We Canceled the Wedding?

Hey friends! Happy Friday – how was your week? Things have been a little crazy over here!

To keep a long backstory short, Ben and I decided to make some big changes …

We decided to cancel our Chicago wedding.

BUT we’re still having a wedding! Here’s the story.

We Canceled the Wedding?If you listen to my podcast, you’d know that Ben was diagnosed with mercury toxicity and adrenal failure a couple months back. He had his first complete adrenal break when we were in Colorado for his birthday trip. Since then, we’ve had a few rough months with him at lots of doctors and getting lots of tests. Unfortunately the issues he is dealing with aren’t truly acknowledged by “regular doctors” so Ben had to search for doctors that specialize in adrenal rehabilitation and mercury toxicity. Luckily, he found one and started treatments at the end of September and has been feeling SO MUCH BETTER. However, with that, insurance does not cover this treatment (yayyyy, #America.) Along with some hefty medical bills, he’s had to work through, he also hasn’t been able to work much in the last two months. Being a business owner makes that difficult because if he’s not working, he’s not making money.

So with that, we had to have the difficult conversation a few weeks ago if we wanted to cancel the wedding entirely. It just wasn’t financially savvy or good for our relationship really to be going into debt for a wedding in Chicago when Ben’s health takes priority. We decided that instead of completely canceling our wedding, we’re moving it!

I definitely had to mourn the “loss” of the gorgeous wedding I had planned here in Chicago. We also are mourning the loss of all of the down payments we already paid that we will not be getting back. We looked into a few options for a wedding here (Ben’s parents, a smaller venue, etc.) but since we lost about $2000+ on our wedding here, we couldn’t be paying for another venue. So, we decided to move my wedding up north to my family’s barn and land.

Let me tell you – if you told me I was getting married in a barn in the town I moved away from at 18 … I would’ve told you you’re crazy. However, it really comes down to the importance of the day and the people that will be there. We have to make some compromises (long commute for friends, no hotels nearby, bigger guest list, portable bathrooms … lol) but in the end, I think it’s the right choice.

So … guess who’s planning her second wedding! 😆We will have a LOT more DIY for this wedding now to make it up to my standards (hey, I still like pretty things) so we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next ~8 months. I’m still going for the rustic feel like we would’ve had in Chicago, but it’ll definitely be more rustic. However, it will not be cheap. No streamers, no plastic table clothes – this girl has some work to do!

That’s the update! If you have any DIY tips and tricks you’d like to leave me, tell me in the comments! I’m definitely open for ideas. And let me know if you’re interested in seeing the different projects we do to make this wedding our dream.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Budget Wedding: Where We’re Spending & Splurging

Happy Wednesday, friends! I’m SO happy to have the day off today. We’re actually setting out to the ‘burbs today with my MOH, Ben and Ben’s mom to do our food testing with our potential caterer! I took the whole day off of work and I couldn’t be more excited. But that’s not what this post is about! We’ve finally ramped back up on the planning front, so I wanted to loop you in on a few major decisions we’ve made. Time to talk about budget weddings!

Budget Wedding: Where We're Spending & Splurging
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash (I created the template in Canva, but wanted to give due credit to the beautiful photography!)

As I’ve told you a bazillion times, we’re doing what’s considered a “budget wedding” (even though it sure doesn’t feel like we’re not spending a lot of money!!) so we had to have some hard conversations on things we really want and things that just aren’t important. Now, I’m the girl that’s been dreaming of a wedding (maybe not always my own, but I sure do love wedding stuff) so it was hard for me to realize that a $5000 videographer on top of a photographer just wasn’t going to work. There’s tons of little pieces we’re saving/splurging on, so take a look!

Where we’re saving

Location, Date & Amount
This was the first way we decided to save money! First of all, Chicago is in the top 20 most expensive places to get married in the U.S. (obvs) and places are ridiculous in how much they ask to rent space here. So we moved it out to the ‘burbs but quite honestly, it’s just as expensive. I was quoted at a $10,000 food and beverage MINIMUM at a barn in the middle of nowhere. A BARN, Y’ALL. I could get married in one of those FO FREE in my home town. Nah.

