Girl Ninja finally guest posted here….

The day has come 🙂 For today, it’s MY voice, Girl Ninja, and you are getting the low down from the real deal…

So wedding planning has been a love/hate relationship..I love the planning, hate my relationship (Just kidding…love ya Ninja). In reality, it has been a lot of fun putting ideas into actuality, and watching piece by piece fall into place.  The two BEST things about wedding planning have been finding ways to make our day unique to US, and finding ways to save money or do it cheaper (the latter results in a much happier and more satisfied Ninja).

As much as I have had the little-girl-pretty-pretty-princess wedding dream, I also have a sense of disbelief when thinking about spending so much on one day.  So, the key to it all is balance. Spend where it matters, make sure it’s worth it, and get creative where you don’t care. Here are some glimpses of our August 8 extravaganza….

Invites/Save the Dates: I love arts and crafts, but I hate computers. When it came to creating 150 invitations I didn’t think I could do it alone.  As I researched, I realized I could!!! …and save about $700 dollars in the process.  Coupons, friends, Ninja’s photoshop skills, and my vision created one of the most stressful aspects of planning, but ended up being totally worth it in the end. Here’s OUR invitation…

Cake: How many weddings have you been to where you actually liked the cake? And how many times have you seen the servers carrying around platters full of uneaten cake practically begging someone to pretend they want some?  I’ve seen it all too many times, so, I used a BRILLIANT idea (borrowed from a friend) and hopped on ETSY.COM.  I ordered a 2-layer fake cake I was able to design with lace and ribbon (very vintage looking) .  This way, I am only paying for one layer of real cake, which sits on top of the fake layers. Perfect for the infamous cake cutting pictures.  Then, the way cheaper, and way more affordable, and way more Ninja friendly, Costco sheet cake will be cut into triangles and topped with a flower petal and served to our guests for dessert.  And guess what? If they don’t eat it and there is tons of left over…I could really care less because this idea has saved me about $500.

Favors: With our favors, we chose not to save money, but to put that money to good use.  Both Debt Ninja and I volunteer for a high school youth ministry, and decided to put the favor money towards a donation to Young Life on  behalf of our wedding guests. Check out this video about the camp we’ll be sending a kid to.

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen outfits: Asking friends to be in a wedding is an honor…but it also can be a pain when it means spending, spending, and more spending.  Here, rather than have a specific vision, I let the deals be my guide.  Finding ADORABLE Anthropology dresses on sale, paired with Target shoes (knock-offs from Steve Madden) left my bridesmaids spending less than $100 for their entire outfit.  Debt Ninja did the same for his groomsmen.  Finding suits to rent rather than tuxes saved about $50 and got us the color/look we wanted.  Lastly, to save money for the flower girls family I made a tutu out of ivory, gray, and champagne tulle for a total cost of $5! The key to having good friends is to BE a good friend….and we chose to NOT lay a  spending burden upon our friends. Here’s the dress and shoes the bridesmaids got…


Saving money becomes kind of like a competition for me in wedding planning.  I love to find ways to get what I want at a lower price. Some things, however, were too important to give in on.  Debt Ninja and I both agreed the venue (an urban warehouse….SO cool) and photography were worth it to spend money on, and the quality of these two things will for sure pay off. Here’s our venue…


All said and done (well….almost done) planning a wedding has been low key and a lot of fun.  All of the details you’ve read about, topped with white flowers, lanterns, amazing food and good music and dancing, I think it will come together perfectly representing the two of us.  While Debt Ninja has had more of an opinion than I had ever imagined, it makes me thankful that he cares that it is so unique to US.  I mean, what says Debt Ninja more than saving money and coming in under budget (we didn’t…but close)?

Thanks for letting me share my pride and joy…and all the gritty details of wedding planning.  I’ve gotten a taste of the blogging world. It’s kinda fun…maybe I’ll be back another day!

