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This Stylish $11K San Francisco Wedding Celebrated Family (With Extra Cake)

Just when you least expect love, it finds you

Jaimee, Executive Assistant/Part-Time Event Designer & robin, Talent Acquisition Manager

Planned budget: $10,000
Actual budget: $11,000
Number of guests: 56
LOCATION: San Francisco, California

Where we allocated the most funds:

We allocated most of the funds on the food. Our price per person was significantly low for San Francisco standards, and there’s that saying, “You get what you paid for…” but in this case the food quality and flavor far exceeded our expectations; to this day our guests still raves about the dinner and day-after wedding breakfast!

Where we allocated the least funds:

We allocated the least amount of funds to the photo booth. I was trying to think up “activities” for the guests to do during cocktail hour. Low and behold our venue had a pre-existing photo booth back drop (which we borrowed), and I happened to have a Fuji mini instax camera. Voila, instant party favor and activity for the guests during cocktail hour; though most of our guests (more or less) knew each other, the “polaroid” photo booth broke the ice and made it even more fun for everyone.

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What was totally worth it:

Having a wedding coordinator/designer be our go-to person, who also executed our design vision. Trust me, if I could split myself in two, I would have done everything! But having someone else take care of all the little details made the day for me and my husband totally enjoyable and memorable!

What was totally not worth it:

Because we knew we had a very limited budget, every “spend” was justified, so everything in our mind was worth it.

A few things that helped us along the way:

My family especially my mom and sister! My mom is the MVP of the whole planning and execution—she seriously can do everything! Not only did she give us a very generous gift for our future, but her ingenuity and innovative spirit helped us through a lot of DIY stuff, especially when my wedding dress needed to be altered: my mom altered my dress! My sister is a graphic designer, and she was my matron of honor, sounding board, and creative/business partner; having gone through her own wedding planning eleven years earlier she provided me with great advice and insights. I am detail-crazy and had a gazillion ideas going through my head (thanks/no thanks to Pinterest). My sister was my sounding board who always helped me edit, hone our vision, and reminded me not to sweat the small stuff.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

Where do I begin?! I have to say, have a contingency plan, be flexible, and listen to those who have gone through a wedding planning before when they say, “The day will go by fast, so enjoy the process and soak in the day!” I have to agree!

Favorite thing about the wedding:

There are a lot of favorites during our wedding; one of them was having my late father’s picture charm in my bouquet. I nearly ruined my makeup when our florist delivered my bouquet—it felt like he was there in spirit celebrating our day. The speeches: the best man speech was comical and the matron of honor speech had the whole crowd singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli. Everything was our favorite and we seriously can go on. Let’s just say the common guests’ comment was, “We enjoyed your wedding more than we did ours…”

Other things we’d like to share:

Overjoyed is the word comes to mind when we describe our wedding day, which happens to be a song by Stevie Wonder that my husband (Robin) chose for our wedding. When Robin and I met, Robin was getting ready to move to another state to seek out other career opportunities; and I had resolved to be single and content after having gone through a tough long-term relationship break up. But I have to say, God and the universe works in the most mysterious ways. It was just by chance that we met. On our first date we bonded over our love for family and music. He talked about seeing the Stone Roses concert in Manchester England, and I knew I wanted to be with him. For Robin it came during our second date when I took him at a dive bar to watch “senior night” karaoke. Early on in our courtship we knew that we wanted to be each other’s forever. A year and half later we got engaged.

In terms of planning our wedding, we were planning even before we got engaged. We wanted to make sure that we have the budget. I have to say there are pros and cons with planning way ahead of time: the pros would be it’s a money and time saver. You can lock in vendors at their current price before they increase it during your wedding year. Cons are that themes or ideas may change. There’s always a risk where you lose an investment because you went toward a different direction. But what resonated between us was we wanted an intimate and economical but beautiful celebration. We wanted an intimate gathering so we could spend time with all our friends and family and really enjoy ourselves. Since I am detail-crazy, I was able to splurge a little on the details of our wedding, i.e. calligraphy invitation envelopes that are frame-worthy for our guests. We wanted to be economical about our wedding as our priorities have shifted (we’re thinking retirement and experiences); let’s just say we had a wonderful honeymoon in Europe! Robin and I are truly overjoyed to share our wedding. It’s such a blessing for us to have found each other!

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