Anyways, we’re having our wedding in the suburbs at a gorgeous venue and we’re saving $4000 more dollars just by having it on a Sunday instead of a Friday/Saturday. That’s almost half the price of the venue! AND we’re only inviting 60-70 people. Also, while the alcohol is not included in that price, the vendor they use is outrageously underpriced so we’ll also be inadvertently spending less on alcohol – score! Who is gonna help me choose names of fun cocktails?!

So look outside of the popular areas and times – you’d be surprised what you can get if you’re a little flexible. 🙂

Videographer
As of right now, we’ve decided to forgo the videographer. Would I love video? OF COURSE. But photography is more important to me and I just can’t afford both. Maybe I’ll get one of my YouTube friends (AHEM, MARETTE) to take some video while they’re there. 😉

Food & Dessert
This is a funny one since (if you skipped ahead) you’ll see that catering is actually in the “splurged” category. Well, we are saving by the type of food and utensils we use. We’ll be saving because we’re doing a buffet (which is not my fave, but Ben is ecstatic) and won’t be doing things like coffee/tea or salad at the table (it’ll be on the buffet instead.) Our caterer really helped us cut corners without sacrificing service or food quality.

Plus, Beacon Doughnuts will be providing our doughnuts for the wedding instead of a cake! Who is Beacon Doughnuts? Well, that’s Ben and his cousin’s new business venture that will be taking off this spring/summer and I’ve conned them into making us doughnuts so we don’t have to get a cake. It’s fun, different and I don’t even like cake, so it works for me! It’ll also double as our favors – so double save!

Asking for help
Something I’m not good at, but hey! We’re saving on our DJ, our day-of wedding planner and our officiant this way. We’ll be asking our friends and family to chip in on DIY projects (thankful for crafty bridesmaids, a seamstress mama and a carpenter dad), rehearsal dinner food, etc. and they’re happy to do so. Our friend has a DJ business and he actually DJ’ed our engagement party and had everyone up and dancing, so he’s perfect for it. My wedding planner is actually a previous intern at my event planning job in Green Bay and she’s spectacular, so I know I can trust her with my day. And finally, our officiant. I cannot WAIT for our officiant. Our friend Frank will be getting ordained specifically to officiate our wedding and I couldn’t be more excited. He’s the funniest, most kind man we’ve ever met and a great friend to us both. He and his husband have known Ben for years and they quickly welcomed me into their circle. Plus, it’ll be amazing to have an officiant who knows and loves us and our story, instead of some random person we hire off  The Knot. We’re still paying all these friends, just maybe not to the extent that we’d pay someone we didn’t know.

Also, my family is putting on a second wedding reception with my huge extended family so we don’t have to worry about me missing my family – instead, we’ll get another party – WOO.

Decor
This one actually came with the venue – it’s gorgeous! For the most part, we won’t even need that many decorations because the place is gorgeous on it’s own. Now, of course there will still be a lot, but we won’t have to bring in things like lighting and chairs, tables, etc. Some of the things we will have to purchase through them and other things we’ll be DIYing throughout this next year! My wedding planner will set them up day of.

Flowers
Another thing we’re DIYing! I plan to practice this year with inexpensive farmer’s market flowers, but all I really want is greenery and white flowers and I’ve watched enough YouTube videos that I think I can make it happen. Plus, my bridesmaids have all said they’d love to help, so JOKES ON THEM!

Invites/Table Cards/Programs
This is actually something I haven’t really thought about. I honestly think invites are a waste of money (I’m so sorry if this is something you love, I just don’t!) They get thrown away! I’ll probably be ordering my invites through something like Vista Print or one of those (or I’ll try to work with a card company via my blog!) and I’m honestly thinking of doing virtual save the dates since we have such a small wedding. I also think table cards are a waste of money as well programs – we’ll either have chalkboards with the schedule or I’m loving the look of glass with white marker calligraphy. Who here does calligraphy? Help.

Where we’re splurging

Photographer
This is something I had to push Ben on in the beginning, but now it’s really important to him. It’s actually the only fight we’ve had so far regarding the wedding. I was so mad at him! But now he’s on the dark side and realizes how important a photographer is. They only get one shot (pun intended) to capture you’re day. We’re pretty set on this wonderful lady and plan to book her in the next couple of weeks.

Now, she’s by no means the most expensive photographer we’ve found, but she is one of the higher quotes we got but we just think her style and personality fits us so well. We actually were going to forgo an engagement shoot so save some money, but now have decided we’ll definitely be doing one with her. We may cut it to 7 hours of service on the wedding instead of 8 just to save a little moolah, but we’ll see how it goes!

