Posts Tagged ‘Budgeting’

Latest Celebrity Engagement Ring Styles: Get the Look Within Your Budget

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Just like photos from red carpet events, when a celebrity gets engaged, we anxiously await a close-up photo of their engagement ring. After all, celebrities set engagement ring trends. Whether it’s Reese Witherspoon’s Ashoka cut diamond on a micro-pavé band, or Emily Blunt’s vintage ring, I’m noticing that celebrity brides are consistently choosing platinum. Why? Platinum is a great choice for engagement rings because it won’t change color or fade. It symbolizes a relationship that will endure. Since most of us can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands (or millions!) on an engagement ring, I wanted to share my tips on how you can still get one of the latest platinum ring styles without breaking the bank:

Diamond Solitaire from Gelin Abaci. Diamond in the Rough from Micro-Pavé

Diamond solitaire set in platinum from Gelin Abaci (L), Micro pave diamond engagement ring set in platinum from Diamond In The Rough (R)

1. Diamond Solitaire: Carrie-Ann Inaba received a princess cut diamond on a solid platinum band. This design draws attention to the center diamond, and since platinum is naturally white, it makes the diamond sparkle even brighter and appear larger, regardless of the size! Solitaire styles are the perfect choice for women who know their style is going to evolve and mature, or change over time. A platinum set solitaire style will work with everything and is easily given a fresh appearance simply by changing out the bands that you put with it. Solitaires can also be extremely “budget-friendly” since it’s easy to find a diamond in a size and quality to fit almost any budget.

Custom Designed Engagement Ring from Gemvara

Custom designed platinum engagement ring from

2. Customized Design: While a celebrity might choose a large center gemstone, it’s the customized design of a ring that truly makes it a platinum sparkler. Julie Benz received a one-of-a-kind platinum and cushion cut diamond engagement ring complete with a diamond frame and milgrain edge band. You can also inscribe a personal message or symbol and date onto the inside of your ring. This secret message sits next to the skin and is a constant reminder of the love and special moments a couple has shared. Personalization adds a huge emotional value to your ring regardless of how much you decide to spend. Having your message engraved in platinum will ensure that it lasts a lifetime.

3. Micro-Pavé Diamond Collar: Natalie Portman and Molly Sims chose the elegance of a micro-pavé or thin diamond collar to surround their center diamond. Diamond collars are the newest trend capturing the imaginations of Hollywood, providing an extra ring of sparkle and scintillation around the center diamond. This extra ring is not only dazzling, but it also creates the illusion of making a smaller diamond appear even larger and giving it extra life – the look you want at a price you can live with.

To view photos of the latest engagement ring styles within your price range, visit

Grooms: have you considered any of the above styles for the ring you’ll be giving your future bride? Brides: which ring above stands out to you and why? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Groom’s Book Club: Second Thoughts on Marriage & Divorce

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

You probably don’t need to be reminded that financial issues are the #1 cause cause of divorce in this country. In a perfect world, money arguments would be left to the bankers and stock traders. Unfortunately, many married couples just can’t seem to agree on finances.  Whether it’s one spouse spending money behind the others back or the other racking up credit card debt, marriage often leads to fiscal disagreement between husband and wife. Personally, I’ve found that my friends who actively researched money matters BEFORE their wedding seem to argue less. My theory has always been that having a strong core understand of money directly leads to a happier marriage. My thoughts were confirmed when I recently picked up a copy of Charles Jackson’s ‘Second Thoughts on Marriage & Divorce.’

newlyweds money

Charles Jackon, is a veteran of two marriages (and divorces). During his experiences, he has met and dealt with attorneys and counselors as well as countless other couples going through similar ordeals. After realizing that much of the emotional and financial stress involved with marriage and divorce was avoidable, he made it his goal to help couples identify and accept financial issues they may face while contemplating marriage or divorce. Charles firmly believes that by being aware of these issues early in the wedding planning/decision making process, will allow you to make better decisions on the issues you may face.

