Come visit me at my new blog, SuperNoVAwife!

Let’s start this with the new, user-generated feature of SuperNoVABride. The SuperNoVABride Wiki! I compiled a list of every possible DC-area wedding venue I came across during my wedding planning and put it on the Wiki. But, it’s just that (for now) … a list! Why? Because its a Wiki! Which means that ANYBODY can contribute. So, check it out, and if you’ve used one of those venues, we’d very much like to see some information added! Know of a venue that’s not on the list? Add it! I suppose that in between other projects, I will also contribute to the content!

Update November 2013 – Due to an absolutely insane amount of spam, I had to take down the wiki.  Sorry for any inconvenience!  Stupid bots! 

Let me know what you think!

And now, about the blog itself.

When I started SuperNoVABride back in November 2010, I didn’t have high hopes. I thought out would get bored with it within a month. Or get so busy with the actually PLANNING of a wedding that I wouldn’t have time to BLOG about planning a wedding.

But holy shit.There I was nearly 18 months later. Heck, nearly 6 months past the wedding, and I was still blogging about wedding stuff. That, I certainly thought, would NEVER happen.

Rather, I am so insanely happy that I maintained this blog. I am so happy that I have a chronicle of all the batshit craziness that occurs during the course of planning a wedding.

Sure, I don’t blog about the normal wedding stuff. I don’t post inspiration boards or go gaga over invitation suites. I kept it practical. I kept it controversial. Oh, and I have at least three blog posts with the word “hate” in their title. Yup. ‘Cause haters gonna hate.

Most of the wedding bloggers around the blogosphere have planned and had their own weddings, but have continued to blog about it for years later. Many of them enter the wedding planning business or do something else in the wedding industry. A lot of those bloggers I really respect. But, I am not one who can continue to write about it, and am certainly not one who wants to work in the wedding industry. (Because I could just see myself telling a bride, “Geezus, just chill the fuck out!)

About two months ago, I found myself un-following all wedding-related boards on Pinterest. Then I realized that my “unread” count on Weddings folder of RSS feeds routinely exceeded 1000 unread posts. So I started unsubscribing to many of them. And then sure enough, I couldn’t find much mojo to write on my own wedding blog.

So, before this blog begins to really languish, apologizing for only posting maybe once per month, and then I have to begin each post with an apology for not posting recently, I have decided that it’s time to bow out gracefully.

Well, as gracefully as I can. Because as Ken can attest, I can’t even walk up stairs with grace.

SuperNoVABride will always remain up so that future brides can continue to read the content when they need a breath of practicality in an overly prettied up wedding blogosphere. I, of course, will still always be accessible via e-mail at melissa [at] supernovabride [dot] com, so send me a note if there’s anything I can help you with! Hosting and domain names and all that boring stuff will be renewed. And maybe I’ll even hop back over here if I ever get the urge to write some new and amazing wedding-related blog post.

But, I doubt it. And if I do, they are plenty of other wedding blogs that I can write guest posts for!

I’ll do some cleaning up around the blog, maybe create a static landing page and make it easier to navigate the archives, but this is it for new content. It’s time to move on.

So, speaking of moving on. Ken and I have started a new blog called SuperNoVAWife.  We’ll be documenting our travels, life, and home projects, especially technology-related ones.  And, there will definitely be some wedding-related tech projects on there that Ken completed for our wedding. It’s still in its infancy, but I promise, it will rock your world. (Okay, maybe not.  But please stop by and say hello!)

I am so incredibly thankful that I blogged this entire experience. I’m so happy that I got to (virtually) meet many other brides planning their own weddings. And I hope that maybe, even just a teensy bit, I managed to help other couples planning their own weddings.

And they lived happily ever after.

{ 1 comment }

I seriously could not decide what to do for a wedding guest book. I had toyed around with this idea of wedding guest book “art” way back, but I was kind of worried that the finished product would be, well, underwhelming.

So, we opted for something a bit simpler. It could still be hung as art in our home, and therefore not left languishing in some box only to be seen every 10 years, but something we would see and appreciate every day.