Caterer
Technically the caterer we chose is about mid-range between all the caterers I’ve spoken to, but the service I’ve gotten so far is impeccable. Now, our tasting will seal the deal today, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be going with this one. Like I said, they’re about $1000 more than another quote we got (YEESH) but the food seems much more appealing, the service is amazing and I think it’s well worth the extra money. Plus, I’ve been to weddings where the food sucked and that’s the only thing I remembered was being starving and wanting to leave to get more food! While we’re not planning the BEST FOOD EVER, we do expect good, quality yummy, food with great service. That’s what’s most important!

Me 🙂 
What can I say, I’m the princess. 👸🏼 LOL But for real. I have a budget set for my dress that’s actually pretty low in most budgets, but to our small overall budget, it’s kinda high! But I want to be sure I get something I like. I’ve been dreaming of the dress for years and years. I also plan to take full advantage of every bridal experience I can take! From bridal expos to bachelorette parties to a full weekend of trying on dresses, I’m doing it all! I want to milk in every second of it.

Aside from the dress, I’m also currently expecting to get my hair and makeup professionally done on my wedding day which is pricier than you may think! I also intend to have my nails done (duh), a professional spray tan and I’ve even been thinking about some botox and teeth whitening. I mean, I’ve been thinking about botox and teeth whitening for AWHILE, but I feel like my wedding is a perfect time to get it done. 😉

Honeymoon
We are intending on asking for people to not give us wedding gifts and instead give us money and/or excursions on our honeymoon. We love traveling and this is not something we’re willing to skimp on! I’m hoping to go right after the wedding (or very close to) and relax for a good week or so with my husband. HOLY CRAP, THAT’S CRAZY TO SAY!


If you’ve been married, where did you save/splurge? And if you haven’t, what are your must haves or maybe things that don’t mean as much to you?

Currently …

And, we’re back to Monday! My weekend was a wash, so I’m feeling pretty sad today! I was extremely sick on Saturday with an insane migraine which knocked me out for the whole day. I finally started feeling better later that night, but I was wiped out. On Sunday, I ended up feeling well enough to walk the Shamrock Shuffle with Ben and his family, but spent the rest of the day eating crappy food on the couch with him and his sister. Sunday was wonderful, but I can’t help but be sad that I didn’t get much of a weekend!

Anyway, today is a “Currently” post! I saw this recently on Jordyn’s blog and I haven’t done one of these in a really long time, so here we go!

Currently on Just Jessie Blog
Reading … I’m still slowly reading Money: A Love Story. It’s one of those books that has little break out work you need to do along with it, so I’ve been slowly getting through it a couple of days a week. It’s been very interesting! I’ve been all about self-development books (especially around money) the past year, so this one definitely fits into that category.

Listening … to podcasts! I actually just wrote about my four favorite podcasts last week, so you can check that out if you’d like. I was never into podcasts, but last year I started listening to them and they’ve been a game-changer for my commute to/from work. I’ve also even been listening to them a bit at work if I’m slow. I love music, but I save that for working out and try to get in some knowledge during my commute!

Watching … Simply Quinoa on YouTube! I seriously binge-watched like 50 of her videos. With being gluten-free + now trying to incorporate dairy-free, I wanted to find someone with great ideas for recipes. She’s vegan, but a lot of the recipes I could add meat to if I want.

Planning … my wedding! Seriously, my big ol’ Google sheet has come back out. We chatted with our photographer (well, she will be… haven’t booked her yet) and chose our caterer (our tasting is in a couple of weeks!) I’m also starting to look at bridal salons to go try on dresses! Can you believe a few of them in Chicago are booked out on weekends already through all of April?! Crazy to me. So I might book an appointment at Bhldn for an appointment in June. We’ve also chatted about going to Milwaukee to look at dresses, so we’ll see about that. I’m getting SO excited to look at them. Here’s a few I really like.

Bridal dresses I loveEating … Gluten AND dairy free – sorta. 😉 Dairy-free has been a bit more difficult for some reason… mostly because Benjamin keeps ice cream in the house! I did completely switch over to an almond milk creamer for my coffee, so it’s just going out to eat + ice cream that’s screwing me over. I’ve been struggling with portion control, which is not-so-great when you’re trying to lose weight! I’m pulling it in and focusing harder now – the fact that I need to try on dresses in as early as 6-weeks has me goin’ hard!

