Yes, It IS Possible To Keep Your Bachelorette Budget-Friendly!

The time has come. It’s almost springtime, the weather is about to warm up. Your best friend is getting married and her last wish as a bride-to-be is to have all of her closest gal pals with her to celebrate. The only problem? It’s a destination bachelorette weekend and cost is shaping up to be about $2,000 a person. Not only does your budget not allow for that, but you also can’t afford to take two full days off of work to travel.

How can we remedy this? How can we make it so everyone can afford to celebrate you without breaking the bank? I’ve been invited to a few destination bachelorettes that ended up being pretty costly, and while I enjoyed every minute of the trips, there was an underlying stress of finances the entire time.

The truth is, I love any excuse to travel, especially with a group of friends. In fact, I am doing a destination bachelorette of my own! But I am also doing everything in my power to make sure it’s affordable for everyone.

If you’re hoping to do a destination bachelorette, be okay with less-than-swanky accommodations. Keep in mind that your friends are already shelling out some major dough on travel alone, and if you’re hoping to partake in some fun activities wherever you go, cutting corners when and where you can is ideal. AirBnB and VRBO are great go-to’s for finding a place to stay. Remember that you will probably only be at the house or in your room for sleeping and getting ready, so you and your friends should be more than okay with any place that’s clean and liveable.

Compiling a list of things you want to do during your bach is a new norm, but that doesn’t mean everything on your to-do list has to be crossed off. If you have girlfriends planning the weekend, be sure to stress to them that you don’t expect everything to be done. Again, everything costs money! And we’re approaching an age where the friends who can’t afford to do stuff will actually refuse to participate due to cost. It’s no fun for you or your friends if not everyone can afford to be in on the fun!

Even though you are the bride and your friends want to pamper you, take any and every opportunity you can to offer to help pay for things. Your friends may not let you, but at least you tried – believe it or not, this gesture will be hugely appreciated by the women in your life.

As ideal as a destination bachelorette would be, it’s totally okay to find something fun to do closer to home. You could do a spa night at someone’s home, complete with brand new bathrobes, face masks, manis/pedis, massages. There are crews you can pay to come to your home to do all of that! And at a cost that’s much cheaper than a weekend getaway. It’s the perfect way to pamper yourself right before your wedding. You could rent a limo and go wine tasting for a day. There are tons of options to keep it close-to-home and still lots of fun [scroll to bottom to see my list of bank-account-friendly bachelorette ideas]!

If you can’t part with the idea of going out of town, try heading to a place within a couple hours drive of your hometown. It cuts down on travel costs for your gals, which provides a little more cushion for being able to afford doing fun activities over the weekend.

Matching bachelorette tanks are all the rage right now, but it’s a completely unnecessary expense. Instead of making everyone pay $20+ for a custom screen tee [that, let’s be honest, nobody will ever wear again], tell your buds to hold onto the cash for brunch and mimosas on the town, or an Uber ride home from the bars. [Or, offer to pay for the shirts yourself].

If having some sort of bachelorette weekend memorabilia is a non-negotiable for you, try treating your friends to a fun souvenir like wine glasses with their initials, or travel cups with their names. I’ve also seen custom beach towels, which would be really fun for a bach weekend in San Diego, or a poolside spot in Palm Springs [check Etsy! tons of great ideas].

One of the best ways to cut down on cost for a destination bach is to bring in your own food. This will really only work if you’re renting a house or a hotel room with a kitchenette, but if that’s the route you go, definitely plan on cooking at home one night. This can be turned into a fun game night, and the evening when the bride opens her lingerie gifts.

Remember that your bachelorette weekend isn’t about topping other girls’ trips, it’s about making memories with your best girl friends. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide what to do for your big event. Regardless of where you go or what you do, if you have all of your friends there, you will have the time of your life.

Bachelorette On A Budget:

  • limo rental + wine tasting for the day
  • at home spa night – hire a company to come in and give manis, pedis, facials and massages
  • brew bike
  • 3 day cruise [there are tons of these through Carnival and they are very affordable!]
  • food tour of your local city
  • cooking class
  • hiking
  • wine + painting class
  • travel to destination locations during off-season when prices are lower
  • ski/snowboard day
  • rent a pontoon boat on your local lake and tool around listening to music and making memories

The Search For “The One” [My Wedding Gown, That Is]

Prior to getting engaged, I’d never even looked at a single wedding dress. Nope, not even on Pinterest. I always thought, How can you legitimately plan a wedding when you don’t even have a groom?