We bought multiple types of cardstock, including handmade papers, and had our guests write us notes on that paper (using a variety of markers, charcoal pencils, and colored pencils) and then tack it up on a piece of fabric-covered cork.

Then we had the whole thing framed. And just last night, we hung it on the wall in our kitchen! (Pictures intentionally blurred )





I just think it’s so fun!



Kids drew pictures for us:




And we even received messages in different languages!




And here are some photos from our professional photographer of the guest book “station” at our wedding. We also had the favors set up there, hoping to encourage guest book participation!





I really, really like how everything ended up looking. We got it professionally framed which, unfortunately, is outrageously expensive, but we had purchased a “cheap” frame at first (which was still nearly $100) but the frame was just that.  Too cheap and flimsy for the finished product, and also looked really really cheap.

I love how the silver of the frame picks up on the silver thumbtacks that are holding up the message.

Perhaps in retrospect, I wouldn’t have opted for handmade paper, because it makes the writing look very “ridge-y” but I still like the eclectic look of all the different papers and writing utensils.

What about you all? What was your guest “book?”


A Few Bits of Randomness

by Melissa on May 15, 2012

A few things I realize I never shared with you all about our wedding, but none of which really warrant their own full post!

Our Save the Date

We designed this ourselves and used one of the photos from our engagement session. A perfect infusion of fun and geek.

Save-the-date 2011-05 - flat


Our Favors

We toyed with a lot of ideas for favors, but ultimately settled on customized flashlights ordered from Ebay. Our campground wedding venue had virtually no lighting outside the buildings and pavilion, so we wanted to make sure guests could find their way around and back to their cars when it was time to leave. Truly practical! And no DIY time consuming-ness necessary! Oh, and the kiddos got glow necklaces, bracelets, and glow sticks.

We could’ve opted for a slightly cheaper flashlight, but those ones used watch batteries instead of AAA’s. We wanted folks to be able to use their flashlights forever, and who actually changes things with watch batteries? We figured folks would use things more if they could just swap out AAA batteries when they needed them! Even today, more than six months after our wedding, our guests still tell us they use their flashlights!



Our Programs

Also self-designed, and quite fun if I do say so myself!





Our Thank You Cards

Keeping with our photo theme, much like our invitations, we created these thank you cards in iPhoto. Rockin’






Simple, clean, and easy. Oh, and only about $1.49 each (including the envelopes!)


One of the first things that gave our day-of-coordinator a near heart attack was that our Save-the-Dates didn’t match our “color scheme” (whatever that was anyway. Fall colors with sapphire blue). And then that our invitations didn’t match our invitations.

So what! Seeing everything together here, I think everything went together beautifully, even if they didn’t “match.”


The 60/40 Wedding Budget Approach

by Melissa on May 9, 2012

Remember a few months ago when I posted our distribution of wedding expenses by amount, and realized that, based on my analysis, 60% of our total budget was spent on expenses less than $500!?

That was an insane realization for me. Absolutely insane.


Weddings are so expensive and I was so focused on saving on the big ticket items, like catering, videography, and deejaying. And of course, I’m not saying that focusing on decreasing those big item costs was bad or unnecessary or anything like that, but I shouldn’t have forgotten about all those “small” expenses of $500 or less, which added up to more than $14,000!!


So, I got to thinking. Why are wedding budget tools so damn complicated. I mean, nearly all of my wedding wire budget categories were drastically different than what was projected. Why do I need to focus on each category so specifically? Especially when those categories’ prices can vary so much depending on your geographic location.

Let’s try a different wedding budgeting technique. I’m calling it the 60/40 Wedding Budget Tool.  And here’s how it works.

The 60/40 Wedding Budget Technique

You see, most of those smaller, less than $500, expenses were “unknown” expenses. They’re expenses that didn’t fit neatly into typical wedding budget categories, like wedding cake toppers, photobooth props, cardstock for signage at the wedding, foamcore for display signs … you get the idea. All things I couldn’t really estimate how much I was going to spend.

However, most of the “big,” greater than $500.01 expenses, were known, anticipated expenses. Because, for instance, I knew what our venue fee was going to be. I knew how much our photographer was costing us, and how much our catering budget was going to be (plus or minus a few hundred dollars depending on our final guest count). Of course there are a few exceptions. For instance, I “knew” how much our officiant and hair stylist was going to cost, and those were both less than $500.