-GN…soon to be Mrs. Ninja

Put your hands together for Girl Ninja and show her some love in the comments below. She lost her blogging virginity today just for you! If you have any wedding questions for her, feel free to ask away and she will definitely get back to you.

What areas of your wedding did you (or do you plan to) save some money on? Where did you decide to go big and drop the benjamins?

33 thoughts on “Girl Ninja finally guest posted here….

  1. Woo Girl Ninja!

    I love the invitations, that’s one area I haven’t thought about yet, but I’m inspired by your efforts, and will try to make some myself!

    I also love the cake idea, and my boy has suggested something similar. I am going to make the wedding cake, and so that it doesn’t matter if it’s awful tasting, we are going with the sheet-cake-for-dessert approach. Also means, we don’t have to shell out an extra £5-6 a head for some nasty chocolate pudding half the guests won’t like anyway!

    Good luck on the day!

  2. I’m impressed by your crafty-frugality. Good for you! And thanks for braving to post on Ninja’s blog. Congrats on the upcoming wedding.

  3. Hurray for Girl Ninja. Thanks for posting…and good luck waiting those last few weeks.

    You can be frugal without being cheap or tacky. Your invites are gorgeous, but I’m sure if they looked like a kindgarden art project, you would’ve thrown the towel in. And thank you on behalf of all the bridesmaids out there for being cost and fashion conscious. The week before I got married, I was in one of my best girlfriends wedding and her bridesmaids dress ended up costing more than my wedding dress…and was not suitable for anything else.

    I love wedding planning, but you kind of go through withdrawl afterwards. Lucky for you, you will be jumping right into another big life event, moving in with Mr. Debt Ninja, so that’ll keep you from the anti-climaz of the wedding being over.

    My wedding snapshot below and I’d love to hear the other commenters post theirs too.
    ============================

    We spent our budget on food, venue, band and honeymoon. I bought the cheapest invites. My friend was a photographer and did an amazing job. My 70 yeer old mother made my wedding dress. I learned afterward that my in-laws were expecting to see raggedy anne walking down the isle. We got married at my school. It has a small castle on the gorgeous grounds and we hired students to play the wedding and chamber music. It was all incredibly cheap and I later learned my in-laws were very worried about my “budget wedding.” I shouldn’t have shared my “deals” with my MIL as she was expecting the worst. They ended up having a great time and were shocked at how gorgeous my dress, venue, grounds and food were. We had dinner at an upscale jazz themed steakhouse which was fabulous.

    You would never have known how little I spent based on what we got in return. The other big saver was only having 30 people. We had a second post wedding house party for friends 2 weeks later that had a live band and was catered. Wedding was under $5K for over 100 people total. This is with steak dinners, open bar, a 5 peice big band, string quartet. Do you think they noticed I had no centerpeices or limo while they were eating filets? The answer is hell no. Plus, family got the formal affair like they wanted and we got our casual party.

  4. Excellent post, Girl Ninja! Love that “fake” wedding cake idea. My hubby actually made our wedding cake. Everyone said it was delicious. I never got a piece of it myself. 🙂

  5. Nice job on the invites! I Goccoed all of our paper products for about $500 and planned on selling the Gocco after for $200 but I love the thing so much that I’m not sure if I can part with it!

    Please post some wedding and honeymoon pics when all is said and done!

  6. Welcome GN! Glad to finally hear your voice here. I love the cake idea. I’ve heard about it before, but I never knew where to get the “fake” cake. Etsy really does have everything! And I’m totally using this idea when it comes time for my wedding!

