SAM, ARCHITECTING & ANDREW, ACADEMIC
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: An awesome party, in which I don’t remember doing much but dance, with a wet start.
Planned Budget: Originally $10,000. I quickly realized I could not craft my way into that number. I was hopeful when I moved it to $20,000
Actual Budget: I lost track of that shit. I think closer to $ 30,000. Which I find hard to acknowledge.
Number of Guests: 150 I think?
Where we allocated the most funds:
Musicians and the equipment and services that went along with it were a BIG chunk. The headline band alone was $3,500 plus food and hotel rooms. The food for all those peeps was another large cost, but we did a taco bar to keep it somewhat reasonable (we originally wanted a food cart but couldn’t make it happen, so we had to hire a traditional caterer for a lot more money). I hired Maddie and convinced (er paid) her to come to Oregon so I could get some of those sweet dance shots of hers. We wanted good booze, so to offset the quality, kept the choices super limited (one type of vodka, one type of bourbon, two whiskeys because one had to be Fireball, one type of rum, a keg from a friend that works at a local brewery and a dozen or so growlers of various other beers, plus various red and white wine). Our venue cost a pretty penny too ($4,000), but it was the only place we could find in the area that would allow outdoor, amplified music and our own caterer. WedStock would have not been a true festival without outdoor music and street food. And the day-of coordinator. It seemed to be too big a job with too many moving parts to ask a friend to do it.
Where we allocated the least funds:
Decorative stuff. To us the location was beautiful and didn’t need all the “wedding crap” that people tell you “you MUST have.” I broke down on the centerpiece issue and compromised with my mom by having potted flowers and herbs, which are now scattered around our house and our loved ones’ houses. I got dried flower bouquets for the ladies at the last minute when I realized many of the flowers we planted weren’t gonna bloom in time for the wedding. A few friends and I designed the invitations, save the dates and programs. My maid of honor and I made my bouquet that morning with the flowers that were blooming. The wine came from Costco. The booze came from BevMo. Dessert was an amalgam of cookies my aunt baked, cakes from Whole Foods (thanks APW How To section!) that my nieces decorated, and s’mores on the fire outside. I “made” a photobooth (a camera on a tripod with some $3 remote shutter releases) with some costumes from friends. We did a physical invitation, but an online RSVP. No bridesmaid or groomsmen outfits. We called them Groupies and asked them to all wear earth tones. My dress was pretty cheap, considering labor was free, but the fabric was all really beautiful and not cheap as fabric goes.
What was totally worth it:
Our bands were totally wonderful and made the whole thing so special for us. We had four over the course of the weekend, plus a jam session and a few band mash ups. We hired one of our favorite festival bands that we had seen together many times as the “headliner” plus Andrews’ band and two local bands that we are friends with (links to the bands below). Also, I’m told the food was good, and we really love food (and it was still good as leftovers). And of course the Photographers were amazeballs! Our day-of coordinator was both totally worth it and a little disappointing. I think that I, in my desire to be laid back, did not ask enough of her. I wish I had gotten more of her expertise in the timeline. But she totally paid for herself when she found a new generator, got it delivered in record time, and saved the last set from disaster (see below). Also, she managed to take care of it all behind my back and only came to me when she had a solution to confirm spending the $150. The venue was more than I would have liked, but the woman that ran it was always super accommodating and helpful. Plus all the young cousins and nieces ended up fishing in the ponds there, which was super cute and kept them entertained. My dress was really special to me and my mom, despite the blood (literally), sweat, and tears.
Andrew says: The music was TOTALLY worth it.
What was totally not worth it:
Our sound guy was kind of an ass demanding payment before he would set up when no one was on site yet (maybe we should have discussed that with him before hand, since he doesn’t usually do weddings). To be clear, the misunderstanding was not worth it, but his product was. Our generator totally sucked and died repeatedly during Andrews’ set (test that shit beforehand!). All of the time, energy, and money spent on things that never even got put out as a byproduct of not having enough time or forethought to explain things to anyone. The white ribbons, the iPod playlist that I slaved over for the set breaks, the setup of the photobooth (which still totally worked, just looked a bit hokey). The chair rental for the ceremony, when I really just wanted everyone to stand around us all casual-like, and then five minutes into the damn thing, it starts to POUR and we all end up standing inside like I wanted in the first place! But, hindsight.
A few things that helped us along the way:
Having a really clear vision of what we wanted our wedding to feel like. Initially we were planning a small and cheap winter wedding. But when we sat down to do our minimal guest list, it exploded to sixty to eighty people, and we still were leaving off people we cared about in favor of people we were related to. So at that point we decided to just go for the big fat (Jewish) wedding. Our parents had both offered to help, so we were lucky to be able to change up the setting. So on our way to a music festival, Andrew suddenly nailed it on the head. What if we had a music festival FOR A WEDDING? Well, duh we thought. Perfect. Low key. Fun. And it what we actually do with most of our free time. This way we got to share the feeling with our loved ones that aren’t the music-festival type without dragging them to an actual music festival. Once that was decided, it was easy to say, “That fits,” and “That doesn’t.” It meant a built-in decision maker for all the things I didn’t really care about. Being that most of my closest friends and all of my family were out of state, I didn’t have much physical help before the wedding. But I took as much help as I could manage. I wish I had taken more, in the end.
APW helped A LOT along the way. Emotionally and physically (those spreadsheets were key). Also, OBB for style and support. We stole most of our ceremony from APW and from other Internet sources. I also scoured other people’s wedding websites (ones that openly gave the address) for information my guests might find helpful.
Biggest thing that helped: My mom. She took over everything I didn’t care about. And was happy to do it if it meant that there were favors and centerpieces. I would have just skipped that shit. All this while she was MAKING MY WEDDING DRESS.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
OMG give yourself more time. And quit being such a control freak (ha, right! like that could have happened). And don’t worry so much about the budget. You made a random stab at a random number, and it’s just not helpful to beat yourself up about spending more than it. And are you aware it takes TIME to get from one spot to the next, even in a small town? So maybe you should include that on your timeline? Also have you heard about the color guard thing? Where you don’t designate anyone as a “bridesmaid” and just ask all your special peeps to wear a color or group of colors? I would have totally done that and, if I had, saved myself some stress (no gifts, no section in the program to write, no bouquets and boutonnières). Accept more help (ask for it even). Even if it feels like a burden or if you think it might not turn out exactly like you thought it would in your head. Oh this is a big one: Don’t let your mom’s dog eat straight pins from the hem of your dress resulting in an eleventh hour emergency vet surgery. And don’t forget the rings.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
Not so much the fact that it did rain, but the resulting ceremony was amazing. My new husband up on that stage playing with his band for all his friends and family. And I got to show him off to all of mine. The shot of fireball at the end of the night with some of my oldest friends. My mom and dad putting aside all of the anger between them and walking me to the ceremony together, and then actually talking the next day. Finally eating a taco with my husband at the bar that was our after party.
Andrew says: Getting married to you. (He is such a suck up… happy sigh.)
I found it somewhat hard to find examples of what we were trying to do on the Internets. Mostly because these two things don’t normally fit together. So I had to make a lot of things “work” and be kind of creative. We hired quite a few non-wedding vendors to get the job done. Even the “wedding” vendors we did hire were forced to do things out of their normal routine because of the setup of the wedding. They were all so great about it and seemed to enjoy themselves, which was nice. The timeline was one of the most challenging aspects for me. I wish I would have gotten more guidance on that bit.