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Ocean-bred and NYC-based fashion and lifestyle blog.

Filtering by Category: Wedding

5 tips for wedding planning with a budget

Tiffany Geiger

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now but was like no one wants to talk about money when it comes to your wedding they just want to see the fun stuff. And though that's true I recently had an adorable girl reach out to me on Instagram saying she'd fallen in love with my wedding through the feature on Inspired by This and her and her fiancé are planning and paying for their their own wedding so she'd love if I could share some details on my planning process (hey Brittany!). So that was the final push I needed to write this blog post. Below are my tips for planning your wedding on a budget. 


For those that don't know, Cory and I planned and paid for our own wedding. We currently live in the NYC area but are both originally from South Florida and knew without a question that that was where we'd marry. We wanted our day to be authentically us through and through. More about our wedding day here. So below are my tips for getting what you want and staying within budget so you can have that WE DID IT moment like we did above. 


one - decide on a budget

Cory and I reverse-engineered this a little. We looked at the average national wedding cost, looked at what The Knot said was average to spend on things like flowers, DJ/band etc. and pulled some estimates to figure out what we would need to plan to spend. And then we decided if that was a number we were comfortable with and could afford and then worked it down to a number we could. Not sure if this is actually the right way to do it but that's how we did it and it worked for us. 


two - what's a priority to you?

There are going to be areas you have to make sacrifices (I would've loved a lounge area or a live band but that wasn't in the budget) so decide up front what items are most important to you so you can plan to spend a little more there. For example, photos were BEYOND important to me - that is how your day lives on. So I spent a little more than I may have initially intended and then balanced it by giving up calligraphy and DIY-ing a lot of items (and all our calligraphy). So decide what's most important to you - is it flowers? the band? the decor? - so you can prioritize where you spend your money. 


three - estimate and negotiate

I had 3 event rental vendors day of. That is not exactly normal but I had no issues and they all worked together well (as far as I know anyway). I rented a dance floor, the structure that was above our head table (scroll down to see pics), lights, chargers and the bars and estimated doing this so many ways - with 1 vendor, then parsed it all out among vendors then asked vendors to meet another vendors prices etc etc and ultimately I just ended up going with chargers from 1 vendor, dance floor from another and the structure, lights and bars from a third. So it might not always work out this way but I tell you this to encourage you to get multiple estimates and not be afraid to ask them to negotiate - they may not but they also may. 


four - the dress

There are so many options for wedding dresses these days! You do not have to fly to NYC and drop $10,000 at Kleinfeld's. Real talk - my dress was $1,500. Still expensive as far as a dress is concerned but not when it comes to a wedding dress! I wanted something that wasn't overly bridal and fit the relaxed beach vibe of our day which may have helped cut the costs a little. But there are so many options when it comes to wedding dresses so be sure to check out them all! Think beyond the traditional bridal shops like Etsy, and there are lots of sites out there now that will make you a custom dress like Anomalie (some will even do one super close to that designer dress you're in love with that costs $15,000) though the materials are expensive, when you're not paying for the branding girl you're guaranteed to save.  So explore your options! I mean, you're only going to wear this dress once. 


five - DIY

I'm not going to tell you to DIY everything because I certainly wouldn't recommend arranging flowers the morning of, doing my own makeup (that'd just stress me out too much), baking a wedding cake until 4am or anything else that can't be done and finished at least 1 week in advance of your wedding. But, I DIY-ed a lot of items & if I can do it from NYC for a Florida wedding, you can too! I DIY-ed my invitations (I designed them, had them printed with a printer - who I loved shout out to Mighty Simple Design Co. then hand painted them and addressed the envelopes), all the calligraphy (envelopes, place cards, escort cards and some miscellaneous decor), bought all the centerpieces (i.e.: lanterns, vases, picture frames, the pendant lights in the head structure). It was a lot but it was a lot of fun and all things that I could get done well in advance so I could just enjoy and be bridal for wedding week. Plus some DIY touches just make it that much more personal. 


Those are my 5 top tips for planning a wedding on a budget. Is there anything I missed or you want to hear more about? Do you want to hear more about the planning process and keeping it all organized? Or about my budget regrets? Let me know in the comments. 

making time for your spouse

Tiffany Geiger

Cory and I are lucky that we've been traveling a lot recently between our honeymoon, a last minute trip home to Florida last week and Boston this weekend that between all of that + the regular 9-5 workweek it becomes hard to find time for each other. Today I'm sharing 5 tips for how we make time even when we're trying to balance work, travel, that NYC hustle & friends. 