  7. Great post, and I love reading about the places you saved money. Here’s where we scrimped and saved:

    1. My mom made my dress.
    2. His mom made his Zoot Suit (we were big into swing dancing.)
    3. A friend did our photography as a gift (if I had it to do over, I would have spent money on photos. We got decent pictures, but I think it’s worth it to spend the money.)
    4. His aunt made our wedding cake as a gift (we had a supplemental sheet cake.)
    5. Because he had for years hosted a community dinner where he cooked for about 30 people every week, friends gave back by preparing food for the reception. The green salads, pasta salads, fruit salads, and bread were their wedding gifts to us. (And the food was amazing!)
    6. My mom made the bridesmaids’ outfits, which were just a solid top and floral skirt and something they truly could wear again, to church or something. They wore shoes they already had.
    7. The groomsmen wore suits they already owned. We just asked for white shirts and blue ties.
    8. The swing band we hired for the reception gave us a discount because they basically witnessed our entire courtship — before we dated, while dating and during our engagement, we went to see and dance to that band weekly.
    9. My hair was super-short at the time, so there was no need to get my hair done. I did it myself.
    10. We made our own invitations and skipped save-the-date cards and favors.

    It really IS possible to have a beautiful, memorable wedding without dropping a ridiculous amount of money!

  8. Great post GN! You handled your wedding so much better than our 23-year-old selves. However, that was forever ago…

    Love the invitations, cake idea, venue, everything! We were just at a wedding and each table had its own beautiful, delicious-looking cake instead of the giant traditional cake we had. That also was a great idea.

    You have also learned some new skills. If you ever need a side job, you could help with weddings, invitation design, you name it!

  9. Welcome Girl Ninja! I’m an avid reader of this blog (my favorite PF blog – it’s the most entertaining while still being informative) but have yet to comment.

    I loved wedding planning and still miss it, two years later. Everything looks awesome and you used some fantastic money-saving ideas!

    Good luck with the actual day and congratulations!

  10. It’s good to finally hear your side of the story, Girl Ninja! 😉 I love all of your ideas! It sounds like Debt Ninja found himself a good match.

    We made our own invitations for our wedding, at a cost of $50 for the stationary. It still gives me hives to think of people spending $700 (or more!) on invitations. Also, I love, love, love that you’re doing donations to a program you both care about for your favors! That is so much more awesome than something your guests would probably toss in a drawer and forget about the next day!

    Good luck with everything! Maybe we’ll get to hear more from you in the future! (Right, Ninja? Right???)

  11. I hope we get to hear more from you GN! Wedding planning seems so long ago (DH and I will celebrate our 9th anniversary in Sept) but it was fun to see how you can still have a lovely day without spending a lot. We did a lot ourselves and managed to have a really great day without killing ourselves financially. Everyone tells me they had a great time at our wedding, which is just what we wanted-a great party to celebrate our committment.

  12. Like you, we spent money on the location and the photographer. Everything else was cheap (or as cheap as can be expected). My husband’s step mom made our wedding cake and it was everything I wanted. I made my invites and programs ($40) and they were very classy. One family member couldn’t believe I made them myself. She thought I had spent hundreds on them (go me and Michael’s craft store!) I hope you two truly enjoy your wedding day. I know I did! 🙂

  13. Welcome Girl Ninja. The wedding looks like it is coming together beautifully. My questions for you are: are you having a DJ or live band? & What kind of meal is it? served or buffet? what is the menu?

    As for my wedding, all I have to say is thank God for connections! My in-laws seemed to know everyone/everything about the town, so we were able to have a great wedding without spending nearly as much as we might have. Our DJ was a connection, so we got a great deal with him. My father-in-law runs a printing business, so the in-laws covered invitations/programs etc, but at cost so no mark-ups there. Our reception hall was just what I wanted, (well, almost, the place I wanted was under reconstruction, but this place was close) it was a ballroom in a 1930s mansion, beautiful exterior for photos, lovely and a perfect sized ballroom, and only cost about $500 for the night because the building is owned by the park district.

    I splurged on food, photography, and a little on the dress. I had a served 3 course meal, with the china, crystal, and white gloved waiters. The cake actually was done by the caterers and was perfect, people actually went for seconds. But the big hit was actually the ice cream. I used to work at an ice cream shop when first dating my husband, so we served 2 kinds of ice cream at the reception to remember that part of our courtship. The line went halfway around the ballroom!