Here are just a few of the topics covered in this resourceful guide

A Guide to Understanding the Laws Surrounding Marriage Licenses – Charles explains the process of obtaining a valid state marriage license, hiring an officiant to marry you and understanding/complying with the laws in your state.

How to Identify and Protect Your Separate Assets – You might not know it, but any assets that you own before getting married will legally always be yours. In this portion of the book, Charles provides a guide on the pros/cons of combing assets and how to identify what’s “yours” and what’s “ours.”

Do Prenuptial Agreements Really Work – You probably don’t need to be told what a prenup is. The larger questions that many couples seek help with are “Do I need one?” and “Do they work?”  There are several benefits (and several disadvantages) of signing a one. Charles walks you through all of them.

Sharing More Than Just Last Names – Do you collect classic cars? Do you have multiple, large investments in your name? The book will tell you how marriage affects these assets and what you can do to protect yourself if you fear divorce may be on the horizon.

And although we hope this doesn’t apply to anyone reading this blog, the book also covers a wide range of topics related to the divorce process. Not only does Charles get into the legal and personal issues involved with ending a marriage, he also provides thought on reasons to stay married. Acknowledging that every marriage faces challenges, he provides valuable insight on why jumping the gun on a divorce may not be the best call. If you happen to know anyone currently going through a divorce, I can vouch that this book would be a great resource for them.

second thoughts on marriage and divorce

Click to order ‘Second Thoughts on Marriage & Divorce’

Like what you see? You can purchase the book for $15 off retail here. You can also connect further with Charles Jackson via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Have you and your bride-to-be discussed finances? Do you plan on combining assets or keeping them separate? Are you considering a prenup? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The Wedding Booze (or You’re gonna charge me how much?!)

Monday, November 29th, 2010


By Hunter Stiebel from The Broke Ass Bride

Gentlemen, congratulations on deciding to make the commitment of your life to your one true love! That is some manly s*#t you are pulling off. Since the moment you got down on bended knee, I bet you’ve had a bunch of  Conversations with your girlfriend, ahem pardon me, Fiancée, about the wedding. While your wife may be
transfixed as to how every detail must be perfectly beautiful, your top priority is more likely “How can we make this the funnest damn party I ever did throw?”

If that’s not the case, WAKE UP BROTHA!!! If this is going to be the most cash you’ve ever thrown down on a party, don’t you think it should be the most fun party humanly possible? Right. So, how do you make sure your wedding is a blast? Two simple words my friends: Food and Booze. A well-fed and buzzed wedding guest is an ecstatic, loving guest. As I write this I’m stuffed but sober, so lets focus on booze.


This groom knows that booze is important even before the wedding – photo Shannon Lee Images

“But Hunter” you say, “I’m trying to have a budget wedding.” Fear not my friend, the wedding that only serves pizza, wine and beer will beat out the tea tolling wedding where diamonds are hung from every corner any day of the week. But As the old saying goes, “Ya want booze? Cash you’re gonna loose.” Hmmm I’m not sure that’s a saying, but the one thing I do know is that when it comes to a wedding, couples are taken off guard by how much the holy spirits of the party end up costing them.  So here are some tips so you don’t get caught in the money pit behind the boozy curtain.

1) Location Location Location. Its sad how many times I’ve heard a couple think they’ve found the perfect location at the perfect price with no knowledge of the numbers they are soon to see. The rental was a steal, they even put down the deposit but then they found out that no outside liquor was allowed and the bar cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.  One of the first questions you want to ask a location is what is your catering/liquor policy. Some are flexible others are not.

2) The best way to pull off a cheap wedding bar will always be to bring in your own booze. Some locations will charge you to do this rather than use their services. Pop out the calculator and see if it’s worth it. Most likely it is. Sometimes it’s an insurance issue. See if your caterer or your planner has insurance that will cover you doing your own bar.

3) If the facility has no lee way on their bar policies, an easy way to save is by closing the bar after cocktail hour and serving only wine and beer with dinner.

signature-whiskey-cocktails4) Another route is to nix the full bar and go with a few signature cocktails plus wine and beer. We did a pear martini and called it… wait for it… “The Perfect Pear”.  Have a cocktail with the taste preferences of the bride and one of the grooms. Folks will love this bit of wedding inspiration and by drink two they’ll be everyone’s favorite.

