Rebekah & Phil
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: A laid-back farmyard celebration of two families joining together on Friday the 13th.
Planned budget: $5,000
Actual budget: $4,800 (excluding rings)
Number of guests: 130
Where we allocated the most funds:
Photos! Our amazing photographer is the groom’s cousin by marriage, and he gave us a killer deal. Between the wedding photography and a last-minute splurge on a three-hour photo booth rental (which was worth every penny!), the total came to $1,600.
The second most was on the DJ, which was $1,000. To be honest, we didn’t put a lot of thought into the DJ. At a cousin’s wedding two months before ours, they had a fantastic DJ who was sadly unavailable for our date, so we just asked him for a recommendation and hired the guy he recommended.
What was totally worth it:
As far as money spent, I have to say the photo booth. Seriously, I can’t even stress it enough. For $450 we got a three-hour rental delivered to our location, double prints of each photo strip, all the props, and a digital drive with all the photos on it at the end of the night. We had been considering DIY-ing it, but the real deal made it so much fun and so much less work. It also allowed our photographer to capture more of the reception while the guests were in the photo booth, making for way more pictures overall. We also didn’t do favors, so the printed photo strips served as a fun and personal keepsake for everyone.
Regarding money saved, I borrowed my reception lighting from a cousin who had gotten married on the property two years before, and my flatware, plates, and glasses were borrowed from another friend in the community. As a way to “pay it forward” a bit, I purchased neutral colored napkins and tablecloths instead of renting them. They’re stored on the property with the other items, and next time someone plans a wedding, they’ll have even less to worry about buying or renting.
What was totally not worth it:
Ha! Well, we originally planned to have our wedding in the gorgeous Sequoia National Forest. It’s even written on our (completely DIY, from design to printing) invitations; “Friday, the thirteenth of November at three in the afternoon Bearskin Meadow, Sequoia National Forest.” We ended up getting married at Phil’s parents’ property, our reception venue, on Friday, November 13th at 4 in the afternoon. This was officially decided on Thursday, November 12th at about 1 in the afternoon and frantically spread by word of mouth.
Remember how I described our wedding as “flexible”? Yeah. Turns out you shouldn’t plan your mid-November wedding in the mountains where roads close for winter sometime in November or December, or you will end up crying the day before your wedding and freaking out about nowhere on the property being pretty enough to have your ceremony. Thankfully, due to the rain in the weeks leading up to the wedding the back field was gorgeously green, and due to the time of year the neighboring pomegranate trees were a beautiful golden yellow, and everything worked out beautifully.
Anyway, all that to say: trips up and down the mountain to find the perfect ceremony site and the stress and tears shed over losing that site were definitely not worth it. Be reasonable, y’all.
A few things that helped us along the way:
We had so much help! Beyond the flowers, food, food servers, and venue, I also had a particularly organized, non-wedding-party friend act as my day-of coordinator. My mom put together a binder of all the info (contact info, contracts, schedules, diagrams of ceremony and reception setup) and she helped make sure everything was running smoothly. I remember noticing an issue from across the venue, but before I even had a chance to go over and resolve it, my makeshift day-of coordinator was there.
I believe my mom also enlisted another dear family friend to help make sure the processional went smoothly, and I have sweet memories of her fanning out my veil and making sure I was ready to walk down the aisle. Beyond all that, my freaky organized self was unemployed throughout the duration of our four month engagement, so I had a detailed calendar, APW budget spreadsheet, guest list spreadsheet, and probably a ton of other organizational means to help myself that I don’t even remember.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Aside from going back in time and telling myself that we would ultimately not end up getting married in the forest? I’d say don’t be afraid to ask people for help. I relied on my mom to talk me into asking to borrow the dishes I did, and ask people for help serving. Seriously, people you’re inviting to your wedding love you and totally want to help out in small ways. Also, if you tell a vendor that something doesn’t matter that much to you, you damn well better mean it. Don’t wait until it went differently than you imagined and regret it; really try to figure out how you want that particular piece of your wedding to look and feel and try to express that to them.
Oh, and make sure to make a Snapchat filter for the wedding day or you’ll regret it forever. Or at least until Snapchat stops being popular.
Favorite thing about the wedding:
We agree that the loveliest things about the wedding are the pictures capturing the absolute joy we felt all day. We also loved the lighting borrowed from Phil’s cousin and put up by both our dads, the centerpieces placed on wood slices from an old tree that Phil climbed growing up, and our ring boxes: mine was purple glass with silver details, and Phil’s was made from a branch of the same tree used in our centerpieces, handcrafted by my dad, and wood burned by myself.
We loved having so many of our dear friends and family in the wedding—we each had five attendants and we had seven children involved, which I wouldn’t change for the world, even though our nephew threw Phil’s ring box about three times on the way down the aisle. I was barefoot the whole day; I grew up in Southern California and always hated wearing shoes. I had a pair of boots for later in the night in case it got cold, but between dancing and wearing my sister’s beautiful purple coat (which I’ve always adored and she let me borrow on the big day), I stayed warm all night. I better stop myself from thinking of more things before this list becomes “everything ever in the whole day.”
Anything else we should know:
My amazing mom and aunt did so much sewing for the wedding. I wanted a grey dress, so I ordered a formal grey dress on sale from Ralph Lauren. My mom had to take it in and hem several inches off the bottom. Since I’m short, she was able to make a teensy train when she hemmed it. I adore my dress to this day, and am so grateful for the effort my mama put into it! She also hand stitched all the lace around the edge of my veil, made Phil’s vest, and made the flower girl dresses for the two older flower girls, incorporating leftover lace from my dress into the bodices. My aunt made the flower girl dresses for the two younger girls, bow ties for all the boys and men, and little cardigans for the flower girls. They are superheroes and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work!
One more thing! Since we were having an afternoon wedding, Phil and I didn’t get ready until around 1 p.m. I spent the night before the wedding at his parents’ house, so as soon as he came over early in the morning we were basically inseparable until the ceremony. Once we got ready, we stayed apart until our first look, but after that we were together for the rest of the day. Phil’s sister made a joking comment about us seeing each other before the ceremony, and I responded “Well, we’re getting married on Friday the 13th, how much more unlucky can we get at this point?” After a long-distance relationship and all the possible stress of the imminent wedding, I can’t even imagine not having spent the day with the love of my life and best friend.