    • We are having a DJ since we don’t really know of any live bands and have never been to a wedding with one, we figured we would play it safe and go with a DJ.

      Our dinner reception is buffet style (one of the areas we saved money). We would have liked to have it plated, but it was much more expensive and we couldn’t justify the expense. The main course options are beef tenderloin and/or salmon. We opted out of a vegetarian option as their will be plenty of sides (salad, bread, etc) for them to pick at.

      Your wedding sounds beautiful. White gloves sounds fancy, but the ice cream sounds like a fun idea. Maybe we will have to implement it.

      • Oddly enough, the plated meal came out cheaper than the buffet for us. Reason being, our reception site didn’t provide anything other than tables, so we would have had to rent all the linens, plates, silverware, glasses, etc for a buffet, whereas all of that was included in the price for plated service. That decision was unpleasant because my mom had decided on the buffet caterer without my input and I had wanted a plated service. I had my dad run the numbers and when the buffet turned out to be more expensive, my mom agreed to at least do a tasting with the caterer I wanted. Once she tried the cake they had made to demonstrate their desserts, she was sold. Which is why they did both our meal and cake, as well as serving the ice cream.

        As to ice cream, just go to your favorite ice cream place and ask what the cost is for the 5 gallon container. We went with 2 flavors, vanilla and one of our favorites called firecracker. Its strawberry ice cream with pop rocks in it. I was lucky that the owner was my former boss and a wedding guest because firecracker is a summer flavor and we got married in October. He saved a container for us for our wedding all summer with a “do not touch, for Heidi’s wedding” sign on it. Extra perk, leftover ice cream kept us stocked for weeks.

    • When are we going to get a mom-ninja post? Every time I read one of your comments, I laugh and usually laugh hard. OMG, that T-shirt comment last week had me in stitches.

  14. Everything looks great Girl Ninja! I especially like your venue – that looks awesome!!!

    Mr. BFS and I went low key, but it ended up being the most perfect day. Here was our breakdown:

    – Apparel: $300 ($125 gorgeous David’s Bridal special…looked amazing, a $150 tux with tails and accessories rental for hubby-to-be, and my mom spent $25 on all the materials to make my 5 foot long veil…it was amazing and decorated with shinies and fake pearls…the patterns were awesome against the back of my dress and went great with the train)

    – Rings: $250 ($250 for hubby’s band and my bands are from his mother and my engagement ring was his grandmother’s)

    – Music: $0 (my mother set up a sound system with CD’s)

    – Miscellaneous: $500 (reception decorations and the fake flowers used for bouquets and boutonnieres, misc decorations like the wedding topper, having our hair done for me and my maid-of-honor and flower girl, and any stuff I’m forgetting)

    – Ceremony Site and Officiant: $250 ($150 for beautiful chapel and organist and $100 for the preacher)

    – Flowers: $50 (the roses that my youngest sister handed out as the flower girl were from Sam’s Club)

    – Cake: $125 (3 tier Kroger’s cake decorated with our light blue wedding colors and pearlized…very pretty)

    – Reception/Catering: $500-$800 (reception hall for 60 guests and linens were $125, my mother bought trays from Sam’s Club of shrimp, vegetables, meat, and fruit, my MIL baked and decorated an awesome groom’s cake that looked like a sports official – my hubby’s hobby, and my aunt-in-law and my MIL decorated the tables with glitter and little reception souvenirs shaped like mini-silver chests with chocolate inside)

    – Photography: $500 (he was fantastic, stayed until we left, and took over 400 great photos)

    – Videography: $0 (But please get one…this is my only regret)

    – Invitations: $100 since my mom made them…they were gorgeous.