Browsing … Pinterest & The Knot to make sure I’m on schedule! I took about a month off of SERIOUS planning (mostly because work was slowly killing me and I’d fall asleep when I got home…) so I’m ready to get back in! I’m looking at the types of dresses I like and thinking about setting up bridal gown shopping appointments (!!!)

Sweating … *Shredding* for the wedding right now! I’ve been sticking to my workout plan that Ben put together for me (check him out if you’re looking for an online coach!) and trying to get my diet back on track. We’re trying to make sure my workouts are WORKING OUT for my health right now. With Hashimotos, you have to be careful with the amount of stress you put on your body. Plus, as I work with my new doctor, things may change and I may have to cut out hard workouts in general. We’ll figure it out once we get there, but I’m grateful I have him to help me.

Loving … Self-tanning! Now, I will say, I’m horrible at it (LOL) but I feel so much better about myself when I have a little color. Especially with this especially long winter we’re having in Chicago, it gives me a little color so I’m not Casper. 😉

Reminiscing … about the last couple of years! So much has changed from moving to Chicago, the engagement, getting Cora, working through a rough career life and losing my pulse on my wellness (but trying to find it again!) It’s been a crazy year – some good, some not-so-good – and sometimes it’s nice to look back.

What’s currently happening in your life?

Groomsmen Proposal Cards

Happy Wedding Wednesday! Today I’m going to take you through the cards I created on Canva for my fiancee to give to his groomsmen!


When I started talking about doing bridesmaid proposal boxes, Ben asked me if he was supposed to do something similar for his guys. He didn’t want to do anything crazy, so I took to Pinterest to find a few ideas.

After Pinterest, I headed over to Etsy to buy some cards but once I found out that it was $5/card, I took to Canva to see if I could create it myself. Spoiler alert – I’m not a crafty person, so anyone can do this!

In Canva, I went to an invitation layout, then looked up free pictures of ties with no background (so it wouldn’t stand out from the white paper) and just wrote in some cute copy! Seriously took me maybe 10 minutes.

Groomsmen Proposal Cards
With the cards, Ben grabbed some cigars and then we handed them out at our engagement party. Everyone thought they were super funny, but simple enough for the guys. 😉 If you’d like to download this template for yourself, I’ve made it public for you here! 


What do you think of the cards? Have you / would you design your own cards in Canva?

5 Engagement Party Tips | Wedding Planning Update

Wedding planning has taken over my life and I’m lovvvvvving it. So much so, I actually asked a wedding planner if I could shadow her at a few weddings because maybe this is my calling. 🤔 (P.S. She said no – LOL – gotta find another one!)

Also friends, I hope you are enjoying the wedding planning posts. I know it’s kind of “taken over the blog” but I absolutely love it. 

I wanted to show y’all where I’m at in planning and a few tips from our engagement party.

5 Engagement Party Tips | Wedding Planning Update


Wedding Planning Update

>>> We booked our venue! We officially put down a deposit and set our date for June 2019.

>>> We asked our bridesmaids and groomsmen to be in the wedding! You can check that post out if you haven’t already! Our bridal party is …

  • Maid of Honor: Jenny, my sister
  • Matron of Honor: Saige, my best friend
  • Bridesmaid: Lindsay, my best friend
  • Bridesmaid: Elizabeth, Ben’s sister
  • Bridesmaid: Annie, Ben’s sister
  • Best Man: Peter, Ben’s brother
  • Groomsman: Andrew, Ben’s cousin
  • Groomsman: Arpit, Ben’s best friend
  • Groomsman: Adam, Ben’s best friend
  • Groomsman: Gerry, Ben’s best friend

>>> I signed up for a bridal expo AND my wedding venue is putting on a mock wedding. Both are in a couple of weeks!

>>> I found out our chalk markers shouldn’t have been used on our chalkboards and need to buy new ones … oops. 😞

>>> I’ve continued to reach out to photographers to get quotes… and we figured out we really love lighter/brighter photography in comparison to the darker/artsy feel that a lot of photographers are doing (which narrows down the search.)

>>> Since I’m unable to invite my extended family to my wedding in Chicago, my parents’ decided to put on a second reception later in the summer of 2019 in my hometown.