Here’s how I suggest projecting your wedding budget:

Add up the expenses from your desired (or already booked) big ticket vendors, like the caterer, photographer, deejay, videographer, etc. You should anticipate that the sum of all those vendors’ costs will comprise approximately 40% of your wedding budget, so you can expect to spend approximately.

Let’s say those big ticket expenses add up to $4000. And from this formula, you can assume that you’ll be spending 60% of your budget on expenses less than $500, most of which are probably going to be “unknown” expenses. So if you’re spending $4000 comprising 40% of your budget, then that means you’ll likely spend an additional $6000 (or 60%) on expenses less than $500.

That works out great if you have a wedding budget of $10,000. You’ll spend $4000 on big ticket items and then $6000 on smaller expenses.

But, what if your budget is $10,000, but when you added up all your “big ticket” expenses, that it came to $5760. That would mean that your “unknown” and lesser expenses of less than $500 will likely add up to $8640. Now, all of a sudden, you’re looking at the potential for spending more than $14,000 on your wedding. More than $4000 over your budget!

This is a really easy trap to fall into. Saying, that you have a $10,000 budget, and then spending 90% of it on your big ticket vendors and figuring you’ll still have $1000 of wiggle room budget and money to spend on décor. Wrong-zo. You need to allow yourself significantly more wiggle room in your budget than 10% for all your unknown and smaller expenses.

I realize that my wedding is just one wedding an the 60/40 ratio might not work for everyone. But I do think mine is an illustrative example of someone who really tried to save money (got very inexpensive catering, two wedding dresses that were less than $200 each, the only flowers we had were my bouquet and corsages and bouts for family members, we self-deejayed, etc.) but we STILL managed to go more than $8000 over our intended wedding budget.

So, while 60/40 might not work for everyone, you should anticipate that it will be something similar. Maybe 50/50 or 40/60, etc.

Did anyone else out there track their wedding expenses obsessively like we did? Was your expense distribution about the same?


About my Wedding Ring!

by Melissa on May 1, 2012

**Disclosure: I started writing this post back in September 2011, right after my wedding ring arrived, but just never got around to finishing it and posting it!

I started looking at wedding rings in June 2011 (plenty of time for our November 2011 wedding), and it took me nearly three months to decide on what I wanted.  I knew that I didn’t want to spend more than $400, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for, but after trying a few on, I had identified my criteria more clearly:

1) I wanted a band that was as close to identical in height and width as the band part of my engagement ring.  For instance, I felt that wedding bands that were wider than the band part of my engagement ring looked really off balance and distracted attention away from my engagement ring.

2) I also didn’t like wedding bands that were significantly “shorter” than the band part of my engagement ring. Again, I can’t describe it, but it just looked very strange.

But, when I would find a wedding band that was as high as my existing ring, it wouldn’t fit flush up against my engagement ring.  Because the prongs stick out, it would be impossible to fit something of the same height directly next to it.

Hmmm, dilemma.

Also, although I really liked the look of diamond bands, they were (obviously) more expensive than just plain bands.

Well, one day on one of the wedding blogs, I can’t remember which, I found some beautiful rose gold bands! I was set.  I thought that a plain rose gold band would be a beautiful contrast to my existing engagement ring but not be too distracting. So, I set out to a custom jewelry place here in Northern Virginia that gets excellent reviews. They told me that they would be able to custom make me a band precisely to my specifications (identical height and width of my engagement ring) by “cheating” a bit and making the wedding band not precisely round. This way it would fit up against my engagement ring and not be affected by the engagement ring prongs.  It would range from $350-450 and I would have to leave my engagement ring with them for a few days so that they could make a mold.

Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that $350-$450 for just a plain band is a LOT of money, even if it is custom. So, I had a quick conversation with my fiancé. He suggested that I try Natural Sapphire Company, where he bought my engagement ring, to see if they could custom make something cheaper.  Well, they quoted me the same price as the local jeweler for a plain band.  For a diamond band that would match my engagement ring precisely, it would be $750.

