You’ll Want a School Bus at Your Own Wedding After You See These Photos

Plus a surprise Big Lebowski screening? Yes.


Jess, Perfusionist & Patrick, property management

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A Californian eclectic romance with vintage charm, turned surprise NYE dance party.

Planned budget: $50,000

Actual budget: $60,000

Number of guests: 95


Where we allocated the most funds:

Band and rentals: Having two venues doubled the cost, and because we (I) were adamant about having our venue not be a typical event space, we chose venues that don’t do many events. Which also means we had to rent everything! The band was one our absolute must haves, and we knew this would be a major cost. Our band was amazing!

Venues: Because neither of us is from California (Patrick is from Florida, and I grew up in Nebraska), we really wanted our guests traveling for our wedding to experience OUR Los Angeles. I had lived my entire LA life in Venice, and this also where Patrick and I first shared our home together. It could not have been more perfect for us to also get married in this city that we love so much. And so our “LA favorites” wedding theme was born.

A major goal of ours was to have a wedding that was unique. Turning a landscape design firm into a ceremony space was unlike any wedding I had attended. The eclectic beauty of Big Red Sun was a perfect setting for us to share our love with our ninety-three guests.


Where we allocated the least funds:

Flowers. Having wholesale flowers delivered not only gave us an amazing selection for a fraction of the price, but it was a really fun activity to share with our moms and bridesmaids.


What was totally worth it:

The band! Live music creates a totally different energy! We implicated a strict “no wedding music” rule, so our party felt like just that, a dance party, and not a traditional wedding playlist.

The photographer! Spending money to capture your memories forever is worth the money. These are images not only to remind you of your day, but also to share with your children, and their children!

The food trucks!  When discussing our must-haves for our day, food trucks were number one. We knew this would not only be something so fun for our guests, food truck nights in LA have become one of our favorite date nights. From bacon wrapped dates and mini grilled cheese on tomato soup shots at cocktail hour, to fusion tacos and barbecue sliders for dinner, the trucks were a hit!


A few things that helped us along the way:

We really planned everything together and stuck together throughout the entire planning process. This made it easy for us to go to meetings with vendors separately if needed, and if I was struggling, Pat could easily swoop in and take over before any meltdowns ensued. Our families were also amazing, especially the last few days before the wedding.

I started following probably fifty-plus wedding-related Instagram accounts—for me this was so much more useful than Pinterest. I could see real weddings and the vendors that created them, and follow those vendors and see more of their projects. From there, it was a spider web of the people who follow them and the people they follow. It became really addictive!


My best practical advice for my planning self:

Plan early, but also know that the unforeseen can and will happen, so never get too attached to one single idea, as it can shift into something that you didn’t even know you wanted.

Also, hire at least a day-of wedding planner. I loved designing, planning, and finding all our vendors my self, but not having to worry about anything the day of our wedding was priceless.


Favorite thing about the wedding:

Jess: I loved our ceremony. It was the perfect vintage eclectic feel. It was so personal. It was perfect. The ceremony was personal down to every last detail including, Patrick’s oldest brother conducting the ceremony, our closest wedding “party people” of bridesmaids, bridesmen, and groomsmen, a surprise reading of Bright Eyes’, “This Is the First Day of My Life,” with five more love ones popping up all over the crowd to read their verse, and handwritten vows to each other.

Patrick: The surprise. I think guests figured there must be something planned, but seeing their faces at the second venue, being such a shift in tone, added to the fun of the day and night.


anything else we should know:

Just as the night’s chill started to creep, and we overheard discussions of, “Where do you think the band will set up?” A school bus parked, and we announced we would be taking everyone down the street to our NYE party (a secret only shared with our two moms), and I changed my hair into a faux hawk to prepare for our six-hour dance party. Guests unloaded from the bus and walked into a four-story modern loft space, set with LED lit furniture, The Big Lebowski on projector, a trio of cakes from our favorite LA bakery, and a rockin’ band, instructed to play only non-wedding jams (our number two must-have). Our number three must-have was for the whole night to be in one location. I’m glad we made an exception to our own rule! We danced the night away until 1 am with all our favorite people!


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