The second Mitch and I returned home from Seattle [read about our engagement story here], though, I dove deep into everything wedding.

I never imagined my wedding day growing up, but my style has always been a bit more casual and boho. Lots of bright colors, flowy dresses, you get the picture. Naturally, I figured I’d be more drawn to a hippie style dress. And with my consistent love of heat and warm weather, spring or summer was inevitable for my wedding day.

At least, that’s what I thought.

When Mitch and I started discussing wedding dates, we both agreed we wanted sometime in the fall [shockingly, I realized I didn’t want to be sweating all over my wedding dress, nor did I want to risk it raining on our wedding day – that immediately eliminated any spring or midsummer dates]. With this in my mind and my iPad in my hand, I started scouring Pinterest for wedding gowns. I was immediately drawn to long-sleeved ball gowns [yes, like a Disney princess!], and figured that if we were having a fall wedding, there was a 50% chance it would be cool enough for a long sleeved gown. After consistently finding photos of dresses I loved by the same designer, I finally checked out her website and found a bridal boutique in Sacramento that carried her line. I was elated! While Sac may be the capital of CA, we don’t have the luxury of having very many fancy, designer stores, nor do our stores carry much designer apparel. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find any better-known designers here, so finding a boutique that carried one that I liked was like finding a needle in a haystack! A golden needle, at that.

And just like that, I had an appointment scheduled for mid July [yes, fourteen-and-a-half months before my wedding date] – I honestly couldn’t want any longer to try on dresses! And I kept picturing horror stories of not having enough time to have my dress hemmed and fitted, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to find a dress, order it, and have the measurements done.

When my mom, sister and I popped into the boutique for my fitting, I was so ridiculously excited. I had heard from so many friends that they loved trying on dresses, that it was their favorite part of the whole wedding planning process. And all of them found their dress at the first store they ever went to. With these experiences in the back of my mind, I was feeling pretty confident that I’d find my dream dress that day.

I tried on probably ten or fifteen different dresses in the 90 minutes we spent at the shop, and each of them was pretty and unique in its own way. I felt pretty damn special and beautiful, even in the dresses that weren’t very flattering or I just didn’t end up liking. In the end, I nixed the long sleeve gown idea. Though they were gorgeous dresses, even inside the air conditioned boutique I was uncomfortable and sweaty. I knew that would not work for a fall wedding in Sacramento. It’s just too warm. And with layers and layers of tulle for my skirt, I already knew I’d be miserable if I settled for long-sleeve. So, instead, I found a dress that was thin strapped, very different and pretty and stood out from the others [and was by the designer I loved]. But I wasn’t sure it was the one. I couldn’t really picture myself walking down the aisle to Mitch in it.

I left the store feeling extremely deflated and bummed. I thought for sure I was going to find THE dress! And, even worse, I was already burnt out on shopping for wedding dresses. I started to think there was something wrong with me – not only did I not find my dress, but I didn’t really enjoy the process. Was this a bad sign? Did this mean I was marrying the wrong person?

After the disappointment of not finding my dress and feeling like I was a failure as a bride, I put the dress shopping on hold and decided to focus on other aspects of the wedding. After all, I was still 14 months from my wedding. I still had more than enough time to find a dress. I thought, I’ll get excited about it again after a couple of months goes by.

As 2017 drew to a close and I still wasn’t looking forward to trying on dresses, I realized what was keeping me from being excited about the process: I was so afraid that I wouldn’t find my dress and that I would feel horribly deflated and let down again. So instead of trying on thousands of dresses and using process of elimination, I completely avoided it entirely. Yup, like a big ass baby.

I couldn’t avoid it forever, though. My mom had been pressuring me to nail down another try-on date, and the longer I waited to find my gown, the smaller the window to get my dress fitted and hemmed in time for the wedding. I finally found a boutique in greater Bay Area hosting a trunk show for my favorite designer, and decided to make a weekend out of it. I invited my best friend [matron of honor] to be a part of the weekend, hoping she would be my good-luck-charm.

After my prior experience, I went into my appointment with no expectations. I was excited to try on more dresses, but prepared myself for the possibility that I may not find a dress that day. And that if I didn’t, it would be okay. I would figure it out.

As it turned out, I wouldn’t be leaving the boutique empty-handed that day. I found my dress! It’s more beautiful than I ever could have hoped for or imagined, and I am beyond excited to marry Mitch in it on our wedding day.