>>> Our guest list is complete and agreed upon.

>>> We planned and executed our engagement party!

>>> We decided NOT to hire a full-time planner (since it’s now apparently my life-calling), but I did hire my friend Rachel to be my day-of coordinator! She’ll be in charge of making sure everything is set-up for the ceremony and reception + making sure we (aka Benjamin’s party) is on time. 😉

>>> We have quotes from multiple caterers and are just waiting to make the decision because Ben needs a break haha!


Engagement Party Tips

We had our engagement party on February 17th at my friend Amanda’s apartment building. I’ve got a few tips and tricks we learned putting together the party *pretty much* last minute.

  1. Ask for help
    Benjamin and I (aka I) planned this video without thinking about how much time we’d need to plan it. I traveled basically the two weeks prior to the party, so work was nutso and I couldn’t take anymore days off to plan the party. Thankfully we have some wonderful people in our life. Ben’s mom basically took on the entire food planning and cooked the bulk of it. My friend Saige gave us all of her party decor and serving dishes. Ben’s friend Anand is a DJ and brought in a whole system. My friend Lindsay basically decorated the entire party – she brought in tons of decor and pictures of Ben and I PLUS set it all up once we got there. Amanda let us use her place. Seriously, so many people helped us out!
  2. Decide if bringing your own food is really “cheaper”
    As I’m sure you know, Ben and I are trying to throw a budget wedding so we decided that spending $400 on Chipotle catering wasn’t worth it. However, the amount we spent on food wasn’t too far under that PLUS we had to make it. It saved us a bit of money, but if we wouldn’t have had his mom to cook everything, I’m not sure how we would’ve gotten it done!
  3. Pictures are your best friend for decor
    … and thankfully MY best friend Lindsay knew that. Oh my gosh – she asked me earlier in the week if I was bringing any pictures + decor and I kinda blew it off because I was so overwhelmed with work and she just took over. She printed tons of pictures of Ben and I, plus bought frames to put them in. She also brought decor she had around her house. I’m not sure why I was thinking balloons and two chalkboards was enough decor.
  4. Don’t think you need to bring EVERYTHING
    This is something I was struggling with. How could we ONLY offer margaritas and water? Shouldn’t we get soda? What if people don’t like margaritas? What if people don’t like tacos? You know what – it doesn’t matter. If they don’t want to eat it, they won’t! If they don’t like margaritas, they’ll bring their own drinks! It ended up not being a problem at all. A few of the guys brought their own beer and everyone that wasn’t drinking was fine with water. I would’ve went out and bought a TON of soda that wouldn’t have been used.
  5. Put away your phone
    This was the best decision I made. As you know, I’m a blogger + Instagram star wannabee, so putting away my phone? Are you serious? What if someone doesn’t know how to get into the building? WHO CARES! It was a wonderful tip for when we get to our wedding. I kept my phone on me for the first half hour while we were setting up and then I put it in a box and forgot about it and it.was.amazing. I haven’t been that “in the moment” in a long time and it was the most wonderful night. I was able to talk to everyone, meet new people that Ben knows and I don’t plus watch our bridal party + families get to know each other. It was such a magical night that a phone totally would’ve screwed up!

Thanks for reading! ❤️ I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

Happy Wedding Wednesday! Today I’m going to show you what I did for my bridesmaid proposal boxes! (The DIY video is also at the end of this post.)

I have been planning my boxes for awhile now (probably since before I was engaged #sorrynotsorry) and I couldn’t decide between a Harry Potter theme or donut theme … so I did both!

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

I proposed to five ladies:

  • Sister & Maid of Honor: Jenny
  • BFF & Matron of Honor: Saige
  • BFF & Bridesmaid: Lindsay
  • STB Sister-in-law: Elizabeth
  • STB Sister-in-law: Annie

(STB stands for soon-to-be… I just didn’t want to write it out. 🙃)

I decided to do Harry Potter-themed boxes for the first three ladies and donut-themed for the last two. (All boxes and tissue paper are from Target!) I also created all of my cards in Canva instead of buying them online!

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & DonutsDIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

The Harry Potter boxes included:

  • Chocolate frog (from Harry Potter World)
  • Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean (from Harry Potter World)
  • Handmade wands
  • Champagne & a straw (from Target)

“Gryffindor is Red
Ravenclaw is Blue.
I can’t say ‘I Do’
Without you!”