Although I liked the look of diamond bands I had tried on, that was well over my budget.

I was really struggling with what to do.  I love love LOVE my engagement ring. So I suggested that my engagement ring double as my wedding band.  But my fiancé didn’t like that idea.  He wanted them to be two separate rings.  Then he said,  “You know, you rarely wear jewelry” (except for my engagement ring now of course). “$750 is not a lot of money for a piece of jewelry that you will wear every day for the rest of your life, especially if it’s exactly what you want. It will custom match your existing engagement ring”

Easy to say for a guy who paid $14.99 for his wedding band!

So, I took his advice and contacted his original salesperson at Natural Sapphire Company.  She was really helpful and sent me a wax model of the band. To be honest, it was kind of difficult to tell from the wax model how the ring would look and fit, but, trusting my gut, I decided to place the order for diamond band.  Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars.  Le sigh.

But, zero regrets here! I love the way that it matches my sapphire engagement ring and doesn’t detract from it one bit. It’s gorgeous!


My wedding ring, the day it was delivered via FedEx!


What about you all? Did you spend more than you anticipated on your wedding rings?


Last Year on SuperNoVABride

by Melissa on April 30, 2012

Here are my favorite posts from April 2011!


What our Wedding To-Do Lists Looked Like

by Melissa on April 30, 2012

For as much as I obsessed about our to-do list while planning the wedding, I posted about it here very infrequently. As nearly any bride can attest, planning a wedding is just one to-do after another up until the I Do’s!

Our General Wedding Action Plan

Way back, I outlined our wedding action plan, which was designed to spread out our big wedding tasks over the course of several months to make it manageable. Also, thanks to our unique wedding venue situation, we couldn’t book any of our vendors until just over five months until our wedding day. That meant we had several months to research the big ticket items so we’d be ready to pounce the moment our wedding was confirmed.

If you recall, the wedding action plan looked like this:


  • Interview photographers
  • Compile addresses for invitations and save-the-dates
  • Identify top three photographers
  • Firm up wedding budget calculations


  • Research hair and makeup artists
  • Interview videographers
  • Research marriage license requirements


  • Submit application for venue
  • Design Save-the-dates, test-print
  • Interview officiants
  • Research local restaurants for catering accompaniments
  • Take some intro dance lessons
  • Develop content and design for wedding website


  • Develop potential wedding songs and playlists
  • Start wedding dress shopping
  • Interview DJ’s
  • Have engagement photo shoot
  • Research cake bakeries


  • Begin to obtain decor items
    — special table for bride and groom
    — layouts for ceremony and reception
    — lots of jars and candles
  • Purchase wedding dress
  • Identify items for registry
  • Interview wedding coordinators
  • Finalize website
  • Research calligraphers
  • Follow up with venue if date has not been confirmed


  • Begin to design invitations
  • Finalize menu items
  • Finalize list for Out of Towner bags
  • Print and mail save-the-dates
  • Start shopping for wedding rings
  • Book photographer
  • Book DJ
  • Book Hair and Makeup
  • Book Officiant
  • Book Videographer
  • Book coordinator


  • Purchase wedding accessories and shoes
  • Take more dance lessons
  • Book lessons for choreographed first dance

For the most part, everything went to plan for this. Of course, there were some things we decided to eliminate (like a videographer, calligrapher, deejay, and makeup vendors) after our initial estimates and interviews. And other things got delayed a few months (I didn’t actually book a hair stylist until December, not June like the action plan had dictated), but 90% of the tasks were done in each month specified. Not too shabby!

Our Detailed Wedding To-Do List

Then it was time to get to the nitty gritty, so I developed and posted our detailed wedding to-do list after we were done with our big picture action plan. That detailed wedding to-do list consisted of 100-ish or so tasks, organized by “context” like Décor, Invitations, and Music.

That 100-ish tasks eventually morphed into a 248 task list that looked like this



By the way, if you’re interested to see the full shebang, including the tasks in all their crossed out glory, you can check a copy of the actual to-do list on Google Docs. And read the notes about how some tasks, like the “family tree” project were eventually nixed.