tip #1 - make your spouse a priority

Cory is my best friend and who I'm closest to. This makes it easy to feel like it's ok to work late, go out with friends and push him to the bottom of the list. But this is exactly why it's not. My favorite part of each day is TiffanyCory time. With our busy lives it's easy to get caught up and miss this. There is 1 weeknight each week that we make a real effort to put the phones and laptops away and spend time just us - whether making dinner, watching our favorite show ( we're currently rewatching New Girl from the beginning) or spending time on our rooftop. Having this 1 night set aside makes it easy to ensure this always happens. 

tip #2 - leave work when you can

Every field and office is different but the minute you get to that place where "ok, i can leave now" LEAVE! It's so easy to take 1 more meeting, answer 10 more emails or wrap up 1 more project but that 1 more thing can lead to a late night and exhaust you more so by the time you're home you don't want to hang out with your partner you want to go to bed. So.. leave work as soon as you get to that point of "ok, i did what i needed to today." the rest can wait until tomorrow. 

tip #3 - date night in

Cory loves to cook and it's rare that I join him in the kitchen as cooking tends to overwhelm me.  Last night however I was feeling inspired. I'd gone to the grocery store near my office (we just got a Trader Joe's near my office - cue the excitement) and picked up a few things to make for dinner (asparagus, cauliflower rice & salmon), headed home a little early and relaxed on the couch until cory got home. Knowing this was a 30 minute meal as soon as Cory walked in the door I jumped up and started cooking dinner. He was so surprised and delighted that he didn't have to think about dinner! And then we had a sporadic little date night in eating dinner together. 

tip #4 - schedule date night

Life is crazy. You're busy taking over the world. You keep a tight schedule. So put date night in that schedule. Cory and I go out for dinner about 2x/month and find that Saturdays are generally better for us after we've had some time to relax and rejuvenate after the workweek. So, like anything else - put date night on your calendar and stick to it! Plus this way you can make a reservation in advance and get into that restaurant you've been wanting to go to. 

tip #5 - turn off the technology

Sometimes Cory and I will be "spending time together" but I'll be on my laptop or on instagram and he'll be watching sports but that's not quality time together. You need to turn off the technology and just sit together and chat or plan your next trip, watch your favorite show, start a new show, plan your future, dream or whatever it is. Just put the technology away. 

a fairytale wedding

Tiffany Geiger

This past weekend Cory and I attended his cousin's wedding in Pennsylvania. It was a fairytale wedding at the bride's parents house on lots of green land and an adorable pond with twinkle lights and a row boat straight out of the Notebook. I had a hard time finding a dress I loved and am so glad I ended up picking the one I did as it fit perfectly with the theme of the day. 


This dress was super soft and comfy and is an easy little wrap dress. I dressed it up for this wedding but could see myself dressing it down too. Revolve is my favorite store especially for wedding guest dresses and because they have free 2-day shipping and free returns in case it doesn't fit right. 


Picking a Honeymoon Destination

Tiffany Geiger

honeymoon planning.png

Cory and I decided to delay our honeymoon and take our time planning it. Below are my tips for planning your honeymoon. 

1 - Decide what you're looking for in your honeymoon. 

We wanted to go somewhere where we could spend our days on the beach and relax but also have an adventure and we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been. That narrowed it down immediately. 

2 - Set a budget.

Set a rough budget for how much you're willing to spend and how long you want to go and narrow your list down from there. Having a budget will immediately eliminate some destinations for you based on cost of airfare or how expensive a country is.

3 - Make a list.

We thought long and hard and took our time deciding where to go. We made a list of potential places we'd like to go and narrowed it down further from there. 

4 - Do your research. 

Watch airfare sales, check out the time of year to, consider going in the off season, there's lots of ways you can slim down your budget based on these things. 

5 - Don't get caught up on calling it your honeymoon.

This is the most important tip! We found what was causing us the most delay in picking a place was calling it our honeymoon. Inherently that made it feel like it needed to be grand, lavish, once in a lifetime trip. But it doesn't. Finally we decided to ignore the title and just book a trip to where we want to go right now. You have your whole life with your spouse and plenty of time to go on lavish vacations. Just book a trip wherever you want to go and enjoy! 

So, to Tulum Mexico we go! The minute we let go of the title it made it so easy to pick a destination and we couldn't be more excited to eat tacos and drink margaritas on the beach for a week in May. And we're starting to plan a trip to Asia for later this year without worrying about the grandiose that comes with the honeymoon title. We're just doing us. 

What's catching you up planning your honeymoon? What did you find was the most helpful for you in deciding where to go?

120 Days of Marriage

Tiffany Geiger


Cory & I got married 4 months ago and time has FLOWN! There are a few things I have learned in our first 120 days as husband and wife. You know after the gifts have stopped, the photos are in and you've watched your wedding video 10x and once you're just like... married. Plus, I need another excuse to post all my favorite wedding photos (HOLLA at my fave girl & insane photographer, Finding Light Photography!). 


