It's always inspiring to see someone take their passion and turn it into a full-time job. Dana LaRue, the creator of The Broke-Ass Bride, started blogging to her heart's content in 2008 when she was planning and budgeting for her own wedding. Fast forward to 2011, Dana has about eight other people (including her husband) contributing content toward the blog, and has several awards under her belt, which include being named Google Blog of Note in 2009 and winning the Wedding Channel's Best Budget Wedding Blog category in 2010.
SavvySugar: How did this all start?
Dana LaRue: I started the blog in April 2008 when I found myself engaged and addicted to wedding blogs, but I couldn’t really find one that spoke to my situation, a broke-ass bride. I was getting a lot of inspiration from wedding blogs and sort of getting into the blog world. I have a background in writing and needed a creative outlet, so I thought that might be a good way for me to express myself and possibly help or connect with other brides in a similar situation. And then it sort of took off.
SS: What did you do before becoming a full-time wedding blogger?
DL: I’m a trained actor so that means most of my life I was in cubicles working a day job. I was an office manager and an executive assistant and at the time Broke-Ass Bride was born, I was working for a nonprofit as an office manager. Around Christmas or a little before that the blog was getting really demanding in a good way, a way that made it difficult to balance the day job and the blog, so I got a part-time social media consulting position that allowed me to transition out of full-time work. Three months after that job, I was laid off thanks to the economy, and I got pushed from the nest so to speak, and I took that as, "This is my sign. Go for it and make it full-time work." And that’s what we have been doing ever since.
To learn what her wedding budget was, read on.
SS: What was your wedding budget?
DL: It was around $12,000, but the value of the wedding was about three times what we paid for it thanks to a lot of savvy negotiation. For instance I bartered half the cost of my wedding dress away by cutting fabric and invoicing the designer, so that allowed me to have a dress that was twice what I paid for it. We won free photography from Dan Chen, who is an award-winning photographer based out of Chicago. We were able to just pay for his flight in and not have to worry about the big expense of having such an amazing talent at our wedding. Bartering, negotiation, and bride sharing were the three cornerstones of how we planned our wedding and how we empower other brides to plan theirs.
SS: What motivated you to keep on blogging about weddings when yours was over?
DL: I think I was so entrenched—by the time I got married, I had been engaged for almost two years, and I had been in the blogosphere for that long, and I was very well connected in terms of the industry. I had made many friends with planners and photographers and people that work in the business. What keeps me driving forward is less my passion for weddings specifically, but more my passion for empowering brides to turn obstacles into opportunity and not compromise their vision because they have a limited bank account.
SS: Do you think it's a good idea for brides-to-be to start blogging about their experience?
DL: I think it’s a really good way to keep track of the inspiration that led to their wedding. That’s partly why I started mine, and it’s something that I really love. I can go back and look at the archives and see how I came to the decision to hire a certain vendor or how we reached our theme or some of the emotional ups and downs that went into the process. It’s a really wonderful way to have a sense of community. Every bride comes to the point where they know they are boring their friends to tears talking about the little details of their wedding, but through the online bridal community, you can connect to a ton of different girls who are just as obsessed as you and would love to hear the details and share their own. It’s like you are joining a new sorority that you get to be a part of during the duration of your engagement, and you are surrounded by girls with common interests and goals.