5) Still trying to save a few more dollars? Doing just wine and beer is just fine and don’t let nobody tell ya different. No matter what your guests are into, they should be cool with one or the other. Consider tapping a keg to keep costs down, and don’t be afraid to cleverly re-label your cheap neighborhood wine and suddenly two buck chuck is a unique wedding vino.

Going one of these routes should make everyone happy. If someone isn’t happy with those choices, then that’s their problem and they were going to find something to complain about no matter what. Why did you invite that person anyway…? Oh right, they’re your third cousin. Yeah, third cousins are the worst… unless they are the person you happen to be marrying. If that’s the case may you live happily ever, and may I be the first to make a toast to your future children with lovely large chins.




Hunter Stiebel A.K.A The Fresh Hubby is president of Broke-Ass Media and regular contributor and editor of the award winning The Broke-Ass Bride. The Broke-Ass Bride website inspires and empowers readers to make the most of what they have by using creative, outside-the-box ideas rooted in practical advice to have a bad-ass wedding on any budget. Also, The Broke-Ass Bride has non-stop weekly giveaways and deals… it’s kind of nuts.

Wedding Vendors: To Tip or Not to Tip

Monday, August 30th, 2010


With so many wedding expenses, it’s easy to forget about tipping your wedding vendors on the big day. While it isn’t necessary to tip all of your vendors, some will definitely appreciate — and expect — it. A wedding planner, if you’re using one, best man or family member typically handles doling out gratuities.

First, make sure to check your contracts. Oftentimes, gratuity may already be included for some services, such as your caterer’s wait staff or limousine driver. But if not, tipping is a nice gesture, especially for those vendors who exceed your expectations or do an outstanding job. At the bare minimum, thank you-notes are always appreciated.

Remember, every couple is different and some can tip more than others. Here’s a quick cheat sheet based on averages we calculated after talking to grooms, brides and vendors:

Ceremony Musicians – if you’ve hired an orchestra, band or vocalists for the ceremony, $15-$20 per musician is customary. (Note that you don’t need to tip the solo organist at the church.)

DJs or Bands – $20-$25 for musicians/individual band members; $25-$50 for DJs.

Officiant – while it isn’t necessary to tip your officiant, a separate donation to the religious institution is a standard gesture.

Wedding Planners, Photographers, Videographers – tipping isn’t necessary for vendors who own their own businesses. But for those who go above and beyond, we highly recommend a 10% tip. If your budget doesn’t allow for that, providing professional photographs displaying the vendor’s handiwork is a solid gesture.


Connect with post author Chris Easter on Google+, Pinterest and Facebook.

Grooms and brides: do your vendor contracts have tips built in? Have you and your fiance talked about vendor gratuity? Let us know in the comments section below.  Vendors: we’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic as well.

Feeling the Budget Crunch? Consider a Mini-Moon

Thursday, August 5th, 2010
bed and breakfast mini honeymoon ideas

A bed & breakfast is an ideal destination for your mini-moon

With the time and money that go in to planning a wedding, it’s no wonder that many couples don’t feel like they can afford to take a honeymoon right away. Unfortunately, most couples that put off their big trip find that “real life” has a way of interfering in their plans for a delayed honeymoon. One day you’re swearing that you’ll go to Acapulco next year, the next think you know, you’re one of those cute old couples in the local paper whose children and grandchildren surprised them with the honeymoon they never had!

If you can’t afford a dream honeymoon right away, consider spending two or three days right after the wedding recuperating.  You could go to a bed and breakfast at a nearby town, go camping, or even just go to a hotel in your own city. The point is to not try and rush directly from the wedding aisle to the workplace cubicle. Don’t forget to turn off your cell phones and keep your whereabouts secret. All your FB friends and Twitter followers can last a few days without you!

Connect with post author Marta Segal Block on Google+ and Twitter.

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