List of Last Minute Wedding To-Do’s

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the detailed wedding task list was getting a bit unwieldy, so I also created a “Last Minute Wedding To-Do’s List” of all the things that had to be done, for the most part, in the week or two leading up to the wedding.  It looked like this:



There you have it. All our to-do lists in one place. Did yours look similar? Wasn’t it always so gratifying to cross something off the list?


Remember last month when I did a distribution of our wedding expenses and noted that more than 23% of our wedding expenses were incurred during the actual wedding month? And heck, that 57% of our wedding expenses were incurred in the two full months leading up to our wedding?

I think that this is excellent news for those of you who think that paying for a wedding might be a huge struggle. Even though it’s not something I recommend, if you stretch out your engagement for 15 months or so, you would have plenty of time to save up money to pay for probably a $15,000 wedding!

There are lots of tips in the personal finance blogosphere on how to save money, and I’ll show you those in a few minutes, but here are some that I think are especially useful for engaged (in other words, soon to be married!) couples!

  • Move in with your fiancé (or vice versa). You’re getting married, right? If you aren’t already living together, that is a huge financial mistake. You’re paying probably twice the rent (or mortgage) than necessary. Forget your parents’ (or your) objections, and move in with each other to save some serious cash before the wedding.
  • Now that you’re moved in together, that means you can eliminate other things like extra cable bills, water bills, etc.
  • Sell your stuff. Whether you’re already living together or just moving in, start selling your stuff. Old furniture, old books, clothes that don’t fit … whatever. Clear out the house in anticipation of those nice shiny wedding gifts that will be filling it up soon.
  • Speaking of cable, cut back on all cable. You won’t have much time for tv-watching as the wedding approaches anyway
  • Combine all your insurances. Thanks to domestic partnership laws in a lot of states, you and your fiancé can likely combine insurances to save some money. So, consolidate your health insurances, auto insurance, etc.
  • On a similar note, if you have a decent enough emergency fund to cover it, consider increasing the deductibles on all your insurance policies. This will help you save money each month on your insurance policies!

Without further ado, here is a list of links that contain an insane amount of tips for how to save money. Implement them now, and be able to pay for your wedding in cash!

{ 1 comment }

What happened to our wedding cakes

by Melissa on April 26, 2012

Well, I’ve mentioned it about a million times here on SuperNoVAbride, but never actually dedicated an entire post to it. So, what happened to our wedding cakes and why were they all wrong?

We told our wedding cake bakery that we wanted plain and simple cakes as our wedding cake, plus cupcakes. We showed her pictures like this:


Image Source

chocolate buttercream cake

Image Source

Because we wanted to have a table of a bunch of round cakes, like this:

cake table

Image Source

We sent her a contract and deposit about four months before the wedding, and a final balance 30 days before the wedding. Our contract specified that we wanted no decoration on the wedding cake, just the frosting and fillings indicated and to look like what was in the picture.

Well, the DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING, she is calling our coordinator to ask us what we meant by “no decoration.” Mind you, she had had the contract for nearly FOUR MONTHS and never asked us for any clarification. It seems to me like we met with her for the tasting, showed her pictures of what we wanted, then we sent in the contract, and she never bothered to look at it or take note of our requests.  Mind you, this was a reputable wedding cake bakery who had excellent Yelp and WeddingWire reviews.

I had talked about this before in my post about my day-of-coordinator, but the wedding cake bakery is the only vendor I found through our day-of-coordinator. And I hated how that entire process worked. How I was never allowed to contact the bakery myself. Everything had to go through the DOC. When I had a question, it was like a big game of telephone communicating it to the vendor through the coordinator. I really questioned why anyone would ever want to use a coordinator to find all their vendors, because it seriously took me like twice as long to get an answer from the bakery compared to other vendors.

While Ken and I are getting ready for the rehearsal and still reeling from all the craziness earlier that day, telling the coordinator (while she was on the phone with the bakery) what we wanted was just about enough to push me over the edge. I was just like, “PLAIN FUCKING ROUND CAKES AND CUPCAKES. Using the frostings and fillings that we had listed on our contract.” (like white cake with chocolate ganache, white cake with strawberry filling, chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, white cake with chocolate buttercream, etc.).  Unfortunately there was no internet access at the venue, so we couldn’t re-email the photos to her.

