Our $16K, Homespun, Community-Built Wedding In The Middle Of Nowhere

With our squishy baby

allie, Nonprofit fundraising & jim, moving company manager

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Community-built party weekend in the middle of nowhere.

Planned budget: $15,000
Actual budget: $16,000
Number of guests: 75
LOCATION: Annapolis, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

Photography, food and drink, and venue. Having amazing photos to remember the weekend by was number one in my book! We are so grateful to our friends at Love + Wolves Co. for capturing the day with spirit. Knowing that most of our friends and family would be traveling out from the East Coast, we prioritized finding the perfect venue that could stand on its own without much decoration and display the best that Northern California has to offer—preferably a mix of Redwoods, rugged ocean views (nearby), and wine country. We also wanted to make sure that everyone could kick back and relax once they arrived, so we stocked up on our favorite food and booze!

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Video (a gift from a friend), music (DIY), and flowers. My friend who does the beauty for Love + Wolves Co. added to her list of many talents and ended up putting together the bouquets for the wedding. We picked up the flowers from our town farmer’s market (incredibly budget friendly), and she whipped up the most beautiful arrangements I’ve ever seen! And Jim’s talented friends built and stained our beautiful wood altar the morning of the wedding… best wedding gift ever.

What was totally worth it:

I had hoped to spend next to nothing on my dress, but I ended up being so happy with the gorgeous (and still inexpensive, comparatively) dress from Kite + Butterfly. It was so comfortable, and fun, and me.

What was totally not worth it:

We got so excited about all of our friends and family being out in nature with us for a whole weekend, that we started shopping as if we were going on a two-week camping trip. For example, we bought enough pancakes and eggs to feed an army, and enough lawn games to outfit a moderately sized summer camp. It’s not the worst thing that we ended up with leftover vats of maple syrup and four whiffle ball sets, but next time I’d try to relax and focus on the priorities!

A few things that helped us along the way:

It was a community-built, all-hands-on-deck wedding weekend. Whether they liked it or not, almost every guest at our wedding contributed at some point or another to help put the event together! We had folks pitching in everywhere: steaming tablecloths and making margaritas, driving shuttles and building bouquets, cooking breakfast and rocking the role of DJ. Our altar built from scratch by talented friends the morning of our wedding. Every single “vendor” was a friend of ours, from morning yoga and officiant to musicians and photography. Our friends were happy to help out and be a part of our day, and it created a wonderful feeling of participation that made the whole weekend more meaningful to everyone who was there (not to mention, it saved our wallets and sanity).

My best practical advice for my planning self:

What I’d go back in time to say to myself (the crazy lady in the tinyhouse with a four-month-old squawking in her ear) is to not hold too tightly to anything. You’ll have a million ideas throughout the process; some of them stick, some of them don’t—and that’s okay. Give yourself a break at every turn, and believe that as long as the right people are there and you end up married on the other end, it’s all good. Also, make SURE your chef knows how to get to the venue, and take as many “slow moments” as possible with your favorites. They’ll be the best moments of the day.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

We make a priority to get away on the weekends, and Sonoma County is one of our favorite areas to explore. The far-off vicinity of our venue encouraged friends to put their lives behind them, turn off the technology (you won’t have service anyway!), and just be there. We loved that every single guest needed to claim their sense of adventure to make it to our wedding.

Something else We’d like to share:

I love APW; thanks for helping me through the magical and crazy wedding process!

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