It wasn’t a perfect process to find my dress. Far from it, actually. I had a lot of emotions and not a whole lot of excitement to go through the try-on process. Every experience is different, though, and I think it’s important that every bride-to-be remembers that little tidbit of information. It’s okay if you’re not excited about gown shopping, it’s okay if it takes you six months to find your dress, and it’s okay if you burst into tears [or don’t!] when you find your dream gown [if you want some wedding dress shopping tips, read my post here!]. Your experience is your own, and I can personally attest to the fact that regardless of my disappointment after my first dress appointment, I ended up having an amazing afternoon with the three most important women in my life. Even if I hadn’t found my dress, it came down to my experience at the salon with those women which totally made my day.

I Now Pronounce You.. Minister of a Nondenominational Church

Many of you may remember that just a little over a year ago I was maid of honor in a wedding. A wedding that was elegant, beautiful, detailed – the bride thought of everything. From the lovely bouquets in which she specifically and thoroughly picked which blooms she wanted to include, to the hand-dyed silk ribbons that adorned the bouquets and boutonnieres and wound their way through the reception tables’ centerpieces, to the couture wedding dress that made her look like a Disney princess as she and her groom danced their first dance as husband and wife under the twinkling white lights that were strung from tree to tree.

It was, for lack of better expression, the wedding that every little girl dreams of having one day.

And until a few months ago, I sort of figured that’s how most weddings are. Everything you see on social media is generally the same [aside from the theme and color scheme, of course]. White dress + groom + bridal party + flowers + aisle + alter + wedding guests + reception. All of it is always there.

Well, almost always.

My best friend got engaged two winters’ ago, and, due to the fact that her fiance had never even wanted to get married [or so we all thought], they decided to keep their wedding very small. Family and close, close friends only.

But, even small weddings are costly and stressful. After a couple of months of trying to find a venue they liked under $10,000 [with no luck], they decided to forgo a “traditional” wedding altogether. After a couple of Google searches and a call to the city of San Marcos, it was determined that only two other bodies were needed for the couple to say their “I Do’s” – a witness and an officiant.

And so it came to be, after a drunken FaceTime from the two of them last fall in which my best friend and her fiance asked me to officiate their wedding, that I would be their ordained minister. I used the website my aunt and uncle got ordained through, went online, and [literally] two minutes later I was official. Sarah Jack, Ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church, Nondenominational. At your service!

After a weekend of bachelorette festivities in Temecula, California, and absolutely zero wedding planning whatsoever [save for the location and the accommodations], the three of us set off for Avila Beach, just north of Pismo and just west of San Luis Obispo. A place near and dear to all of our hearts. The groom’s best friend, the witness, was to meet us there.

Up until the week leading up to the wedding, I had no nerves or qualms about the upcoming nuptials. I figured once I knew what my friends’ vows would be, I could form my speech around that. That idea went right out the window the minute I heard that they hadn’t written any vows. “We’ll figure it out when the time comes,” my best friend said. Having nothing to relate to except for the carefully planned and detailed wedding that I had been a part of last spring, I had difficulty wrapping my mind around the casualty of it all. And that’s when my nerves started to set in. Now what would I say? Would I even be able to find words? At what point do I read them the traditional “I Do’s” and initiate the giving of the rings?

I needn’t have worried so much, if at all. The day of the wedding was like any other day of the year. My speech came together that morning, and then the four of us had breakfast on the beach and spent the rest of the day sightseeing. It wasn’t until six pm when it was time for us all to get ready that the soon-to-be bride and groom first parted ways. They were married just after sunset, on Avila Beach, with one witness and one ordained minister – the air was warm, the sky was beautiful, the water was calm – the evening was absolutely perfect. The entire day was perfect. Perfect for them.

The experience itself is one I will treasure forever and never forget. Having the opportunity to officiate a wedding was nerve wracking, but so amazing and unique – something I may never have the opportunity to do again and I’m so, so glad that I did. If anybody ever asks you to officiate their wedding – DO IT. Do it, do it, DO IT! You will not regret it. It is both exciting and humbling, and, for me, it really gave me a new perspective on love. And, while a bit intimidating, it gave me a chance to say something heartfelt and meaningful to two people who are promising their lives and their souls to one another. The last words they will hear before being bound in holy matrimony.

If it sounds so final and so binding – it’s because it is. But it isn’t scary. It’s exciting. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. And having the power to send them off on that crazy adventure is something I hope everyone will be able to experience at one time or another.