$7K Intimate Last Minute Family-Oriented Simi Valley Wedding

Our relaxed pandemic fete with our family and dogs

Naomi, Communications Specialist + Andrew, Architect
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: Relaxed pandemic fete with our family and dogs
Planned Budget: $15,000
Actual Budget: $7,121.06
Number of Guests: 18
Location: Simi Valley, California
Photographer: Kaitie Brainerd

Where we allocated the most funds: My attire and the photographer ended up costing the exact same amount at $1440. Unfortunately this amount includes 3 outfits for 3 different events—none of which ended up happening due to COVID. I have a brand new white Zara suit I’m hoping to use at a friendception / anniversary party next year (if it happens) and a lacy white dress that I would’ve worn to the bridal shower, had it ended up happening in March. We also hired our photographer for only three hours instead of the usual eight, knowing we cared more about keeping costs down than having posed photos of us getting ready or dark, blurry photos of the reception.

Where we allocated the least funds: The “venue” and the “flowers.” We were planning to get married at the Santa Barbara county courthouse, a big grand Spanish-style building with a beautiful courtyard garden. When we changed the venue to my sister’s backyard, I bought some willow-style dangling lights to hang on the tree which only ended up costing about $150. We also came together as a family to put down fresh mulch, which my sister and BIL paid for. My MIL gifted us the eucalyptus boughs and candles that adorned each table. The only person who had flowers or a bouquet was my niece, who notified me that she was going to be my flower girl. (We were planning on no formal bridal/groom parties or most other traditional ceremonial features, even pre-COVID.)

What was totally worth it: The small wedding!!! I wanted the ceremony to be tiny the entire time we were planning but my fiance wanted to invite his extended family as well. Because of quarantine, we went from a fully planned courthouse ceremony of 40 down to a quickly planned backyard wedding with 18 guests, including only our immediate family members and my best friend who officiated. Now, I will say, the small wedding didn’t end up making planning any less stressful due to oh, you know, a global pandemic. Thanks, COVID!

What was totally not worth it: Also: the small wedding! If it were entirely up to me I would’ve just eloped. I wanted to have the least stressful wedding known to man and it ended up being the total opposite. I was relieved when it was all over. Well actually, I was relieved two weeks later, when we knew for sure that no one had gotten COVID from attending. And this is coming from one of those girls who fantasized about her wedding growing up!

A few things that helped us along the way: Mmmm, spreadsheets. And YNAB! And communication! I’m a laser-focused sort of over-planner so being organized helped me deal with the overwhelm.

My best practical advice for my planning self: From Future Naomi: THERE’S GOING TO BE A GLOBAL PANDEMIC! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE STRESS! RUN AWAY TO YOUR HONEYMOON DESTINATION BEFORE THEY CLOSE THE BORDERS! We ended up having a sorely needed relaxing week-long honeymoon at an AirBnB in San Diego instead of the three-week-long honeymoon in Japan we had planned for. So it goes.

Favorite thing about the wedding: Being married, so now we can chill through the rest of quarantine just knowing that it’s all over and done with and everyone’s still healthy.


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