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

The Donut boxes included:

  • Donut shirts bought of Etsy (from here and here)
  • Champagne & straw (from Target)
  • A yummy donut

“We Donut Want to get Married Without You!”

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

If you’d like to see how I put them all together, check out this video!

Which box is your favorite? Did you / will you do bridesmaid proposal boxes?

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes | Harry Potter & Donuts

Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party!

And just like that, it’s Monday! Do you have the day off today? It seems like every single person in Chicago does … apart from me. But hey, the train was dead!


Friday

Friday was an amazing day and I was in SUCH a great day. I woke up pretty early and got in some work between working from my couch and working from the coffee shop. I can’t wait to do that EVERY DAY! #comeonuniverse

I signed off around noon and headed out to run some errands with Ben. First we stopped at Target, then off to my friend Saige’s place to grab some of her stuff to use for the engagement party. After that, Ben’s brother came in from Indy and we spent the night hanging out with him.

Saturday

It was finally the day! I woke up pretty early, ran some last minute errands and waited for my friend Lindsay to come in from Madison. Once Ben was done with work, my mom and sister also showed up from Green Bay and we got ready for the party. We left pretty late, but ended up having plenty of time to get ready for the party. I purposely didn’t keep my phone on me, so here’s a bunch of pics from others!

Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party! Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party! Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party! Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party! Weekend Recap: Our Engagement Party!Such an amazing night.

Sunday

Sunday started out a bit slow (too much tequila) but we headed out for brunch around 10 before Lindsay, my sister and mom all headed back for Wisconsin. Ben and I were SO dead, so we spent the rest of the day watching documentaries and trying to do a tiny bit of cleaning.


And that’s my weekend! How was your weekend? What are your goals for the week?

3 Ways to Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue

Welcome back to another Wedding Wednesday! 🎉  Ben and I finally bit the bullet and signed the venue contract + set our date!!

3 Ways to Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue
We’re so excited, but it didn’t come without work. Since I absolutely love wedding planning, here are the steps I think you should take to choose your perfect venue. I’d love to hear any you’d add to the list in the comments below!

Style: What do you want the venue to look like?

(Or DON’T want it to look like, in my case.)

When I started out, I wasn’t exactly sure what “look” I wanted but I did know one thing – what I didn’t want. A ballroom. Nope. I’m just not interested in having my wedding at a hotel. (PLEASE DO NOT TAKE OFFENSE IF YOU USED A BALLROOM – IT WAS JUST NOT MY TASTE.)  After planning events for a few years, I just wasn’t feelin’ it that look.

Once I figured out what I didn’t want, that narrowed my search quite a bit. I started looking more into the rustic yet feminine route and that’s where I found my dream venue. I reached out to SO many beautiful modern and rustic venues, but based on budget (which we’re talking about next!) we were really stuck on one. Once we saw it in person, I got goosebumps and it was all over for me.

So, basically start narrowing things down. Meet with your fiancee and talk about the look and feel you’re going for. Is there anything you absolutely DO NOT like? Is there anything you love? Make a list and start emailing venues to get their price sheets and galleries! Also, TheKnot.com is amazing for reviews, which I highly recommend reading.

TIP: Look into non-traditional venues like Air BnB’s on the lake or in a forest, restaurants, parks, barns (although those are becoming trendy), destination locations, etc.

Budget: How much are you willing to spend?

This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. Ben and I are doing a “budget wedding” according to industry standards (aka we’re not spending a college education on one day) so this was important. While I didn’t have a set price I wanted to spend on the venue, we DID have a set overall price that we’d want to stay within. So we worked backwards from that. The more we spend on a venue, the less we have for everything else. The venue will probably be one of the most expensive parts of your day (or THE most expensive part) so it’s important to pay attention to that. If your budget is $15K and your venue is $9K, that’s going to make it pretty much impossible unless you cut a LOT of other areas or you have some extra things included in that price (see the next step for that!)

Once Ben and I decided on our budget, we split everything out into a budget tracker in my wedding spreadsheet (hells yes I have a wedding spreadsheet) and figured out where we were going to allocate our money for each part. If you’d like a copy of my budget, send me an email or leave a comment below and I’ll send a blank copy over for you to get started!

