devika, operations and Supply chain & rilwan, systems architect
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A perfectly simple, fun party and extremely special day with our families.
Planned budget: $10,000
Actual budget: $10,000
Number of guests: 15
We went into the wedding knowing we didn’t want to put a lot of money toward it, as later down the road we plan to have a more elaborate celebration with an extension of our friends and family all over the world. We put the money where we felt it was important to us—a dress for me, food, and a great photographer to capture the day. We thought we could get that for $5,000 to $10,000 when we started planning.
I think when it was all said and done, we spent just little under $10,000. We did as planned, putting the money toward what was important to us. Even the dress became a little less important. It ended up costing me around $800. Both of our cultures have a deep love of food, so a lot of the money went toward that. And to us, it was important to get someone with a specific style to capture our day, so that was our second biggest spend.
Number of Guests:
We had about fifteen people join at both the courthouse ceremony and dinner/reception afterward. They included our immediate families (mom, dad, siblings) plus kids and a couple of close relatives that were in town from overseas. It was such a great, intimate experience that I’m not sure you get with a bigger wedding. We were able to spend time with everyone and really just enjoy the day without having to worry about a few hundred other people. That will come later.
Where we allocated the most funds:
Most of our funds went to dinner, which was around $5,000 or $6,000. This was important to us, as we’re both really into food, and it was also culturally important, as both families love and appreciate a great meal. Food is a social event for all of us. Then we put some funds toward a great photographer. Amy was our first pick amongst looking at a handful of people. Then we met her and knew it was a great fit. Her personality was as amazing as her photos. We fell in love with her documentary style and the fact that she worked with diverse groups of couples.
Where we allocated the least funds:
With the bigger expenses out of the way, the remainder of our budget went to the venue—Beverly Hills Courthouse—a few flowers for the reception, and hair and makeup for the ladies of the group. I think the dress also falls under this category. It fell in line with the rest of the day and our personalities—simple and classic. It cost around $800, plus a splurge on a great necklace for about $400.
What was totally worth it:
The photographer was a hundred percent worth it. While we kept the day simple, we still realized it was a really special day that we wanted to capture. We also both had a specific photography style in mind—simple, not forced, documentary style to really capture the best elements of the day. The real stuff. Amy did such an amazing job! The photos came out even better than we had hoped. When we look at the pictures, I think of the whole day, and the experience is that much better.
What was totally not worth it:
Because we kept it so simple, I can’t really think of anything I wish we hadn’t done. Maybe my makeup, as it was so far from my regular day-to-day look, but I think if I hadn’t gotten it done, I would have regretted it.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We’re really lucky in that both of our families wanted to be involved and offered their help if we needed it. Rilwan’s sister planned the whole dinner and the flowers, and his brother-in-law MCed the event. It was SO nice not to have to worry about those details. My sister took care of getting my family in from Minnesota, which was also huge. Booking flights and getting people from point A to point B in and around in Los Angeles is not small effort. Our photographer Amy was also amazing. She had pre-planned everything and really helped two awkward folks in front of a camera feel and look at ease. Plus she made sure we got some alone time (and cocktails and snacks) between the wedding and the reception, which was fantastic.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Don’t think of this as a job or project that you need to complete just to check it off the list. Enjoy every part of it. From the planning to the shopping to the actual day. And most importantly the people. Keep it simple, but don’t forget to the details that will make the wedding unique to us. The day was a celebration of us and sometimes you forget that as you’re trying to make sure all the visitors are taken care of.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
The best (and most nerve-wracking) part of the whole day was that our families were meeting for the first time. Both are from very different cultures (Nigerian and Indian and white/middle-American), and we didn’t know what to expect. From the second they met, everyone was so happy and at ease. They both have such an appreciation for other cultures that I think they were more excited to meet each other than we expected. It just kept getting better as the night went on. By the end of the dinner, people were already planning trips to visit each other.