bright Crystal Perfume

A good perfume that you love is a great addition to your beauty regime. One of my personal favorites is Versace Bright Crystal. It smells fresh, very very lightly floral, and citrusy. It's not too heavy or too strong. I love it! The scent that works for you varies from person to person and you'll need to smell and try on many to know what works for you. In fact, your body chemistry can change the way a perfume smells on you, so be sure to try one out before making the purchase. A go-to perfume that feels like "you" is a nice way to feel just a little bit more fancy. Versace Bright Crystal is $52 for a 1oz bottle. 

 

7. Obsessive Compulsive Makeup Brush

The right tools are key when applying makeup. To get a flawless finish that isn't cakey or oily, try this brush by Obsessive Compulsive. It's fantastic and leaves your face looking much more natural than the brush that comes with your compact. As a general rule, those shouldn't be used for actually applying makeup. With this brush, you're left with a dewey and soft look that cannot be achieved by applying makeup with your fingers. $28 for a nice big powder brush.

 

6. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer

The best start for a fresh face is a sunscreen protected and moisturized base! An SPF oil-free moisturizer is essential to keeping your skin healthy and youthful-looking. I love Neutrogena because it is not heavily scented and is dermatologist tested. I have pretty sensitive skin and this stuff is super gentle, never causing breakouts! $10 for a nice big tube!

 

5. Benefit CORALista Blush

Benefit makes excellent products! I stand behind this blush because it looks incredibly natural on my pale complexion, but looks beautiful on more olive skin women as well. Obviously, there are many colors available but this is my personal favorite. Find the one that suits your skin tone and give yourself a natural-looking sun-kissed glow even in the gloomiest of winter days. $28!

 

4. Vaseline Spray and Go Lotion

This is a must for your gym bag. I love the feeling of my skin when it's moisturized but I hate the feeling of slimy lotion when I'm trying to get back into my skinny jeans after a workout and shower. Noooo thank you! Here's the solution! $6.50 of conveniently moisturized skin!

 

3. E.L.F. Eyelash Curler

I cannot endorse this enough! A $3 investment for wider, more open eyes--incredible! An eyelash curler kind of looks like a torture device, but for me, it's an every morning must. Even if I don't wear mascara that day, your eyes will instantly look more awake and bright and you will still look like you!

 

2. Olay Regenerist Night Cream

It's true what they say on the commercials; you don't have to spend $300 on a night cream to get a good anti-aging product. Olay Regenerist is smooth and silky, doesn't feel too heavy, moisturizes skin and repairs it as you sleep. It even smells nice, too! $20 to a younger-looking you.

1. Anastasia Brow Wiz

Eyebrows do a great job of framing your face and a nice filled in brow frames it even better! The Anastasia Brow Wiz allows you to fill in as much or as little as you like all the while looking like you "woke up like this". Available in many colors to suit your particular coloring and taste. I use caramel and it blends nicely with my red hair. $21!

Dry Shampoo, BB Cream, Perfume, Makeup Brush, Moisturizer, Blush, Lotion, Eyelash Curler, Night Cream, Brow Pencil