TIP: Have a Sunday wedding (or M-Th). Fridays are becoming just as expensive as a Saturday wedding now, so why not a Sunday? We’re saving almost $4K just by having ours on a Sunday and no one that’s coming is upset about it!

TIP 2: Watch out for food and beverage minimums!! I found a bunch of restaurants in the Chicago city limits that I loved where the venue price was within my budget, but then I was hit with a $15,000 food and beverage minimum. WHAT. That’s almost $20,000 just for the venue and food! No, thanks. Sometimes restaurants can be a cheaper venue, but just watch out for that hidden cost.

Value: What’s included with each venue you like?

This is key 🔑 – maybe your venue is a little higher in price, but the food is included. Or maybe, like me, my venue is a little less but food is NOT included plus we’re required to use their food vendor list. Pay attention to those little intricacies that might be in fine print.

For us, our venue includes a day-of coordinator, gorrrrgggeous wooden tables, and most decor. I’ll only need to bring a few flowers and decorations, which helps me save tons of money on the decor/floral part of my budget. We get the whole venue for the whole day (yes, I’ve been to a venue where they allow people to walk around while you’re getting ready – what?!) + a bridal suite and groomsmen suite (with video games, so Ben’s excited.) The only extra charges we’ll have are for anything we’d like to rent through them (like backdrops or signs) and a $500 security deposit that comes out right before the wedding to CYA.

TIP: Watch out for things that AREN’T allowed. My venue does not allow real candles due to fire hazard and doesn’t allow you to bring your own alcohol into the bridal suite. I’m fine with both of those things (plus, they’re giving us champagne so we’ll still have mimosas!) and will probably rent their candle (they’re flameless) special so I don’t have to worry about it. They’re very strict with people being over-served, which for Ben and me is perfect, but I’ve been to quite a few weddings right after college where alcohol was very important. Just make sure you read every little thing and ask questions before you sign on that dotted line!


I have a bazillion more tips (and TONS of research) so if you’d like to hear anything else, let me know in the comments below! Otherwise, I hope this was helpful to any newbie brides out there or interesting to my married sistas. ❤️

Weekend Recap: Stuck in Arizona!

Happy Monday, friends! I can’t wait to tell you ALL about my time in Arizona for the Bloguette’s Workshop, but I’ll have a post up on Wednesday so keep an eye out. It was (hands down) the best conference I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to my fair share!

But, back to the weekend!


Friday

Weekend Recap: Stuck in Arizona!
Unfortunately on Thursday morning I got an email from Southwest saying that my flight back to Chicago for Friday night was canceled due to Snowmaggeden 2018. 😂  I quickly booked another night at the hotel I was at and Ben adjusted my flight (he used his account for his miles.) All seemed well …

The rest of the day was amazing at the conference. Once it was over, I headed over to a Mexican restaurant near my hotel, but the service was HORRIBLE. I ended up having a drink and chips and salsa (which were also bad – and that takes a lot for me to say) before heading over to a sushi restaurant that I had been to before. Might as well go back where the food is amazing, right?

Weekend Recap: Stuck in Arizona!After dinner, I honestly sat around in my hotel room, watched HGTV and tried to unwind.

Saturday

Weekend Recap: Stuck in Arizona!I woke up pretty early to the sound of construction on a Saturday morning, but used the time to get ready and pack everything up. I met my friend Brittany (we worked together at McDonalds in High School – small world!) for brunch and she took me over to the airport. Unfortunately my nerves kicked in at that time + my flight was delayed another hour, so I didn’t end up getting back to Chicago until 8 pm. Thankfully I sat next to the nicest older couple from Michigan so I was feeling pretty good. I’ve never been more excited to see Ben and Cora, though!

Sunday

Weekend Recap: Stuck in Arizona!
We woke up to Cora barking at 6:30 on Sunday (she’s been having stomach issues again …) so we both got up and hung out with her. We headed out to the Chicago Auto Show with Ben’s fam, then headed back home to grab Cora and head out to the ‘burbs! Ben’s mom is GRACIOUSLY helping us with the set-up on Saturday for our engagement party (!!!) so we chatted about everything that was needed for our taco bar. I also asked his sister to be in my wedding BUT you’ll have to wait for that post – I’ll be showing y’all how I made two different kinds of bridesmaid proposal boxes based on my friends’ interests! Once they’ve all received theirs, I’ll have a blog up – hopefully by next week!