She still seemed confused, but the coordinator assured us everything would be okay.

Well, as soon as Ken and I arrived at the reception, we noticed that the cakes were wrong.


They weren’t those simple, rustic-looking cakes we had been hoping for and had shown the bakery pictures of. Instead, they looked like non decorated wedding cakes. Too formal for a rustic wedding, and they looked stupid.



Even though we wanted them undecorated, we wanted them looking like a the cakes in the pictures, not so smooth and stuff. I know, it’s hard to describe.  Plus, ALL the cakes had white icing! We expected the fillings to match the icing since we indicated that on our contract! But instead, they all just had the white icing.

At the wedding, we really weren’t that upset, just annoyed. As we thought about it in the days following the wedding, we wondered, “why on earth didn’t she call us in the FOUR MONTHS that she had the contract to clarify? Why did she wait until the night before the wedding?”  We were confused. She was reputable and does excellent work.

So, we requested a partial refund.  We weren’t requesting a full refund because the cupcakes were perfectly fine and correct, and the cakes tasted fine. It was just the completely incorrect decoration.

No response.  We e-mailed again (of course, through the coordinator), and again, no response.

I realized that she had never cashed our final balance check, even though we mailed it 30 days earlier since it was due one month prior to the wedding (or by that point it was probably like 40 days earlier). This struck me as odd for a business professional to do, so I decided I would stop payment on the check to get her attention. Well, the DAY I was going to call the bank to stop the payment, she cashed it.  BAH!! 

It took a lot of back and forth, but she finally agreed to an $80 refund.  We had originally requested a $150 refund, which was 30% of our total wedding cake cost.  After waiting for three weeks, still no refund. So, I e-mailed her again saying that we had not received the refund check. This was the exact text of my e-mail:

Hi [Bakery Owner’s Name], we have not received the reimbursement

She responded with a terribly unprofessional e-mail (this was about two weeks before Christmas)

HAppy holidays to you too!!!

The check is on its way.

Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was disgusted. She screwed up OUR wedding cakes and she has the nerve to give US a sarcastic attitude? We finally received our $80 refund check two days later.

Good riddance


I’ve given some tips before on interviewing wedding vendors before and talked about what worked best for us, but here are some additional tips I learned along the way:

  • It is entirely your responsibility to be knowledgeable going into the interview. I realize that some things are complicated, like photography, deejaying, and videography, but you HAVE to know the right questions to ask. Otherwise the vendor you’re interviewing might start rattling off all sorts of information that SOUNDS impressive, but really might not mean a whole lot. Venture on to some industry forums and lurk around. Learn about why it’s crucial that your photographer shoot in RAW and not JPEG. Learn that there’s a difference between high definition and “high quality” video recording equipment.
  • Similarly, vendors know they can tell you all sorts of information that sounds impressive. So don’t be afraid to ask, “Why is that important.” For instance, the deejay you’re interviewing might tell you that they use a 1400 Watt Amplifier. Interrupt them. Ask “why is that important.” Ask them “is that an industry standard” and “is that considered “top of the line, mid-level, etc. equipment” and “what websites can I go to to learn more about your equipment? and “Do other deejays use similar equipment?”  Don’t just nod like a little sheep. Ask questions. It’s your money. Spend it on the right folks.
  • Ask them what the worst complaint is that they’ve ever received. Of course, you can always go and check their reviews on Yelp and Wedding Wire, but I always like to hear it from them. If asking someone in a job interview what their greatest weakness is, then asking someone about their worst complaint is perfectly acceptable. Ask them if they thought the complaint was valid, how they handled it, and what they did in the future to avoid such complaints.
  • Give them some scenarios that you see likely (or at least possible) to happen at your wedding and ask them what they would do. Ask your deejay how they’ll handle it if your non-dancing family won’t get on the dance floor. Ask your caterer and bartender how they’d handle Uncle Joe who likes to drink too much, and ask your photographer how they’d handle a lot of wannabe amateur photographers at your wedding. 

What other wedding vendor interviewing tips do you have?