1. Husband and wife

We really had to try to remember to call each other fiance when we were engaged and not just boyfriend and girlfriend but the transition to husband and wife was pretty easy. It's bizarre and the words themselves make us feel older for some reason like it clearly must be time to really adult if I have a husband!? But there's also this unexpected sense of pride with calling Cory my husband like you got promoted at work or something and now are CEO. Does that make any sense? Prob not but that's sort of how it feels. 


2. Mrs. Chaplin

I changed my name, almost immediately honestly. And it was so much easier than I expected, you don't need Hitchswitch. Sorry, it's just so much easier than that and this list on the Knot was super helpful to make sure I'd remembered everywhere to change it. It is an adjustment though. I'd been Tiffany Geiger for 27 years and then I wasn't. I love my new name don't get me wrong but it's one of the things I'm still adjusting to. Though I do also love being a Chaplin now like "yeah, we have the same last name. we're married and stuff." Again, sort of that weird sense of pride for some reason. 


3. The honeymoon phase is real.

Cory and I had been together 16 years before we got married. I know, if you haven't read our story you can do so here. And had lived together for 3 before so I felt like we knew all the things about each other and had been through pretty much everything together. But that post-wedding glow is real. It's just incredible and your relationship is just SO GOOD right after. Sex-wise. Happiness-wise. Life-wise. It's just INCREDIBLE. 


4. Combining bank accounts/talking money is weird.

We've lived together for 3+ years now so we've been talking about money for a while now but now that you're legally married it literally means mine is his and his is mine so suddenly everything matters more financially. Because your spouse is literally invested in everything you are - good and bad. So talk about the money, preferably before marriage but the conversation continues after and it's something we're working on - ok, I'm working on getting comfortable with still. I like to shop and go out for dinner and it's expensive to get my hair colored, eyebrows done - you know the work us girls do to feel pretty - and some of that Cory doesn't understand but he's trying to and I'm trying to keep the conversation open. And vice versa one day I saw an email on his phone that he'd bought Bitcoin or one of those currencies for like $5k and YOU DID WHAT?! suddenly a $5k purchase felt like something I should know about. Anyway, be ready for it and stay open to it and you'll find your groove. 


5. You'll never regret the money you spent on your wedding (or prob not your honeymoon.. but I wouldn't know yet). 

We paid for our wedding and guys.. it's expensive! But it was the best day of our lives and I'm not saying do the ridiculous and get everything you want but get the important things to you because you won't regret it. I have such great memories (and photos) of that day, I ask Cory at least once a week if we can do it again. Worth every penny. 


6. Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Hell, do both. Post-wedding depression is real. For months/years you've been planning this day and then the day comes and it's beyond and then it goes and you're left wondering like now what!? Let's go back. And it's sad for a while.. I still get sad sometimes but def less so. I'd say the "severe" post-party depression was like the first 60ish days because within that time frame you're in your relationship honeymoon phase and photos are coming in and your videos are coming in and then all that ends and it kind of becomes normal. 


7. Marriage life is the same. 

People frequently ask "how's married life?" and it's the same. The only change I could really expect some people may go through is if they didn't live together before because then that's definitely an adjustment. But we did so married life is the same we're just legally bound now. 


8. The Honeymoon

I couldn't handle mentally planning a wedding and a big honeymoon and let's be honest, neither could our bank accounts. So we went down to Miami right after for a few days (which were incredible! You should def do something right after the wedding just you and your spouse for a night at least and really basque in the post-wedding glory) and delayed our honeymoon. But even if you choose to delay it, make it a priority to plan it! It's not something you want to inadvertently skip because you just never got around to planning. Cory and I just got back from a trip with our friends to Europe and now that we're through that we're focusing on figuring out where we want to go on our Honeymoon and when. 


9. Priorize your spouse and your marriage.

You're busy. And if you live in NYC somehow you're even busier. It's easy for it to drop down the list. You work, you work late, you get happy hour with friends, you go to the gym, you get your hair colored. It's easy to move through the week without spending time with your spouse. It's important to prioritize time together and plan date nights. It's easy amidst planning and reaching for big goals (a trip, a house, whatever it is) to skip date night. But you have to find a way to make it a priority at the same time - cook at home together and sit down to dinner without phones and TV, that counts. We've recently gotten back into going out every week or so and date nights are the best. We come home like "Wow! That was so fun!" So plan dates just the two of you & go on them! You need the time to connect with your spouse. 


10. Remember your wedding day is just the beginning of many dreams.

Wedding day was the best. I will say it over and over again. And the post-party depression was real. But it's just the first of so many of our dreams together! There will be buying our first house, vacations, babies, career moves and so many more things to focus on and be excited for your future together! Wedding day is just the beginning.