We ended up not leaving the ‘burbs until after 9 pm last night, so we got home and passed out. Quick weekend for me, but can’t wait to see my loves this coming weekend for my engagement party!


How was your weekend?

Do you like reading out my weekends? I’m making some changes to the blog and I don’t want to continue writing these unless y’all enjoy reading about my random life! No hard feelings either way 🙂 

5 Things That Happen When You Get Engaged

Ben and I have been engaged for almost two months at this point and I feel like a LOT has happened. I love being engaged, but some of it can be quite stressful! Here are the 5 things that happen when you get engaged (at least according to my own experience!) The funny thing is … these could entirely ONLY be happening to me soooooo … 😂

Everyone will ask what your date is

This one isn’t a negative OR positive question, but it’s definitely the most asked. Ben and I still haven’t chosen our date (though we’re about 99% sure, just have to book the venue) and I swear that’s constantly the question we get. For good reason, though! Every single vendor asks the date (obvs), family, friends, friends planning their own weddings, colleagues, blog readers, YouTube comments, Instagram comments, etc. Basically the only one that HASN’T asked is Cora. 🙃

You’ll show EVERYONE your ring and/or EVERYONE will ask to see it

I think this is a positive, but the people around me probably don’t. 😂  I love my ring. Ben and I designed it together (I’m picky and engagement rings are A LOT of moolah so he didn’t want to pick one I wouldn’t love.) Sometimes I just want to look at it in every lighting I see. When we tell people we’re engaged, they always grab for my hand. Basically anyone I’ve seen since December 15th when we got engaged has grabbed my hand before they even acknowledge me, then they usually say “Good job, Ben!” and then “OH HI, JESSIE HOW ARE YOU?” It happens!

All you’ll talk about with your significant other is the wedding

This is actually an interesting one – not necessarily negative, but not always positive. I feel like I tell Ben about wedding stuff all the time. In fact, he even asked me to only bring him stuff once a week because it was getting overwhelming (which I’m not doing very well at, if I’m honest.) A lot of our conversations are now around our wedding and our future in general. I love that Ben and I have always had open conversation but sometimes I miss just being able to talk to him about random stuff without being like, “OH, did you look at that photographer’s proposal yet?”

With that, you will probably disagree about (a lot of) something(s)

This was definitely a negative for us, but it did happen! Ben and I lived in pretty bliss mode where we rarely fought. Yes, we had disagreements, but they were usually small or had to do with the fact that one of us (or both of us) was hungry. I remember clearly getting so hurt by Ben twice in the last two months because 1) we had very differing opinions on how important a photographer is and 2) I felt like he was so wrapped up in the money part and didn’t appreciate what I was doing trying to make everything fit into a very small budget.

This one can be a struggle, but it’s definitely helping us talk through bigger and more difficult issues that come up in a relationship. For the most part, the worst thing we’d disagree about was something so trivial, whereas a wedding really makes you think about the hard things – what you want for your future together and MONEY (<— hard one for both Ben and me.) And we just started this process! It has also made us really think about things like …

  1. How we both have issues with money and need to work on them separately and together.
  2. We need to make sure we’re showing each other appreciation in all things.
  3. Where we want to live.
  4. How many kids we want and when.
  5. How we want to work (I don’t want to be a full-time working parent away from home and he doesn’t either.)

It definitely makes you start to think about all kinds of things you may not have been thinking about just in “relationship” status!

People will say “Can’t wait to come!”

This was a negative for me… I couldn’t believe the amount of people who said, “OHMYGOSH Can’t wait to come!!” when I put up our engagement “announcement” on Facebook. Then I read Jasmine’s post (she’s also a newlywed!) and saw that it’s not just me! I had cousins that I haven’t spoken to in YEARS say, “Can’t wait to come!” or random friends try to pop back into my life. Ben and I are having a very small wedding and I have a very huge family. We will not be inviting any family besides immediate or those that have been integral in our relationship. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that just expected they’d be invited when I’m not sure I’d even recognize them on the street! If you get anything from this post, just please promise me you’ll never say that to a bride or groom to be. Thankfully I’m pretty set in my decisions, but I still don’t want to hurt any feelings and those comments give me hives. 😂


Can’t wait to take y’all on this bumpy, but amazingly fun journey for the next year+! I hope you’re enjoying it so far. Let me know in the comments a few other things you’d add to this list!