    – Honeymoon: $1100 ($600 for the plane tickets and hotel in Las Vegas which were a gift from my in-laws and we ended up only spending $500 while we were there for 5 days…we budgeted for $1000 but won $500 at video poker and Pai Gow)

    If we could do it all over again, it would be exactly the same except we’d hire a videographer and I’d try not to cry through the whole last darn part of the ceremony. What can I say, I’m a girly girl when it comes to emotional stuff…

    I hope you and Ninja have the perfect day! Remember not to overreact about unimportant stuff…just enjoy the atmosphere and the fact that you are celebrating a wonderful future together! 🙂

  15. Nice to see a post from you, Girl Ninja! And the wedding sounds like it’s going to be awesome! I love the space you’re using, it looks amazing.

    And I really like the bridesmaid dresses.

  16. Loved the cake idea so much. My first wedding was in Soviets, so hard to compare, although by local standards is still incredibly cheap (I had red shoes because I refused to buy white to never wear them again, and my siser made a dress from hers). For the second marriage (things happen) here, in US, I can proudly say it represented us perfectly – we met at a trail race, got married on a local trail with beautiful views, had 2 of our kids, a couple of our ultrarunning friends and a pastor who is also a runner met through blogging to perform the ceremony. I wore new sky-blue running skirt andn a tank top, we opened a bottle of champaine, and ate at a local TexMex all for under $100. Can you say “elope”? As close as it gets. There was a cake that the boys finally finished a week later (I hate cakes). Anyhow, even for a traditional wedding there are lots of ways to make it memorable, yet not breaking a bank. Way to go!

  17. yea GN! I love the venue, you and your guests will remember that place always! and nice choice on the donation to the youth camp. way to give back. Congratulations, best wishes and I am glad Ninja has met his match w you!

  18. WOW! The infamous GN! Great post and I wish you all the best on your wedding day. Can’t wait to see more guest posts from you.

  19. Great venue; with all that wood I bet you’ll get GREAT black and white photos! I purchased most wedding things on Etsy, and made the programs. Even considered the fake cake, but got a great deal on one near us where the baker works out of her home (read: no overhead). The only thing we skimpied on, and I wished we hadn’t, was photography. But hey – good photos don’t make a stronger marriage, and that’s what it comes down to – what happens after the ceremony. Good luck on your voyage!

    Heidi – the plated meal was cheaper for us too. Maybe because people take 2nds at a buffet so that’s more food? Or maybe people heap their plates more at a buffet.

  20. I am really impressed with your relationship. I have been married for 17 years and I turn 35 next month, so I was a little younger than you but I think you two will go a long ways in life. I like to see young people working as one and I really feel that when reading your blogs. Best of luck to you both.

  21. This is GN’s mom. So proud of our GN and her Ninja. Planning this wedding has been a lot of fun and pretty stress free so far. We gave them a budget and this is our first time having a wedding in our family so we really didn’t know what to expect. At times I thought are you kidding when GN wanted things like a fake cake (I’m so traditional) and homemade invites BUT I’m pleasantly surprised and so proud of her. Can’t wait for the big day and a then a Baby Ninja!!!!!

  22. Great debut post GN!
    Congrats on the upcoming wedding! All of your planning looks fab and has been so fun to read about. It has made me super reminiscent of our wedding 6 years ago…yay for August anniversaries!
    We got married out of state, so literally my mom took care of everything…and paid for it, which was nice;) We spent the big money of photography and top shelf liquor for the cocktail hour (her idea, not ours). Everything else was nice, but not too pricey (I would guess, I honestly have no idea of the total cost for everything).
    About the cake…just make sure you get some! I am a cake lover and literally did not even get a piece of my own wedding cake (besides the mini slices I scarfed down while cutting the cake with hubby) because we were never at our seat and always hustling around to see everyone or on the dance floor. Although the top layer that we saved for our 1 year anniversary was bomb and I got a lot because it was only me and the Mr to share it that time;)
    Enjoy the next couple of weeks before the big day!
    Trina

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