Our Intimate and Joyous Backyard Ceremony in Oakland

We got married on our original wedding date!

Jack + Stephanie
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: An intimate backyard ceremony on a sunny California afternoon.
Planned Budget: Unplanned
Actual Budget: $3,000
Number of Guests: 25
Location: Oakland, California
Photographer: Vivian Chen

Where we allocated the most funds: Photography. Vivian did an incredible job capturing our ceremony. She blended into the ceremony and captured so many special moments of the day. It was a very worthwhile investment. Also, flowers and potted plants ate up a lot of the budget. We wanted to add some decoration to the garden and make sure the wedding party had flowers.

Where we allocated the least funds: Rentals. We had nearly everything already and borrowed the rest from friends!

What was totally worth it: Zoom! For $65 we were able to get a recording of our wedding and ensure our friends and family sheltering in place around the world could watch. Stephanie’s grandmother wasn’t planning to travel from her Wisconsin nursing home but was able to watch the wedding she wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see. What was totally not worth it: Nothing, it was so pared down we made every purchase count!

A few things that helped us along the way: Our wedding planner, Liza from Studio DBI, was super helpful as a sounding board for our ideas and in rescheduling all of our reception vendors (twice!).

Our friends and family also were enormously helpful. Jack’s sister married us and helped us navigate the process of getting a wedding license in COVID, which was not easy! Jack’s brother and sister-in law helped figure out Zoom. Stephanie’s parents and brother made so many improvements to the backyard and did all of the set up. Stephanie’s mom transformed the backyard with an eye for potted plans. Jack’s parents bought individual bottles of champagne for people to celebrate. Stephanie’s Maid of Honor and her husband provided a professional audio setup to help insure it would work.

My best practical advice for my planning self: Make a timeline and send it around to everyone.

Favorite thing about the wedding: Our wedding was a welcome break from sheltering in place. The previous couple months had been hard for us as we saw the pandemic grow, friends lost jobs, events being cancelled and so much else. Our wedding felt like a wonderful break from everything around us, and a moment to be with our closest family and friends and celebrate our love.

Anything else: We initially were unsure if we’d postpone everything a year or just go ahead and get married on our original date. While it isn’t the best solution for everyone, we are so happy we chose to get married on the date we had planned. We’re looking forward to eventually celebrating at a reception with friends and family when we can.


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